Tomb Raider: Legend is the seventh title in the long-standing franchise often criticised for its less-than-stellar controls and sometimes illogical level designs.
Well, there's good news: the titles are now being released by Crystal Dynamics (not Core, the original developer), and the difference is immediately obvious. The levels are well designed and the gameplay's pretty good, too. This title is already available for other consoles like the PS2, but Crystal Dynamics has added some great extra features to the PSP version like a tool that creates randomly-generated levels (dubbed master challenge mode), and a multiplayer mode.
There are eight levels in the game spread across four different continents. The puzzles get more difficult as the game progresses, but are much more logical than those found in the original series, and therefore more enjoyable to complete. The graphics are stunning, but unfortunately take a heavy toll on the PSP's processor. The game is relatively slow and sluggish, and the frame rate dips dramatically when there's a lot of action on screen.
Lara Croft has an enormous number of tools and weapons at her disposal, including binoculars, grenades, a torch, communications gear, and an extremely handy magnetic grappling hook that can be used to reach awkward spots. The weapons all react differently and offer a little variation in the game.
Though the PlayStation version was a little more responsive and blessed with more intuitive controls, the same can't be said for the portable release. Unfortunately, the in-game navigation is a little clunky on the PSP version, and it can be hard to move Lara Croft around in tight situations. You can generally learn to work around poor controls, but some of the camera angles in Tomb Raider: Legend are more difficult to forgive. We found ourselves having to restart some levels several times because the camera angle would switch right at the start of a battle, and we would quickly be killed in the confusion. It's far from ideal, and detracts significantly from the otherwise engaging gameplay.
Even if you weren't a massive fan of the original, you should check out Tomb Raider: Legend. Though the controls leave a little to be desired, it's immersive and features more natural level design than the titles released under Core, along with a great set of tools to work through. The frame rate drops a little at times, but overall, Tomb Raider: Legend is a pretty good puzzle/adventure game that will keep you engaged at least long enough to solve all the levels.