Once again, the goddess of video games has returned. Tomb Raider: Legend starring Lara Croft is being developed by Crystal Dynamics, the developers who brought us the Legacy of Kain series, and under the guiding hand of Lara's original creator, Toby Gard.
After the debacle that was Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, the developers took to heart what gamers and media had to say and went back to the drawing board. Or back in time, I should say, because with Tomb Raider: Legend, the dev team has brought the game back to its roots. Back to what once made the series so much fun. But more on that later.
For starters, Lara has evolved visually. Now, she has become eerily realistic with visible tendons, muscles and bones. She now carries all of her gear on her body, so goodbye to the inventory ring. How many grenades can she carry? Four, as that is what will fit on her person. She now also sports a magnetic grappling device which she'll use a good bit in gameplay. She also has an automatic light source that comes on whenever she visits dark places, so no more fumbling with a flashlight. And of course, as wealthy as she is, she has a tech team back at the mansion giving her info through her head piece.
Although Legends will have it's fair share of puzzles, there will always be several ways to solve the puzzles, so the game won't have such a linear feel to it. You might use your grappling gun, your pistol or a grenade to solve a puzzle. Also, she'll be facing human enemies this time, so no wayward wolves or bears should trouble her. At certain points in the game, there may be a group of enemies and an explosive barrel located amidst them. At this time, the triangle button will appear over the barrel and if you hit the button at the right time, it will explode and take out the group of baddies. This gives the game that bit of twitch element that has been so well-received in games of late such as Resident Evil 4 and God of War. A stronger emphasis is being placed on action this go around, so while puzzles will be present, the focus is on fast-paced good times.
One cool effect is that Lara now anticipates her actions. What this means is that if you set her up to do a backwards jump, she will glance over her shoulder to check things out first. It adds an incredible amount of realism to her character. In addition, Lara will try to save herself, meaning that if she is about to fall off a ledge, she will try to grab on, and with the correct hand according to where she is positioned, no less. Of course, with all TR games, you can kill her if you want. There is a scripted camera in place that really appears to do a good job of showing you exactly what you need to see, however you can move the camera about as needed. There are checkpoints for saving and Lara can pick up healthpacks, along with environmental health, as well as weapons and stuff that is dropped by those she kills.
Tomb Raider: Legends takes Lara immediately back to the tombs at the opening of the game, and during her treks, she'll visit eight very different locales, hitting almost all of the continents. This story will explore what has been hinted at in previous games: exactly what happened to Lara in the Himalayas. Also, she'll sport eight different costume changes throughout the game. Unlockables were also mentioned, such as new costumes and maybe an unlockable location as well. Also, some online content was hinted at, but not elaborated upon.
Only time will tell whether Tomb Raider: Legends will restore the Lara Croft series to its once great heights. I, for one, was truly impressed by what I saw and am highly anticipating its release.