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Review: Tomb Raider: Legend - DS - 3.6

14 lutego, 2009

Ugly and Unfair, This Game is a No

Developer Crystal Dynamics has created something great. Under the publishing arm of Eidos, this company has done a 180 and single handedly revived the Lara Croft franchise with Tomb Raider: Legend. Unfortunately, developer Human Soft (hired to port the game to the DS) has completed the 360 and brought the game back to the brink of death.

At first glance, Legend seems like a successful port. It manages to squeeze in all the cut scenes from its console brethren (even if they are badly compressed), and its “3D graphics in 2D side scrolling plane” premise seems to hold promise. However, five minutes with the game tell a decidedly different tale.

While the cut scenes are pretty good for a DS game, the in-game graphics are not. The backgrounds are often different shades of gray and brown, and it is extremely difficult to differentiate between a handhold and an environmental texture. It’s hard to play a platformer when you can’t see the platforms. This results in many cheap deaths when you go for a jump that in reality leads to nowhere but another long fall.

In addition to the graphics, you have to fight the horrible controls. Laura is poorly animated, and it can take multiple button presses to achieve the desired result. If she is standing still, Laura only jumps straight up, and you cannot maneuver her at all until she lands.  Why the simple ability to move through the air after a jump (a staple since games like Megaman) isn’t present is unknown. If you want to jump to the side, you have to have a running start. This jump is highly inaccurate, and can lead to both over and underestimating a jump, which of course leads to death.  In an attempt to add realism, Human Soft has also included random moments after jumps when you have to press a button to “steady yourself.” While this works in the console versions of the games, it quickly becomes nothing but an annoyance here.

To top it all off, Legend has the worst gunplay I have ever seen in a DS game yet. When your gun is out and you approach an enemy, a red targeting reticule appears over their head. When you press the fire button, you don’t just shoot the enemy. Instead, the top screen darkens and the touch screen opens up. You’re faced with a blurry background and a vaguely shaded silhouette of the enemy that floats around the screen. If you continue to press the fire button, bullet holes randomly appear around the screen. You’re supposed to use the stylus to manually click on the enemy as he dances around. Of course, the targeting is highly inaccurate, and it quickly becomes a test of how fast you can tap the screen. If it weren’t for Laura’s unlimited-ammo pistols, the first enemy you meet would be impassable. Did I mention that every enemy looks the same? It seems that every one of the countries Laura globetrots to has the same exact guards.

Legend comes with eight levels to play around with, each lasting anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. However, the length is more of a curse than a blessing, as it comes from your repeated failed attempts to make the simplest jumps (with checkpoints few and far between). There is also a bonus level containing Croft Manor, but with the same controls as the rest of the game, it’s not even worth a glance.  You’ll spend more time fighting the game than having fun with it.

Score Breakdown:

Gameplay: 3.0 – It’s just bad. Poor controls + poor platforming + poor shooting = a poor game

Presentation: 6.0 – It’s easy to choose a level, and the story is comprehensible, but there’s nothing special here.

Graphics: 4.0 – While the cutscenes are decent, the in-game graphics are perhaps the worst part of the game, as they completely hamper your ability to see where you’re going.

Sound: 3.0 Other than the cut scene voice acting, there’s practically nothing except the tinny sounds whenever Laura shoots her guns or pathetic grunts when enemies die.

Value: 2.0 – Sure, there are time trials, but with a game like this you never want to play it again. It may last you for 2-3 hours, but only because you die so often.

Final Score: 3.6 – Laura is far from a Legend in this game, and with little fun to be had, gamers are recommended to stay as far away as they can.

Kiran Sury
Editor - PS3, DS
"The Gaming Corner