Lara Croft and the Guardian Of Light Review

It’s been around two years since the last Tomb Raider game was released and that was the last time gamers have seen Lara Croft in action. Honestly, a lot of gamers have missed her but have no fear, Lara Croft is back in her new title on the Xbox 360, and soon to be on the PC and PS3 as she stars in Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. Yes, it’s no longer a “Tomb Raider” game as this new title from Square Enix and Eidos is completely different from the the past Tomb Raider titles gamers have come to expect.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light manages to retain some of the key elements that made the series popular; that is treasure hunting and intense action. Judging from the screenshots, it might seems a little bit odd. How does Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light stand out with its predecessors? Let’s take a look in the HOT and the NOT.

HOT

Presentation
For a downloadable game, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light offers decent graphics that are based on the game engine of Tomb Raider: Underworld. It is now in isometric view where players can see the whole area all at once. The level design is pretty well drawn equipped with numerous puzzles that is bearable for any gamer, whether they are new to the franchise or not. Taking players back into exploring ancient tombs, Lara Croft will venture into another tomb in South America where a lot of exotic areas will be explored such as a swamp, underground temple, and many more. Despite having an isometric camera angle, players can still enjoy the beautiful scenery. There are a total of 14 exotic levels where Lara will have to jump, gun down enemies, solve puzzles, and save the world from annihilation. Did I tell you that the cut scenes have voice overs as well?

Story
Our dear old Lara is into hunting treasure hunting once again but this time, with a friend from the Aztec tribe that will accompany her! In curiosity of exploring the Aztec ruins in South America, she has learned that a treasure beneath the temple holds the Mirror of Smoke where it was sealed during the battle between the Guardian of Light and the Guardian of Evil, who is known as Xolotl. Upon Lara discovering the Mirror of Smoke, the Guardian of Evil, Xolotl was freed and therefore, planning to destroy the world once again. It is now up to Lara and her friend to stop Xolotl and seal him once again through the Mirror of Smoke!

Collect Artifacts, Gain more Power
Through the expansive fourteen levels that the game has to offer, there are numerous collectible artifacts that Lara can use in order to strengthen her up. These artifacts can be equipped to make her stats be stronger therefore, allowing her to pass the obstacles that she is about to set into. Up to two artifacts can only be equipped at one time.

Up to the Challenge?
At each level of the game, there are about five challenges that a player will have tackle if they wish to gain more artifacts. These challenges vary from crossing the river without touching the water, or passing through the maze without getting hit by the enemies. It may sound easy at first, but as the player delves deeper into the game, the challenges get a little bit more harder. Completing challenges will not only give player artifacts but it will also allow players acquire weapons that cannot be obtained throughout the game. For players wanting to get a Double Barrel Shotgun or an automatic rifle, they must meet the requirements before the level ends.

Gain Score, Unlock Weapons
As previously mentioned above, players can acquire a plethora of weapons for each level. At every kill that a player does to an enemy, a score will be reward. This score increases as the player consecutively kills an enemy. Once the Lara has been hit, the chain of doubling your score will be reset. It is pretty much like an arcade style game but at the end of each level, when the player met the score requirement, a player will be rewarded with a powerful weapon that can be used throughout the game. When the game is completed, the overall score will be calculated and there are three unlockables that can be unlocked if a player acquires more than 1,400,000 points. It sounds a lot but please take note that a player can go back and retry the level over and over again.

High Replayability
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light can be finished in about five hours. However, for players who want to unlock all the artifacts and the secrets of the game will have to play the game more than once. The game gives gamers a lot of reasons to go back into it. For starters, players can beat their score at each level as they will be logged into the leaderboard. Take note that having a high score also unlocks more rewards. To make Lara unstoppable in solving puzzles and taking down enemies, there are hundreds of artifacts that can be collected. In other words, expect more than five hours of gameplay for only a $15 purchase.

Co-Op Gameplay
Another neat feature of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is the ability to play with a friend. Up to two players can tackle obstacles as they try to stop the evil Xolotl. There are puzzles and challenges at a certain level that requires more than one player. The teamwork in solving the puzzles quickly will be rewarded with artifacts and weapons at a certain point. The co-op is pretty much the biggest selling point as playing with a friend and planning out attacks offers more fun than solving the puzzles alone.

Fast Paced Action and Gameplay
While the game is different from most other Tomb raider titles, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light manages to still have the classic Tomb Raider fast-paced action style. The controls are pretty much easy to get used to. The right stick will be used to shoot while the left stick will be used for aiming. The double handgun Lara Croft has with her will have unlimited ammo whereas the big heavy weapons such as the grenade launcher and rifle will have an Ammo meter. The Ammo meter can replenished by finding an ammo box throughout the game.

NOT

Bad Camera Angle
Since the camera angle of the game is fixed and cannot be moved around, there are times where the player cannot see a hidden passage or cliff that can lead into an unexpected death. Dying in the game is not a good thing as the player will lose points.

No Online Co-Op For Now
In a goal for having Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light first on the Xbox 360 the developer had to cut out the online co-operative gameplay. The game is originally intended to be released with online co-op but since Microsoft wanted the game first, they released it without it. However, this September, a patch will be released that adds up the co-op free of charge as the PS3 and PC version will be released with the online features. Sure, it is more fun to have an online co-op since players will have a variety of choices in choosing players to play with but regardless, the game is still fun even with or without online co-op.

VERDICT

Editor's Choice AwardLara Croft and the Guardian of Light is an impressive game that gives fans of Lara Croft something to enjoy while they wait for the next full title being developed by Crystal Dynamics. The new IP that Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics have worked on is unique and will make any Tomb Raider fan happy. The isometric camera and action-oriented gameplay is a nice change from the slow-paced exploration-style gameplay normally associated with Tomb Raider games. For a game that only costs $15 and offers more than five hours of gameplay, it’s hard not to recommend you from buying this game. If you’re still disappointed however about the game not having any online co-op? Just wait until September. Other than that Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light could be considered to be one of the best downloadable games out there. A great game despite some minor flaws.

Rated 4.5 out of 5

[Editor’s Note: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light was reviewed on a Xbox 360 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher.]