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Portable Tomb Raiders--worth the wait?

Portable Tomb Raiders--worth the wait?

The console versions of Tomb Raider: Legend have been out for a little more than a month now, and the surprising success of those titles has set a high standard for the portable set. With all three of the major portables represented, Lara's reign may just last through the summer.

The PlayStation Portable version will be the most familiar to fans of the console variations. In fact, the game looks strikingly similar to the PS2 version, which is quite a feat. Without a second analog stick, camera control is a bit troublesome. If you can get used to that minor quirk, this game could be one of the better action titles on the PSP. Fans of synergy--and of paying twice for the same product--take note: you can use a USB cable to transfer saves between the PS2 and PSP versions so that you can continue your adventure on the road. The PSP version is due out next month.

The less-powerful Nintendo iterations seem to be taking a different approach to gameplay. The DS variant is a 2.5D adventure. It's largely a side-scroller, but Lara can move in and out of the background. The touch screen has some neat implementations aspects. For one thing, using Item Select is actually easier than in the console versions, as you can simply tap your weapon of choice rather than scrolling through them or entering a menu. Another rather troublesome aspect of the console version that's more easily accessible on the DS is swimming--when diving under the surface, Lara descends to the lower screen, where you can move her around with the stylus. The GBA version removes the 0.5D for the straight side-scrolling experience. The gameplay looked rather rudimentary at this point, but both the GBA and the DS versions have until September to get the kinks worked out.