Tomb Raider Legend

So Lara fell off the wagon and we all laughed. Of course, we could see it coming a mile off.

Once famous for getting on to the front cover of The Face, Lara had become a tired, burnt-out hag. A couple of years ago, desperate Eidos PRs couldn't even get her into games mags, never mind lifestyle publications. For Lara to regain her star status something radical had to be done.

Three words: Angel of Darkness. This execrable game was the best thing that could have happened to Tomb Raider. Before Lara could be reborn she would first need to die. In this case, millions of times, due to bugs and retarded AI.

Now in the hands of Crystal Dynamics, Lara has emerged from the last two years of development looking startlingly refreshed. Most notably, there's been a considered effort to go back to the roots of the series.

Along with ancient and evocative locales, Lara's athleticism has been completely reworked. The range of moves, including new backflips and grappling holds, takes advantage of environments that no longer have the trademark blocky look.

Her fluidity is now on a par with Prince of Persia, with the heroine instinctively grabbing on to outcroppings and ledges.

Since the height of Lara's fame, physics have also moved on. In Legend, there's a distinct absence of block pushing.

Instead, all objects in the world have their own physical properties, and many of the puzzles involve tumbling, triggering or smashing the environment to help you clamber up to higher places or open new pathways.

Integrated physics also lead to multiple solutions. With the waterwheel conundrum, it's possible to turn the mechanism either by throwing a hand grenade or shooting at it from a nearby gun emplacement.

So, is Tomb Raider: Legend genuinely good or are we suckers for a plucky comeback? It's too early to tell, but the new Lara is shaping up well and, at the very least, it's worth suspending cynicism for now.

The raiding of tombs is finally back on the agenda and, to go forward, sometimes it's better to step back.