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Jedi Phoenix

Review: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light


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What do you think of when you hear the name Lara Croft? Tombs you say? That’s correct. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is the latest of many Tomb Raider games with a new arcadey approach. With diverse gameplay, you still get the same Lara; guns, raiding and puzzles.


If you’re anything like me -- a fan of Tomb Raider games -- you’ll be more than exited to find out that this game is not just for you loners out there. You and a buddy can have all the tomb raiding fun together with the game's cooperative mode. Edios, (whom are now in association with Square Enix) has set things right to give players a chance to not only bring in unique gameplay mechanics, but also bring you in with a helping hand. Sadly, I hope you have a friend to play with at home. The game is released on the Xbox 360 about six weeks before the Playstation 3 and PC version. Those two systems will have to wait until September 28. Since it is being released so early, it will not have day one online co-op. A patch is scheduled to add it in after the other versions have debuted.


The game starts out with Lara leading a group of mercenaries to the location of the Mirror of Smoke. This happens to be the seal that encloses a demon by the name of Xolotl and his army. The mercenary leader reaches out and grabs the treasure before he realizes what he has done; there is no going back. As Xolotl starts to unleash his fury, another statue comes to life and introduces himself as Totec. Totec happens to be the the Guardian of the Light and is at war with Xolotl and all his doings. That’s where this partnership with the Guardian arises.

A video to show you the intro and comparison between single and co-op modes.

The instant you start playing, you’ll realize how comfortable the controls feel and how promptly you’ll get the grip of the game with its dual-stick shooting mechanic. Of course you start off with Lara’s double pistols. As you progress through the levels, you’ll be able to spot some health and ammo upgrades in hard to reach areas which, when used, increase your life bars to make you an even healthier and fit Lara with some extra room to store that handy ammo. Throughout the levels, you’ll come across some challenge tombs which reward you with new items such as relics and artifacts for completing the room’s puzzle. You can equip an artifact or relic at any given moment in the game. They are used for altering your performance when it comes to your weapons, defense, bombs and speed. Some increase your stats while others decrease them at the same time. There is a bit of strategy involved when it comes to using the right equipment for the right situation. With weapons comes great responsibility – well, at least when it comes to the Relic Meter. The Relic Meter fills up as you defeat enemies and while picking up gems. Once the meter is filled, you’ll be able to use one of the relic items to basically make you a super Lara. Be wary, if you take damage the meter will fully deplete. Each and every level also contains its own challenges which will reward you with an upgrade or item.


In Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light you’ll find yourself solving minor puzzles at every corner. Some puzzles may be more difficult than others, but nothing too strenuous to make you want to throw your controller across the room or that pretty TV you have. From using your hookshot to wall run across obstacles to throwing Totec’s spear to create stairs to reach tall platforms. Most of the enemies are easy to defeat, especially since Lara has mastered the dodge maneuver. Not only is this good for avoiding those energy balls the baddies throw at you, but you can also use it to progress faster along the map. The enemies come in different shapes, sizes and forms. Some carry shields, while others are just fast. Regardless, they all seem to explode at death. Some enemies take different strategies to beat which is why I didn’t find the game at all repetitive.



Totec taking advantage of Lara's hook shot.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light looks quite nice for being an arcade game. It gives off a dark and gloomy cave mood. The cutscenes are pure still images with audio in the background. From time to time, the game would create in-game cutscene, using its characters to break it out for the audience. The title also flaunts some very humorous ragdoll physics when you die. I found myself having fun with the physics often enough.


After I completed the game I went back through the levels quite often trying to complete every challenge on the list per level. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light has excellent replay value. The game lasts about four to six hours without attempting to go for all the unlockables and challenges. What I admired the most was that the single player and the co-op gameplay are tweaked so that it includes both of the players to complete a puzzle. It’s the same puzzle, but a completely different way of solving it.


You'll find large and aphoristic environments in Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.

The only minor fall backs of the game was that there weren’t too many boss battles and the camera angle got me killed on rare occasion when I attempted to explore certain areas not fully visible. The couch co-op was a bit of a bummer, but only about a month to go for that online coop. Other than that, the game is quite flawless.


The game is priced just right at 1200 MSP($15). If you’re looking for a fun, exiting and addicting gameplay, you should look no further than Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. It’s more than the right choice to make.




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