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About the product
- Lara is more realistic than ever - the sexy, dual-pistol wielding heroine has new graphics & animation sets
- Discover and explore living breathing, lost ancient realms that hold clues to the secrets of Lara's past
- Intuitive, fluid control system keeps Lara in continuous motion; handle any obstacle and interact with any surface
- Use strength and intelligence to uncover ancient treasures -- Use the grappling hook, an arsenal of new weapons, Communications devices, and other tools to achieve your goals
- Travel to the world's most exotic locales - Treacherous jungles, snowy mountain ranges and more
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This handheld version of Tomb Raider: Legend is designed to capture the detail and breadth of Lara Croft's comeback game. Format: GBA Genre: ACTION/ADVENTURE Rating: RP UPC: 788687400206 Manufacturer No: 40020
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Let's start with the combat. There are three weapons, not including the sword used to fight the last boss, Lara's default handguns, shotguns, and SMGs. The fact that they even included the shotgun and SMG pickups is almost insulting: not only do you lose these weapons every time you die (which is frequent), but they're useless. The handguns have the exact same rate of fire and damage output as the SMG, and the shotgun is even worse as it can kill enemies in two hits but the refire rate is such that enemies can recover between shots and deal extra damage to Lara. It seems like after decades of side scrollers with decent combat the developers could have taken a cue from somebody, but the only tactic here is to hold the fire button once an enemy appears on screen and stand still. The three bosses are so easy it's perverse.
The stupidest thing about the game, however, is the fact that the backgrounds, most importantly interactive objects, are dark as hell. True, any object that can be manipulated with Lara's new grappling hook flash, which helps, and bars that you can swing from do have a bright colored circle at the end to make them discernible. But jumping from ledge to ledge or even platform to platform caused me to perform countless "leaps of faith" as I couldn't tell for the life of me whether any of the brown or gray shades were drawn to portray anything I could land on or hang on. Sometimes I was surprised to find that indeed there was something I simply couldn't see. Often I lept to my death.
While we're talking about ridiculous decisions in what was probably an overambitious attempt to have realistic color depth, let me also say how stupid it feels when Lara's sprite will move up or down automatically to accommodate pre-drawn debris in the background or foreground. This isn't a 2.5D game, it has no branching paths. It is a straight up side scroller. So how ridiculous it feels to see a potential obstacle in my path, only for Lara to conveniently "go around" it.
This is not really a hard game. You aren't given limited "lives", and the beginning of each relatively small area serves as a save point. It's a 2-3 hour affair without any daunting moments. That's not to say I didn't die often, usually from making a bad jump and falling off a cliff, but there isn't much "punishment" for dying. The controls are mostly fine with the exception that certain jumps (as often from a ledge to a pole) must be calculated perfectly or else Lara will miss the object she's trying to grab.
Despite the entirely pointless combat, the controls and platforming aren't fundamentally the problem. The problem is that the developers decided to make an uneven plane in order to give the illusion of 3-D world. This effects depth perception, making it hard to recognize what's in front of you and what's simply a background detail. The developers even went one step further by making the backgrounds unusually dark with no outlines around "surface" area. The attempt to make the game look modern backfires tremendously as even with a backlit GBA it still can become ridiculously hard to discern ledges and obstacles. I can't even imagine how unplayable this game would be on a normal GBA. The puzzles in the game are somewhat clever, but once again become difficult simply because it's too hard to tell what certain things are.
Tomb Raider: Legend, therefore, unfortunately finds itself among the platform-to-handheld translations that have defined the game boy/game boy advance era. Namely, a version of a successful game or franchise that is developed incompetently and uncreatively simply to exploit the name popularity. Oh, and the comic-strip presentation that attempts to tell the story doesn't work either.
I had some difficulty at first trying to figure out some of the end goals for surtain levels in this game as well. I rate it 2 stars.
Why should you avoid this game? It's the controls. I don't know if it's just me, but I couldn't take the jump button. I'd press it and a half to a full second later, Laura would jump...if she felt like it. And whether this was a glitch or not I don't know, but often when I should have fallen to my death from a failed jump, it ended up with Laura making a sort of half jump thing with her leg down as she hit the ground, surviving the fall. Odd.
Another problem is that Laura cannot even crouch. She has to stand to fight all the enemies. To get in tight areas, she sort of rolls into a ball and goes through, sort of like in a Metroid game. WTF? Hit detection is also tragically bad. In some places you're supposed to slide down ropes, but getting to just the right place so she'll grab on can be trying.
This is the first and only cartridge I've been mad enough at to destroy. It was ever so satisfying to stomp it into the pavement after 20 minutes of trying to make the same stupid jump and falling every time. Not fun.