Crystal Dynamics and Eidos have done the impossible. They have revived the Tomb Raider franchise. What was once the butt of many gaming industry jokes has been rebuilt. Bigger. Stronger. Faster. Better than ever before. Tomb Raider Legend is a darn good game that series fans and newcomers alike will find very enjoyable.
The gameplay in Tomb Raider Legend is a mix of combat, puzzles, and Prince of Persia-style platforming.
Combat is definitely the weak link here, but it can still be pretty enjoyable. Most of your enemies will be dispatched with your guns, and it is as simple as holding the left trigger to lock on and pressing the right trigger to shoot and the right bumper tosses grenades. The gunplay is pretty brainless, but it plays a rather small role in the grand scheme of things. You also have some hand-to-hand tactics you can use, but I never used them.
The puzzles are typical action/adventure game fare where you have to push blocks around to set off pressure plates. Once you figure out the basic layout of the puzzles, it is simply a matter of finding the pieces and then putting them in the right spot. Everything is pretty simple and none of the puzzles are too hard. One complaint is that there is really only one puzzle per level and you know that once you solve it you have smooth sailing on to the next artifact. Im fine with the difficulty of the puzzles since it gives you a little challenge but doesnt mess with the pacing too much, but I definitely would have liked to of seen more of them.
The platforming sections are easily the best part of the game because they are so well put together. Unlike the Prince of Persia games where things seem somewhat forced and unnatural (who in the heck designs their palace with poles and railings stuck all over the place?), the acrobatic platforming sections in Tomb Raider just make sense. Sure there are ropes and railings and things placed in suspiciously convenient locations, but it all just seems to flow together very naturally. The main reason why the platforming sections work so well is that jumping from pole to pole to ledge and back again is so effortless. There is still quite a bit of precision required, but you arent penalized for being a millimeter off. Another key to these sections is that there is quite a bit of variety in them. My personal favorites are climbing the outside of a building in Tokyo and crossing icy caverns in Nepal but all of them offer something unique.
There are also a couple of motorcycle sections but they are pretty forgettable. The controls are pretty bad and the gameplay consists of simply holding down the accelerator and auto-targeting enemies. Very easy and not too fun. This is one thing Im hoping doesnt make it into the sequel.
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