Lets put a game through the wringer.

We got our mum a cheat disc for her birthday last year – she plays Tomb Raider and Prince of Persia but isn’t as quick with her thumbs as she used to be. The infinite health cheat was a lifesaver during the boss fights for Tomb Raider Legend, but it turned out it was about as helpful as a chocolate fireguard when facing the final boss. Why? Look at this video and see if you can guess.

Spot the problem? There’s no lock-on. Sure they put the symbol on the target, but with the Excaliber sword it may as well be there for decorative purposes since it only hits if you’re facing the target head on, otherwise it goes flying off to the side (even more annoyingly, you have to be pixel perfect in which way you’re facing). Now, we were at a disadvantage because our view of the ‘arena’ was a lot narrower than in the video, but that was because Lara had this infuriating tendancy to get stuck on the scenery and we had to keep near the thing because there’s only a short window of opportunity to hurt while it’s down. My mum had several goes before asking me to try – I ended up this close to hurling the controller at the screen. I miss the days when the camera always followed a locked-on target, and Lara always kept facing no matter which direction she went (also, I want to know which prat thought that having the fire button set to R1 and not have it fire when held down was a good idea).

The funny thing is, Legend is actually a good game, or at least, it’s a good game when compared to the direct sequel Tomb Raider Underworld – whose developers need to be strung up for several reasons:

  • For leaving an unbelievable amount of glitches in the final game (the PS2 version at any rate) – Hayley had the foresight to get footage of these glitches In The Wild, so to speak. You can see them here.
  • For once again giving us a dubious lock-on system, this time accompanied by a temperamental grapple tool which made some sections longer than they should have been because more often than not it wouldn’t attach to the hook.
  • For managing to miss the point when they said they’d be going back to what made the series great, by having most of it underground (I know it’s called Tomb Raider but when the players starts complaining that they’re still underground you know you’ve taken it too literally), having so few enemies it was bordered on ridiculous (because it still used the musical stings for when danger’s coming even when there wasn’t) and having zero boss fights. The only one labeled a boss fight just sat there.
  • For a completely WTF plot – I ended up writing a late night rant on that part alone over at my LiveJournal I was that infuriated by it.
  • And, in the most baffling bit of marketing I’ve ever come across, releasing a level from the middle of the game as the demo! And not only that, they included the plot recap in the loading screen. I’m starting to think that they just didn’t care.

I’d better stop here, because I could keep going where Underworld’s concerned and most don’t have the endurance.

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