Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

Room Invader!

This ain't your Angelina Jolie's Lara Croft... Welcome back Lara, welcome back!
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: September 27, 2010
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Tomb Raider has been around a long, LONG time. If you went and raided a real tomb, you'd probably find a copy of the original game (for the Sega Saturn!). Lara Croft was at one time the hottest name in gaming, and one of the first video game characters marketed as a "sex symbol" in the West (Virtua Fighter's Sarah Bryant being another). Since that time, we have seen no less than nine entries in the main Tomb Raider series.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is NOT the tenth game in the series, as developer Crystal Dynamics and publisher Square-Enix want to make sure we know. I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical going in. You see, I waited with bated breath for the first game, played it incessantly on release and played the demo of the second game. Then I never touched another one again... the series seemed to go stale on me fast, and soon it seemed like sequels were coming out trying to cash in quick. I stopped paying attention to the fact they were even releasing, and I was honestly surprised to find out there had been nine leading up to the Lara Croft release.

With that background, I felt a bit of trepidation going into the game for review. My only solace was that as a PSN downloadable title, it was likely to be over inside of six hours and I could move on to playing something better (except I didn't). Forty-five minutes later, I was totally transfixed. After six hours, I finally put the controller down, having beat the game, and bleary eyed as I was, I still felt the lure of picking it up again. The next night I sat my wife down with me to play though on co-op. That saucy vixen Lara (and her humble pal Totec) sang their siren song to me for another three hours that night. When I finish writing this review, I'll probably go and pick up the controller again and play until I pass out. Consider me solidly sold by this new spinoff series (if it indeed turns out to be a series).

When you first start playing, you will probably make the easy comparison to Diablo, but the feel of the game is a little closer to the classic Crusader series (No Remorse and No Regret) mixed in with just a dash of the objective-based gameplay of the Tony Hawk series. The action takes place in a fixed-camera 3/4's perspective view (thus the easy Diablo comparisons) and the gameplay is essentially a twin-stick shooter with jumping and light puzzle solving. In addition to a whole arsenal of weapons, Lara comes equipped with a grappling hook (one of those cheap models that only actually grapples to conveniently placed gold rings), unlimited bombs, and, in single player, an endless supply of spears that also serve as springboards to otherwise unreachable locales dotted throughout the landscape.

Thank goodness the thriving industry of natives has learned to manufacture Adamantium spears that can easily be thrust into solid stone! Your guns can be augmented by finding artifacts that add (and subtract) from your firepower, defense, bomb strength and speed, and the more rare relics that activate special abilities when you fill your "relic meter" by chaining together kills without taking damage. There are six abilities (Power Shot, Power Bomb, Power Speed, Health Regenereation, Ammo Regeneration, Scatter Shot if you must know), and more powerful relics will grant multiple powers so you can eventually be rocking with an extra powered spread Railgun that regenerates ammo. Pretty badass.

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