Tomb Raider Legend (DS)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Saturday, December 8, 2007

Graphics: 7.50
Sound: 7.00
Gameplay: 6.75
Replays: 5.00
Gamelength: 8.50

Eidos brings Tomb Raider Legend to the Nintendo DS and actually pulls it off, but not without flaws.

This installment of the Tomb Raider series takes our favorite buxom heroine through places all over the world on a quest to solve the mystery of her own mother’s death. The story isn’t anything all that great and most people probably wont care much for it, but something that impressed me is that this game has CG video cutscenes and quite a few of them, at that! They’re comparable to a CG you would see on a PlayStation 1 game, which is pretty good for a Nintendo DS title and a lot of them are pretty entertaining to watch.

The in-game graphics are a mixed match of really good and really bad. On one hand, the environments are absolutely gorgeous and quite varied, standing out as some of the best graphics on the DS. However, on the other hand the character models are unattractive and look completely out of place. Lara and all who oppose her look like 2D sprites with horrible animations that lack any sort of fluidity. The environments definitely steal the show in this department and help to make it more tolerable. It’s not so bad that it becomes unplayable, by far, but most people will definitely find the odd-looking 2D characters to be out of place.

This game is pretty fun to play on all fronts, but at times it can be a bit frustrating and repetitious for several reasons. The combat is really bland and doesn’t really do the series justice, as it is either A button spam or in other cases, a “lock-on and touch the targets on the bottom screen” system. No, I am not kidding. In many cases, you’ll lock onto a target, then pull out the stylus and tap any target(s) on the bottom screen. This form of combat is extremely easy, yet annoying at times when you have to frantically reach for your stylus and switch screens on top of that. This form of combat just doesn’t feel very rewarding. The AI is absolutely stupid. Even on hard mode it’s hard to die during combat unless you’re trying to do so. Also, get used to Lara’s pistols because that’s what you’ll be using most of the game. Infinite ammo, semi-automatic shots and no real need for more power render other weapons pointless. Despite the odd combat mechanics, the environmental puzzles are standard Tomb Raider fare, which is by no means a bad thing. Aside from an occasional random fall or unresponsive jump, the game is pretty fun and moves at a smooth pace. The controls are also just about as good as you could ask for. Lara’s movements are tight, combat is easy to pick up and the button layout just falls into place. Tomb Raider Legend is also a pretty long game, spanning a nice 7-8 hours the first time through, no matter the difficulty setting. There’s also an artifact trading game, which appears to be absolutely useless. If collecting things is your thing, then by all means go ahead and play around with the trading mode, but most people are not going to find any sort of enjoyment there.

The voice acting in this game is pretty standard, which is just fine. Weapons sound unrealistic, but the other combat, animal and environmental effects are a decent treat for the ears. The music has it’s ups and downs, but is typically at it’s best during heated cutscenes.

When the game ends, there’s no real sense of accomplishment and there’s no real reason to play it again. That’s not a huge problem if you factor in the length of the main game, but the lack of any sort of replay value could hinder the game experience for some people. This game is a pretty good first try, but there is some massive room improvement here. If Eidos can pick up the slack with Tomb Raider Anniversary, we may have a worthy title in the series to play on our handhelds.

Pros:
– Phenomenal environments.
– Classic Tomb Raider puzzles, now available anywhere you go!
– Decent story with a good bit of length.
– Full-motion CG video cutscenes.

Cons:
– Ugly character models that look more like 2D sprites.
– No replay value.
– Frustrating “random falls” can get old fast in some situations.
– Extra weapons are useless.
– Extremely repetitious and boring combat.

Bottom line:
Tomb Raider Legend on the Nintendo DS is worth the money if you’re a die-hard fan of the series, but for everyone else this game is most definitely a rental or a pass.

Overall Rating: 6.75

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