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July 4 2006
Tomb Raider Legend - PSP Review
Release Date Distributor Publisher Developer
14/6/2006AtariEidosCrystal Dynamics
Save Size Difficulty Players Rating

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One of the fantastic cut-scenes.
A short while ago Tomb Raider Legend was release on the main consoles and PC, and now the game hits the PSP as well. This review contains sections of the PS2 review as the games, in terms of storyline and content, are virtually identical, however there are some gameplay difference which have been pointed out as well. Read on...

Can you believe that it has been almost 10 years since the first Tomb Raider appeared on PCís and consoles the world over. Thatís a long time. After the first couple of tremendous titles the series slowly degenerated into a mediocre chore missing any sense of adventure and entertainment. Lara creators and developers Core Design werenít bringing anything fresh to the table and it all fell in a heap two years ago when Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness was released on PS2 (and other platforms) to scathing reviews, and disappointing sales. So poorly was it received that publishers Eidos took the game away from Core Design and handed development of the series to American developers Crystal Dynamics Ė the company behind Legacy of Kain and the very amusing Whiplash on PS2.

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One of the many fantastic puzzles.
Tomb Raider Legend's story it told through a series of cut scenes. Early in the game you flash back to Lara's childhood in which she is involved in a plane crash with her mother. They discover a mysterious artifact which Lara activates, making her mother disappear. This quest looks at Lara's past as she tracks a mysterious artifact around the globe.

Itís clear just how much effort put into pre-production on this game. Crystal Dynamics have taken the best bits of the series, and the bits we loved the most, and put them all together while scrapping all the bits we hated. What am I on about? Well Tomb Raider Legend focuses on, as the title suggest, exploring tombs, and exotic locations. There are some moments in the city, but they are the minority in the game. There is plenty of platforming and puzzle solving - the latter is actually some of the best puzzle solving in a game for some time.

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Graphically the game looks good...
The game also has sections of action with plenty of guns and grenades available. Targeting and firing are with the L1 and R1 buttons, and while a little awkward it's pretty neat that weapons only have a limited range which varies depending what you have equipped. The environments are often littered with items that explode (yes, that means exploding barrels) which take out multiple enemies. Best of all the clunky character control of the previous game has been totally scrapped and a much more fluid moving, and wonderful looking Lara is now in place. In fact, one can not express just how well Lara now moves in this game.

Another gameplay style which Crystal Dynamics have included is the ability for Lara to ride a Ducati motorbike. This is certainly no Tourist Trophy in terms of handling however it is quite a thrilling experience to be zooming down a canyon, avoiding obstacles and also shoot at dozens of bad guys that are looking to end your adventures.

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...especially when not moving.
While there was little to complain about with the PS2 title, this PSP version does suffer on a couple of fronts. Primarily the game struggles due to the controls. The PSP's analogue sliding stick simply can't match the precision of the PS2's Dual Shock 2 controller. In a game where you need to precisely jump over ravines, avoid obstacles and weapons or jump from ledge to ledge it makes the game infuriatingly difficult at times. As a direct port of the other versions the games 12 hour length is still a little short, but this is lengthened due to the control issue mentioned above.

Presentation in Tomb Raider Legend is quite impressive. From the very first James Bond styled opening credits to the fantastic level design, to the engrossing cut scenes everything in this game oozes style. Tomb Raider Legend was already struggling to run on the PS2, however the PSP has pushed the engine over the edge. Dispite the fact that the game is running at a lower resolution, with lower detail in the textures and character models the game engine still struggles and chugs along at times. When there's several enemies and/or explosions on screen it really grinds and destroys much of the pleasure in playing the game. Fortunately all the cut-scenes have been beautifully ported across to the small screen.

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Yet more impressive graphics.
Audio in this PSP version is quite superb, and virtually identical to the PSP game. Music is atmospheric and changes according to the action on screen. Sound effects are also solid but where the game shines is the voice work. It must be noted that British actress Keeley Hawes is terrific as Lara Croft, and the supporting actors and actresses are no less impressive in their voice work.

As much as we totally loved the PS2 version of Tomb Raider Legend (check our review here) the same can't be said of the PSP version. This is a worrying trend as Ubisoft had a terrible time with Prince of Persia Revelations and the same could be said of this effort. Fortunately this game is still quite playable, and if you don't own any other consoles, or a decent PC, then this game will suffice, but gamers should certainly consider the other versions over this PSP version.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSThe game looks pretty good, some frame rate issues at times.
SOUNDAs with the PS2, excellent voice work, great music and effects.
GAMEPLAYThe game really needs two analogue sticks, becomes frustrating.
VALUENot the longest game, but there's plenty to discover and unlock.
OVERALLTomb Raider Legend isn't as good on the PSP as on other titles, but it deserves to be looked at if you have no option. Crystal Dynamics have save the fledling series.

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