Publisher: Eidos Interactive Developer: Crystal Dynamics Released: 12th April 2006 Players: 1 www: tombraider.com Rating: TBC
Tomb Raider: Legend marks the 12th game in the series to grace our screens (that is including original versions, gold editions, millennium editions, and so on) and truth be told – the last title “Angel of Darkness” received poor reviews from fans of Lara Croft. However new developers Crystal Dynamics have given Tomb Raider a breath of fresh air and returned her back to the original gameplay ideas that made the first games memorable classics. Firstly, Lara is looking better than ever and is now cast from 9800 polygons to resemble an athletic and highly realistic model (over twice the number of polys than Lara had two years ago). The developers have also worked hard to get the most out of the current-gen platforms and now Lara moves, flips, climbs and swims with smooth and fluid animations that are both graceful and potentially deadly.
Legend is definitely trying to remind us just how hot Lara Croft can be by giving us a higher polygon count but the graphics don’t just improve the look of the leading lady, the environments are much crisper and the water effects are stunning. There are new and familiar movements and abilities such as shimmying along ledges, swinging on ropes, jumping, climbing and pushing, but that whole feeling of control is intensified. You will get to really explore and develop your skills as you travel through levels that tend to leave you on the edge of near death falls, and unique sequences that force you to hit buttons as prompted to avoid imminent death. But don’t worry; depending on how you screw those up, you’ll get unique deaths that hopefully will keep you entertained until you get past them to the next part of the game. Puzzles won’t have you running all over giant mazes like before either, now when you solve a puzzle, whatever opens will be in the giant room you had been solving your puzzle in giving you a better feeling of progress without frustrating guessing-games.
On top of different costumes and plenty of equipment to play with – there are also bucket loads of guns. Oh yeah, you’ll get to dual-wield handguns like before, but you’ll also get shotguns, submachine guns, rocket launchers, grappling hooks and you can easily lock on to targets to make moving around and shooting a little bit easier. Depending on how well you do in each level you get to upgrade these weapons and unlock stuff like new costumes and other fun goodies. Thankfully, instead of shooting poor little bears and wolves, in Legend you’ll go up against intelligent human baddies to blast away at (and plenty of them too!) and the graphics make every single kill enjoyable. It may have been a while in the making, but for fans of the original games, Legend is a definite must and will restore faith in the Tomb Raider series for many years to come. Now if only they can make the Tomb Raider movies this good.
Amanda Evert, a rogue anthropologist is Lara’s new cat-fighting adversary in Tomb Raider: Legend. Through a series of flashbacks, you learn that on the outside, Amanda was a graduate student of social anthropology but on the inside, she was an intense chronicler of the metaphysical and spiritual. She believed wholeheartedly that the common notion of reality is nothing but a thin, drab layer pulled over the infinite truth of the soul. Her dream was to rediscover this supreme knowledge from the past and teach it to people so they could gain enlightenment, although it seemed more like a harmless youthful dalliance than a true obsession to Lara. She was also a brilliant researcher who was still in touch with the modern world but still had a lust for the unexplainable. Amanda was young, a bit bookish, not too self-confident, and a bit of a hippy and her relationship with Lara was filled with playful philosophical banter and even though they crossed intellectual swords – it was always in the form of intellectual debate.
Then one day in Peru, while excavating a tomb Lara believed contained the last queen of Tiwanaku, her team of graduate students breeched a new room and all hell broke loose. Lara was the only one to return to the surface, where the team’s structural engineer, Anaya Imanu, listened in horror to Lara’s story of how a malevolent entity of some kind slaughtered everyone in the tomb, except for Lara and Amanda. But as the two tried to escape, Amanda set off a trap that sealed the room, brought down the roof, and drowned her – or so Lara thought.