Lara Croft, is back to explore lost tombs, discover treasures, fight monsters, and save the world. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is the name of the newest Lara Croft game. Developed by Crystal Dynamics; this game tries to separate itself from the previous Tomb Raider games. A noticeable difference is that the game does not bear the “Tomb Raider” title, it no longer has the third person perspective and it focuses on cooperative playing. However, don’t let this change fool you, this is still one hell of a game and the cooperative gameplay is a very sweet addition.
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Platform: PC, Playstation 3(PSN), Xbox 360(XLA)
Genre: Fixed-camera 3D action platform
Release: 18 August 2010
Rating: ESRB – T
The game opens up with Totec, the Guardian of Light, battling it out with Xolotl, the keeper of darkness game. Xolotl decimated Totec’s army with the use of an ancient artifact called “Mirror of Smoke.” Totec was able to find a way to imprison Xolotl in the Mirror of Smoke and in turn he became a statue destined to watch over the prison of Xolotl. Centuries later Lara Croft was able to discover the location of the Mirror of Smoke; but unfortunately she was tailed by a group of Mercenaries who are also after the Mirror. The mercenaries take the Mirror which caused Xolotl to be set free and also releasing Totec in the process. Lara Croft, together with Totec, must stop Xolotl before the light of dawn or else he would be unstoppable.
The game has several unique features that separate itself from the other Tomb Raider franchise. The first and major difference is the fixed 3D camera with an isometric view, similar to the “Diablo” franchise. Another new feature is the addition of a cooperative player; you could choose between Lara Croft and Totec. The cooperative mode allows players to effectively utilize the unique skills of the two characters to solve puzzles and defeat the hordes of enemies. Some features from were also retained, like the single player mode, dual pistols with unlimited ammo, and the grappling hook.
In single player mode, you are limited to Lara Croft. Totec will be behind the scene providing pretty much no help at all. Single player mode is basically the same as the other Tomb Raider game except of course it is not in third person.
The cooperative mode is, in my opinion, the reason to play this game. In this mode you get to choose between Totec and Lara Croft, take note that the other character cannot be controlled by an AI. Teamwork is the key in this mode because the maps, although similar in single player, will have different a different layout. An example is that Totec cannot use the grappling hook so Lara will have to hoist him up. Another is Totec has a shield which he could hold up allowing Lara to jump on top of Totec therefore giving her an extra boost.
The controls are also different from the previous games. The recommended controller is a gamepad; since I played in my PC I used a keyboard and mouse. The keyboard and mouse, with proper mapping is great at fights although a little bit annoying when it comes to directional jumps since it has no analog. The gamepad is great when it comes to solving puzzles but not that accurate in fights due to the analog targeting. So it’s really up to you to decide what to use; I’m a keyboard and mouse person so I used them in the game, my brother used the gamepad.
The graphics is also great; the developers were able to present the lush green jungles of Central America with awesome detail. The enemies also have a great detail for an isometric viewpoint. There are also several weapons to be found, some can be awarded through finishing challenges and others are scattered all over the map.
Being a long time Lara Croft fan, I loved the game. Especially since the cooperative mode and isometric view are a great tandem. Though the story is pretty much linear it compensates with a great game. Also, with all the challenges in the game you cannot accomplish a 100% on one run. For example, one challenge requires you to finish the game in less than 5:00 mins and another challenge would require you to complete the secret items. So in order to accomplish the two challenges, you will have to replay the stage.
The only part that I was disappointed in, well not that disappointed, is that the “movies” in the game are presented in a comic book style. Although the in game cut scenes are nice, it would be great if they added an FMV to the game. However, that is only a small setback.
I would urge Lara Croft fans to try this game out, especially the cooperative mode because you won’t be disappointed.
+Great visual effects
+Challenges require you to replay the game
+Reinvigorate the game franchise
+Action and puzzles are well balanced
-Game is too short if cooperative play is utilized
-Better if you could switch from isometric to third person view