By FalcomAdol 1 Comments
Like Mary Poppins, Tomb Raider Legend is practically perfect in every way.
Before Legend, the last Tomb Raider game I'd touched was the first one, back on the SEGA Saturn, and I quit that one early on because I thought it was a terrible game. The reputation of TR on the Saturn was that it didn't have the fancy lighting of the PlayStation game, but that it had a superior control scheme. If that was the better control scheme, I can't imagine how PlayStation and PC gamers dealt with the game, because it made me want to throw my controller away or break the disc (both of which I avoided by shutting off the machine and loading up Radiant Silvergun again).
Tomb Raider Legend is basically a reboot of the series from TR2 on, taking place after the first game and forming an alternate time-line that comprises the Crystal Dynamics trilogy (along with the prequel TR Anniversary which is a remake of the original, and TR Underworld). Unlike the original Tomb Raider, there isn't anything wrong with the controls in any of the Crystal Dynamics games that isn't your own fault. If you jump to your death, you did it yourself, which may make it worse, but at least you know where the responsibility lies.
Legend was one of the earliest releases on 360, and like Activision's Gun, and Ubisoft's King Kong, it was more or less a high resolution version of a PS2 game. Thankfully, unlike Gun it wasn't a huge loss of face for everyone involved, and it manages to improve on the visual fidelity of the original, presenting gorgeous panoramic views of the various temples and mountain strongholds that Lara is plundering in her disturbing Anglo-Saxon way. That's always been one of the odd things about the series, the cavalier attitude that Lara takes towards killing anything in her way (although in this game she at least comments on it), stealing artifacts, defacing historical sites, killing other humans, and basically just blowing shit up. Thankfully you'll probably be able to put that out of your mind because it's all so much fun and done well.
The control scheme and the visual style are both in service to Crystal Dynamics's magic realism take on the Lara character. The physics are better, but she still does things that normal humans probably shouldn't do. The animals and creatures are more realistic, but there are ancient South American god-monsters and magical portals to the underworld in Lara's reality. Lara's clothing is more contemporary, but she's still got massive stonking greats. She's raiding tombs, but there are no dinosaurs or serpent minotaur creature things in them, rather they're mostly empty with an assortment of indescribably complex and improbable mechanisms that need to be traversed to reach her objective. Tokyo skyscrapers and corporate headquarters are scaled and plundered with similar ease, but their lofty penthouses conceal crazed Japanese men with ancient soulfire spewing swords in addition to hordes of corporate mercenaries with submachine guns.
I could go into everything I like about this game in detail, but I'll settle for a bulleted list:
- Truly analog control with full freedom of movement
- High quality graphics with expansive vistas of a large and naturalistic world
- World navigation puzzles that are actually fun
- QTEs that enhance the game experience instead of taking it over
- Z-targeting and motorcycle levels that are just long enough that they don't get in the way
- A game experience that's in service of a character and storyline that you give a crap about, you're in places for a reason beyond just killing tigers
- Hipster shorts over high-leg tank leotards (bring it back Crystal D, bring it back)
- A plot that knows when it's time to pick it up and move you quickly towards the ending
Highly recommended, one of my top 20 360 games (I don't have the whole list together yet, but this is on it)