by Chris Priestman
reviewed on PS3
This Town ainít Big EnoughÖ (cntd)
Your weapons arenít able to take on every enemy in the game though, there a number of boss battles that will require players to use the environment to defeat them. A good mix of puzzle whilst fighting off smaller enemies and avoiding a large T-Rex is one such example of a boss battle. Anybody who has watched an Indiana Jones film knows that entertaining archaeology is incomplete without a boulder hot on your tail whilst you escape an ancient tomb. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light offers this third dynamic, in the form of a crumbling ruin or a gradually activating spike trap. But by far my favourite is being chased by a huge hungry land-fish. Iím not sure if itís supposed to be terrifying or hilarious though. Either way the more action oriented elements of the game work even better with the arcade style and mixes up the gameplay enough so you never feel you are repeating yourself despite the fact that you are.
Not a One-Night Stand
As has become typical of a Crystal Dynamics developed Lara Croft game, there are plenty of elements that keep you coming back to the game over and over again making Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light great value for money. Alongside the weapon, the ammo and health upgrades there are still many artefacts and relics to find. The majority of these are found within easy-to-recognise challenge tombs, and so are made fairly obvious to find. You will have to work out a complex and often dangerous puzzle sequence for your reward as opposed to searching high and low. The collectibles are more than just things to look at though as they each have an effect on your character, usually enhancing or at times detracting a certain attribute such as weapon damage or movement speed. The artefacts are less significant whilst the relics really beef up your character.
In true arcade style, some relics enable a scatter shot on your weapons, firing in waves rather than a single shot. If you have played the old arcade game Contra (1988), you know how badass a spread gun can be! This is only activated once you have filled your relic power though which is done by killing enemies without receiving damage. Once your weapon starts flashing then you can really unleash hell! Although this element to the game is a first and may scare some players who have avoided RPGís all their lives, rest assured that the system operates at the most basic level and is very easy to use. As long as Lara doesnít start conjuring up spells, she will still be the sexy gunslinger of the shooter genre!
On completing the game, if you really want a challenge, each level has a time trail that can be attempted which goes towards unlocking the various costumes you can dress your dream woman in. Each to their own I guess. For a further challenge the game is rigged with online global leaderboards. So whilst you are raiding those tombs you can try and reach the high score on co-op or solo mode, or be the fastest person on the globe through a certain level. If this isnít enough to keep you going then Crystal Dynamics have revealed more downloadable packages on their way full of extra campaign levels and alternative playable characters. Lara is a deeper girl than you thought, eh?
So, What Am I Looking At Here?
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is exactly what it should be: a fun, easy-to-play arcade-based puzzle platformer with lots of shooting for good measure. Mechanically the game works perfect, it is fast-paced but smooth and kept as simple as possible. Furthermore the game is good value for money as long as you are expecting a top-notch arcade game and not a strip tease. Unfortunately for those looking for the latter, the only skirt in the game is worn by Totec. But remember this, the top-down view is excellent to look down a womanís cleavage.
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.