Tomb Raider Legend

System: PC using Xbox 360 Controller

Tomb Raider Legend is the first of the three Tomb Raider games developed by Crystal Dynamics, who are currently working on the franchises 3rd reboot. Legend sees Lara searching for treasure but rather than the simply doing it for the sake of it there is some surprisingly effective personal motivation I don’t want to spoil, this remains throughout and will probably cause me to purchase Tomb Raider Underworld in the next Steam sale. The main narrative is inoffensive mix of uncovering the truth behind a legend (hmmm), causing you to go to a bunch of loosely related locations across the globe, and dealing with some personal demons. An often knowing script makes light of Lara’s often schizophrenic attitude towards archaeology destroying a statue one minute jokingly to move on lamenting removal of an artefact the next add some much needed humour into the formula. While the story has a few twists and turns none of it especially interesting but the personal factors and occasional funny remarks from your omnipresent radio helpers help push it to stands above that of the average game.

There are 3 main marts to the gameplay that have been present throughout the series platforming, action and puzzles Legend is no different but it throws in a few bits of its own. The platforming is competent enough if a bit lacking on some of the more modern additions you might expect a few poorly placed checkpoints and the occasional bad camera angle being the only real issues. The highly acrobatic feel to the character is a nice change from the more reality grounded climbing portions of the Uncharted games. Combat is a low point but fortunately not a hassle on the easy difficulty with only a few of the puzzle elements of boss fights being irritating. The combat functions by loosely aiming/locking on locking on with one trigger press then pointing in the general direction and firing until they die, a few of special moves are available when close to a human enemy that can trigger a slow motion leap or knock them off their feet are a good addition but are fiddly making it easier to not bother. 

Several motorcycle sequences break up the action and while these in themselves are nothing special they add a welcome change of pace to the rest of the game. The puzzles are generally logical and easy enough to do once you have worked out what’s needed there’s no multi stage ones but this helps keep the game momentum moving forward. The only times I did become stuck were where I was trying to do a puzzle that had not been activated yet as it was an area I would later backtrack through. Quick time events are particularly bad having the use the right analogue stick for directional prompts that are oversensitive to the point that it registers the wrong direction with a slight nudge in the wrong direction. However failing one of these usually sees Lara fail spectacularly at whatever stunt she was trying to do alleviating the annoyance of having to redo the event.

A large of variety in locations ensures the game never drags on as it did in Tomb Raider Anniversary did, mixing contemporary settings with more traditional tomb environments while the game play never changes between them. Graphics are good for a five year old game with a “next gen” effects option that add bump maps and better lighting for a more up to date appearance. Unfortunately this option seems to be broken in a few areas some texture going transparent and while making the environments look more real the characters stylised designs often look unfitting for their settings.

I had a few crashes but for a now 5 year old game on a modern operation system it wasn’t designed for there were relatively few problems.

I finished the campaign in around 6 and a half hours leaving me the option to replay levels for the collectables or a time trial mode that disappointingly after Guardian of Light only unlocks costumes rather than anything with an actual gameplay benefit. I also have yet to complete whatever puzzle there was at the Croft Manor despite the shot length there’s a decent amount of content and more importantly the game does not out stay its welcome.

I enjoyed this game more than I expected to, it’s better than Anniversary the variety of locations and action being the main reasons though playing that game with keyboard and mouse can’t have could well count for my major problems with it. Plenty of aspects to it are now dated overly sensitive controls camera issues being among them. Legend is part of the relatively small the platforming adventure shooter genre and a welcome change from the seemingly identical modern shooter that is currently so prevalent especially at the sale price I purchased Legend for.