Game Title: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (PC)
The Gist: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is a break away from the typical Tomb Raider adventure, trading its third person perspective for a fixed camera isometric view at a distance. Designed for both solo and co-operative play, (both local and online) players find themselves adventuring through multiple environments each with their own puzzles to solve and enemies to beat. You fight alongside the character Totec who was brought back to life the same time as the game’s antagonist Xolotl. The ultimate goal of the game is to stop Xolotl from causing chaos and probably ruling the world. Each level houses a few ‘challenges’ found in two forms. The first takes place within the level itself such as jumping on each platform without falling off or getting a boulder on top of a platform with a skull on it. The second type of challenge is housed within specialised rooms accessible in the main game via a red lined door; the room will house a puzzle to solve. These challenges reward characters with weapons, artefacts and relics (artefacts/weapons upgrade your abilities such as speed, bomb strength, and weapon power).
Pros: The graphics on this game are beautiful that show off the environment well. The co-op feature, (which I played through local co-op using 360 controllers), brings life to the party and although you’ll no doubt be the cause of each other’s death numerous times it ends up being a laugh. The puzzles are fun to solve, don’t take up too much time but allow for the occasional stumble. Boss fights are the best bit of the game, whilst tactics aren’t really required to kill a boss it usually speeds up the killing processes and ends up being quite enjoyable.
Cons: The voice over for the character Totec/Xolotl is done by the same actor, Jim Cummings. Whilst he seems to be an accredited voice over artist (Dragon Age/Kingdom Hearts) I strongly disagree with his use for the game. Totec would have been best paired with a Native American voice over artist. The steam achievements for this game are quite dull; instead of finding anything too challenging you’ll be rewarded for simply playing co-op or killing a boss. Both artefacts and relics acquired through challenges upgrade your characters stats but they don’t seem to affect game play enough to notice which makes me wonder if they should have bothered. Ammo never really seems to run out as there are ammo boxes everywhere, I’d appreciate a few more moments where I’m dependant on using mines or merely staying alive till I find an ammo crate/cache.
During my first play through I ended abseiling down the edge of a map onto a lower platform…little did I know this area wasn’t designed to be explored and I ended up having to start the level from scratch as merely killing myself to re-spawn resulted in me simply spawning in the inescapable area. This doesn’t seem to be a constant problem through the rest of the game however and is probably just something missed during testing.
Musical: The music seems appropriate to an adventure game of this type and recycles music from two previous Tomb Raider games, Legend and Anniversary.
Hunger: This game was actually highly addictive, resulting in my one hour gaming session turning into a six hour one night, two hours the next day co-op fest with my girlfriend. Even though I’ve finished the game I’ve still some extra challenges purchased as DLC. You can earn additional costumes in the game so that replaying levels won’t be as dull and retaining any previous weapons/items earned on your last play through mirroring the Resident Evil games.
You can also play as another character entirely through the use of the DLC character packs. Currently you can play as either Kane or Lynch from the Kane and Lynch games (free DLC), or Kain and Raziel from the Legacy of Kain games (small fee). As well as playing them in game you’ll be treated to revamped cut scenes with these characters and their official voice over artists from their corresponding games. How many times can Kane swear during the first cut scene ^.^
Conclusion: The game ends up being a brilliant deal even at standard price, even better during a sale (currently on sale on Steam). I’ve had 8 hours of solid co-op play that reminds me at times of the indie game Trine. Whilst the story remains a little dull this wasn’t designed to tell a tale, rather be home to a series of puzzles and some basic combat using a range of weaponry. If you’re playing this game’s co-op you’ll no doubt find annoyance as one character gets too far away from the other that usual costs a player his life, I can however understand how a split screen might be worse especially if playing with someone online as you may find it difficult to find each other on the map. Levels are vast and whilst you may find yourself running around in circles wondering where to go you’ll be rewarded by a chime sound effect once you find your way. I’d highly recommend getting this even if you’re not a Tomb Raider fan and hope that we get a sequel or more games done in this style. You can try out a demo for the game here (requires Steam). Thanks to Pen for playing the game with me this week and repeatedly bathing herself in lava to my amusement.
One Hour, One Review, One ‘Game-a-Week’ @ Black Vinculum