Lara Croft: Guardian of Light Review
Despite the titles lack of either tomb or raider, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is the best Tomb Raider game in a long time. Lara has never quite faced an adventure like this before. She’s still diving for hidden gold, but Guardian of Light finds her playing co-op with a partner, introduces fun new arcade features, and gives a new perspective on the iconic heroine. In other words, this game will make you fall in love with Lara all over again. The story – as usual – is a fluffy excuse to run Lara through trap infested landscapes and encounter monsters. Story and dialogue I would say are the weakest parts of this game. Lara’s collection of one liners are unimaginative and somewhat painful to hear.
Story moments are delivered with animated cut scenes and a flip-through comic book style that downloadable games are so fond of these days, as a massive comic fan… I approve! An intro is supposed to draw us into a game and the ending is a reward for playing all the way through, so I can see why these bits have been highlighted by giving them a different style to the rest of the game. This game is beautiful! The environments are intricately detailed and larger than one might think, disagree? You try finding a teeny tiny red skull gem in one of the maps! Many objects are destructible and look great as they explode, but then the pieces may immediately disappear when they hit the ground, somewhat annoying in a continuity sense but handy when trying to see where your going in the often tight spaces your ambushed in.
With this game, one I will admit I was unsure about when I began, I had one hell of a time with it from the very start right through till the end! Crystal Dynamics has struck some kind of gold and I would like to see a transition of the old stale Tomb Raider games to this much more dynamic platform of adventure. Guardian of Light is all about racking up high scores and enjoying some friendly competition with a partner, how fitting for an arcade game and yet these new parts slides effortlessly into the game. Finding treasure and killing ‘baddies’ earns you points and you can compare scores on the international leader boards. Each stage has optional Challenge Tombs that will offer up valuable artefacts and relics if you can solve the puzzle. Artifacts and relics can be equipped to your character in order to significantly enhance their skills. And then there are the many Reward Challenges in each level that grant weapons and items for completing random tasks like destroying all the columns in the stage. There are so many hooks here to keep you interested!
Speaking of weapons, there are loads to find and you can customize either character Lara or Totec with any four at a time. Guardian of Light is dual-stick shooter that has you running around with the left stick and aiming with the right. This felt peculiar to begin with but after warming up to it, and that happens quickly, it becomes very satisfying and fun to experiment with the weapons and swapping between them. Each puzzle has been designed to require the particular talents of both Lara and Totec. Lara has a grappling hook she can extend that Totec can then walk across like a tight rope. Or Totec can throw his spear into a wall for Lara to jump to. Impressively, Guardian of Light remains a good time even if you’re flying solo. The game doesn’t give you an AI partner — instead, you’ll encounter slightly tweaked versions of puzzles that are possible to solve on your own. You encounter puzzles, start experimenting and trying different approaches, and then you eventually solve it — together. If you ever had a friend watch you play a Zelda or Resident Evil game and offer advice, it’s a lot like that, except in this game your playing together! It’s great fun. Since the single-player and cooperative games differ significantly, drop-in drop-out play isn’t possible. All of your equipment carries over from single- to multiplayer games, though. I should also point out that, at launch, Guardian of Light does not offer online cooperative play. That feature will be patched in later with the release of the PlayStation 3 version.
Lara Croft: GoL is one hell of a great adventure! Especially if you’re in the mood to be playing co-op with a buddy. Ignoring the silly story and tiresome dialogue, I had fun with it, just as much as the original Tomb Raider when I first played through that. Back with a brand new look, clever puzzles and loads of collectables this is an intense makeover for Lara, and I hope like me, you approve.