Quote of the Moment

"Beep Industries currently has no openings. This is a good thing. Any number of career paths are better than game development. Lots of jobs are more lucrative and far less work. We hear marketing and animal husbandry are filled with potential."

Friday, July 6, 2007

Video Game Review: Tomb Raider Legend

I knew the dame was trouble the moment she walked into my office. Dames with curves like that always are. But hey, what was I to do? I'd just set up the new office on Gametap Avenue, and a client is a client. Of course, if I'd known that talking to her was going to end with me free-climbing in the Peruvian mountains, swinging across pits of spikes hoping that the vine I'm clinging to won't break, and getting into more running gunfights than I'd care to count with the thugs that were after her, I might have have said something different when she plunked down on my desktop and said, with a British accent in her voice, "Hello, I'm Lara Croft, and I need your help." Then again, I'm a sucker for an accent, and like I said, the dame had it where counts.

She said that she was trying to locate some sword fragments. "Fair enough", I responded, "but archeology really ain't my shtick. Have you tried Dr. Jones down the hall?" It wasn't like that though. The sword fragments were connected to the Arthurian legend of Excalibur, along with more personal connections to the disappearance of her mother, and her father's research. How could I say no to that?

I've never been a huge Tomb Raider fan, to be honest. Yes, I've seen the movies staring Angelina Jolie, but the last TR game I played was the original, and it had a protracted argument with my PC's video card that resulted in a less than amicable split. But TR Legend is available on the free side of Gametap's all you can eat game service, so I figured I'd give it a shot. The game was released last year for every major console and the PC, and got decent reviews as well.

Overall, I enjoyed the game. I usually have some annoyances with the camera controls in 3rd-person perspective games, but the camera here was surprisingly trouble free. Combat was generally fun, and save for some scripted button pushing sequences that I thought were totally unnecessary, the game moved along pretty well. It took me about 10 hours to finish the single-player campaign, although there are a lot of unlockables that could double that play time if you wanted to play Barbie dress-up with Lara and all her outfits. Then again, I'm married with two kids, and well past the Jr. High days of being amused with "Look at Teh cartoon B00biez" by taking 10 hours to unlock a bikini to dress Lara in. (Spend an extra 10 hours for this? No thanks.)

The story, while not the best I've ever seen, worked for me. The voice acting was also good, and the game had some genuinely good emotional moments.

One irritant that I dealt with that I suspect most people won't (and haven't) was in controls. For some reason I couldn't save my custom control scheme. While I finally devised a workaround via my programmable gamepad, it was still a perpetual annoyance everytime I started the game. Of course, if you play on a console, or even the normal PC version, you likely won't have this problem.

Here's the final stats:
Genre: 3rd Person Action/Adventure
System: PC (also availabe on Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2, and Gamecube)
Rated: T (Ages 13 and up)
Appropriate for Ages: 13 and up. I guess the ESRB agreed with me, since they rated TR: Legend T for Teen. As previously noted, boys of a certain age will chuckle about Lara's "assets", but the game is worth playing regardless.
System Requirements: If you've bought a new computer in the past three years, you should be fine. Or, just play it on the console.