Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Hands-On Preview

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

Lara Croft is ready to receive a full makeover in the upcoming Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, a downloadable title from Crystal Dynamics and Square-Enix scheduled for release later this summer. GoL uses the same engine as Tomb Raider: Underworld, but as my short hands-on demonstration at E3 2010 made apparent, the final gameplay experience is almost completely removed from what players have come to expect from the franchise.

Guardian of Light abandons the typical full-3D action-platforming of Lara’s previous escapades, dropping the Tomb Raider brand and placing players in an isometric action environment with an embellished dual-analog, arcade-inspired control scheme and heavy emphasis on local or online cooperative play. Working with a 2000-year-old Mayan warrior named Totec (who shoots a mean M16, by the way), Lara must stop the evil spirit Xolotl and recover the Mirror of Smoke to ensure that the banished baddie can never return again.

In cooperative play, Lara and the mean, marauding Mayan make their way through 6 hours’ worth of central American temples, working together to disperse enemies using modern firearms as well as Totec’s spear and shield. The control scheme will be familiar to many gamers; Lara and Totec move via the left analog stick, aim with the right, and fire with the right shoulder buttons. The two can also perform a number of cooperative maneuvers in order to reach out-of-the-way places, pick-ups, and unlockable weapons/abilities. For example, Lara can jump on spears that Totec has thrown and left sticking out of walls, or can ride atop the Mayan’s shield as he holds it (and her) above his head. Lara can also throw Totec a rope at any time, allowing him to either rappel down or climb up walls to advance through the game’s stages.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

It’s not all friendly, though, as each slain opponent earns points, and the player with the most at the end of any level is awarded with special abilities granted by artifacts and relics. This is also true of the various gems scattered about each area, providing more opportunity for a competitive tint to the primarily cooperative play. In my demo, the bombs that Lara and Totec carry with them throughout the game were vital tools when the Square-Enix representative and I made things a little more cutthroat by planting and detonating at opportune (at least for ourselves) moments.

Guardian of Light doesn’t forget about solo players amid all this focus on cooperative play. The game will feature a adjusted narrative and level design for the lone adventurer, making all content accessible without the need of a dumb AI partner to babysit throughout the experience. Bravo!

Thus far, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light reminds me of the good old days of co-op gaming, and has me wanting to play more. Look for it on XBLA, PSN, and Steam for $14.99 this summer.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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