Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Hands-On

Lara Croft stays in the tombs but finds an interesting new way to raid.


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Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is a spin-off entry to the Tomb Raider franchise. Departing from the previous games' roots, players take control of Lara Croft or the Mayan warrior Totec in an overhead arcade-style shooter. Set in a Mayan ruin, the players will have to fight fearsome, magical demons and solve intricate puzzles. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is planned to be released in August 2010 for the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and PC.

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Guardian of Light is being developed by Crystal Dynamics, the same team that has handled the Tomb Raider franchise for nearly seven years. The publisher is Square Enix, best known for its epic role-playing games. However, neither are well known for isometric shooter action detailed within Guardian of Light.

The in-game graphics are smooth and detailed; they're on par with other high-caliber downloadable games, such as Shadow Complex. The ancient Mayan environment feels at home with the rest of the Tomb Raider series. Lara and Totec traverse through lush jungles, raging rivers, and eerie temples.

Guardian of Light includes a variety of gameplay elements, including arcade shooter combat, environment-based puzzles, and item collection. One puzzle included stopping a trap by using Lara’s spear to ascend walls, roll down a boulder, and use it to block a hail of arrows.

Weapon drawing and aiming is controlled with the right analog stick, along with the right triggers to fire. The heroes must manually keep their weapons drawn and have no option to quickly fire by just tapping the shoot button. Changing through an array of items is used with the left shoulder, along with the face buttons. The X button on the Xbox 360 and the square button on the PlayStation 3 allow for quick dodging, while the Y and square buttons allow Lara to plant and detonate bombs. Due to Lara’s fragile health, the dodge button is a necessity, making for an uncomfortable juggle between the offensive and defensive controls.

What They Say: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is a bold new step in the Tomb Raider franchise that gives players creative new options to solve puzzles and combat foes.

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What We Say: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is an oddball entry into the series that may find a niche appeal or simply fade into obscurity.

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