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Platform

PlayStation

 

Genre

Action / Adventure

 

Publisher

Eidos Interactive

 

Developer

Crystal Dynamics

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

April 2006

 

 

- Good graphics

- Nice musical score

- Well-paced action

- Good balance between exploration and combat

- Story is well done

 

 

- The game is way too short

- Occasional camera issues

 

 

Review: Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness (PS2)

Review: Shenmue II (Xbox)

Review: Escape from Monkey Island (Playstation 2)

 

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Tomb Raider: Legend

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

tomb-raider-legends-1.jpg (41142 bytes) tomb-raider-legends-2.jpg (28594 bytes) tomb-raider-legends-3.JPG (50360 bytes)

 

After what seems like an eternity, it looks like the folks at Crystal Dynamics are finally getting their groove back with the Tomb Raider series.  For years now, the games have been getting lambasted for being little more than ill-conceived cash cows trying desperately to make a buck off of the franchise name.  These games suffered from everything a critic could possibly complain about: poor cameras, crummy controls, bland story, et cetera.  Now, with Tomb Raider Legends, things are finally on the up and up.  Itís not perfect, as there are still the occasional times the camera and controls go wonky, and the game is ridiculously short, but overall the game makes for a decent rental.

 

While a lot of the media focus in terms of visuals has been on the Xbox 360 version, and to a lesser extent the PC version, of Legends, it should be said that the PS2 version of the game is quite pretty.  The character models are well done, and many of the environments, especially those with a lot of water or foliage, look very good.  Also, unlike the other aforementioned platforms that the game is available for, the PlayStation 2 version of Legends does not suffer from noticeable frame rate issues.

 

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Complimenting the visuals is Legendsí audio, which performs quite nicely.  The ambient noises do a nice job of adding atmosphere to the game, while the music finishes the job.  For the most part the voice acting is quite good, though there are a few lines in the dialogue worthy of a cringe or two.

 

However, while the story is engaging, the whole thing is way too short, and feels like it was made so for the sole purpose of leading into a sequel.  While this is quite normal in any story-based medium, the 

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way in which it is done here feels a touch insulting.  The story could likely have been wrapped up in a few more levels, but after about eight hours of play: WHAMMO! The whole thing is over.  It was fun wandering ruins, snow-swept mountains, and what have you, but if I were to have paid $40US for this game, Iíd be pretty damn pissed off that I could have finished the game and seen everything worth seeing in Legends for a $5 rental.

 

Despite the game being so short, what is there is entertaining.  The controls are tight, the cameraís usually behave themselves (though they do have their moments), and the gameplay provides a good mix of puzzle solving, and running around, shooting at bad guys.  Thereís even some Shenmue-inspired Quick Time Events, where players hit corresponding controller buttons when prompted.  Compared to other recent installments in the Tomb Raider series, Legends is a big step forward.  In a lot of ways the gameplay has returned to the core elements that made early chapters in the series so popular, and done away with much of the superfluous crap that critics and fans have been complaining about in the latter games.  The whole point of Legends is to traverse tombs, stop your evil competitor, and unlock a mystery.  No more, no less.  The only things that didnít need to be present were, firstly, the Quick Time Events, which were extremely rudimentary, and would not have been missed if not present, and, secondly, the vehicle sequences, which felt tacked on to make the game longer.  One interesting addition, though, was the added interactivity with the environment during combat, as sometimes players can shoot at objects, helping to more quickly dispatch enemies, whether through blowing up oil drums, or causing stone pillars to collapse.  While not necessary, it did add to the pace of combat, and brought a little bit of zazz.

 

Nonetheless, itís impossible to overlook just how short the game is.  Forking out forty bucks US for Legends is just not a good deal unless youíre a truly diehard fan of the series.  One could play through the entire game, and derive all the pleasure they possibly could out of it in a weekend rental.  Less than ten hours of content simply doesnít justify the gameís price, regardless of how improved Legend is over the last few Tomb Raider games.

 

- Mr. Nash

(May 15, 2006)

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