Lara Croft is one of the most recognizable faces and, just being honest here, bodies in video game history. Dating back to the late 90s, this iconic tomb raider has become a legend in the video game industry and the word is fitting for the title of one of her games. Tomb Raider: Legend marked the relaunch of the Tomb Raider series and, in chronological order, formed the second installation of the “new” Tomb Raider trilogy. It’s hard not to love Lara, but does this game make you love her even more? Read on to find out.
The story of Lara Croft can be a bit confusing, as the later installments of the original series decided to kill of our archeological vixen, yet still managing to make a game afterwards which was, of course, a huge failure; so, they decided to bring her back, simply ignoring the fact that she died. So, to keep it simple, just exclude everything in between the original game (which is also practically the same story as Anniversary, which is also on OnLive) and Tomb Raider: Legend and you should be good. Staying in the mindset of K.I.S.S., Legend’s plot revolves around everyone’s favorite archeologist roaming across the world in search of clues as to what happened to her long, lost mother…yes, mother and just realize that her father was a famous archeologist that she is always following in the footsteps of everywhere she goes; it makes things easier. Anyway, trying not to reveal too much, Lara goes from place to place finding artifacts, killing bad guys, and discovering that some legends and myths, especially those that involve swords in stones and ladies of lakes, have a bit more truth to them than any archeologist would have ever thought. Magic energy shooting swords and spears aside, the story to the game is entertaining and should surely have any Indiana Jones fan feeling satisfied.
Tomb Raider is still very much an action/adventure/puzzle game, so, while there is a high dose of shooting and boss battles, expect to spend most of your time climbing cliff sides, solving dungeon-type dilemmas, and decrypting puzzles. This is really where the game shines, as it should, because solving puzzles is fun and who doesn’t enjoy watching Lara shimmy across a ledge, swan diving by a waterfall, or emerge from depths of a cavernous, underground lake all sopping wet? Isn’t archeology great! In all seriousness, the game sticks to its roots and delivers a solid adventure game experience that should make the original proud. Another interesting addition to the whole adventure/puzzle motif is the addition of the Croft Manor as a place you can go at any time during the game to discover secrets, solve puzzles, change outfits, or just check out Lara’s awesome crib. It’s nothing big and it is entirely possible to just playthrough the game without having to venture there once, but, for the completionists out there, you just won’t be able to resist.
Shooting is simple with a lock-on feature that lets you jump between the foes you want to take out and an evade maneuver that lets you leap out of the way any charging baddies. There is also a “focus” mode that can be entered when enemies get close in which hitting button commands allows Lara to execute cool moves on her enemies. Speaking of executing button commands, that also makes a few, thankfully, brief appearances in the game. Push right to dodge that, push up to jump this, it’s a bit annoying, but it was the fade of that gaming era, so players just have to put up with it. The fighting portion of the game is a bit limited, and, while it would be have been nice to see more options, the action part of action/adventure should take a backseat.
Controls and graphics-wise, Tomb Raider: Legend is a smooth success. Whether playing with a keyboard/mouse or gamepad, the game controls very well. Issues with making the proper jump with a gamepad’s joysticks can sometimes be an annoyance, but it is nowhere near what it was like with the original Tomb Raider. Having Lara fall to her death has almost, somewhat of a nostalgia-feel to it, so, at times, it kind of just feels right. In terms of how the game looks and plays, OnLive players should be satisfied with what they are getting. The game looks great and plays on the service very well. As someone who had the original on PC, I can say I was more than happy with the performance I was getting on the OnLive version. This game, as well as Anniversary and Underworld, are available exclusively on the Playpack, so if you want to play it, make sure you are a subscriber first.
It’s tough to say anything bad about Lara, as anyone can clearly see in this very forgiving review, but the game is far from perfect; however, if players are looking for a fun, entertaining action/adventure singleplayer game that delivers on puzzles, adventuring, and the hottest chick in gaming (suck it FF and RE fans!), then this is a game for you, and if you are a Playpack subscriber, give it a chance if you’ve never played it before and make your fee for the month worth it.
***NOTE: This review was first published during the OnLive 1.0 era.