It's hard to imagine someone who hasn't heard of Lara Croft of the Tomb Raider series as the gal has become something of an institution since her inception in 1996. Legend is number 7 in the PC game series, but she also appears in printed adaptations, novels, animated short films and movies, as well as inspiring a variety of merchandise. In the Guinness Book of World Records she is recognized as "the most successful videogame heroine."
Lara was first developed by Core Design and the games were both critically and commercially successful. However, eventually Tomb Raider started to fall behind the times and poor reception of the 6th game, Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, resulted in a switch to American developer Crystal Dynamic for a makeover. Proving views are subjective however, AOD was my first experience with the Tomb Raider series and even though it did have specific failings, it engaged me enough to want Legend and its sequel, Underworld.
Aside from the character, the premise of the games itself is alluring. Lara Croft, an English Lady of the aristocracy is an adventurer in the same sense as Indiana Jones, an archaeologist venturing into ancient ruins and tombs around the world in search of special artifacts. Add to the mix that she's rich, beautiful, intelligent, and athletic as well as a crack shot and it's a formula that can hardly miss. With a new game design in Legend, Tomb Raider once again became well received in the gaming community.
Legend centers on Lara's search for her mother and the sword Excalibur. Her adventures take her to Bolivia, Peru, Japan, Africa, England, Kazakhstan and Nepal. In addition to these, there is also a mini game within the game in the form of exploring her English Manor for puzzles and rewards. Along the way she can collect gold, silver and bronze relics which unlock extras such as outfits and models. It's rich in storyline and the various other parties interested in these artifacts provide the combat situations. A great portion of the game is devoted to Lara's athletics. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.......no, seriously this is almost true as she scales impossible heights, hangs from precarious ledges and swings from ropes and vines.
I feel the graphics could have been better. To me they were slightly crude, but perhaps the designers didn't want to toy too much or too quickly with the institution that made Lara famous. It's always tricky dealing with serious fans. There are one or two glitches like Lara walking through objects and sometimes the camera angle is a decided nuisance. Learning to aim her in the right direction for a jump can be a frustrating experience. These don't seriously affect the gameplay, but there are a couple of more serious bugs that do. She is able to perform a vast variety of movements, almost too much, and this is one of those games where I feel there are just too many controls to remember, but it does make her very maneuverable in certain situations. Her swimming abilities, however, leave a lot to be desired.
Lara can carry one additional weapon besides her dual pistols as well as four grenades, which I found to be mostly useless. Much more useful is her grapple that allows her to cross chasms and move objects. The puzzles mainly concentrate on how to get from one place to the other and in finding the rewards. Some of these moves are pretty hair-raising and involve dizzying heights. There are also a few motorcycle gymnastics just to add variety.
In conclusion, although I found the controls to be somewhat unwieldy, (particularly during the boss fights) the game is a visual panoramic and the story very engaging. That aside, it's just downright fun swinging from pillar to post, swan diving from vast heights and doing back flips off the enemy. There's just never a dull moment.