Fancying Lara Croft is a bit embarrassing nowadays. It's just as bad as when your Dad used to watch Tina Turner videos with a glint in his eye, then tell you what great legs she had for her age (83). Ew!
Okay, so Lara's saucepot heyday may be behind her, but in recent times, Tomb Raider the game has enjoyed something of a revival. Which makes this good timing for her first proper 3D adventure – if you forget her ill-fated N-Gage outing, which to be honest, most people have.
The plot of Tomb Raider: Legend involves recovering the mythical Excalibur sword, which was shattered into three pieces long ago and then lost. For some reason, Lara thinks finding the sword will help her find her long-lost mother. Well, you have to be optimistic about these things.
The result is a game of two halves. To be strictly accurate, levels alternate between two formats: platform and action, rather than combining the two in the sort of free-roaming game you'd expect if you've played Lara's console outings.
The platform levels see you swinging from ledges, jumping between platforms, and avoiding obstacles by leaping and sliding. Meanwhile, the action levels have actual enemies to shoot as you run forward, while diving out of the way of their return-fire.
And boy, does it look good. Tomb Raider: Legend is only coming out for high-end handsets, due to its ambitious 3D visuals. The scenery is luscious, Lara is suitably curvaceous, and most importantly, the animation is super-smooth. When she swings or leaps, she swings or leaps. She doesn't lurch. It really does showcase what the latest mobiles are capable of.
Have Lara's good looks come at the expense of, well, depth? Perhaps. The lengthy platform levels can feel a bit repetitive, in that you dangle along a ledge for a bit, then do some jumping, then dodge an obstacle. Then repeat. Yes, it looks lovely, but by necessity the gameplay isn't as varied as you might hope.
That said, a lot of effort has clearly gone into crafting the game's three sections: Tokyo, Ghana, and Cornwall (don't laugh, it's King Arthur's grave, innit). Each contains three levels, and each location has its own characterful visual style.
It provides a real incentive to play through, even when the platform levels have you biting your mobile phone with rage, after you miss a ledge and plummet to your death, sending you back to the last checkpoint. Instant death syndrome is one of the more frustrating aspects of this game, although hardened Tomb Raider fans may see it as a positive factor.
The action stages are good fun. The controls have been kept simple: you move forward, backwards and from side to side, pressing one button to shoot, and others to dive out of the way. First aid packs restore your health as you go along, which you'll need.
If you're after a game that really shows off your phone, Tomb Raider: Legend fits the bill. It genuinely does look like a PlayStation game (that's PSone, mind, although it's more like PS1.5 if you ask us). It's worth pointing out that the N70 version we tested was a whopping 4MB in size, so you might need to clear room on your phone.
The gameplay could be more varied, and if you're not used to the exacting standards of the Tomb Raider series you might be tempted to fling your phone through the nearest window after dying in the same place six times in a row on the same platform level. But overall, Tomb Raider: Legend is one of the slickest 3D mobile games we've seen.