A solid cooperative adventure.
It’s not too often that a developer completely does away with their previous ideas and starts fresh and new like Eidos did with Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. It’s a farfetched title that controls and plays nothing like previous Tomb Raider titles but introduces a semi-competitive, yet cooperative gameplay mixture that results in some pretty serious enjoyment. But it’s an enjoyable time as long as your playing with someone else.
By large, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is played in a 3rd person, birds eye view with the dual-analog stick combination in mind. Think: X-Men Legends or Marvel Ultimate Alliance. The basic idea is each level has two points, and your objective is to get from point A to point B. However, there’s usually a mischievous puzzle or wave of enemies in your way. Movement is done with the left analog sticks while shooting is done but aiming a direction with right stick and holding the Right trigger.
Each level introduces lots of new ideas and ways for completing puzzles. One puzzle for example has you slowly climbing a large cave dropping rocks down tubes to block fire that has unfortunately covered the exit. But it doesn’t just feel like a large Resident Evil puzzle around every corner because the gameplay can be fast and pretty intense. Enemies sometimes come in bunches, plus the bigger enemies can be tough to take down. It’s a near-perfect balance of fun puzzle solving and challenging puzzles, all while urging you to move forward to get the most amount of points as possible.
This is where Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light should definitely be played with another person. The developers focussed on the game to be played together with another human and completing it alone feels ill-advised. Sure, you could potentially play Lara Croft’s entire campaign in single player but it defeats the purpose of the entire game. Swinging around on Lara’s rope or throwing spears into the wall as the Aztec Guardian just isn’t the same by yourself. The majority of your enjoyment will come from cooperating with another player to figure out the next batch of puzzles, hating each other every step of the way.
This is because The Guardian of Light features a neat competitive hook that pits you against your co-op buddy in a fight for the most points. Points are gained by collecting treasure and killing enemies, and this is where the game actually becomes a pretty awesome mixture of cooperative gameplay while you try to be the first to kill each enemy and gain the most points. It’s a very enjoyable way to go back to previous levels to try and gain more points which ultimately nets you more loot like weapons and buffs.
Through and through Lara Croft isn’t a terribly lengthy game but it was definitely a tad longer than I imagined it would be. Combining the decently sized campaign with lots of incentive to go back and beat high scores adds some heft to amazing fun campaign. Plus you can use your old weapons and items you found in previous missions and try them in the earlier levels. It also features leaderboards to show off your scores to the entire world.
The presentation is also pretty good, especially considering that it's merely a downloadable game on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. The environments feature a really cool background effects that shows previous parts of levels you've already completed. The lighting and effects are also done pretty well, though when the game gets up close and personal (mainly in cutscenes) the character models can look a bit off. The music & sound effects are nothing special while the voice acting is average.
Lara Croft and Guardian of Light is a really fun adventure, just as long as your playing with someone else. The campaign was made with cooperative gameplay in mind and not biding by the rule seems like a silly endeavor. Do yourself a favor and skip with game is you don’t plan on playing it with a buddy, but if you’re in the mood for an incredibly tight and masterfully fun cooperative focussed campaign then I definitely suggest it.