7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Overrated due to great graphics and better controls,
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This review is from: Tomb Raider: Legend (PC DVD) (Video Game)
As Lara quips on the first level "death by irony is always painful" I later couldn't help thinking the joke was on her. Legend addresses the one major problem that all fans criticised for - the control scheme - yet produces new problems.
Lara is almost dream to handle, something we all would like to hear. The controls depend on the camera angle. If the Camera is facing to the side, jumping Lara in a certain direction will be a different button combination than when the camera is situated behind. In theory so long as you have patience Lara will be hassle free. Truth is when you've limited time to climb and jump before Lara is to be hit by an object or falls it slowly becomes cumbersome. Isolated locations make the camera become inconsistent, fidgety and unreliable.
Tomb Raider wasn't just a pretty face. It was a technical achievement. One of the things that made the game so memorable (or even notorious) was the ingenious and highly evolved puzzles. For all those who found the puzzles in previous iterations easy, be prepared to be insulted. Most make use of Lara's trusty new grappling hook (ain't that original) which she can use to pull objects or allowing her to swing platform to platform Zelda style.
It brings in a little more depth but sadly the simplicity of the puzzles makes this a missed opportunity.
Previous titles used gigantic locations to travel what felt like half a mile, climbing over and under caves and mountains whilst fighting weird and wonderful creatures along the way to solve a puzzle. Considering Lara Croft Tomb Raider has always been about the exploration of Tombs it boggles the mind why there doesn't appear to be much of it in Legends. Lara calls them tombs, I call them caves at best. Locations are so small it's impossible to make any puzzle ambitious. Most puzzles revolve around a small room. Instead of arenas, we get one-way roads. In the context that Tomb Raider held king for being bigger and better than the competition I find this almost unacceptable.
Credit to the varied locations, even if achieved by some pretty cheap plot elements. Graphically the jungles, deserts and tombs are some of the most visually stunning locations in any game. The detail is immense with the lighting and water effects some of the most involving I've ever seen. Branches and weeds stick out the grounds and ancient walls, water flows from every direction, surfaces are uneven and believably ruined looking. This is how Tomb Raider was always meant to look. Urban settings are more to be desired. Japan is as clichéd as it is boring. The only justification for urban settings are an excuse to show off Lara's figure in various revealing outfits or more [forced] action scenarios. What gets me most is one of the major criticisms in previous instalments were these urban environments and yet professional reviewers have been light handed with Legend.
Lets face it; Tomb Raider has never been known for its deep plot development. And why should it be? We play the Tomb Raider to venture into the beautiful ruins of ancient civilizations. What we have here is a `dig up the past' scenario. Frankly, who cares? Although the story does allow it easier for her to dress into some of the sauciest outfits it also allows for some boring and confusing storyline, mainly unfolding within cheesy conversations between Lara and her Yankee comrades watching from her home mansion. They're a scapegoat to explain a rather detached story, instead of having a decent plot cleverly integrated into the level design, as well as many attempts at `humor', but in this case, the U isn't the only thing missing from it. Not only is the voice acting annoying but also it's also obtrusive. Lara's pals choose the worst times to speak - whenever I'm rushing from boulders, calculating a complex jump, or enjoying the surroundings I often couldn't hear them over gunfire, also resulting in possible key plot elements being missed. I also noticed that Lara, both her voice and looks, have dropped the girl with attitude she had in original games. Her lines are quirky and occasionally cute. There isn't anything that forceful or powerful about her presence.
The interactive cut scenes are a waste of time too. To me this is a cheap way of avoiding involving the player in the action with any freedom. Another tedious task were the bike action scenarios. Again, they weren't difficult as you just switch between shooting one man on a bike to another like some rail shooter.
The gunfights are tedious and unprofessional. Whilst running up to an enemy, and using them to jump a number of feet high in slow motion is fun to begin with, accidentally jumping down cliffs whilst focusing on the battle, leaving you contemplating jumping out the window isn't. Neither is spending about 2 minutes trying to kill an enemy from afar as, whilst Lara is the best at athletics, she is the absolute worst at aiming. Zooming in does very little to make distant shots more accurate. Lara's guns are as reliable as a vampire working honestly for the Red Cross. Once you're locked on to someone, it's incredibly frustrating to lock onto something else. Most of the time you'll just jump around. Aiming in focus mode is even worse than when in standard mode. Lara cannot move leaving her as a sitting duck. Thankfully, `easy' mode is more a challenge to be defeated by standard enemies.
Yes Legend is pretty and yes the controls are better but it's still an average game. Every dog has their day, and no amount of makeup for this girl is going to hide that she's probably had hers. Interestingly, not only did Eidos lose original creators Core Design with Tomb Raider Legends, but have essentially lost the core design of what the series has always been about. Now that's death by irony Lara!