by Chris Priestman
reviewed on PS3
Sticks and Stones
Although the majority of the gameplay will be familiar to fans of the Tomb Raider series, the gameís initial design as a two player co-operative title means itís not as simple as copy and paste. Laraís grapple hook for instance can to be used to pull both herself and Totec up, but it is also used as a tightrope that Totec can walk on across a gap. Lara canít always rely on her modern technology to traverse the traps ahead of her though. Being of ancient origin, Totec blends with the old tombs and uses his spear and shield to help navigate the pair through the levels. His spears are often used to create footholds for Lara to climb on, and his shield can be used to block deadly projectiles blocking the path.
Being a gentleman, Totec can also raise the shield above his head to give Lara a boost to a higher platform. In the two-player campaign players are given equal weight to use their individual skills as either Totec or Lara, meaning there isnít a fight for a particular character in that sense.
To back up this dynamic duo are a set of puzzles that manage to stay fresh throughout the game by requiring precise teamwork and a real sense of discovery when solved. Yet again they are in alignment with the Tomb Raider series with plenty of pressure plates, flamethrowers and timed doors. What has always impressed me in Laraís previous escapades is the use of space in level design and the same is present here. After travelling for hours around a level, activating several switches and dodging numerous traps, you will often find that all the effort was to open one door which lies about fifty metres from your starting position.
Adding to the complexity of the puzzles in the game is a newly introduced bomb that can be planted and remotely detonated. The bomb serves as a way to be in two places at once or launch weighty objects across gaps as well as obliterating walking skeletons that otherwise reform whole again. Altogether the different items to solve puzzles work well to give each puzzle its own challenge rather than repeating a mechanic over and over again and they appropriately become more complex as you progress through the campaign.
Precision and speed are essential and if you are not in sync with your partner and operating like a small military unit when you start playing the game, you will be by the end. The solo campaign is essentially the same as the co-op except a number of tweaks to each puzzle makes them slightly easier but do not detract from the experience. By yourself, you play as Lara but your default pistols are replaced by Totecís spear so you can navigate the tombs single-handedly. Like this the game itself is nearly on par with the quality of the co-op campaign but it cannot compare with teamwork required at certain points so it is recommended to play with someone else. Luckily the game is supported by an online co-op feature so if you do not have someone to play with you on the same console, you can easily join up with a mate regardless.
This Town ainít Big EnoughÖ
As is expected with a Lara Croft game, puzzles are counter-balanced by offering the player some no-brains finger-on-the-trigger action. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light offers plenty of this and in the right proportions that it doesnít become too much but is enough to give you a break between the numerous puzzles. As you are battling with Xolotlís evil army the enemies consist of oversized arachnids, huge trolls and agile demons. Shooting guns in the game is prominent and so a large arsenal is offered to you once you have initially found the weapons scattered around the tombs. These range from shotguns, to Uziís and bazookaís. If your playing as Totec donít worry, he is able to master all the modern weapons, rather suspicious for an ancient Mayan warrior donít you think?
Brilliant level design with a perfect balance of action and puzzles. Great pick-up-and-go arcade style best played with a friend.
Weak narrative and character base that is quickly forgotten.