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May 15, 2006
Tomb Raider Legend - PS2 Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
13/4/2006AtariCrystal Dynamics1MMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
155KBDolby PLIIYesYesNoneYes

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Wait till you see this moving!
Can you believe that it has been almost 10 years since the first Tomb Raider appeared on PCís and consoles the world over. Thatís a long time. After the first couple of tremendous titles the series slowly degenerated into a mediocre chore missing any sense of adventure and entertainment. Lara creators and developers Core Design werenít bringing anything fresh to the table and it all fell in a heap two years ago when Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness was released to scathing reviews, and disappointing sales. So poorly was it received that publishers Eidos took the game away from Core Design and handed development of the series to American developers Crystal Dynamics Ė the company behind Legacy of Kain and the very amusing Whiplash on PS2.

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Look folks, tombs...
Tomb Raider Legend's story it told through a series of cut scenes. Early in the game you flash back to Lara's childhood in which she is involved in a plane crash with her mother. They discover a mysterious artifact which Lara activates, making her mother disappear. This quest looks at Lara's past as she tracks a mysterious artifact around the globe.

Itís clear just how much effort put into pre-production on this game. Crystal Dynamics have taken the best bits of the series, and the bits we loved the most, and put them all together while scrapping all the bits we hated. What am I on about? Well Tomb Raider Legend focuses on, as the title suggest, exploring tombs, and exotic locations. There are some moments in the city, but they are are the minority in the game. There is plenty of platforming and puzzle solving - the latter is actually some of the best puzzle solving in a game for some time.

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Climbing up the racks.
The game also has sections of action with plenty of guns and grenades available. Targeting and firing are with the L1 and R1 buttons, and while a little awkward it's pretty neat that weapons only have a limited range which varies depending what you have equipped. The environments are often littered with items that explode (yes, that means exploding barrels) which take out multiple enemies. Best of all the clunky character control of the previous game has been totally scrapped and a much more fluid moving, and wonderful looking Lara is now in place. In fact, one can not express just how well Lara now moves in this game.

Another gameplay style which Crystal Dynamics have included is the ability for Lara to ride a Ducati motorbike. This is certainly no Tourist Trophy in terms of handling however it is quite a thrilling experience to be zooming down a canyon, avoiding obstacles and also shoot at dozens of bad guys that are looking to end your adventures.

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A hint of Prince of Persia?
There's little to complain about with this game. The main quest will take you around 12 hours to complete if you rush through it, but taking your time to discover all the hidden items will take considerably longer. The cameras could have also been improved slightly at times, however they are never horrendous and you can manually rotate with the right analogue stick at any time.

Presentation in Tomb Raider Legend is second to none. Even from the very first James Bond styled opening credits to the fantastic level design, to the engrossing cut scenes everything in this game oozes style. Technically the PS2 is struggling and is starting to show its age although Crystal Dynamics have included a 60Hz mode, Widescreen and Progressive Scan mode. Despite some wonderful texturing and superb animations it's clear that this game needed a bit more system power to smooth out the graphics with jaggies on some of the, well, curvier aspects of the heroine and scenery. The frame rate occasionally dips but overall the graphical experience is still solid enough to keep the game flowing without interruption. Don't get me wrong though this is still a fantastic title compared to other PS2 games, but if you have either a beefy PC or a, dare we say it, XBox 360 you'll be better served with that version.

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Another of the puzzles.
Audio is another area where Crystal Dynamics have excelled. The music changes according to the action on screen and while it occasionally went a little glitchy (at one point the same 2-second clip looped until we moved Lara) it is so much better then that in previous games. Sound effects are also solid but where the game shines is the voice work. It must be noted that British actress Keeley Hawes is terrific as Lara Croft, and the supporting actors and actresses are no less impressive in presentation.

Eidosí decision to take Lara, and the Tomb Raider franchise, away from creators Core Design was not only a necessity after the last disaster, but also a masterstroke. Crystal Dynamics are one of the most underrated developers in our opinion and Tomb Raider Legend is a fantastic return to form for the franchise. Itís not perfect, and the PC and Xbox 360 versions do look much prettier, but PS2 owners have a game every bit as playable, and enjoyable, as the others. Make no mistake, now is the perfect time to check Lara out, I mean check out Lara... oh bugger it. Just go and buy Tomb Raider Legend, you wonít be disappointed.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSLara not only looks great, but moves well too. Superb locations.
SOUNDExcellent voice work, great music and effects. Great audio throughout.
GAMEPLAYThe puzzles are great, exploration fun and always entertaining.
VALUENot the longest game, but there's plenty to discover and unlock.
OVERALLTomb Raider Legend is the best title in the series since the original. Lara now looks and moves as we expect and the story is engrossing enough to keep you hooked. A fantastic return to form for a landmark series.

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