Lara Croft's last three Tomb Raider outings, while better than the lacklustre Angels of Darkness on the PS2, still left her looking a bit old and haggard. Like Core Design before it, developer Crystal Dynamics’ back was against the wall with its boss, Eidos, baying for results. What’s a developer to do but go for a radical change of direction?
One could easily translate Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, a downloadable Xbox LIVE Arcade/PS3 Network game, as a momentous fall from grace for Lara. The static screenshots look more akin to an iPhone game than a next-gen console. Thankfully, Lara’s latest outing turns out to be rather good.
Gone is the usual third-person view; instead Lara runs around in a more user-friendly, topdown view. Despite this change, the gameplay will still be familiar to Lara’s fans. The frenzied combat sequences, punctuated by puzzles that are classic Tomb Raider, make the game diffi cult to put down. The gameplay is not so much Tomb Raider lite, but rather Tomb Raider pure. With Guardian of Light, Crystal Dynamics has taken the gameplay that made the series great and removed the fat, leaving us with an extremely addictive new arcade-style slant to Lara's adventures.
As if the engrossing single player was not enough, the game allows you to share the fun with a friend. The co-op mode features specially adjusted levels that require the co-ordinated skills of both players, with one player taking on the role of Lara and another playing as the Mayan god, Toltec.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is a cracking reintroduction to everybody’s favourite female adventurer. The retro look may be unappealing at fi rst, but it is Tomb Raider, albeit distilled and more refi ned. It’s good to have you back, Lara Croft.