|Tomb Raider: Legend (2006)
Available for: Xbox 360, Xbox, PlayStation 2, PC
You may have noticed that in Bullz-Eye’s latest “Greatest Video Game Franchises” feature, a certain Ms. Lara Croft and her “Tomb Raider” adventures were missing. How could this be? Certainly Lara is one of the most recognizable video game icons of all time. While this is true, what cannot be denied is how terrible the franchise’s games became as the years rolled on. The first two installments were fun and frustrating in a good way. However, beginning with “Tomb Raider III,” the titles became frustrating in a bad way and more of an excuse to round off Lara’s tits and show off her bod than act as a vehicle for good video gaming.
The series bottomed out completely when Core Design (the developers who created the series and its sequels) finally crapped out “Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness.” The game was terrible to play and the controls so positively awful (something that Core claimed they had actually improved upon when the game was released) that Eidos Interactive finally shitcanned Core for good. Sometimes it’s just time to put a franchise to bed, and “Tomb Raider” was well into sleepwalking by this point.
Enter Crystal Dynamics. Responsible for such great classics as the “Gex” franchise (How about a new one of those, guys?), “Legacy of Kain,” the beloved “Pandemonium” and many more, this was a development team that could certainly bring new life into a dead dog. The official word is that the company took over a year to research the game and get everything just right before the first bit was coded. And what do you know? “Tomb Raider: Legend” pays off where everything after “Tomb Raider II” completely bombed. It’s kind of like when the dreadful 989 Games hijacked the “Twisted Metal” franchise and almost killed it until Incog, a revamped team that developed the first two classic titles in the series, revived it once again and brought the greatness back in “Twisted Metal Black.”
So what’s new here? How about less attention to Lara’s chest and more focus on the action? That’s what we all look for in “Tomb Raider,” right? Well, if you’re a fan, you do. The nicest thing that Crystal Dynamics has done here is completely free Lara of her previously tied-down controlling restraints. No more timing long jumps or constantly failing to grab those cliff edges or bouncing off the damn things because you didn’t stick to the control the developers made you stick to. This time around, Lara is free to bound, run, swim, jump, and all those other things she does so well as she likes. The Crystal Dynamics team also saw fit to fix the completely irritating jumping backwards off of surfaces that debuted in “Angel of Darkness,” too. This time players can pull off the move effortlessly.
Players will immediately notice how “lifelike” Lara controls this time around. It’s not klutzy with an annoying camera getting in the way and hindering action. Here, Lara moves as she always should have, graceful and athletic, with various button presses allowing the players to execute different moves with style and substance while she is in the air. Also worth noting is the groovy grappling hook that doubles as a shitkicking weapon. No more relying on those two pistols anymore. Lara can snare in the baddies with the hook and even pummel them with her hands and feet if she likes.
The puzzles are just as entertaining, and for once, the dialogue and storyline is great, too. The voice acting doesn’t come off as corny as it has in the past, and the visuals for the cutscenes (some of which are also playable) show that there’s still lots of pep in the old PS2. The point here is that if you’ve been wary of purchasing this “Tomb Raider” because the last few have sucked so bad, rest at ease and go on out and grab it. It’s nice to see Crystal Dynamics back again, and making a once great franchise fantastic again to boot. Sometimes the boobs behind the game are far more detrimental than the boobs in the game. CD has completely rectified this problem and made “Tomb Raider: Legend” and absolute joy to play.