Thursday, July 20, 2006

Tomb Raider: Legend - Dragon boss, controls getting worse, sound glitchy

Good heavens, this game needed a good bit more polish before it was released. In a year or so, I might pick up the PS2 version for comparison, but I can see why the PSP version has rated so much lower than the other versions.
  • This is going to be a rant in my final summary, but I need to get it out right now. There is a dragon boss that is defeated by using the environment. When the dragon is in one of four places, you activate one of four switches to tag him. The problem is that the only place to access two of the switches is glitchy in the following way: activating the tool which targets the switch from the only point of access will automatically go to one of the switches but not the other. Worse still, even if you carefully aim at the difficult switch, the tool will miss most of the time. Since everything is on a time limit, you end up screwing up, dying, etc.

    That's not all. As you use each switch successfully, it is half destroyed. So, the strategy seems simple: use the easy switch first, then use the difficult switch since the easy one is destroyed. The problem is that the game still targets the useless switch even after it is destroyed!

    Screwing up the controls was bad enough. Screwing them up so bad that a boss battle becomes pure luck is inexcusable.
  • On this same level I hit a sound glitch that caused a sound to repeat over and over even after I was very far away from its source. Only option was to save, exit to title screen, and reload the game. Awful.
  • In this level the secret items to collect are crosses. Turns out you can target at least one of them with the magnetic grapple instead of actually reaching it in person. Very nice extension of the grapple idea.
  • This level was second closest I've seen to grand, vertiginous views, like with Colosseum and St. Francis' Folly in original game. Still not great, and I bet it's better with system where you can control camera more easily.
  • I don't think I figured out all the block/movement/fire puzzles correctly, but muddled through anyway. Nice that having just half of it done and an extra health pack is good enough. Flexibility is good.
  • Cut scenes after this level are good for characterization of Lara and her personal motivations. Redeeming father's rep and re-examining her mother's death seem to be well done, without being hamfisted.
That's it. Now on to Nepal.

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