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Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend Xbox 360

Published by Eidos
Developed by Crystal Dynamics
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £49.99

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend, an introduction.

There can be little doubt that the Tomb Raider series has had a massive impact on the games industry. The original game is often claimed to have been one of the key reasons for the success of the first PlayStation console but it was also a game that was important to PC gaming. I still remember the feeling of amazement after playing the game with the patch that enabled support for the original 3DFX graphics accelerator card. In my opinion that's where 3D gaming truly begun on the PC and even though 3D games on the PC have improved significantly since then, I don't think anything will make the kind of impact that Tomb Raider made when playing it in true 3D for the first time. As we all know the series went on to become hugely popular and there have even been a couple of Tomb Raider movies too. Many blame Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness for the series' fall from grace but in truth the third, fourth and fifth titles in the series didn't quite have the magic of the first two games and whilst The Angel of Darkness, in some ways, didn't feel like a typical Tomb Raider game, it certainly wasn't the disaster it was made out to be. The game's lack of popularity (in comparison to the earlier games) did bring about some big changes though, with the development team being replaced and a return to the original style of Tomb Raider sought. After several years of being out of the limelight Lara Croft finally returns in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend.

What's the game about?

The game begins with a flashback. A very young Lara and her mother are aboard a private jet that's just about to crash. After this short sequence you'll switch to the present day with Lara arriving in Bolivia. Initially Lara is in search of, amongst other things, a stone dais. There are more flashbacks to follow and the reason for these soon becomes obvious as Lara is researching the events that surrounded the death of her mother. As you might expect Lara's research doesn't go according to plan and on arriving in Bolivia she encounters a team of mercenaries who, it appears, are out to kill her. Tomb Raider: Legend has you globe trotting to countries such as Bolivia, Peru, Japan, Ghana and England. In addition to the main story you can explore the Croft Manor and replay the missions you've completed in a Time Trial fashion.

What's good about the game?

Tomb Raider: Legend definitely feels like the best game in the series since Tomb Raider II. The rather stiff control system and staccato-like game flow that plagued The Angel of Darkness has been replaced with controls that feel just right and a story that is well paced. In short it feels just how a Tomb Raider game should and this is sure to please longstanding fans of the series.

There's a good mix of action, puzzle solving and platforming on offer in Tomb Raider: Legend. It's clear the rather acrobatic Prince of Persia series has had an influence on the developers with some of the moves Lara now has, which is certainly no bad thing. Lara now has a grapple that she can use to pull things, as well as using it as an aid to cross hazardous chasms that would normally be too wide to leap over. She also has a special pair of binoculars that can be used to show you what items can be interacted with. Lara now has a PDA, which stores all of the information you'll need. The developers have even added a few interactive cutscenes where you'll need to press the relevant button at the right time (kind of like in the Shenmue games), which adds a little variation to the game. There's also some motorbike chases to liven things up a little too. In all there's a decent amount of variety in the game and it's all entertaining stuff.

Of course the Xbox 360 version has an assortment of achievements that not only earn Gamerscore points but will also add some replay value to the game. There are 23 achievements in total and these cover such things as completing missions (50/75 Gamerscore points), collecting a certain number of bronze, silver and gold rewards, completing all of the time trials and completing the main adventure. Completing the game on the hard difficulty setting appears to yield the most Gamerscore points with a total of 175 points on offer for this.

What's not so good about the game?

If you've played any of the Tomb Raider games before you'll know there's only so much you can do in the game and Tomb Raider: Legend is no different in this respect. Block pushing, acrobatic leaps and climbs are the order of the day once again. The puzzles in the game pretty much involve the same techniques and this familiarity takes away some of the challenge in the latter parts of the game. There are several parts in the game where you are involved in a shootout and these sequences are really easy and don't pose anything resembling a challenge. In fairness though, the game isn't a shooter and had these shootouts been difficult it may have been off-putting to the game's main audience. The game's length, around 8 hours or so is a little disappointing but again I'd sooner have the game how it is rather than simply feel padded out.

How does it look?

Tomb Raider: Legend is easily the most visually impressive Tomb Raider to date. The Xbox 360 version naturally looks the best out of the numerous versions on offer because it allows you to play the game in HD (although to be fair even on a normal TV it still looks very good). I can't honestly say the game looks as good as it possible could on the Xbox 360 (although there are some fantastic lighting and texture effects in the game) but even so there is little to complain about and many Xbox 360 owners will simply be appreciative that the series has arrived on the console and that it does look noticeably better than the Xbox and PlayStation 2 versions. The frame rate does dip from time to time, which is a little disappointing although it should be noted that the dips are never problematic.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

The Xbox 360 version of Tomb Raider: Legend does offer subtitles and this enables deaf gamers to follow the story. The subtitles are displayed using a bold white font and have been placed on a darkened overlay for maximum clarity. The subtitles aren't colour-coded though and there is no speaker name or picture adjacent to the text but thankfully, it's usually obvious who is saying what. There are no captions or visual cues in the game. Tutorial messages are displayed in text, so you'll have no problem in learning the controls. Although the game allows you to save anywhere your progress is only recorded at the beginning of the current checkpoint. Thankfully you're notified in text (on the lower right of the screen) when a checkpoint has been reached. Pressing the back button will bring up Lara's PDA which allows you to check on objectives as well as monitor the gear and data that Lara currently has. In short deaf gamers are fairly well catered for with Tomb Raider: Legend.

Final thoughts.

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend is a game that should please those who became disillusioned with the last few titles in the series. The main aim of the game, I suspect, was to reawaken the appeal for the Tomb Raider games and Tomb Raider: Legend certainly achieves this. Unlike the last few titles in the series Tomb Raider: Legend feels right. The enjoyable experience may be a little brief for some as it only lasts around eight hours or so but it's an enjoyable eight hours that will leave Tomb Raider fans wanting more, something the last few games in the series haven't done.

Overall Game Rating: 8.2/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend sees Lara Croft making a successful return and marks an about turn in the fortunes of the Tomb Raider series.