"Puzzle it up!"
Lara Croft is back in our lives and sooner than expected! This time around, however, we’re talking about a great downloadable title with an emphasis on action and puzzle challenges. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is not the typical Tomb Raider game, but after all, there’s a reason why the game doesn’t have the words “Tomb Raider” in the title. The developers have taken a small detour this time around to show us a different kind of game that in many ways surpasses most of its predecessors. Of course, this new style is not here to replace the old one; both franchises can coexist and I hope they will!
The new game has an arcade feel, starting with the top-down perspective that broadens the field of vision and the player’s capacity for exploration, as well as the speed of action. From the top, players will not only find better orientation while exploring, but they’ll also be able to spot incoming enemies faster. Also, the new standpoint allows for a better puzzle-solving experience.
Granted, the point of view isn’t the only thing that’s different. The shooting can be frantic, as you just have to point and shot in a specific direction to dispatch the enemies. When you least expect it, hordes of ill-intentioned creatures will start coming towards you, oftentimes challenging you with their own weapons. Even though you’ll deal with many more enemies and bosses than you would in a Tomb Raider game, the shooting is very enjoyable and accessible for anyone, at least during most of the game. It might take you some time to get adjusted, but there’s a decent margin of error that helps to keep the gameplay frustration-free. It’s more like fighting dungeon creatures in an action RPG.
- Prepare for frantic dungeon-based battles! -
Also, Guardian of Light gives more focus to puzzle challenges, presenting them at every turn. Players will have to give it some thought when it comes to climbing certain platforms, obtaining special objects, and opening up gates. Not everything is as easy as it seems, but overall the puzzles are accessible for anyone with a bit of common sense. Whether you use embedded spears to climb up a column, the grapple hook to swing from one side to the other, or bombs to break down dangerous traps, things never get too complicated. The developers wanted you to be able to plow through the game at a nice pace.
In fact, one of the goals of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is to get through it fast. You may take your time the first time around - thinking about the puzzles, exploring the place looking for ammunition and health upgrades, hidden items, ‘Challenge Tombs,’ and so on, but after that, the game’s on! If you have it in you to beat high scores and achieve each of the game’s challenges, you’ll be able to repeat each of the levels as many times as you want and improve your personal results. You’re not only asked to do it in a specific time limit, but you’ll be challenged to do it while completing diverse goals such as finding hidden objects, reaching a certain score, blowing up a number of things, etc. The completion of these goals will grant you special artifacts and weapon-enhancing relics that you can manage from the weapon inventory and use when your relic-triggering reservoir fills up, which requires you to shoot down several enemies and/or collect gems without taking a hit.
What, you thought Lara’s arsenal would be limited? In total, the game will give you access to over 30 weapons. Everything from her classic dual pistols to a flame-thrower and a truck-load of other guns will be at your fingertips once you find it, and you can map your three favorites to the D-pad buttons of your choice for quick access. Of course, everything but the dual pistols and spears has a limited amount of ammo, but nevertheless, they’re very fun to use and oftentimes more effective than the standard weaponry.
- You know how to use it, don't you? -
Despite the isometric perspective of most of the gameplay, the game also includes plenty of perfectly rendered cutscenes, which prove that Lara Croft is still the hot gaming icon you fell in love with and the Indiana Jones feel hasn’t been lost. Lara is exploring the ruins of Meso-America when two ancient figures are unleashed: Totec, a 2,000 year-old shield-wielding warrior, and Xolotl, an evil spirit once captured by the first one. The story doesn’t tell a whole lot, but it brings up an excuse to use a second player - Totec.
This is, in fact, one of the best ways to experience the game - playing with someone else. The two-player co-op option spices things up a bit with better puzzle-solving mechanics that require cooperation between the two partners. As of this writing, you can only play locally, but a free update coming at the end of September will allow online co-op as well.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light might only be a downloadable title, but it’s a heck of a good one! If you’re looking for the classic Tomb Raider gameplay, you might as well avoid possible disappointments, but if your heart is open for a new experience, you must give it a try - there are 15 levels ahead of you!
GameDynamo's Score for Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (PS3)
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An enthusiast of gaming adventures as well as party and puzzle games. Writer, editor, translator, graphics designer, and a multitasker at heart. Maria has worked in the gaming industry since 2007, though she's been a gamer since the eighties. She proudly wore her Spain jersey when they won the 2010 World Cup!
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