GAME REVIEW: Tomb Raider: Legend

I remember my nervous, virgin encounter with Lara Croft - the stretching, the slithering, the skin, the sweat. Tomb Raider: Legend (Eidos; Xbox 360; also PS2, Xbox; Game dddd, Graphics/Sound dddd) is like a rendezvous with an old flame: the idiosyncrasies remain, but man, the girl has learned a few things. Thanks to a revised control scheme that dumps the old grid-based movements, you tango rather than tussle with the controller to dictate Lara's actions. Instead of constant confrontation, the key is to guide her with Prince of Persia-like nimbleness through the detailed, organic environments. And with Eidos's visual aplomb beaming through the Xbox 360, time is gratifyingly spent exploring sun-dappled tombs or clambering for footholds on gradated cliffs. Alas, the sporadic firearm exchanges underwhelm, with a clumsy, ineffectual targeting interface and oafish bad-guy AI. Also incongruous are the aimless motorcycle chase scenes; Lara does much better on foot or on all fours. Still, Legend is far more fountain of youth than facelift, and Lara is a starlet once more.

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