Tomb Raider: Legend
In one word, short. In two words, short and awesome. This game may not hit any balls out of the park, but it hits a knee high line drive that gets us at least a double play. With satisfying visuals, good voice acting, and a nod towards the gameplay that made it great, Tomb Raider has returned in a big way. After perhaps one of the more embarrassing series failures of all time, it looks like Crystal Dynamics may have pulled it off, reinvigorating this once tired and sad franchise. This time around Lara is packing a healthier, slimmer look, complete with' ahem, polygons' that don't make her look like she'd break her back during simple stretches. Backing up the new look is a gameplay that's been tweaked ever so slightly to improve on the classic pattern. Will you like it? I think so. I did.
The story is familiar. Hunt down a powerful artifact. Learn secrets from Lara's past. It's all stock standard stuff, but entertaining too. Equipped with her signature pistols and anything she can take off of her enemies, expect all of your combats to be short range, nasty, and occasionally frustrating. I don't think combat got as much attention as it deserved however, so it suffers a little with range and movement problems.
The game really shines outside of combat, when you get to play around with Lara's amazing gymnastic ability. First off, there's a bevy of little gymnastic special moves that you can perform that just look cool. You can also press a button in time to your movements to speed them up. This really refreshes the gameplay, as you're no longer forced to wait for Lara, instead being able to control exactly how fast she climbs a ladder. Finally, you'll need to be careful with the camera. Since it ll influence the direction you jump and how you move, you'll need to be spot on to avoid dying from a badly positioned jump. Oh, and as a warning, the game features a couple of bike racing scenes that are a total throwaway. They're badly placed fluff that should've never been included in the game, as they?re repetitive and boring.
Graphically, Lara's adventure lives up to the next-gen name. It doesn't feature the hottest graphics around, but they do work. Overall, I'd give it a plus for having some good vistas, but two check marks; one for the repetitive racing sequences and another for the severe lack of big, epic, wowtastic views. There are a couple of Kodak moments in the game, but that's barely enough to whet your whistle. A decent soundtrack rounds out the presentation, and fans of the first three seasons of Spooks (MI-5 in the US) can spot Keeley Hawes playing Lara Croft herself.
All in all, I'm glad this title got made; I've wanted to play it for some time. Good gameplay, some basic improvements over previous generations of Tomb Raider titles, and only a few drawbacks make this a really enjoyable game. If there were a few more hours here, it would've been a really A+ title, but as it stands it's still a good purchase.