Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light was supposed to be the first outing to feature online multiplayer action for the solo adventuress. And it still will be, just not right away.
Developer Crystal Dynamics today announced that when Microsoft caps off the Xbox Live Summer of Arcade next week with the launch of Lara Croft, the game will not include the promised two-player online cooperative mode or leaderboard support or voice chat functionality. Instead, those features will be included in a free update to the game to be made available on September 28. That's also the date Lara Croft will launch on the PlayStation 3 and the Steam digital distribution PC gaming platform.
Crystal Dynamics global brand director Karl Stewart told GameSpot the online portion of the game needed more development time before it could live up to the developer's promises but stressed that the single-player and offline cooperative modes would be delivered complete at launch.
"Everybody's disappointed, but we're also excited. We're making a stand to say we're not going to have somebody download the game on August 18, play it, and feel like we came in a little under par on the online portion. It was a tough decision, but I think we made the right decision."
After the game launches, Crystal Dynamics has three months of downloadable content offerings planned out. From October through December, the developer will launch a series of five add-ons for the game. The first three will be expansions featuring new "puzzle, exploration, and combat experiences," while the last two will include new playable characters for the game.
The studio did not say who the characters would be, but Stewart said they would be well-known characters pulled from a range of Eidos titles. In addition to Crystal Dynamics' own Legacy of Kain series, Eidos boasts a number of recognizable brands, including Hitman, Deus Ex, and Thief.
[UPDATE 8/18]: Contrary to the original announcement, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light launched on the Xbox 360 with leaderboards for all available modes and standard voice chat compatibility.