Tomb Raider: Legend

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend boxHopefully this is going to be a short review that I can just bang out real quick before hitting the sack. It should be short because the game itself was short. I used to hate short games, but I really enjoyed this one, so I wish it were longer.

I have played most of the Tomb Raider slash Lara Croft games. This one is the latest in the series and has a seriously long title: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend. I’ll just go with TRL for short since that’s just fun in itself. We love Carson and how his good Karma inspired Earl, which in turn entertained me for a television season (and so far, Summer with re-runs).

I gotta say right off the bat that this is without a doubt the best TR game I have played. I really enjoyed the first two, but this one was just great. I suppose a lot of that has to do with the evolution of the game and character. The next-gen graphics really helped this game excel in that I wasn’t constantly trying to jump and grab onto everything in sight… unlike a night out. I have to tell you that the water in the game is just amazing. There are a few maps with waterfalls on them and they are spectacular.

You know what else is spectacular? Lara, or more specifically, Lara’s chest. I mean, those things just defy gravity, so I have to believe they are implants, which is a slight turn-off. Mmmm… and that dress in the Japan map. Va-va-voom!

Whoa, whoa, whoa… stop!

I’m just pulling your chain… err, I’m not pulling anything.

Okay, enough with the crude fanboy humor. I’m no fanboy pixel lover.

Lara and the other characters were pretty well done compared to the others I have seen in the other 360 games so far. I think they are getting to a balance where the characters look pretty realistic, but not too realistic. I guess that shows itself most with the chest area, but then, that’s the comic book way… oh, and Hazel Mae too.

Anyway, I won’t give much away about the story of the game except to say there’s sort of a cliffhanger at the end in the same vein as Halo 2, so if you played that you know what I mean. The puzzles were all pretty well done and really, that’s the reason I play this game. In fact, it had been so long since I had played, I lamented the fact that I actually had to kill guys to progress on my way. I suppose there’s a reason she packs two pistols, but the game doesn’t need you to get your gun on to be good.

There’s also the requisite usage of vehicles to cross sections of map or within a map area. For the most part, these were cool. I liked the use of a motorcycle on the Japan map and the forklift was really clever on the England map (my favorite along with Ghana).

There was one thing that I really didn’t like about the game and as time went on I came to really hate. It has to do with the cut scenes slash animations on some maps. As you switch to a canned cinematic for an action, you are sometimes expected to participate in order to complete it successfully. According to Ed, this new level of cut scene interaction is popping up in some newer games. Other than some interesting death cinematics for failure, it was terribly annoying and I wish it weren’t part of the game. Most times you aren’t fast enough to press the buttons, so you end up watching a scene three to four times before you make it thru. No thanks, let’s keep the interactivity at the level of Call of Duty 2.

I left a couple achievements on the board which I probably could have attained if I went back and made an extra effort. I was one short of finding 5 gold rewards and probably a few short of 30 silver rewards, which would have netted me another 85 points. I also realized at the end of the game that I didn’t play it on Hard, which Ed did, and that would have tacked on 175 more points. This was pretty stupid on my part because what would Hard have really added? More pathetic and easy to kill enemies? Quicker crumbling ledges? Faster rolling boulders?

Overall, I had 620 of 1000 points, so that’s good enough for me. By comparison, Ed has 910 points with only a few more Time Trials to complete. Looking at this, I realized I really don’t care to kill myself over getting as many achievements as I can. Sure, I can easily pick up those 260 points and do the Time Trials too and probably get close to all 1000 without much of a time sink.

Even though this is one of the few games (I have only played four so far) that seem good about handing out the loot, I have decided that whatever I get is whatever I get.

What I am really doing is a CYA with respect to my Gamerscore, so please, no making fun or comparing yours to mine. I don’t care that yours kicks my ass Mr. All I Do Is Play 360 All Day. Actually, I should say “Little Mr. Punk Ass All I Do…”

So, I recommend TRL wholeheartedly… and I <3 Carson.