Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is a new direction for the Tomb Raider franchise. It is a downloadable only title that you can easily finish in a single afternoon if you choose to do so. This is the first of what will hopefully be many spin off titles for Lara Croft. It is a great way to keep fans enthralled while we wait for the next version of Tomb Raider to hit store shelves. In the beginning Lara is looking for the Mirror of Smoke. She finds it but a warlord quickly intervenes and steals the mirror from Lara. As Lara watches helplessly the warlord releases Xolotl from his prison who then proceeds to kill everyone except Lara. As soon as Xolotl is released from his prison, Totec is brought back to life. Totec is the reason that Xolotl was in prison and it is his job (along with Lara) to put Xolotl back there before the world is destroyed.
One thing that you will immediately notice is that this game has an isometric view. It also has a dual analog control scheme where you move Lara with the left analog stick and control where she is aiming with the right. You can have up to four weapons equipped at a time and you can quickly switch in between them by utilizing the d-pad. There are also bombs that you can lay down which you will be using a good amount to disperse with some enemies as well as to solve some puzzles. Using the bombs as well as your traditional dual pistols you will have unlimited ammo. As you progress through the game you will unlock more powerful weapons. You do not have unlimited ammo here, however, ammo isn’t hard to come by in this game. Your ammo is represented by a blue bar and once it is gone you simply find more ammo drops. As you progress there are also health packs to find which will increase your overall health. In addition to that there are also artifacts laying around that you will need to find. These will increase your stats such as making your weapons stronger or having better defense. A lot of these will be found in special challenge tombs that you will come across in each level. Each challenge tomb is completely optional so you never have to go into one if you don’t want to. Keep in mind though that if you elect to bypass these opportunities, you might regret it later.
As fun as this game is playing solo it is even more fun playing it with a friend. Unfortunately online co op was not ready at the time this review was written which is a real shame. There was offline co op though and after playing through that a bit the game was made even more fun playing with a friend. The game also changes a bit depending on how you are playing. If you are playing the game co op then you are going to need both players to figure out and get past puzzles. If you are going through it solo then the puzzles are modified a bit so that you can get past them by yourself. As you progress through the story you will see storyline moments as animated cut scenes. The only time you don’t see that is at the beginning and end of the game where you are shown what is happening in the comic book pan and scan style. The entire game is beautiful and there are parts of the environment that are destructible. Be sure to explore utilizing many different tactics as you come across puzzles because you never know what will work.
Overall, this new Lara Croft game is a great accomplishment for the developers. I have really enjoyed all of the Tomb Raider games this generation, however, with that said, this breathes in some fresh air to a franchise some feel has gone stale. For me personally, I would still love to have the big blockbuster retail Tomb Raider titles and then in between those follow Lara on her adventures in arcade form. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is definitely one of the best Summer of Arcade titles for 2010. I can only imagine how much more fun it will be once online co op becomes available. Be sure not to miss out on this fantastic arcade title. It is well worth the price of admission.
Originally posted on Totally Gaming Network