This and companion release Tomb Raider: Anniversary were a reboot of the franchise as it shifted hands to Crystal Dynamics. They were also meant to be a return to glory for the series, which had spent the previous few years being diluted by increasingly bad sequels. Commercially, it worked, leading to a string of titles that were at least decently critically reviewed and tended to sell pretty well before the second big reboot in 2013. Coming back to the game after all this time, however, you do find a fair bit to complain about.

When Crystal Dynamics took charge of the franchise, they reportedly went all in with player interviews and focus grouping to get back to what originally made the series one of the biggest in gaming. Item #1 that came from this research appeared to be "Lara = BIG TITS and impractical outfits." Item #2 was recapturing the sense of playing an Indiana Jones adventure, roaming ruins and pushing various boulders and stone ledges to solve your way past convoluted deathtraps left by the ancients. So if Jubblies and Docta Jones is all you're looking for, hey, more power to you and we'll see you in another review. Don't forget to use our Amazon link!

The game is unfortunately wanting in some of the fine details, however. It does break from the "grid system" movement and polygon-perfect jumping of the original games, which will likely be to most players' tastes. It fuses in the ledge-dangling and pole-swinging of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, and simply asks Lara to jump within a usually fairly forgiving "zone" of each point that can be grabbed, taking over automatically for the player once she does. Unfortunately, this is kind of a Thing in itself, because the non-stop game of "guess what non-intuitive and impossible-looking path the designer wants you to jump along THIS time" is really not to everyone's tastes (namely Me). But if you like the jumpy-puzzles, the game at least handles that aspect smoothly and well for most of its duration. Here and there you'll slide off surfaces and battle with a camera that decides to be Willful at arbitrary times, but for the most part it's pretty good.

Where it tends to go awry is pretty much everywhere else. Gunplay features a very iffy and non-responsive target-switching system, which you can live with in normal combat since the enemy mooks are incompetent idiots, but becomes more frenzy-inducing in boss battles. Lara can actually aim in first-person, but is stuck in place while doing so. A conspicuous amount of health packs strewn about battlefields even in Normal mode is usually a sure indicator that the devs didn't have much confidence in their combat system, but were too far into the process when they realized it wasn't working to significantly change it, so they figured they'd at least make it super-easy so no one gets stuck. There's also a couple of bolted-on motorcycle segments that are pure trash, and I have no idea how they made the final cut. As with Anniversary, there's also an insistence on inserting QTEs once in a while that are so slow and easy as to be rather pointless.

This game came out at the tail end of the PS2/Xbox life cycle, at the point where it overlapped with the early PS3/X360 life cycle, and there's ports for each as well as the PC. The development cycle being oriented mostly to the PS2/Xbox would explain the jankiness in the camera and aiming, at least. But really, for a series that was in desperate need of help when this came out, it ain't half bad. For a "tweener" generation game it actually looks quite nice in its enhanced incarnation on the PC and holds up prettty well in that regard, and the voice acting is roundly pretty decent as well. A lot of love for the Jumpin' and the Swingin' and the Danglin' is required, but if you've got that going for you then you'll probably find the flaws here relatively minor and easy to overlook.

           And you thought the 2013 reboot had gruesome deaths!

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