Lara Croft finally has a game named after her – Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light doesn’t carry the Tomb Raider brand and is only available via digital download. That doesn’t stop it from being a solid adventure title. Despite it being a smaller sized release, you can still get some good gaming hours out of this one.
The game’s primary focus is on co-operative gameplay. There is a single-player mode for those that want to work through the levels solo, but the game opens up even further with the addition of a second player. Local co-op support is probably the sweetest addition to the package – there’s nothing like rubbing shoulders with a gaming partner to clock a game on the same screen.
And it is indeed co-op to the fullest extent. The puzzles change ever so slightly so as to require two people to solve. The two characters interact with each other’s unique tools – Totec holds on to Lara’s zip line to rappel down walls or to traverse gaps, and Lara climbs Totec’s spears or balances on Totec’s shield to reach areas that are out of reach. Totec can use his shield against projectiles, while Lara takes cover behind him and dishes out the hurt with ranged weapons. The mechanics are interwoven rather well, and the sense of co-operative play is intuitive enough to keep the game flowing.
A competitive element is also present in the game. Score attack differentiates the two players, where points are awarded for collecting diamonds and killing enemies. Score multipliers kick in if you avoid taking damage over time. Small reward challenges yield artifacts and relics, which can be equipped to buff your character. Fulfilling mission objectives and gathering collectibles are paid off with new artifacts and weapons.
The PC version runs at an impressive rate, and it still looks rather good for an engine used in 2008. Some nagging issues mar an otherwise enjoyable experience – some issues with clipping and poor respawning can break the game. In one particular session, my partner and I had to shut down a fire trap, but when one of us died, she respawned on the other side of a gate, which meant that the trap was unsolvable. After several suicides and respawns later, we were forced to reload the checkpoint.
Despite this, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is pure, unpretentious and encourages exploration and adventuring, which is really what Lara Croft should be all about. A great little game at a reasonable price point.
Reviewed for PC.