Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Review
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light box art
System: X360, PS3, PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Crystal Dynamics 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Square Enix Europe 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Aug. 18, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Even though this title is non-canon and the plot isn’t exactly integral to the gameplay, there is a story here. Two millennia ago in Central America, Totec banished Xolotl (pronounced ZOH-tuhl), an evil spirit, as well as the Mirror of Smoke, a powerful weapon, to the Temple of Light. It turns out that when you don’t want a weapon to fall into the wrong hands, it’s a bad idea to lock it up in the same place as the owner of the wrong hands. When English archeologist Lara Croft discovers the Mirror in modern times, Xolotl and Totec awaken. Mercenaries arrive on the scene and steal the Mirror, but Xolotl kills them and escapes with it. Croft and Totec team up to save the world.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light screenshot

The game’s presentation is nothing short of spectacular, as it should be, given the two-gigabyte (seven on PC) download size. While the floating camera lets the developers get away with a little less detail than they’d need for a full retail release, the game utilizes the full Tomb Raider: Underworld engine. There’s some beautiful shadow work, meticulously crafted environments, realistic physics, and well-done cutscenes (some in full 3-D, some presented as comic-book-style 2-D images with voice acting, which admittedly is kind of odd). We noticed few graphical hiccups, and the loading times are brief and seldom. The dark techno music is unsettling and ambient without being hyper or overbearing, and the voice acting is good, if a overdone in places. In terms of polish, the only complaint we had is that we managed to get ourselves stuck once, and had to restart a level.

Those who enjoy the game should keep their eyes peeled for the upcoming downloadable content; the developers will release five packs from October through December. Three will be typical expansions, and two will allow you to swap in “other well-known videogame” characters for Lara and Totec. We wouldn’t mind seeing a competitive multiplayer mode or two, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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In short, Tomb Raider fans, action/adventure fans, and gamers in general would be well advised to grab Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. It is an expertly crafted, addictive experience that, while short, is easily worth the asking price. Especially in such a slow month for video-game releases.

By Robert VerBruggen
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.7
Graphics
The comic-book-style cutscenes look out of place, but the Tomb Raider: Underworld engine makes everything else look great.
4.3
Control
They take some getting used to, but they work fine.
4.4
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The great dark techno music, mixes well with the reasonably good voice acting.
4.3
Play Value
At five to seven hours for a first-time playthrough, this isn’t a long game, but it makes up for it with collectibles galore.
4.5
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • New Lara Croft adventure: Guardian of Light is the first download-only title from Crystal Dynamics, and the first download-only Lara Croft game.
  • Classic gameplay: Enjoy a classic formula of puzzles, combat, exploration, and breathtaking visuals put through the lens of an isometric fast-paced gaming experience.
  • Exploration and discovery: Use a wide range of options for solving puzzles and traversing deadly environmental traps, offering an unprecedented level of freedom to choose your own solutions and explore various paths through the dense jungles of Central America.
  • Sprawling environments: Crystal Dynamics' proprietary engine delivers sprawling environments with no load-times and unbelievable vertical gameplay through tombs reaching deep into the Earth.
  • Undead warriors: Face off against a myriad of undead warriors brought to life by the evil Xololt, including a number of boss battles that are not to be missed!
  • Co-op action: Guardian of Light is the first ever co-op multiplayer action/adventure game featuring Lara Croft with fully cooperative online and offline story modes.


  • Screenshots / Images
    Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light screenshot - click to enlarge Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light screenshot - click to enlarge Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light screenshot - click to enlarge Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light screenshot - click to enlarge Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light screenshot - click to enlarge Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light screenshot - click to enlarge Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light screenshot - click to enlarge Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light screenshot - click to enlarge Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light screenshot - click to enlarge Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light screenshot - click to enlarge Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light screenshot - click to enlarge Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light screenshot - click to enlarge

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