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Xbox 360 Game Review

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light


Format: Xbox 360
Eidos / Square Enix
RRP: 1200 Microsoft Points (£9.99)
Age Restrictions: 12+
Available 18 August 2010

Lara Croft's latest quest sees her in search of the Mirror of Smoke, an ancient artifact located in a ruin known as the Temple of Light. When she finally reaches the mirror, she is ambushed by a mercenary army who takes the mirror and release an evil entity. Also awakened by the incident, Totec, The Guardian of Light joins Lara as her unlikely ally to save the world from never-ending darkness...

I've had a love-hate relationship with Lara Croft over the years. The very first game was the sole reason I purchased a Playstation. While at a shopping arcade in the South of London I saw the game being displayed on a monitor. I picked up the controller and I was hooked. I handed over my bank card and was the proud owner of a new Playstation and Tomb Raider game. The graphics, the game play and the pure atmosphere it created had me hooked until I finished the game.

Then came the second and third games - also enjoyable... but then everything went downhill very quickly. There was the odd glimmer of hope (like 2006's Lara Croft Tomb Raider Legend) but generally it was all pants after that. The main problem always seems to be that the games are rushed through development and the end result is a bit of a sorry mess - certainly not what you'd expect from a title that was once the flagship brand for Sony's Playstation.

With this in mind I was apprehensive about this new game. Add to this the fact that it's only available via download and that it retails for less then a tenner and you can probably understand why I was expecting this to be another huge disappointment.

Thankfully Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light throws away just about every aspect of the franchise and tries something new. And it works incredibly well.

While it's not as polished as it could have been (the opening cut sequences play out like an online animated comic and the game cut sequences have no lip synching for the animation) who really cares when the game play is so engaging.

The game is viewed from an elevated level so that you're looking down on a small Lara. This allows you to take in the environment and see where traps, collectable items and helpful areas are. You can equip one of four weapons at a time and later in the game more weapons are available to you. You also have bombs, which you can drop and then detonate at a safe distance, as well as your trusty grappling hook, which you can use to attach to any large gold rings you see in your environment. This allows you to swing across large gaps or climb up to higher levels.

The game play is simple enough, and uses the same basic puzzle solving idea that was employed in the very first Tomb Raider game. To progress through the levels you need to solve fairly simple problems

You have a green health bar and a blue ammo bar. These can be replenished from various sources in the game and are not overly hard to come by. But once your ammo is out then you can only use the unlimited ammo weapons (like the spear).

While you can play on your own this is really designed as a 2-player coop game, with one player playing as Lara and the other as Totec. Apparently the multi-player aspect will also be available online, so that you can play against one of your online friends or a total stranger, but at the time of writing the review the game wasn't Xbox Live compatible and the developers have made it known that this aspect will be available from 28 September (over a month after the game's release) to coincide with the launch of the game for PC and Playstation.

If you too have become disappointed with Lara's adventures in recent years then you this game will make you fall in love with her all over again. At under a tenner you'd be a total mug not to buy this.


Darren Rea

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