May 25, 2006


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Tomb Raider: Legend (PC/PS2/XBOX/360)

I thought, after 1997ís Tomb Raider II, that there would never be a reason to play with Lara Croft again. Ummm, not like that.

Nearly a decade of horrible gaming has driven the Tomb Raider franchise into the muck. While most of the post-í97 titles are not atrocious games by any means, they are astoundingly mediocre, insultingly subpar when compared to their contemporaries and a diminshingly dissapointing affair with each installment. Bleh, average games arenít even fun to hate, they just suck.

Letís not speak of the films.

But, lo and behold, Lara Croft is back, in higher resolution and with a less ďAre those SCUD warheads under there?Ē appearance ó not that itís exactly realistic but it is a skosh closer. Tomb Raider: Legends makes two key improvements. First, it puts Lara back in the wild, exploring epic-sized tombs and uncovering ancient mysteries. Usually by solving environmental puzzles and shooting stuff, but uncovering mysteries nontheless. While there are a few sojourns into urban environments in Legends they are spaced well throughout the plot so that we donít feel like one is playing just any generic third-person shooter game. Sadly though, there are two awkward and obnoxious chase sequences reminiscent of the chases in 007 Everything or Nothing, except, somehow not so good.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the control is good. Not perfect, but good. Lara is responsive and agile as she should be. Gone is the awkward space-hopping of previous games and finally the environments feel like real spaces and not mathematically segmented game boards. She has ditched the close combat that bogged down some earlier titles and the ensuing ďrun and gunĒ style of fighting is noticably more exciting. Unfortunately, Ms. Croft isnít the best shot at the gun range, a glitch that will frustrate some of the larger-scale skirmishes in the game.

The plot is a Tomb Raider plot. Itís a video game, people; asking for plot is like asking your chess set to taste good; while they could make Mochaccino-flavored rooks and bishops itís really not the point. Although admittedly, that would be delicious.

There are a fair share of problems ó annoying chases, frustrating but rare boss fights, an abrupt ending come to mind ó these detract only mildy from the meritous improvements in design, interface and aesthetic. B+

ó Glenn Given.