Preview By: Siou Choy
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After two widely lambasted departures from form (Chronicles and Angel of Darkness) and one really lousy movie sequel (Hollywood hackmeister Jan De Bont's atrocious Cradle of Life, a pathetic "McG"-style mockery of everything that made the first film work on any level whatsoever), Eidos appears to have learned its lesson. Yes, children, it's true: for the latest installment of the series, Lara Croft will return to her roots as an explorer/adventurer. Welcome to the wonderful world of Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend.
For this year's sojourn into the realm of treasure hunting, Crystal Dynamics has given Lara an array of weapons to make any explorer jealous. No longer is the adventure-seeking gamer forced to work their disgruntled way through one boring city environment after another, one uncharacteristically implausible spy scenario on top of the next. This time around, Lara's magnetic grappling device, binoculars, grenades, "personal lighting device" and communications equipment are put to no one's service but that of the unenlightened self interest; the dual-pistol barrage that made the virtual British calendar girl (don't tell me none of you bought that tacky thing) so famous return to the service of filling the lady's personal shelves with relics and pockets with cold hard cash (all you current and future corporate cogwheels and fans of remorseless, conscience-free rampant capitalism, here stands your messiah).
Yes, it's true: the whole bizarre and tangential spy angle that corrupted the last two Tomb Raider entries, wherever it came from, appears to be over and done with. This time around, Lara will have to make do with exploring ancient tombs, dangerous jungles, and snowy mountain ruins in place of the drab, Alias/Dark Angel-style urban locations found in the Dreamcast's much-maligned Chronicles and the PS2's universally despised Angel of Darkness. Another bugaboo from Angel of Darkness apparently fixed up by the release of Legend is the former's notably frustrating control system. This time, Crystal Dynamics plans to implement a more instinctive and friendly set of controls which will allow the gamer to jump, roll, kick, and finally shoot your enemies in one fluid motion.
In addition to new equipment and presumably better controls, Lara will also sport a new look this season. Wearing an Isaac Mizrahi original, Lara is a stunner on the walkway.oh, sorry, got carried away there. Actually, Crystal Dynamics has upped everyone's favorite onanistic videogame icon's polygon count in hopes of giving us a smoother, "more realistically-proportioned" Lara. In other words, the Pam Anderson look is out this year. Whether it results in any aesthetic improvement or not lies wholly in the eye of the observer, but I guess this is supposed to appease an imaginary feminist cadre of avid videogame addicts (men are so na´ve when it comes to these things - I hear more nods to pseudo-feminism in all-male arenas like comic books and Z-grade Cinemax T&A movies than in any actual estrogen-powered coffee klatch, but whatever.).
Ayn Rand fans unite: thy savior has returned. Eidos and Crystal Dynamics are hoping Tomb Raider: Legend will help them bury memories of Lara's less than stellar recent track record and move the polygon poster girl to the forefront of adventure gaming once again.
Posted: 2005-09-30 21:19:12PST