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2 Reviews

Tomb Raider: Legend

PSP sweats to deliver Eidos' grand Lara reinvention, but it's still an enjoyable conversion

Lara's done the decent thing, then - she's finally had a size reduction. There's more to her than pneumatic mammaries and faux-poshness, we're told. In an effort to prove some of that, her chest carries less weight (apparently - you'd never know from looking) and she's made the leap from PS2 to PSP. As for whether or not her good form on the less mobile consoles has made that transition with her, well, yes it has. Just about.

We like to ogle Lara's exaggerated form. There's no shame in admitting that these days. But one of the portable title's main problems hits you right from the off: you can barely see a bloody thing. Much of the game is set in dank, dark caves and underground chambers, and as such what should be atmospheric and mood enhancing proves an early, constant source of frustration. So never mind perving over Ms Croft's near-comically proportioned arse, because it's practically impossible to even make it out for a lot of the game.

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While Legend's lack of light certainly doesn't make it unplayable, it does lessen the impact of its good looks somewhat, and more to the point, those of Lara herself. There are numerous sticking points in the game caused by simply not being able to see the way ahead, and unless you've played through the PS2 version you could spend ages scratching about in the gloom for ledges and switches. Even Lara's personal light source makes not the slightest difference. In fact, it's possibly the weediest torch you'll ever have your retinas tickled by.

WHO TURNED OUT THE LIGHTS?
Anyway. The reason we're banging on about Legend's all-pervading murk is that it comes close to ruining what is otherwise an impressive cramming effort. The game has been squeezed into PSP practically in its entirety, and it's even got new bits too.

But your trusty PSP's having to work very hard indeed. We swear we felt a little dribble of sweat trickle over our fingers as we played. It stutters a little on occasion as the PSP gets its breath back. Some of the game's bike chases are particularly susceptible, and if any more than three or four mercenaries attack Lara at any one time it plays out like a cartoon flip-book.

Aside from this, Lara moves just as fluidly as she does on PS2. Swinging and rolling and leaping is a simple joy, much like in the Prince of Persia games, and the controls have been mapped sensibly to the PSP's face buttons. As you'd expect, there are compromises in the controls due to the lack of a second analogue stick, although manipulating the camera just requires the Square button to be held while wiggling the nubbin. The nubbin itself isn't a great substitute for a proper analogue stick, and its lack of precision is often to blame for Lara tumbling to her doom.

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Legend's checkpoint system makes the Story mode well-suited for portable play, with around 10 to 15 minutes' play separating them. Tomb Trials are quicker blasts of action, generally lasting only a couple of minutes, which provide you with some sort of obstacle course or treasure hunt to undertake. These take place either against the clock or another opponent in Wi-Fi mode, and while they're good fun, they hardly warrant buying the game if you already own the PS2 version. Very nearly a match for its bigger sister then, but let down in a couple of crucial areas.

The verdict

Pushes PSP right up to and beyond its limits, but it's still an enjoyable conversion.

7
Format
PlayStation Portable
Developer
Crystal Dynamics
Publisher
Eidos Interactive
Genre
Action, Adventure, Platformer

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