Geek Smithology

December 21, 2008

Why Tomb Raider Legend sucks.

Filed under: Grab Bag by Nathan @ 9:34 am

I’ve been a fan of the Tomb Raider franchise pretty much from the beginning – I played the first one, reviewed the second one (played on the late great Gravis gamepad – the one with the (completely useless) mini-joystick that you could screw into the d-pad), but then got less interested as the games decayed into dreck.

Then came Legend. A new creative team, a return to what made the game great in the first place. And for the vast majority of the time, it really delivers: more “tombs” to raid instead of stupid cities (although the big city level, set in Tokyo, is excellent), a ton of acrobatic action, interesting puzzles that don’t require a walk-through, and pretty stellar graphics (although the “next-gen” content was too freaky looking for my taste.

Because I’ve been accused of destroying the pending enjoyment of two-year-old games in the past, let me just say…SPOILERS AHEAD (kinda.)

Here’s the thing – after a really fun game, it all goes to hell right at the end. I mean, it completely destroys the experience. Like you’re eating a chocolate eclair and just as your about to finish it you realize that not only was there a hair on it, but that it was actually made of poop. After a silly “interactive” cut scene[1] you’re dropped into a fight against a ridiculously large number of enemies. This content seems to have been created for the sole purpose of sucking up all of your first aid kits and taking away as much health as possible. When you dispatch the hoi polloi, you are suddenly faced with a giant monster, and you realize a few things:

1) Every time this creature attacks you, not only does it take a bunch of your health away, but it throws you to the ground and it takes forever to recorder.
2) Actually targeting and hitting said creature is next to impossible.
3) The tomb raider camera is fucking useless when it comes to fights like this. Worse than useless – it actually makes the fight harder.

To make things worse, when you actually manage to whittle away enough health for the creature to enter it’s death throes, you find out that you need to run over and stab the girl who turned into the creature. But…wait! You’re not done yet, you have to do this two more fucking times. This is one of the most frustrating endings of any game ever. I downloaded a trainer to get through it because I just don’t have the time to get through it “properly”, and that’s assuming that given infinite time I actually could do it “properly.” I’m not sure that I could.

So, I hate you Tomb Raider Legend, and give you a metaphorical football to the junk. Here’s hoping that Anniversary sucks less. I’m not optimistic enough to hope that it’s good.

[1] You know, the ones where it shows your character doing some crazy cool stuff that the game engine can’t handle, so you just push directions and buttons at the right time? It’s like a modern version of Dragon’s Lair, except that the game developer forgot that Dragon’s Lair sucks and nobody wants to play that any more. Except for maybe Don Bluth, who would invite you to his house, hand you a Bud Lite while ordering a pizza and say “hey, wanna play Dragon’s Lair?”, which you politely sidestep by saying “hey Don, isn’t there a hockey game on or something?” You see by his pathetic look that he is saddened by your rejection, but he agrees to watch the game, knowing that if he gets you drunk maybe later you’ll try Space Ace.

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