Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Review
Arrow dodging, platform jumping, huge boss battles and smart puzzles. These are just a few of the many different things you can do in Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. Let me tell you firsthand, I was not looking forward to this at all; I wasn’t even planning on buying this game. But now I may reconsider. Gamespot was kind enough to give me a code for the full version of this game, so last night I typed it in and started downloading. After eating breakfast the next morning, I immediately started playing. I wasn’t expecting anything remotely close to how awesome this game is. Things I didn’t know were possible became solutions and artifacts I collected; instead of just sitting in my inventory, became equipable to slightly enhance my stats. If you have any thought about maybe picking this up, you definitely should. It’s worth the experience and worth the time put in.
While this isn’t the standard third person view Tomb Raider, it does have a very well placed camera that lets you see everything you need to, while keeping surprises hidden. The game is beautiful to look at. Climbing around a spiraled staircase moves the camera as you do, showing just how big each and every level is. It is true that the game is pretty linear as you really do only have place to go in the end, the different paths you can take, or which ways you take first can alter depending on where you want to go. Dodging feeling second nature as it’s neither clunky to control, nor nasty to look at. Almost every attack is easily dodged out of, but be careful not to dodge into another enemies attack. As for weapons, at the start you’re given two pistols and a spear. But as you progress, you can unlock a very large variety of weapons ranging from pistols to full on machine guns, and from shot guns to rocket launchers. There’s something for everyone. Just move the right analog stick to wherever you want to shoot, and press R2.
Aside from weapons, there are a few tactical/equipment items you have. The first one is a grappling hook that grapples onto certain grapple holds. These are always easily noticeable and grappling is nothing to complain about. I only messed up about once or twice throughout the whole game. The other is a set of explosive charges. These will be needed not only to blast open doorways, but for puzzle solving as well. I won’t give too much away to spoil some of the puzzles, but they definitely require the explosive charges. While making a great item already, you can also use these against enemies. Just set them down and lure them on top and BOOM, their dead. It’s a little cheesy, but you have unlimited charges. This makes everything better as it would be a big annoyance to keep looking for more.
Although the explosive charges have unlimited ammo, the weapons do not. Your standard pistol and spear are unlimited, but other heavy duty weapons such as shot guns, machine guns, grenade launchers, and assault rifles are limited. Though you are given a lot of ammo throughout the game, it makes for strategic battles figuring out if you need to save ammo or not.
The actual platforming and puzzle solving is quite brilliant. Jumping from platform to platform is extremely easy, and Lara grabs onto edges if she can’t jump the full distance. As for puzzle solving, you are given an enormous amount of this. Not only are these really tricky puzzles, they also have very clever solutions. So you might want to be prepared to think while playing. Again I don’t want to go into a lot of detail here because figuring out on your own is the best way to play this and not by reading any solutions online or getting help.
The other gameplay element lets you know even more that Square Enix made this game. Every time you come across a special artifact, it ends up in your inventory. But you can equip to side items, and one main item. These side items give you special bonuses such as speed, or –damage. It’s not really a big deal what you decide; it’s just a cool feature. Now the main item u can select determines your “special ability”. As you kill monsters without taking damage, a bar near your health increases, when it reaches max you will gain a “special ability” designated by this main item. Some of these include health regeneration, ammo regeneration, or a scatter shot where bullets from any weapon shoot like a shotgun in 3 directions in front of you. Again, it really doesn’t matter what you pick, it’s just a side thing you can do.
As for the story, it’s not something to gloat about. It’s pretty cliché with an ancient artifact bringing an evil dude back to life, and you have to go through this huge trap induced area to defeat and reseal him before sunrise. Like I said, pretty cliché as for story, but it keeps you entertained while your platforming or puzzle solving.
Though I played through this game in Single Player Mode, Multiplayer is available as well. Sadly, they have yet to release the update which enables online play, so only local multiplayer is available. At the moment it does really suck because the game has completely different puzzles designed for two players. I really want to play these, but nobody I know wants to play this and I only have one controller. But it’s rumored to be coming pretty soon. I wouldn’t call this a deal breaker; it’s just a nice addition to the already great single player. So please don’t NOT buy the game because it has no online play right now, I would suggest playing through the single player first so you get a feel for the game and then jump into multiplayer. It took me roughly 5 hours to play through the entirety of the game, I think that's great for a downloadable title.
Gameplay – 9
Story – 7
Sound – 8
Presentation – 9
Overall Score: 8.6
P.S. Thanks for reading, this game is available for retail on September the 28th on the Playstation Store, though you can buy it now on XBLA.