48 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Keeley Hawes Is Positively Awesome!,
This review is from: Tomb Raider: Legend (PC DVD) (Video Game)
I was lucky to experience this game a few days early, and I have to say I have not had this much fun in a long time.
Tomb Raider is back, with a vengeance. Forget the used Tomb Raider Chronicles, forget the botched Angel of Darkness. What Crystal Dynamics is giving us here is a completely rethought franchise.
Depending on the quality of your hardware, you'll either be amazed by the graphics, or completely bedazzled. Tomb Raider now actually looks good, and not just the lush curves (and expressive face) of its archaeologist heroine. The environments are masterfully crafted, and (thanks to an game engine completely rewritten since the past episodes) manage to successfully break from the cube-geometry we've all been used to.
But, but, but-Tomb Raider doesn't only *look* good, it also sounds wicked!! I would never have imagined how big a difference the audio voice-over makes. Indeed, Keeley Hawes is excellent (*excellent*!! "I haven't the foggiest."), and gives Lara some added depth and class. I promise you'll come to love the witty banter exchanged by Lara and her faithful geek team.
The obvious aim of the designers was to make this feel as much as a movie as possible-hence the "action sequences", sort of interactive cinematics. While I have to confess they do not always succeed (and, having to play through the same, at the beginning of a checkpoint "interactive cinematic" over and over, is maddening!!), they are none-the-less a commendable attempt to diversify the action. On the other hand, the vehicle sequences were always fun (if sometimes a bit long), and the race behind the Russian built train in Kazakhstan was a memorable one.
Now, as for the controls, they are exceptionally fluid-think Prince of Persia-, and make controlling Lara one of the most exhilarating experiences. Even though sometimes I cursed the complexity of them (in one boss, you have to shoot, then put your gun away, then throw the hook, then the pull-this is not particularly easy, and I was swore quite distinctly under my breath before I finally got a hang of it). While frustratingly, the camera on occasion has a mind of its own, I think you'll find this to be, at the worst of times, not much more than a nuisance (it does a great job the rest of the time). The grapple hook is reminiscent of Indy's whip, and adds an extra element that was much needed to make the puzzles interesting.
The weapons though, are a bit disappointing. Well not disappointing, because I was completely happy using Lara's trademark dual guns. They have unlimited ammo, and are so efficient that there is never really a need to use anything else. The grenades, I found, were particularly useless. (But to be honest, I *never* have any luck with grenades, ever.)
The plot and locations. Well, as I said above, this game is like a movie. Never a dull moment, and the plot motivates you to go along (you'll play the game as much to see what happens, than to shoot down bad guys). Supernatural is very efficiently mixed with real-life myths, à la Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (in which the designers blended several versions of the myth of the Lost City to produce their own interpretation), to create a believable (well, at the very least, not so far-fetched as most) story.
You begin your journey in Bolivia. This is the tutorial level, that eases you into the game. Then you go to Peru. Peru is good old fashioned tomb-a real tomb, in which you do some digging to discover a friend you thought was dead, actually isn't either (isn't a friend, and isn't dead). You then discover elements that point you to a mafia boss in Japan. Japan in one of the most fun levels, I found, because how often to you get to swing (and occasionally motoride) through the skyscrapers of Tokyo?! (That, and Lara's outfit is pretty smooth!)
Then you go to Ghana in West Africa, in a tomb that is mostly a big giant puzzle (well, it's much more fun than that). The puzzles in this game, by the way, is not the old trademark "Push a bunch of cubes around until you feel like jumping out the window." The puzzles here are actually interesting, never illogical, and never impossible to figure out. In doubt, you can always use the R.A.D. mode of your binoculars to discern what you'll have to move, what you'll to shoot, etc. After Ghana, there's that Kazakhstan level that I *really* enjoyed (I'm a sucker for Soviet experiments awry) ... and then England (in an odd King Arthur museum), Nepal and finally Bolivia again (for a quick last minute stint).
I have to confess I've never been as much a Tomb Raider fan as I am now. This is one of the most enjoyable and gripping games I've played in the past two years, and I highly recommend to all action game fans (regardless of whether they've enjoyed the previous instalments).