PS3 Attitude’s 20 Days of PSN – #6 Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
Video game royalty makes its presence felt at #6 with the incredibly refreshing, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.
Lara Croft has seen it all since Tomb Raider proper first hit store shelves in 1996. Been there and done that. She’s sat atop the gaming world but she’s also been on the outside looking in as the industry transitioned into the current generation.
In light of her more recent struggles much has been made, rightfully so, of her gorgeous rebirth at E3 this past June, but for those of us who have had the chance to play Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (LCGOL) the revival of one Miss Croft actually began last year.
Gamers familiar with the Tomb Raider series were no doubt surprised when they saw Lara Croft hitting the downloadable scene for the first time and without the Tomb Raider moniker. Unsure of what could reasonably be expected from a stand alone, downloadable Lara title as well as the entire franchise moving forward, PSN users approached LCGOL with cautious optimism. What they got was a much needed breath of fresh air. A portrayal of the treasure hunter that had never been seen and a firm reassurance that Lara Croft games could in fact be fun again.
Crafted brilliantly by the same Crystal Dynamics team that produced the most recent Tomb Raider trilogy, LCGOL transformed the directly third-person sensibilities of Tomb Raider into an addictive run-and-gun top-down shooter. Tomb Raider lore was largely ignored but so were any inclinations one might have toward a compelling story.
Essentially Croft unearths an ancient relic which serves as the site of imprisonment for Xolotl (pronounced: Zolot), keeper of all things dark and scary. As she has grown accustomed to doing, our dear treasure huntress is ambushed by a gaggle of mercenaries literally with her eyes on the prize. From there the bumbling idiots of course release Xolotl from his glassy prison and in doing so awaken Totec, the statue guardian protecting the world from Xolotl’s ancient wrath. Now Totec and Lara must work together to stop Xolotl before he is able to unleash his minions. It’s a Saturday morning cartoons all the way. Even going so far as to feature the voice work of someone you may recognize from said cartoons.
However like all downloadable titles thus far you’re not exactly looking for an engrossing tale to spin you through to the end, gameplay alone is the be-all end-all and that’s precisely where LCGOL shines. Although the single player aspect of the game makes for a great time it quickly becomes clear that this one’s meant to be played with a partner. The bulk of the games is preserved in the solo package but LCGOL features numerous co-op puzzles and large scale battles making local or online co-op the definitive way to play.
The gameplay is rock solid. Upgrades, add-ons and loot litter the swarming, enemy covered maps. Mowing down a cluster of spiders or a giant T-Rex is a satisfaction outdone only by testing out a brand-spankin’ new weapon you’ve unlocked. Solving one of the myriad of co-op puzzles isn’t especially taxing but does usually give enough of a reason for pause to balance one’s frenetic pace.
It is easy to embrace the sprawling atmosphere that Crystal Dynamics has carefully built here due to the camera’s fixed position which sits somewhere between 70 and 45 degrees throughout the game. Upcoming mazes, puzzles are effortlessly apparent as are the areas the player has left behind. For what it is LCGOL is a beautiful game.
LCGOL is the kind of downloadable title that makes you glad you’re PS3 is connected to the internet. At #6 in our countdown it’s an absolute must purchase.