Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Review

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is a 2010 action-adventure video game developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix, released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and iOS.  A part of the Tomb Raider series, the game follows Lara Croft and a 2,000-year-old Mayan warrior named Totec who must work together in order to stop the evil spirit Xolotl and retrieve the Mirror of Smoke.


Positives:

  • Fantastic level design
  • Great score
  • Fun, challenging gameplay
  • Great multiplayer

Negatives:

  • Cinematics suck
  • Lackluster story

Campaign:  The campaign is surprisingly long with a lengthy ten hours playthrough and can be played either single player or multiplayer. It is split into different chapters and players can go to any of their choosing. The story revolves around archaeologist Lara Croft, who unearths an evil spirit called Xolotl, and with the help of an ancient Mayan warrior called Totec must seal him away.  There isn’t really much to the story outside of good guy releases bad guy and now must deal with it.  There could’ve more to the story, perhaps more exposition on Totec or Xolotl, and that’s what makes the story feel bland. Totec and Xolotl are decent characters but cliche with really nothing interesting about them. (3 out of 5)

Gameplay:  The Guardian of Light plays a lot differently than its predecessors.  The game is a top-down adventure with players taking control of either archeologist Lara or the ancient Mayan warrior Totec, both possessing unique weapons and skills.  Lara has her dual pistols with infinite ammunition and a grappling hook (used to cross gaps) with Totec carrying spears (used to climb).  Totec has a shield that he can use for blocking or allowing Lara to jump off of to reach those hard to reach places.  The enemy AI can be quite unforgiving if players put themselves in a corner and the boss fights are just as fun as they are challenging.

The game can be played with a single player, and a second player may join at any time, whether online or locally.  One of the standout features of the single player campaign is that players will have all the weapons and skills they need to tackle situations which would require two people in multiplayer (which definitely focuses on the teamwork aspect).  The lack of AI does make the game feel lonely, especially if you don’t have any gaming buddies to play with, but it does add to the challenge.  On each level players receive scores based on the gems collected and enemies killed which can add competitiveness to the game. Receiving high scores reward players with new weapons and upgrades. (3 out of 5)

Graphics:  The graphics are actually pretty good especially the in-game environmental design.  The cinematics are decent but not worth running home about.  The levels are so well designed that I found myself just wandering around looking at the environment, the activity going on in the background. (3 out of 5)

Score:  The game’s score is actually pretty good. Keeley Hawes returns again as Lara and she does a good job.  Totec is voiced by Jim Cummings and he’s good to.  The sound effects do give the experience an immersive feel.  The music is good and helps give an adventurous feel to the gameplay. (4 out of 5)

Replay Value:  The game does feature a lot of replayability.  There are tombs that can be explored with puzzles to solve.  Levels can be revisited to earn higher scores as well as earn all collectibles such as the Red Skulls or upgrades hidden throughout the levels.  Also, the single player gameplay is different from the multiplayer so going through the game twice is a fun experience. The DLC is pretty decent with knew maps and puzzles as well as alternate playable characters Kain and Raziel (Legacy of Kain series) and Kane and Lynch (Kane & Lynch series). The alternate characters are wasted as they are basically alternate skins that provide really nothing new to the gameplay experience.  Also, it would’ve been nice to have more unique weapons. (3 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is a surprisingly good good.  Despite some of the lackluster story and cinematics, the game does feature a good campaign, challenging gameplay, fun multiplayer, great graphics, and a great score.  Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light gets 3 out of 5.

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