What can you say about famous female video game protagonist Lara Croft? Well, I mean, besides her curvy Angelina Jolie figure, the ability to look hot while shooting two guns, and her ever lovin’ hobby of tomb raiding. She definitely has had a long career since her games during the PS1 and Saturn days. However, it seems like recently she hasn’t been doing so well, since it seems like every game just got worse and worse after the PS1 era. What happened? She was one of the first female protagonists that made women more than Princesses in distress. Now she is known as the game series that has poor camera placement among other mess-ups. It’s weird because you think they would have revamped it early on since a main criticism was the camera set-up in her game. It seemed like she needed to retire, put up her two guns, and just stay as a nostalgic look at females in gaming. That changes now, however, with the recent smash hit Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light! Finally, Crystal Dynamics did something different by changing up everything about the game. It’s still platforming-puzzle-solving goodness, but it’s more on the line of an arcade style game. This definitely caught everyone by surprise, and well, this is the first Tomb Raider I ever played, so let’s dive into the light with Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light!
The story starts out with our loveable Lara getting into another situation with a mystical artifact and some evil gang wanting to get it first. Thankfully, they cut through the crap and have the mystical artifact summon a powerful demon wizard guy named Xolotl. The demon then kills the bad guys and is about to kill Lara, but the guardian of light, Totec, awakens and joins up with Lara to save the world from Xolotl’s evil plans. I’m going to have to agree with mainstream reviewers, and say that this game’s story is very weak and basically had about 5 pages of script, total. Though like Super Mario Galaxy 2, the story doesn’t really matter since it doesn’t get in the way of the pure sweet sensation of the gameplay.
The gameplay in the Guardian of Light is in the form of games like the 3D Gauntlet arcade games where it’s done from an isometric view and not side-scrolling like Contra. You control Lara, and if you play with a friend you can control Totec the Guardian of Light. You go through multiple levels fighting off evil henchmen, demonic lizards, giants, giant spiders, and an evil sorcerer at the end. Oh, did I forget to mention you fight demonic dinosaurs? I don’t even need to explain the rest of the game since I just told you that you fight demonic T-Rexes, but this review would suck if it were this short, so let’s continue. The main weapons in the game are guns, but you also get to use a golden spear to impale enemies with and use to solve puzzles. There is also an offline and online multiplayer option. The game pretty much says, “Hey, play with a second player”. I think everyone can agree it’s more fun with two people since you can do stuff like stand on top of Totec’s shield to get to higher areas, or use Lara’s grappling hook to help Totec to get across the area. If you’re playing alone, you can use the spear to throw at the wall to make a makeshift platform for Lara to cross.
The graphics are amazing for a downloadable game. Just because it’s a downloadable game doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice presentation. There is a lot of detail everywhere, and everything just looks great. The puzzles and platforming are perfectly balanced. I say that since I never felt overwhelmed by a certain platforming section or a certain puzzle. Granted, I might have died a couple times solving some of them, but just like God of War 3, I never felt that specific areas of the game halted the game for me. The voice acting is good if a bit over the top sometimes, with Jim Cummings doing the voice for Totec, and of course, Kelley Hawes doing the voice for our lovely Lara Croft. Just to cover my tracks, I think the main villain overacts just a bit. While the music is reused from old Tomb Raider games, it still sounds nice and doesn’t overshadow the environment or what is happening in the game.
Now, this game isn’t without its flaws, but for a reboot of the franchise, it got a lot right. What is puzzling to me is that online co-op was never released for both consoles on the same date as the game’s release. It’s even more annoying since I got it on the PS3 and I STILL had to wait for the online co-op. Did they expect this? I mean, granted, I’m glad they are not giving us online co-op as DLC and putting a price on it. Of course, the most common criticism is the story, and yes, we all know it sucks because not a lot of emphasis or time was put into making it good, but the game is more of an arcade game than a full-fledged Tomb Raider game of old. This means that story isn’t going to be the main role here. The main role is the gameplay, which is perfect.
Like I said, the story is the weakest part, but the good definitely outweighs the bad by a landslide. This is a VERY good game, and I would highly recommend downloading it for your PS3 and 360. It sucks that PS3 owners have had to wait for online co-op, but if you have a 360, then you didn’t have to wait. This game is definitely worth the 15 dollar or 1200 point price tag. Thanks for reading, and hope to see you guys again!
This game gets an official 9 out of 10!