It says a lot for the enduring appeal of Lara Croft, the queen of the video-game world, that any release in the Tomb Raider series is awaited with anxious sighs and eager anticipation, despite there not having been a really good release for years.

Things could be looking up for Lara's loyal fans, however, because her latest vehicle, Tomb Raider: Legend, is something of a welcome return to form – even if it doesn't quite recapture the heyday of the first two instalments.

By taking the series back to its roots, Legend manages to breathe life into an old format, correcting many of the control and design problems that plagued recent instalments and retrieving the sense of fun that inhabited the original games.

Lara is both more supple and flexible than in recent chapters – and her range of moves is extremely satisfying. The much-maligned combat system has benefited from an overhaul and the user has been given a vast arsenal of weapons to choose from. The scenery plays a bigger role, too, with few objects out of bounds.

When video-game plots are put down on paper, they tend to seem a little silly. Suffice to say, the storyline is well told, whipping along with considerable verve and packing in as many flashbacks and other cinematic devices as a Steven Soderbergh film.

Tomb Raider isn't perfect, though. Many of the puzzles are too simple, and it's unlikely to take you long to fight your way through to the end. And we found that the motorcycle sequences were undercooked and didn't add to the overall game.

Tomb Raider: Legend: Specs

  • 1GHz Pentium 3 or Athlon
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 256MB RAM
  • 10GB hard disk space
  • DVD drive
  • DirectX 9.0c-compatible 64MB graphics card
  • 1GHz Pentium 3 or Athlon
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 256MB RAM
  • 10GB hard disk space
  • DVD drive
  • DirectX 9.0c-compatible 64MB graphics card

OUR VERDICT

Tomb Raider: Legend looks intriguing, the fights are absorbing in a way they haven't been in recent instalments of the series and the overall experience is fun. We've rediscovered the charms of Lara, and that makes this game worthy of high praise.

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