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Tomb Raider: Legend: She's BAAAAaaaack...

After the last (gulp) installment of Tomb Raider for the PS2, I found myself desperately hoping for a better episode that could redeem the series. Tomb Raider: Legend looks like it will do that quite nicely.

Lara Croft's model has been redesigned a bit, and it seems to be for the best. This is the most realistic looking Lara I've seen on the PS2 yet.

Scenery looks gorgeous and harks back to the original Tomb Raider - caves, waterfalls, hills to climb and areas to jump to - all the necessities for a good spelunkering adventure.

The game engine's been either replaced completely or seriously reworked, as the physics are much better. Boulders roll realistically down hills, Lara is moved slightly by water currents and there is one puzzle in the demo that features some cages that have to be strategically placed and a lever must be used to catapult the cages to higher ground. I found that it took some thinking to figure out what to do - not because it was hard to understand what needed to be done, but because I wasn't expecting that the game would allow it to be done!

The bad side to these improved physics are the mistakes. I found a couple of physics issues in the demo - mainly because I try a lot of things just to see how physics engines will behave. One issue I ran into was that when I repeatedly kicked an item (such as a small boulder) and managed to get it into just the right situation, it would get thrown into the air in a very sudden, unexpected, unrealistic and slightly amusing way. This is not easy to reproduce intentionally, however. The second issue that I noticed was that if I started a small boulder rolling down a hill and then managed to run around and position Lara so that she was in its path, it would roll along undisturbed, while the model of Lara jerks upwards suddenly to permit the rock to roll past and then fall back to the ground after it passes. I hope that these are fixed in the final game, but both are sort of technical issues that take a bit of probing to find and neither should affect the gameplay too badly.

If you were a fan of the crazy puzzles that Lara encountered on a regular basis in old school Tomb Raider, you'll be quite pleased to see that these elements have returned. The cage puzzle mentioned above will be just a taste of what Lara will encounter on this new journey. She also packs a few new goodies like her magnetic grappler and some techie gadgets, of course. What rich girl would go world exploring without the aid of her technology!

All I can say is, "She's back!" For those of you who have been missing Lara Croft as I have, you'll want to get your hands on this one. I'll have a more in-depth review when I get my hands on a reviewable copy!

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins
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