Initial Release: April 2006
Metacritic Score: 78-82 (details)
ESRB/PEGI Rating: Teen/16
Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360. Later: PSP, Nintendo GameCube, PS3 as part of the TR Trilogy. (Separate versions for mobile and Nintendo DS.)
Spoiler-free Synopsis: The story delves into Lara's history, beginning with her life-altering plane crash in the Himalayas. In Crystal Dynamics' version, this happens at the start of the game in flashback. Lara is just a young girl at the time, and her mother survives the crash along with her, only to vanish under mysterious circumstances.
Throughout the game, Lara searches for the pieces of the fabled sword, Excalibur, which she hopes will help her get to the bottom of her mother's disappearance. On the way, she crosses paths with Amanda Evert, an old friend Lara had long believed to be dead but who turns out to be seeking the sword for her own reasons.
Levels & Locations: Although the game is short, it covers a variety of terrain: jungle ruins, urban skyscrapers, an abandoned military research lab and the icy slopes of the Himalayas, just to name a few. The storyline manages to tie them all together in a fairly believable way. Like the classic Tomb Raider games, most levels include a good balance of traps, puzzles and combat, followed by a big combat sequence against a group or "boss." There are fewer timed puzzles and jumping sequences than in previous games, but you'll still find a few. And along with the usual crates and breakable containers, there are new types of objects that can be manipulated, and many puzzles require creative thinking.
Weapons & Gear: Lara's weapons are fewer this time out—just her trademark dual pistols and one alternate weapon at a time, which can be swapped among four different types (assault rifle, submachine gun, shotgun and grenade launcher), plus hand grenades after the first level. Gone are the days of the "bottomless backpack". Now Lara's more realistic inventory can include a limited number of clips for the alternate weapon (pistols still pack infinite ammo), four grenades, and up to three health packs. So no more saving up a thousand Uzi rounds for the last battle, but also no more spinning through endless inventory rings to find the one item you need.
Lara's gear, too, is pared down. Binoculars, a flashlight and a nifty magnetic grapple are all she needs. The grapple can be used to move objects, swing across gaps and even yank enemies off balance—like Indiana Jones's whip. The communications headset from Chronicles is back but it functions passively. Lara's colleagues Zip and Alister are stationed back at Croft Manor and use the headset to give advice and tactical support.
Vehicles: Jeep and Ducati both got product placement in the game. Although none of the Jeeps is driveable, Lara does use a motorcycle in several levels. There's also a forklift sequence, which could have been more challenging and a bit less awkward, but still adds variety.
Saving Your Game: All versions have autosave checkpoints throughout each level. You can save manually at any time; however, when Lara dies, or you reload a save you've made, the game resumes at the previous checkpoint. (See Controls & Gameplay.) PC and PSP savegame files are available in case you make a bad save, get stuck, etc.
Rewards & Unlockable Content: Each level contains a number of bronze and silver statuettes, along with a single gold one. As you'd expect, the bronze rewards are more numerous and easier to find. The silver, fewer and more challenging, and the gold is always cleverly hidden.
Legend rewards enterprising players with quite a bit of unlockable content, including numerous outfits for Lara, pistol upgrades, cheat codes, plus production artwork and such. All are covered in detail on the Legend Rewards page.
Bonus Levels: None.
Cheat Codes: The cheat code system is a bit backwards, no doubt due to the advent of console Achievements and Trophies. Cheats can only be unlocked after completing the game. They can still be used when playing time trials, but that's no consolation if you happen get stuck somewhere along the line. (See Tomb Raider: Legend Cheats.)
Costumes, Skins & Modding: There are 30+ alternate outfits or skins you can unlock while playing the game. These are pictured on the Legend Outfits page. Details on unlocking each one are covered under Rewards.
Players can also download and create their own custom outfits using various texture editing tools. I don't cover modding on this site, but Tomb Raider HUB and tombraiderforums.com are good places to start.
Xbox 360 Achievements & PlayStation 3 Tophies: Some achievements and trophies are covered in the walkthrough; some are not. Follow these links for printable achievement and trophy checklists and links to sites with achievement/trophy help.
Becoming an Expert Raider
If you've never played a Tomb Raider game before—or even if you have—I encourage you to check out the Legend Controls & Gameplay page. It includes pointers on moving Lara through her environment, controlling the camera, conserving health and ammo, using the menu and inventory systems, saving the game, and more.
Tomb Raider: Legend Walkthrough
(Not fully accessible until
after completing Bolivia.)
Some screenshots courtesy of JeuxVideo.com.