8.3

Tomb Raider: Legend offers the simple action and adventure that made the earlier games so unique.

After Angel of Darkness disappointed thousands of Tomb Raider fans with its clunky controls and uninspired action, most did not know what to think when Legend was announced. The earlier Tomb Raider games were so exciting and adventurous, that their sequels seemed to fall into a shadow. After Tomb Raider III and Angel of Darkness, the series began to lose the popularity and fan base that it once possessed. However, Legend attempts to revive the series by bringing back the fresh and entertaining gameplay that captured the hearts of gamers all over the world.

Although many fans of the earlier games enjoyed the original control scheme, Legends has redesigned it completely. One might think that the new controls affect the gameplay, but in this case that is not entirely true. Fans of the original may not favor the new controls, but most newcomers to the series feel that the controls work well with the gamelpay. The new control scheme is tight and fluent, even though the combat system has remained fairly simple compared to other action-adventure titles. One must remember that this game is based mostly on adventure, not action-packed gun battles. So far, the new control scheme has received some surprising complaints, but overall it makes Lara easier to maneuver. Personally, I think it functions much better than the unprecise, grid-based control scheme of the earlier titles.

The first Tomb Raider really was not much to look at, but Legend is a different story. The scenery is simply amazing, and the detail of each level demonstrates the amount of effort that was put into this game. The lighting effects have improved greatly, since there were virtually no eye-catching effects in the predecessors. The ruins that Lara explores in this game are gorgeous. Shafts of light break the darkness in the ancient stone caverns, and sometimes one must stop and bask in the impressive beauty of the levels. The atmospheric effects also bring new life to the game; the dense fog and the shimmering streams provide the player with a real sense of adventure. The character models are solid, and Lara Croft's voluptuous figure will not disappoint her longtime fans.

Legend has also improved its in-game sound. The fairly good voice acting gives new life to the characters, most of which are moderately believable. It took away that lonely feeling I often felt while playing the previous games. With the frequent updates you receive over the comm-link, you have the sense that there are people helping you, and that you're not just running through these levels alone. The music blended well with the gameplay, and it certainly gave you a nice sense of adventure throughout the game. The score adapted to the events of the gameplay, and succeeded in drawing the player into the game at its finest moments. Although some of the weapon sounds seemed a bit bland at times, it was not a major drawback in terms of the sound quality.

Gameplay has also improved greatly in Legend. As I mentioned before, the new control scheme flows well with the gameplay, and it is not difficult for the average gamer to adapt to. One could say that this is one of those "pick up and play" kind of games, where players can easily get a good feel for the controls. The puzzle-solving was quite entertaining at times, and they challenging enough to spark interest in the player without breaking up the game's action sequences. Although the gun battles are nothing special, they can still be fun at times. The occasional driving sequences are not even close to perfect, but still manage to add some nice varitey to the gameplay. Variety is also added with the frequent changes of scenery. I did not enjoy some of the more modern levels though, because they took away from the adventurous feel. "Tomb Raider;" you'd expect to be constantly exploring ruins by the sound of the title, but Legend seems to stray away from that at times. I thought the game was a bit short, but it was still very entertaining for the most part.

Overall, Tomb Raider: Legend is a great adventure game. If you did not like Angel of Darkness.....well, then we have something in common.....but you should not let past disappointments turn you away from this game. Legend might not be the most unique game in its genre, and neither is it the most exciting. But for fans of the old Tomb Raiders, this is a whole new "Tomb raiding" experience that should not be missed. Because of this game, the series has been somewhat revived. When comparing it to a hospital, one might say that the last few games resembled a patient in cardiac arrest. Legend represents the electric paddles that bring the patient back to life. So maybe this game isn't the greatest Tomb Raider game out there, but it succeeds in reminding gamers why Lara Croft captured the hearts of millions when the first Tomb Raider was released back in 1996.

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