Tomb Raider Legend (GameCube)
After the sixth Tomb Raider game, Angel of Darkness, failed to live up to expectations of all kinds, the IP was taken away from the original developer and given to Crystal Dynamics for a reboot. Lara Croft's background story got rewritten, controls and gameplay experienced a major overhaul. The most obvious change in Tomb Raider Legend is the death of the tank controls which made Lara's movement stiff and clunky in the precedung games. The new developers also shamelessly took inspiration from Ubisoft's reboot of the Prince of Persia series, so the mechanics for platforming and climbing are quite similar and feature a semi-automatic correction to the player's inputs, adjusting height and distance of jumps as well as direction to make actions look like proper traversal through the environment.
Lara Croft's goal in Tomb Raider Legend is to find clues about the whereabout of her mother who went missing after a plane crash in the Himalaya. Her journey takes her across four continents, so visual variety is secured despite a short game length. Dozens of hidden treasures make up for this at least somewhat, the option to explore Lara's manor doesn't hurt either. There are notable benefits to treasure hunting as Ms. Croft's standard handguns receive useful upgrades at certain percentage thresholds. Art galleries, music and costumes get unlocked in the same manner. Replaying the individual levels with a time limit is an interesting challenge.
The majority of the gameplay is spent on finding your way through the levels and solving some not too demanding puzzles, every now and then there are interruptions with gunfights. None of this plays particularly great, but it's certainly serviceable. Occasionally the semi-automatic correction to control inputs doesn't trigger and results in a frustrating death, but checkpoints are plentiful. The two motorbike sections in Tomb Raider Legend are reminiscent of what players have to deal with in the first Bayonetta; riding a bike is notably less entertaining than the rest of the game and it gets repetitive fast. It's also here where the lackluster technical execution hurts the most, because the framerate makes it tough to play at times, despite barely any challenge to these sections.
Overall, Tomb Raider Legend constitutes a successful reboot of a franchise that was in dire need of it. There is obvious room for improvement, but this is a decent start.
|Controls||10||The semi-automatic platforming and climbing controls
sometimes fail to trigger.
|Gameplay||The Tomb Raider reboot adopts mechanics of Ubisoft's
Prince of Persia reboot. Levels are linear.
|Story||Deliberately over the top and at times hilarious.
The cliffhanger ending stings.
|Single-player||Lara Croft visits locations all across the world, finds
artifacts and treasure, and kills the bad guys.
|Graphics||Framerate drops are a constant companion. The motorbike
section in Kazakhstan seems to run at only 20 fps.
|Sound||A fitting soundtrack and good voice acting.
Nice title theme.
|Value||The journey lasts only around eight hours, but there is plenty
of hidden treasure in each level. Bonus level: Croft Manor.
|Replay Value||The time challenges are an interesting addition and there are
lots of unlockable goodies, including dozens of customes.
|Score||6||Crystal Dynamics fixed Tomb Raider's dated gameplay, but
the disappointing technical execution dampens the fun.