Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Review

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Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

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With its fast paced combat, addictive platforming and thoughtful puzzles, The Guardian Of Light is a must-buy for any fan of the famous adventurer.

We like

  • The playability factor and pick up and play appeal
  • The varied combat and range of weapons
  • The satisfaction of completing challenges and finding all the red skulls

We dislike

  • The lack of a progressing storyline

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

Video game pin-up Lara Croft is a shadow of her former self in the PSN’s latest platform-hopping adventure Lara Croft And The Guardian Of Light. Not only has developer Crystal Dynamics traded her sparkling and curvaceous HD figure, last seen in Tomb Raider: Underworld, for a Thumbelina-sized interpretation of the big screen heroine but they’ve also toned down those agile flips and acrobatics in favour of a more aggressive, combat-centric adventurer.

Lara’s latest venture pits her against the evil spirit Xolotl in a game that spans across 14 bite-sized levels. This is a much more straightforward and linear adventure than we’re used to seeing from the Tomb Raider stable, one that’s immediately accessible and enjoyably fast-paced. Though it still bears some of the franchises recognisable hallmarks, such as treasure hunting and puzzle solving, The Guardian of Light is a breath of fresh air compared to Lara games of old and a welcome change in pace and structure to the long-running series.

The storyline is The Guardian Of Light's biggest failing. In fact there isn't really story at all. You get a fairly lengthy introduction to the evil spirit Xolotl and Lara’s sidekick (and co-op partner) Totec and the reasoning why they want to kick Xolotl’s butt. You also get the brief on why they're on the search for the Mirror of Smoke. But, that’s it. There are a few very brief cut-scenes throughout the 14 levels, but nothing that engages you in the story, or builds on it in any way. This is the first Lara Croft title that is all about the gameplay… so it’s a good job it makes up for its lack of narrative.

The Guardian Of Light takes the form of an isometric shooter/platform game with a top-down viewpoint over the action and an arcade-style pace. You control Lara through caves, water and over fiery pits defeating Xolotl’s minions while grabbing as much treasure as you can along the way. The left analog stick controls Lara's movement and you can rotate her 360 degrees with the right analog stick to fire weapons.

In terms of the overall look that's been achieved it mostly resembles the likes of Conan, another isometric platformer that appeared on PS3 in 2007. In terms of gameplay, however, it offers a lot more than just simple hack 'n slash combat. There are score challenges and reward challenges to complete, numerous relics and artefacts that you can unlock along the way to improve Lara’s chances as things get tougher, and of course there are plenty of environmental challenges to help kick your brain into gear and an offline co-op mode so a friend can join in the action.

Though there is a linear path to follow to the end of each level, there are opportunities to stray away from the beaten track briefly to hunt for collectibles and attempt the puzzle-orientated Challenge Tombs, which deliver some brilliant and fun-to-play scenarios - usually involving balls, pressure-sensitive platforms and impact switches that change the environment around you.

A typical level involves running across multi-tiered environments, leaping from platform to platform and using the grapple hook to swing across gaping chasms guarded by spike pits. There’s also a lot of fighting too against an impressive bestiary, and a range of puzzles to get embroiled in that often task you with rolling stone balls onto pressure pads in order to unlock gates. Boss battles also feature, including a fiercely fought contest against a stampeding T-Rex and the final intense battle against the mighty Xolotl himself. Though the missions are fairly short, clocking in at approximately 5-15 minutes each, there’s plenty of other stuff to get involved in that gives the game some added replay value and prolongs the time that you'll want to spend completing each level.

The gameplay in The Guardian of Light is very addictive, partly because you're rewarded well for everything that you do. Aside from just getting from ‘A’ to ‘B, you can collect gems to complete score challenges, search for the ten red skulls on each level, or complete side tasks such as having to cross a river without touching the water. These extra objectives all provide entertainment and challenge away from the combat. For completing a lot of these challenges ... (continued on next page) ----

A gamer since the days of the ZX Spectrum, Steven Williamson now works as General Manager for PSU. He's supposed to be managing, but if you're reading this, it means he's dipped into editorial again. Follow @steven_gamer
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