At the tender age of 9 years old, Lara Croft and her mother Amelia, survive a plane crash in the Himalayan mountains. Taking refuge in an old monastery, young Lara, already with an adventurous heart, discovers a stone dais with an ancient sword in it. This triggers an event that leads to her mother disappearance, and is the premise to Tomb Raider Legend.
This was the first Tomb Raider developed by Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Interactive switched the development of the next Tomb Raider game away from Core Design (the studio was shut down a little while after this decision) after the poorly received Angel of Darkness failed in the eyes of most Tomb Raider fans, and professional critics.
Tomb Raider Legend was/is an excellent Tomb Raider game, with the perfect balance between puzzle solving and combat, and an intricate story that mixes myth and marries it with real exotic locations to explore.
Graphics wise, this is a game from 2006, but it holds very well to this day. The textures are well detailed and the particle system and animations are particularly impressive. The music in the game is on par with other Tomb Raider titles, which means that it's very good as well. Orchestrated music that kicks in at the right time to give an extra dose of suspense never gets old, and it's classic Tomb Raider in that regard.
New mechanics were also introduced this time around. Lara now has the ability to slow down time versus human enemies, but you can only use it when at a real close range by double pressing the jump button. When it's active time slows down and your aiming is more precise and you can target and damage more than one enemy if you are fast enough. A flashlight was also introduced and you can manually turn it on or off, and it is essencial in dark areas. You can carry only 3 medkits at any given time, and you can choose to use them whenever the situation calls for it. The amount of weapons you can carry is limited to only 2, your dual pistols and an extra slot for whichever weapon you want to carry. For the first time in a Tomb Raider game, you can pick up weapons from your fallen enemies, and there is some variation to them, from a shotgun, to an SMG, a rifle and a grenade launcher, plus a surprise weapon close to the end of the game. Another franchise first is the abbility to carry grenades. The binoculars are also very important, specially for helping you out with puzzle solving, with the ability to enter RAD mode and identify movable objects, destructable structures and mechanisms.
The characters and voice acting in the game are top notch. The script is well written and very well executed by the voice actors. They do a great job with emotions, the way the lines are delivered and acted make you feel in empathy with the characters, either it's a dramatic moment, or a cheerful one. Lara is not alone in this adveture, as her companions Zip and Allister always provide insight and advice through her intercom. These characters are not particularly deep, but they serve their purpose well and without getting in the way. Lara however is not the only true "deep" character in the game, as some characters have real motivations as well (can't really say much more without spoiling it to anyone) that make perfect sense in terms of story.
The puzzles in the game are logical and challenging for the most part, without ever becoming frustrating. The combat is fun, but the controls are a little clunky, and the enemy A.I apart from boss fights is just way too easy and not all that great. There is some texture distortion on this particular PC version, but it is rare and does not detract from the experience. I have read that some people have had some issues with this game under modern Operating Systems, but having played the game on Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit, I never encountered any issues or crashes of any sort. It runs like a charm on my OS. Also worthy of mention, and in my opinion a negative aspect of this version is the lack of the Steam overlay, meaning you will not be able to shift+tab to access the steam community while playing, your only option is to alt+tab, and doing so never caused the game to crash for me. There is a workaround to this issue, so I am told, but I did not try it out, and therefore can't really say anything on that aspect.
Tomb Raider Legend is an amazing Tomb Raider game. While not perfect, it is well worth playing.
For it's current price, it's a steal (even more so when it goes on sale, it can go as low as 1,50$) and well worth it. The game is a little short compared to other Raider games, but it is a fun and thrilling ride from start to finish.
Graphics still hold out well today
Lifelike animation, truly great music and sound effects
Voice acting and story are top notch
Some extra stuff to unlock which adds replayability
Good selection of guns, fun and logical puzzles, exotic and mystical locations to explore
Challenging Boss fights
Motorcycle sections are fun
Some texture distortion
Combat is a little clunky
Enemy A.I is not very smart
No Steam overlay without a fix