(http://www.laracroftandtheguardianoflight.com/) Rated T for Teen by ESRB. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is not your typical Tomb Raider game. It is available for download on the Xbox Live Arcade or PlayStation Network but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s not a very long game. It is a fresh injection of gameplay into a series that has been waning the past few years.

(http://www.laracroftandtheguardianoflight.com/) Rated T for Teen by ESRB. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is not your typical Tomb Raider game. It is available for download on the Xbox Live Arcade or PlayStation Network but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s not a very long game. It is a fresh injection of gameplay into a series that has been waning the past few years.

Presentation:
In LCGOL, the game world is in an isometric perspective. In cooperative multiplayer, you can play as either Totec, a 2000 year old Mayan warrior or as Lara Croft. In Single player, you play as just Lara but you have additional abilities that Totec has bestowed upon you.

The game has an immersive story line where you are battling creatures and making your way through dungeons to defeat Xolotl, the evil spirit, to retrieve the Mirror of Smoke. The menus are fast and easy to navigate, so it’s easy to jump into a game.

Unfortunately, online multiplayer was not included at the time of release but is set to be included via a patch at a later date.

       

Graphics/Sound:
The graphics look stunning for a downloadable game. The weather effects and overall atmosphere are very immersive and the ruins and dungeons are very well rendered. The cut scenes, music and voice acting are superb. All the characters’ voices are believable, but Xolotl’s voice is a little stereotypical and campy for an evil “I’m going to destroy the world” villain. The graphics for this game isn’t the main selling point but I was still impressed by all the environmental details, lighting and weather effects.

       

Gameplay:
The real meat-and-potatoes of the game is the gameplay. The game heavily emphasizes cooperative play and puzzle solving. Totec and Lara each have unique abilities that they need to use to help each other get through the dungeons and also defeat bosses. For example, Lara can use a grappling line to pull Totec up to places he can’t reach. And Totec can throw spears which only Lara can use to vault to higher ground. Totec has a shield which can repel attacks, and Lara can even use it to jump off of.

The game also features lots of different weapons you can unlock and discover; from your standard dual pistols to flamethrowers and even rocket launchers. The gameplay is unique and has an arcade feeling when you are actively battling enemies. The shooting is done by aiming with the right analog stick and firing with the trigger. Moving with the left stick and shooting 360 degrees around you is very intuitive and ‘smash tv-like’. There is also a dodge move which makes it faster to get around and to dodge enemy attacks.

One thing I found interesting with the puzzle-solving element to the game is that some of puzzles have multiple ways of solving them. Playing this with a friend was fun when we both took a moment to analyze a room to figure out how to get to the collectible in the center. Sometimes we did trial and error till we got it, and other times we brute forced our way through using explosions or sacrificing one of our lives to get further ahead in the game.

On some of the levels there are set pieces where you are running down a cavern while being chased by traps or a huge ball like Indiana Jones. The levels are all cleverly designed and I was impressed by how many there were. The game is by no means short and will easily last between 6 to 8 hours; which is a huge bang for the buck!

       

Longevity:
Not only is the story mode lengthy, but it warrants future playthroughs since there are so many collectibles and unlockables in the game. There is also a point system and also timer for the people who want to replay levels to get higher points or the speed freaks who want to rush through a level as fast as they can.

I highly recommend this game to anyone who enjoys action games with some light puzzle solving elements. Lara Croft delivers a good balance of story, action, and puzzle solving.

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