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February 11, 2006
Tomb Raider Legend - PS2 Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
13/4/2006EidosCrystal Dynamics1$99.95

CHECK OUT THIS AWESOME VIDEO OF TOMB RAIDER IN ACTION (5.9Mb)

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Visuals are once again impressive.
How a decade changes the fortunes of a game series. The year was 1996, nine years ago now, and little know Core Design released a game that was to set new benchmarks in terms of graphics an gameplay. That game was Tomb Raider. There were numerous sequels on PSOne (four in total) but the series seemed to stagnate after the third game. Indeed much hope was placed on the extra power and graphical prowess of the Playstation 2 to deliver the next generation of Lara Croft and her adventures.

In mid 2003 Eidos unleashed Tomb Raider: The Angel Of Darkness. What should have been one of the Playstation 2's and certainly Eidos' finest hours turned into a nightmare. The game was a mess. Poor environment interactions, poor AI and horrific controls. So bad was that games reception in the press and retail sales that publishers Eidos took the development of this new game away from series creator Core Design and handed it to American developers Crystal Dynamics.

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Look folks, tombs...
And now we anxiously await the release of Tomb Raider Legend. Crystal Dynamics have had a look at the series and are taking it back to its roots - raiding tombs. I mean when you see a Star wars movie you expect so see space battles, when you go to an opera you expect people to sing. We are about to get what we expect from a Tomb Raider, plenty of tombs. In fact the locations announced so far include ancient tombs, dangerous jungles, and snowy mountain ruins - certainly a far cry from the city based action of the previous title.

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Climbing up the racks.
In terms of gameplay Crystal Dynamics are making some solid promises that look set to vastly improve this latest Tomb Raider titles. First and foremost is that the controls are changing to be more fluid. A dynamic animation system puts focus on continuous motion, giving Lara the ability to seamlessly handle any obstacle and interact dynamically with any surface. The game also seems a lot more action packed then previous games - the trailer available above shows lara firing a mounted gun. Crystal Dynamics and Eidos were both quick to point out, however, that the game will include a big return to the puzzle solving of earlier titles. One final positive change is that Crystal Dynamics have stated that almost the entire game is streamed of DVD so there should be minimal load times.

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A hint of Prince of Persia?
Graphics in the previous title, Tomb Raider: The Angel Of Darkness, weren't revolutionary, and its unlikely this game will set any new benchmarks either, but it will be a big improvement. The range of animations will be improved and apparently all these animations are being created by a single person which should ensure consistency through the game. Thankfully we can expect a better frame rate then those in the previous title. As you can see from the surrounding screenshots the texturing and lighting looks quite special - the game certainly has a dark look to it, but what do you expect when your in the middle of an underground cavern or tomb? F

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Visuals are once again impressive.
I would love nothing more then to see Lara Croft make a big impact on the game world again, whether or not Crystal Dynamics can make good on their promises remains to be see however the developer does have a very strong track record with titles such as Legacy of Kain, Project Snowblind and one of the funniest and most overlooked titles of all time, Whiplash to their credit.

Eidos have set this game for release on April 13th here in Australia (and the rest of the world we believe), and one thing is for certain - they won't rush this game. A second disaster like Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness will spell certain doom for the series. Fortunately everything at this stage seems to be heading in the right (read: better) direction.