The lady with the most famous pair of pistols (and by that we mean bristols) in video- gaming's come-back continues apace. Legend was well received by critics and gamers alike, though it was admittedly seen more as laying the foundations for a Croftie comeback rather than a drop-dead stonker of a game in itself. So what better way to take Lara to the next level than, er... head right back to her PlayStation 1 roots?
Truth be told, this is almost like a side project for those talented fellas over at Crystal Dynamics while they beaver away on the recently announced Tomb Raider 8. This means Xbox owners are getting a straight port of the PC version (albeit with all the lovely Live Achievements us 360 gamers expect), which means there'll be none of the snazzy lighting that made the next gen incarnation of Legend look so mouth-wateringly shiny. Still, despite Eidos' obvious modesty, Anniversary looks really, surprisingly lovely. Gorgeous, even - and Legend's iffy frame rate issues appear to have been given the brush-off as a bonus too.
More good news: the bullet-time combat mechanic, which debuted to a resounding 'meh' in Legend, has been given the boot in Anniversary - replaced by a new gimmick, the adrenaline dodge. When you wind an enemy up by popping their hide full of bullets, they'll become encircled with a red glow and charge you. As the screen blurs, you'll need to press and hold b to dodge and ram the left analogue in any direction. Voila! Ms Croft once again goes into s-lo-w m-o and two aiming reticules begin to converge over your prey's bonce.
Press shoot at just the right mo and - pop! - Her Ladyship instantly executes her foes with a cerebellum-smoothing head-shot of near-perfection.
Beware though, because the veritable WWF-ful of endangered species Lara so callously blows away have a new trick up their furry sleeves as well: maulings. After being latched onto and shaken about like a rag doll, you'll need to furiously waggle the left stick to break free. It adds a little bit of spice to the still rather routine shooty bits, which were never exactly Raider's strongest suit in the first place.
But enough of the innovations; this Lara adventure is all about heritage. It looks and plays like you think you remember good old Tomb Raider, but in reality this is an infinitely slicker beast than the grid-based romp of yesteryear. Built using the stellar Legend engine, it combines the sheer sense of scale that was so sorely lacking in Lara's last adventure with the brilliant new control scheme with which devs Crystal Dynamics imbued the game - just check out the awe-inspiring intro level set in the snow-capped Andes or the mind-bending labyrinthine puzzle fest that is St Francis Folly for confirmation that this is the beefiest, bestest Tomb Raider yet seen on console.
Even more pleasing is the price - a mere £20 for the whole shebang via your broadband pipe and roughly the same amount for a boxed copy, although irritatingly you will need to own a copy of Legend to be able to play. Eidos don't seem to want to bill Anniversary as a full-price game; their objective is to make Lara the most downloaded lady on Live. Four episodes will be released in all; the first instalment (containing Croft Manor, Peru and Greece) and the second (Egypt and the Lost Island) will be available in September, with parts three and four arriving shortly afterward. Neat.