Lara Croft and TGoL (XBLA) Review

Author: Lydia Sung
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Friday, August 20th, 2010
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/lcgol_xbla/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Even without “Tomb Raider” in its title, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light still boasts one of the most recognized names in gaming history. Over the years, the unrealistically sexy archeologist with a charming British accent has ditched her polygon assets for smoother rendering, and somehow, a braid and turquoise-colored tank top still remind us of a very specific woman. 

Lara retains her classic getup, plus a midriff and incredibly long ponytail that was once a modest braid. GoL starts out normally enough, with a greedy rich dude accidentally unleashing an ancient and appropriately hideous god-creature from his prison. 

Cue a half-naked Mayan guardian of light awakening from his stony slumber, calling himself Totec as he chucks spears at the evil entity. After a few lines from Lara and a sexist remark from Totec, the unlikely duo set off through the Central American ruins to save the world. 

As you may have already guessed, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light emphasizes co-op play. Both Lara and Totec boast character-exclusive skills, primarily Miss Croft’s grappling hook and Totec’s mystic Spear of Platform-Jumping. 

In co-op mode, players will stumble onto platforms, high ledges, spike pits and other deathtraps that’ll inevitably make you wonder, “The Mayas built all this?” 

To overcome such obstacles, whether to progress or pick up a special item, the grappling hook and spear provide alternate paths to these otherwise unreachable areas. Lara can snag massive golden rings with her hook and swing from them, but more often than not, the line is for Totec. When the big Mayan hero reaches the other end, he can act as the new anchor. Similarly, he can embed his spears into flat surfaces and create a shiny stepladder for Lara to hop along.

Their unique moves are integral for navigating the perilous environments. In this respect, LCGOL is very much like a Tomb Raider game, only from a top-down perspective. Spike pits, floors booby trapped with spikes, spiked metal balls – and that’s only a fraction of what you’ll be dealing with. Challenge rooms also dot every map, housing magic artifacts and relics that modify player attributes, though only two artifacts and one relic can be equipped at a time.

Other than beating Challenges, items (and weapons) are rewarded for fulfilling level-specific achievements that tend to involve collecting skulls, destroying environmental objects, or just racking up enough points. Even more satisfying is unlocking stronger weapons through achievements, like the auto shotgun for hitting 300k points; plenty of weapons can still be found through each level, including a grenade launcher. Aiming is a cinch, and ammo is plentiful on ‘medium’ difficulty, so feel free to go absolutely nuts.

The weapons can look a tad funky on Lara and Totec. The most obvious instance of mismatching is Totec and every weapon in the game. Although his default weapon is a spear (can’t be unequipped), he is fully capable of dual-wielding two SMGs or spraying an M-16, which also happens to be the first weapon Lara hands him. In single-player, Lara’s default pistols are replaced by Totec’s spear, and given its size, her co-op partner’s weapon looks pretty damn awkward swinging over her back when she runs. Players need to suspend belief here, and if the near-nude Mayan musclehead with guns doesn’t do it for you, then the demon Tyrannosaurus will. Did I mention everyone speaks perfect English?
 

On that note, I found it difficult to even justify a single-player. To be clear, the folks at Crystal Dynamics should be credited for making LCGOL fully functional in all modes. In single-player, certain situations are retailored to make soloing possible, while some puzzles are altogether eliminated. Say you need to active two pressure plate simultaneously – a heavy metal ball replaces your partner in this case. If Totec’s shield is needed to deflect darts, the dart machines won’t be found in single-player.

As much as I appreciate this attention to functionality, the game just isn’t fun when tackled alone. I found myself worn out fairly quickly and taking frequent breaks at first, until I sat back down with a dear friend and a second controller. The co-op is what makes Guardian of Light so engaging. If you’re planning to drop 1200 Points on Lara’s latest adventures – which I highly recommend – keep in mind that online play is currently suspended and won’t be enabled until later next month on September 28, when Lara drags Totec’s arse over to PC and PSN.

»Neoseeker.com

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