It's a mark of how much archaeology has changed in ten years. When Ms Croft first started tomb raiding, it seemed like a great girls' own adventure. Despite some colonial undertones (white woman stealing from long gone far-flung civilisations) there wasn't a political edge. You barely even killed any humans – in the first game most of the enemies were wild animals.
Here in 2006, however, taking ancient history from the natives is frowned upon. Even the British Museum's stance on the Elgin Marbles is looking shaky.
Maybe that's why in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend, Lara find herself investigating her own history, notably the mysterious disappearance of her mother in an ancient Tibetan temple that happened when Lara was a youngster. Following the trail of an old enemy, her adventure also leads her to Kazhakstan, Peru, and a bunch of other exotic locations.
Of course, this is the same plot you will have followed if you've played any of the console versions of Legend. The DS version (together with the Game Boy and GameCube), is the last of the series to be released. But while the PSP version, which we were pretty happy with, tailored the experience to the available hardware and control system, the five-month delay for the DS hasn't resulted in such attention to detail.
Presumably publisher Eidos understands you can't just throw a game from console to handheld and expect it to survive the journey unharmed. But it also seems clear it wasn't certain how to transfer the game correctly, either.
Theoretically, this should be Tomb Raider as countless gamers know and sometimes love it: guide Lara around underground lairs, overcoming obstacles and the environment and dispatching enemies with a bit of sharp-shooting, whilst ferreting out priceless artifacts both mission-critical big and bonus points small.
And in one respect, the decision to cram everything in, from the reuse of the great cutscenes (albeit in blocky DS-video vision), to the various puzzles and Lara's new Indiana Jones whip-style magnetic grapple is admirable.
The problem is the DS is designed to be intentionally different from other consoles. It's got a touchscreen for a start. So to make use of it, a weird combat mini-game has been added. This is triggered whenever you're engaged in a shoot out, with the enemies represented on the touchscreen. You tap on them to shoot. But unfortunately it's a pretty dire experience, especially in terms of the way it breaks up the game's pace.
The woe doesn't end there. Lara's grace and stature is compressed into a blocky, characterless 2D form, and the animation – one of her key features – consists only of a handful of frames. Her excellently varied moveset has also been chopped down, thanks to the stripped-down environments.
In fact, the way these are handled poses some significant problems, with the not-quite-2D-not-quite-3D areas diminishing what would have remained of any pixel perfect acrobatics. For example, sometimes it's hard to distinguish which ledges can or can't be grabbed. As such, the puzzles seem unexciting – that is, when they aren't so frustrating you're tempted to slam the machine shut and lob it out of the window.
And that's not even taking into account the approach used for the magnetic grapple. An on-screen 'X' prompt regularly patronises you when it's time to grapple, but then again it's little wonder it's so insistent, as the objects are usually off-screen.
Frankly, it's just all badly implemented.
Which isn't to say a few parts of the game don't work. At times, the sheer quality of the graphics will surprise you, while the motorbike chases – which seemed nonsense in the other versions of the game – on the DS become nippy little diversions.
Still, when you end up praising the shallower parts of an action and adventure game that's aiming much, much higher, you know something's not right.
With this in mind, perhaps the best way of viewing Tomb Raider: Legend DS is as the book of the film. You get the same story, and it takes you to the same locations, and covers many of the same experiences as the big screen version, but you can't help but feel as if the whole thing is simply going through the motions.
Indeed, so much of what was an otherwise quality adventure has been lost in the transition, this is more like a book of the film where half of the pages have been torn out. Avoid.