Developers: Crystal Dynamics
Publishers: Eidos Interactive
Plot: While hunting relics in Bolivia, Lara encounters a connection with her past that blows her world wide open.
It used to be a tough life for a Tomb Raider fan. Our beloved heroine had messed up the transition from PS1 to PS2 with ‘Angel of Darkness’ and no one seemed willing to invest in taking Lara Croft to the next generation of gaming console. When Legends came out, we all investigated with low expectations, unaware that, in the grand scheme of things, Legends could be the game that brought Lara Croft back from the dead.
Maybe this is why Legends has a special place in my heart. It might not completely capture the charm of the original games, but in existing, it brought her back to the forefront of gaming’s mind. With a fresh lick of paint and a clever casting choice with Keeley Hawes, Lara Croft explodes onto your TV screen with all the passion and smarts that we remembered her by. All of the old tropes are there in force from the duel-wield pistols to the blue tank top, throwing you right back into the universe. It could be argued that Legends never tries to do anything truly special with the game, but we could also state that this was never Legends’ job. Its one intention was to celebrate Tomb Raider and armed with some stunning locations and well-crafted levels, it surely does that. As you avoid booby traps in the Tombs of Ghana, you cannot help but think that this is the Tomb Raider experience we had been waiting a decade for. It only gets better with Bolivia and Peru getting their time in the sun, levels that always promise to be a fun afternoon tackling. Even Cornwall gets a shout, which for a Cornish native like me, is pretty mind-blowing, especially when that sequence delivers the best boss fight in the game.
Of course, Legends is aware that it cannot dwell in the past. As well as giving us the Lara we remember, it adds some new dynamics to the gameplay. Lara’s mansion gets a make-over, including the addition of two new allies, alongside Winston, that help her figure out the meaning of various archaeological discoveries throughout the game. While it could be argued that the characters bring little in terms of plot to Legends, it does help to be providing with witty banter over the levels. While Lara works best as a lone wolf, the eerie silence of the earlier Tomb Raider games has a danger of not translating well to the next generation of game consoles. New gadgets are also included, especially the grapple hook. It is constantly useful throughout the game and helps keep things fresh. As well as a means of getting to the other side of the map, it is a good way of solving those crafty puzzles that Tomb Raider loves to tease you with. The other new dynamic is Quick-Time-Events, which is an element of gaming that I disagree with everyone else on. There is nothing wrong with them. Legends uses them very well, actually, not giving us a cop-out boss fight by relegating an enemy to a bit of button mashing, but using these quick time events as an ending, after the real boss fight. It makes the showdown a bit more cinematic and helps raise the excitement levels that little bit higher.
I would love to leave this review right now and give Legends five stars. Why? Well, the Keeley Hawes trilogy is my personal high point for the Tomb Raider franchise and I wanted at least one of the three games to come out of website with full marks. Legends is the best of the bunch, so clearly this is the perfect Tomb Raider game. However, I cannot do that for a few reasons. The most criminal downside to the game is that it is very short. A few levels later and you are done; when you have a load of Tomb Raider experience under your belt, Legends is just a little bit too easy to complete. This is meant to the big return of Lara Croft, so you want to spend more time with her than this popcorn piece of gaming. Other flaws include the ending feeling a tad flat. He rounds us up with a nice closing note, but the game’s villains don’t get the send-off they deserve. Mind you, they are nowhere near as fun as Von Croy or Natla, so did they even deserve it? So, no, I cannot give Legends full marks. This game will have to settle for a one-man standing ovation instead.
Final Verdict: Finally Lara Croft is back. While a little too short and easy, Legends is the perfect way to remind yourself how awesome Tomb Raider really is.