Review: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: September 28th 2010
Price: $14.99 | £9.99 | €14.99
Players: 1-2 (Local only at this time)
What I Liked:
- High production values
- Addictive gameplay
- Superb co-op play (when you can find somebody to play it with)
What I Disliked:
- Lack of online co-op is a shame, for now
- Aiming is sometimes a bit fiddly
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is something of an experiment. Take a popular franchise (that many will agree has lost its luster), shift it into a perspective that only fans of the Game Boy Advance Tomb Raider games will have seen the series take before, and add a liberal sprinkling of multiplayer to the mix. In many ways, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is a huge success, with production values that far outstrip the medium it has been designed for, addictive gameplay that will have you repeatedly coming back for “one more go”, and some of the finest co-op gameplay I’ve played in quite some time.
Lara Croft wears its retro influences on its sleeves, with a control scheme extremely reminiscent of popular titles like Robotron or Smash TV, but the gameplay itself far more resembles the classic Tomb Raider formula of “Solve Puzzle, Shoot Enemies, Shoot Puzzle, Solve Puzzle Whilst Shooting Enemies”, and the new control scheme and perspective makes the old formula fresh again. The new perspective in particular brings with it a new approach to puzzle solving, as the perspective itself forces the solution to be readily apparent, unlike previous games in the series, which had you searching every nook and cranny for a switch to pull, or a pressure plate to push a block onto. The controls also improve what is arguably the most flawed aspect of any Tomb Raider game, the combat itself. The twin stick shooting controls are accurate, and let you switch targets with relative ease. The only problem comes with shooting targets at odd angles, as the targeting system can sometimes be rather fiddly with respect to targets that aren’t at 45-degree angles to your character. I’ve had spears miss at point blank range. I would have appreciated another control scheme similar to Burn Zombie Burn, in which you can lock onto an enemy, and circle around them whilst maintaining your target lock. This system still does an admirable job at crowd control though, so its nothing worth writing home about.
Arguably the most interesting feature of this game is the co-op mode, in which one player takes control of the warrior Totec, whilst the other takes control of the titular heroine. I only had the chance to try one level in the co-op mode, due to the fact that the online play for this game has once again been delayed to an unspecified date, which is perhaps my biggest disappointment regarding this title. The co-op gameplay is a ludicrous amount of fun, with the players having to work together to solve some great puzzles, and game as a whole is made even more enjoyable by the addition of a second player.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is a great game, held back by the lack of a promised mode. Nobody can deny that the core game is fantastic, and I would have no trouble awarding it 5 stars, had the online co-op been available at launch. As it stands, it’s a game well worth experiencing, and you’ll still have a great time experiencing it alone, or with somebody on your couch playing alongside, if you’re so lucky.
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