Lara Croft And The Guardian of Light review
We love
Approachable puzzles, plenty of action and co-op play
We hate
A few more big boss battles would have been nice
Verdict
Lara’s best outing for a while. A must-have for retro shooter and Tomb Raider fans looking for something a little different.
Launch Price
£9.99 (PSN)

Lara Croft and The Guardian of Light sees Lara ditch her more familiar Tomb Raiding antics in favour of some top down retro styled isometric action in this digital download available this Wednesday. Backed up by some awesome co-op and multiplayer action it’s already up there with our favourite games this year. Read on to find out why in our full Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light review.

The curvaceous Tomb Raider star has been AWOL in recent months, but Lara Croft is back in something totally different than anything she’s previously appeared in. Well, not totally, there are still tomb-like settings and such. But it’s certainly a massive change (Note the lack of “Tomb Raider” in the title), and a welcome one at that.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light’s story revolves around the mystical Mirror of Smoke – an artefact located in the Temple of Light. Upon locating it, Lara is ambushed by a rogue bunch of mercenaries who, in a rush to get their hands on it, inadvertently activate its curse, unleashing the evil Xoltl. Totec, a Mayan tribesman is also awoken. Thankfully he’s more helpful, and will now help Lara to save the world from the ensuing evil-ness.

Beginning Lara Croft And The Guardian of Light, it’s clear that developer Crystal Dynamics has gone for an entirely different Lara experience, with a story initially told in comic book style with well executed character voiceovers, as the aforementioned mercenaries get their hands on the Mirror of Smoke, activating the evil curse and unleashing evil. You’d think there would be an initial shock at seeing Lara from an new angle, but the transformation is all neatly transitioned with snappy tutorials getting you fully up to speed with controlling Lara in her new isometric world from the off.

Getting to grips with Lara is easy thanks to the well thought out controls (we reviewed it on an Xbox 360). As we’ve previously mentioned in our Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light preview, you make Lara walk with the left stick, while the right has Lara equip her weaponry, or a spear, that you can use to dart at enemies or stick into walls as an aid to get to higher platforms or hitting switches to progress. It doesn’t sound like much, but solving some of the game’s puzzles by figuring out where to plonk your spear to jump to is one of the more small but satisfying moments throughout.

Likewise pressing LB (L1 on PS3) lets out a grappling hook to latch onto previously unreachable areas and abseil over deathly pits. In some ways it’s almost typical Lara Croft from her Tomb Raider days, except the new angle makes it feel completely different. In a good way. It’s a real life-saver, particularly in Lara Croft And The Guardian of Light co-op as you use it to let your sidekick, Totec tightrope walk.

Bombs are one of the most important tools in Lara’s arsenal. You get an unlimited supply of these button activated blasters. Already equipped, simply press B on an Xbox 360 pad to lay one down, then B again to explode them, being sure to get out of its clearly marked blast radius. Against enemies it’s not the most effective tool but it’s essential for solving puzzles in Lara Croft And The Guardian of Light by blowing up parts of statues to open doors, moving large balls and activating switches while you’re stood elsewhere. It all makes for impressively varied puzzle solving action antics.

Plenty of action there is too. With lots of enemies bombarding the screen in Lara Croft And The Guardian of Light, at times you’ll feel like you’re playing the classic Smash TV as you find yourself shooting enemies from all angles. Throw in some clever but menacing boss battles in there and you’ve got enough to satisfy even the most demanding shooter fans. The set-pieces are remarkable too. You’ll find yourself having to scarper across crumbling bridges, flee from giant spiders, lizard-like things and all manner of dastardly pointy mechanisms and traps across rainforests, caverns and temples.

If all those settings in Lara Croft And The Guardian of Light sound familiar, it’s because they will be to Tomb Raider fans. Putting Lara in an entirely new setting wouldn’t have made much sense anyway. Visually the graphics and detail in the settings are up there with Tomb Raider: Underworld. The levels are as detailed as any you’ll find in Underworld right down to the explosion effects as debris and falling rocks scatter across the screen. It might be a download only title but developer Crystal Dynamics has pulled out all the stops to deliver a game Lara Croft fans can get excited about.

Another fabulous addition in Lara Croft And The Guardian of Light is the multiplayer. Using teamwork players can take control of Lara or her Mayan buddy, Totec to play through the game together. In co-op it’s Totec who uses the spears to help Lara jump to higher ledges. He’s also got a shield to use to shield her from bullets and arrows. Playing together can also unlock extra Xbox 360 Achievements and PS3 Trophies only attainable through teamwork. There are also gems and other goodies to collect, but to add a competitive element to co-op there’s only a limited amount, meaning it’s a race between you and your co-op buddy to attain the highest score per level. Add the ability to upgrade your weapons and collect magical artefacts to boost attack and defence stats and there’s something for everyone.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is an exciting package combining action and puzzle solving antics aplenty in a highly playable Tomb Raider inspired isometric reiteration that is both fun and clever in equal measure. Add co-op multiplayer and it’s even better, delivering the kind of instant pick up and play experiences we used to get on consoles of yesteryear.

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