Game-A-Week: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

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

DLC Part Two: Classics Get DLC!

I’m really excited to be able to bring you some exciting news for the gaming industry. It seems a few of our old favourite games are getting DLC which is great news for retro gamers everywhere. Some of the highlights of this classic DLC frenzy include the first generation Pokemon games, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic!

Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow will be getting that ever elusive Pokemon without using a cheat cart or visiting a Nintendo promotional event, that’s right it’s Mew! ‘Mystery of Mew’ lets players expand their game play by allowing them to visit new island. There they will find themselves blocking Team Rocket’s attempts at catching the rare kitty for themselves. After a series of battles and some exploration of the island players get to unlock the mystery surrounding mew and take a shot at capturing the little fellow for yourself.

Ocarina of Time: ‘The Missing Fairy’ takes Link on an adventure set by the Deku Tree Sprout. It’s had a nightmare involving Navi being captured by the masked skull kid from Majora’s Mask and warns Link that she may be in danger.

The DLC acts as a nice bridge between the two games and has Link making a journey filled with a few small quests until he reaches the woods where the skull kid resides.

With the success of Dragon Age’s DLC Bioware have created a team to produce new content for Knights of the Old Republic in anticipation of the new MMO The Old Republic. We’re getting not one but two DLC packs for Knights of the Old Republic with more on the way.

Malak’s Destiny’ allows you to take on the role of Malak challenging Revan for control of the Sith prior to the events in Knights of the Old Republic. You board his vessel and fight your way to the bridge. The attempt is unsuccessful and results in a lightsaber to the face amd gaining him his mask. The DLC then flashes forward to the capture of Bastila where you attempt to turn her to the darkside, and again later to the confrontation with Revan himself on the Starforge. Here you get a chance to change the course of history by defeating Revan and using the Starforge to destroy the Republic fleet.

The second DLC ‘Hunter-Killer’ takes place after the events of the original game. HK-47 remains locked in a room onboard the Ebon Hawk with several parts missing, he’s unable to function and so the only thing he can do is relive his past. This allows you to visit Tatooine prior to being captured and sold to an Ithorian trader. It of course features assassination, Jawa’s and endless Meatbag references.

Knights of the Old Republic’s DLC for the PC version of the game will be featured on its revamped homepage. Many of you are probably wondering how you’ll be downloading the additional content to your classic systems but worry not, Nintendo have gone all out designing a cheap and affordable DLC lock on cart for both the Gameboy and Nintendo 64 systems. Simply purchase the lock on devices, plug your game carts into them and download away!

You Wish ;)

DLC Part One: That’s Right I’m Releasing Additional Content!

Downloadable Content, love it or hate it, this aspect of gaming is a reality and its use over the past few years has only increased. I remember a time when you bought a game; if the game was successful you’d get a sequel to that game. Occasionally on the PC you’d have an add-on or expansion pack: perhaps giving the game some new levels, new features, characters and such. Today we get all three.

Amongst friends I get mixed feelings over DLC, let me start out by saying that I’m not against DLC per say, as long as it’s given to the consumer fairly. By this I mean that you don’t have to repurchase the game (ala The Force Unleashed and its Hoth controversy) in order to obtain exclusive DLC only to have it sold to the original game owners some time later. I’m against high pricing for DLC, especially when this content brings little in the way of anything new to the gamer. I’m tired of a game selling me costumes for the same price other games offer me new levels and stories to explore; it makes no sense to me. God forbid I purchase Modern Warfare 2; it’s DLC consisting of a few multiplayer maps for a quarter of the price of the game.

Free DLC is always nice, Valve’s Team Fortress 2 has had numerous DLC known as Class Updates, each containing new maps (mostly community based), new game modes, new weapons and new achievements. Free DLC is a way of saying thank you for buying this game in my eyes and it’s always nice to find some new content on a much loved game. Left 4 Dead was released at the end of 2008 and two years on we’ve another free campaign ‘The Sacrifice’ to enjoy for free.

Being a PC gamer I have the fortune of receiving some DLC for free, whereas those on the 360 would have to either pay or just not receive. Additionally there’s DLC exclusive to consoles as with Resident Evil 5’s campaigns ‘Lost in Nightmares’ and ‘Desperate Escape’. This is something I think needs to be addressed across gaming platforms so that gamers can experience the same content whatever they play on.

DLC doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. More and more games are using it, I’m wondering how many civilizations will be released for Civilization 5 and how much they’ll end up costing us overall. I can’t help wondering if some of this sort content would have been released in game at release if DLC didn’t exist. I still remember unlocking the Landmaster tank and the ability to fight on foot by unlocking certain medals on N64’s Lylat Wars. There was no charge for these features, they were earned. Admittedly at the time these games didn’t go online and so creating revenue from these additions wasn’t really an option.

So how do you feel about DLC, Love it or hate it? Part two coming soon, its price: One million Republic Credits…or free…yes let’s go with free.