Tomb Raider Legend is a visual feast and a blast to play through the first couple times. Unfortunately, once you’ve beaten the game, there’s nothing else to do unless you’re into gathering collectibles and hidden treasures. Luckily, there’s decent rewards in the form of achievements in store for those that have the patience to find them all.
The Good: Lara’s back in another Tomb Raider game. The campaign is a lot of fun and remains enjoyable on your second and even third time through. Lots of fairly easy achievement points to be had here – 500+ simply for completing the campaign. Stunning environments and solid gameplay.
The Bad: Lara’s back in another Tomb Raider game – are we tired of sequels yet? While the campaign is really fun to play through, it’s also very short. It should only take the average player 7-8 hours to complete the first time through. The camera can be frustrating at times. Frequent frame rate slowdowns when played at 720p. No multiplayer.
It’s been a long time coming, but Lara’s finally back with an all new adventure. Tomb Raider Legend brings to the table exactly what you’d expect. Nothing more, nothing less. Which is both good and bad. I had a lot of fun playing the campaign and have gone back and played it a couple times, but it’s an odd feeling you get when you’ve picked up a new game for a ‘next gen’ console and it feels dated. In a time when online play is such a huge part of the gaming experience, it’s strange to see single player only titles. But none the less, this is still a great game. It’s just a drag that it’s so short lived. It took me just over 7 hours to play through the campaign the first time. The second time you revisit the game, it’s much quicker as you already know how to complete the puzzles and what your objectives are.
Tomb Raider Legend for the Xbox 360 and PC looks absolutely fantastic! Xboxyde has posted some screenshots comparing old gen to next gen and the difference between the two is pretty amazing. In particular, water and foliage are really impressive. There are some spots where Lara is running through ankle deep water and the reflection of the world and Lara herself is perfect. It looks real, plain and simple. Waterfalls and rapids also seem almost photo realistic at first look.
I can’t say I was overly impressed by the sound. Nothing really stood out as being exceptional. It’s well done and the music is fairly atmospheric. But the gun sounds are pretty weak and there’s a couple motorcycle sequences where the vehicles didn’t sound all that great either.
Gameplay wise – the controls are solid. There’s an easy auto-targeting system you can use to keep an eye in your crosshairs simply by squeezing the left trigger. While you’ve got an enemy in your sights and if you’re close enough, you can do some cool hand-to-hand moves. If you jump, then jump off an enemy’s head/shoulders, it goes into a slow-mo cutscene like animation that lets you shoot your enemy down extremely easily. You can also kick him up in the air and shoot him while he’s flailing about, which is pretty funny to see. The camera is over the shoulder, third person as you’d expect. And again, as you’d expect, it’s gets caught in some awkward spots leaving you more than a little frustrated when it suddenly changes direction just before you make a big leap only to fall to your death. This didn’t happen all that often, but enough for my to mention it here. The acrobatic stuff is done really well. It’s very similar to that of the recent Prince of Persia games but I found it more fun to be flipping around as Lara. It’s just more fluid and there’s less figuring out where you need to jump, swing or climb to next and more simply doing it. I will admit, there was a few times after missing a ledge when I found myself squeezing the left trigger to go back a few moments in time and try it again.
Tomb Raider Legend is really good for the gamerscore. You’ll rack up over 500 points after completing the campaign. More if you’ve collected a certain number of treasures. Once you’ve beaten the story mode, there’s a few other things to keep you playing. There’s time trials which are actually very challenging. The first time I played the first level, it took me 28 minutes. The time trial for this level is 12. You pretty much have to just run through without missing a beat to complete these. There’s also a fair bit of unlockable content. Most of which you won’t care about – character bios and concept art. Yay. But there’s lots of alternate outfits as well which are gained by gathering all of the silver rewards. By far the best extra is Croft Manor. You get to roam around Lara’s home where there’s a handful of collectibles and some pretty challenging puzzles. There’s also a beautiful pool area and a gym that’s pretty fun to climb about.
After playing about half of the campaign, I hooked my 360 up to my LCD monitor to see how it looks in HD. While it appeared even more beautiful and vibrant, the struggling framerate while running at 720p was a huge disappointment. That’s one thing that always made PC gaming hard to swallow – getting a smooth framerate. But at least on the PC you can tone down the visuals to get it running better. I guess you can lower the resolution on the 360 – but I don’t think I should have to. It’s kind of worrisome to see the console struggling with games with it only being a few months old. How is it going to fare a year from now?
It’s kind of hard to recommend this game as it is very short. I’m actually a little embarrassed to say, but I finished it in less than 24 hours from the time I bought it. If you’re big into achievement points and a fan of the action adventure genre, Tomb Raider Legend is at least worth a rent. It’s just good, old-fashioned fun at it’s best.