Tomb Raider   LegendFinally after the crap that was Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, Crystal Dynamics has brought the Tomb Raider franchise back to life with its Tomb Raider: Legend.

Tomb Raider: Legend has our intrepid heroine Lara Croft, with a more than slightly rewritten biography, tracing shards of an artefact from her past in order to learn the truth behind the death of her mother. The hunt for the scattered sword fragments heats up when Lara encounters another group after the shards, making for an action-packed race against time in some of the worlds most exotic locations.

As per usual, the game play sticks pretty much to the Tomb Raider formula, having Lara solve a number of puzzles and perform a variety of platforming moves in order to activate a switch or open a door to advance the story. Added to the usual array of her rolls, flips and jumps is the nice addition of a magnetic grapple hook which adds some new dimensions to the platforming sections. The controls are fairly precise and you can get Lara to go where you want her to go without too much difficulty. The game makes it pretty obvious as to which path to follow and how to solve the puzzles, making it a fairly easy game to get through without getting too frustrated.

Thrown into the mix is the 3rd person view gunplay element, but it feels very much like a tacked on feature with it not being very involved or challenging indeed. But it does make for a nice change of pace of all the platforming segments, and again, broadens the gaming experience. And to inject even more freshness into the game, two motorbike rail shooter segments are tossed in as well. We even get interactive cut scenes, ala “Resident Evil” style as well :)

Visually the game features some absolutely stunning background models, with its wide variety of exotic locations showcasing the design talent that went into making this game. Laras costume finally returns to its more classic roots as well! The character models are all detailed and well animated as always and the ragdoll physics employed makes for some good fall animations.

The game didnt slow down much, even during the high paced action segments, but every now and then you could pick up on a dropped frame rate on the PS2 version of the game. Aurally, the game excels with a rich and complex musical backtrack, diverse sound effects and really good voice acting for the most part.

The game plays really well, sucks you in and because of its relatively short length, keeps you stuck to the console without you noticing it. Unfortunately, that also means you can finish the game well within 7 hours, a tad short to most peoples liking. Like I mentioned earlier, the game isnt particularly hard and wont punish casual gamers, which means that almost anyone should be able to pick this title up. –

Certainly not the hardest of Tomb Raider games, but definitely one of the most enjoyable and playable ones ever.

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