Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Platform: Xbox 360 / Genre: Action/Adventure / Beaten: 06th Jun 2012 / Total Time: 16:00
A superb co-op experience.
Reviewed by Cannon Fodder on or around 22nd Jun 2012
I was pleasantly surprised with every aspect of this game, the co-op implementation not the least of all. Crystal Dynamics managed to keep the Tomb Raider "feel" while completely removing players from the comfortable 3rd-person single-player adventuring fans have grown accustomed to.
The changes were welcome. It felt good to explore this world from the isometric perspective. It felt right to have a friend along, pulling at the camera as it did its best to keep both pla...yers in view (only occasionally giving up and letting one of us die off-screen). The combat was engaging enough, but the best parts of the game happened when there weren't any enemies around.
I'm talking, of course, of the co-op puzzles. Commander Video and I had a blast puzzling over the game's many uniquely two-player puzzles. Totec (Lara's supernatural helper, the reawakened "Guardian of Light") and Lara work together in the most natural yet ingenious ways.
Lara's grapple is back, now used to help the less acrobatic Totec climb walls that Lara can easily scale. Its dual purpose as a tightrope for Totec to walk across (again, to solve puzzles) does invite players to question Totec's true acrobatic skills: does he have Lara climb up the walls first simply because he enjoys the view from beneath her as she climbs? If so, can you really blame him?
But never mind that. Lara's grapple is great. Totec's spear, likewise, is both a tool and a weapon: it kills the bad guys and, when thrown into a wall, allows Lara to jump onto and reach previously unreachable areas.
This minimalist philosophy carries through to the rest of the game. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light thrives in its simplicity, squeezing compelling gameplay out of just a few ingredients, then reveling in the depth and dimension those ingredients offer. The fact that GoL does this and does it all in co-op makes it that much more impressive.
I did get a little tired of the ball-pushing puzzles, though. Their novelty was far outweighed by their quantity. And, in the last hour of the game, the rules suddenly changed. Where before red skulls were secreted treasures meant to encourage players to explore every nook and cranny, the final couple levels dumped red skulls when peripheral bad guys were killed. It was incongruous with the rest of the game and, frankly, lazy level design.
Speaking of collectibles, there are a ton. In old-school game fashion, GoL rewards players for replaying levels and achieving specific goals, all of which promise to put your real skills to the test. Sure, level 1 is a cakewalk, but can you beat it in just a few minutes? If so, you get a special weapon upgrade. Can you get a hole in one with that rolling ball puzzle? Congratulations, you get an artifact that regenerates your health. Can you find all the red skulls in the level? Here's a new weapon! Each level has goals like this, each with varying degrees of difficulty and some so convoluted that there's no way you'll complete all the goals your first time through.
Whether you play through it once or 50 times, make sure you play it with a friend. This is, if nothing else, a co-op game so pure that it's practically a crime to experience alone.
Reviewed by CommanderVideo on or around 25th Aug 2012
While The Guardian of Light may not be the best dungeon crawler out there, it really is something special--so long as you play it with a friend.
Co-op gaming can be such a wonderful thing, and this game does it right.
They made this game work so well by keeping things fresh. Sure, there was plenty of relatively shallow combat. Yes, there was a lot of pretty straightforward puzzle solving. And the story; totally uninspired.
But the pacing and the... production values... Oh, the tasty production values.
That shallow combat worked perfectly every time. Those straightforward puzzles were actually puzzles, after all, and delivered meaningful rewards. And the presentation of the story was pretty and was presented in a tight, well put together manner.
In short, this game was fun to play.
It didn't change my life, and sometimes that's ok. Because when you're playing a co-op game, at least half of the experience is working together with a friend as a team. And each time you have that experience with a good co-op partner, your life is enhanced.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light won't disappoint good co-op teams.