Do we really have to go into that whole introduction of the series shtick with this one? You all know who Lara Croft is. You all know what the Tomb Raider series is all about. You all know how much is riding on the release of this latest outing for Lara.
Or do you?
Let's take that first one, "Who is Lara Croft?" Surely, as the introduction to the original game's manual states, she is the daughter of Lord Henshingly Croft, who as a 21 year-old girl survived a plane crash, and the two week trek to the village of Tokakeriby, with a love of adventure that caused her family to disown her, forcing her to take up writing travel books in order to fund her expeditions? Not so says the manual for Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend. Lara is the daughter of an archeologist, Earl Richard Croft of Abbingdon, who survived a plane crash at the age of nine - that claimed the life of her mother - and the ten day trek to Kathmandu, while the death of her father when she was eighteen left her with several estates and a personal fortune that allowed her to roam the world.
Obviously, things have changed in the world of Tomb Raider. This is apparent as soon as the game starts and the "inspired by" James Bond title sequence plays to introduce you to the game. Honestly, all this sequence needs is to start with Lara viewed down the barrel of a gun and you could be mistaken for thinking that MGM had decided to make a film about Jane Bond this year. The source of all of these changes becomes apparent the moment you take a trip to stately Croft Manor, that staircase, those balconies, that glass-walled room, surely the last time we saw this place it was inhabited by Arnold Judas Rimmer and the new Mrs. Pitt?
The Tinsletown influences don't stop there either, Lara is now supported in her Tomb Raiding by her assistants back at the Manor, who advise her over the camera-equipped satellite communication headset she wears.
It seems, however, that Eidos were unable to license back the characters that Paramount created for the two movies, since we now have help from Zip and Alistair, the techie and the bookworm advisors respectively, not from Bryce and Hillary. Admittedly, Zip made an appearance in Tomb Raider Chronicles, but everything else seems to have been revised or created to fit the movies. Indeed, Winston the butler hardly makes any impact on the proceedings at all, gone forever are the slippers, body armour and shotgun that Mr. Barrie so sportingly used in the first film, replaced with a typical "It's not my place to say, but.." speech.
Another thing that has changed is the voice of Lara Croft. Keeley Hawes, probably best known as Zoe from the BBC's Spooks (MI-5 in the US) [perhaps even better remembered for Tipping the Velvet - Ed.]
follows Shelley Blond, Judith Gibbins and Jonell Elliott in the voice acting stakes. Ms Hawes does a good job with Lara, with the right mix of aristocratic tones and playful love of adventure. The same line "I've missed Ghana" said twice, after a swim in a lake and after a run through a set of traps, gives the perfect glimpse into Lara's character.
But enough of this background and influence commentary, what about the game? Read on, adventurer, read on...