Great puzzles and clever co-op make Guardian of Light a resounding success.
This time around Lara's tomb raiding finds her in the Yucatan Peninsula searching for a legendary artifact known as the mirror of smoke. Little does Lara know however that the mirror seals away Xolotl, the keeper of darkness. Upon Xoltol's release, Toltec, a stone statue also comes to life, he is an ancient Mayan warrior sealed away to watch over the mirror and keep Xolotl imprisoned. Together Lara and Toltec must track Xolotl down before he plunges the world into darkness. Just another day for Lara Croft really.
The level design is fantastic. There is plenty of atmosphere and variation in a mixture of outside and inside environments with ruins, giant spiders and traps a plenty for Lara and Toltec to navigate in their quest to stop him. The visuals themselves are gorgeous for a PSN game with excellent textures, beautifully rendered cutscenes and some excellent enemy animations. Crystal Dynamics have created a lush and interesting world to explore.
And exploration really is key in Guardian of Light to make any progress. Though there are weapons that can be found and permanently kept even on re-playing levels, the vast majority of equipment and character upgrades are gained through challenges which really gives this game extra legs. There are speed attack challenges to finish levels in certain amount of time or perhaps a challenge to collect all 10 red skulls hidden in a level to unlock a new weapon. There are a few variations depending on the level.
Four weapons can be equipped at any time that can be switched between on the fly using the D-pad. All of which share an ammo bar except pistols which can be upgraded along with Lara's health. These weapons can be changed around at any time from the in game menu as there are a lot to choose from including shotguns, assault rifles, flame throwers and rocket launchers. All of which have various stats and ammo consumption. There is also the option to equip artifacts and relics found throughout the game which either affect Lara or Toltec"s base stats to varying degrees or alter their special ability they achieve if they kill a certain amount of enemies without dying such as a speed boost, bigger bomb range or more bullet damage.
While the combat is a key point to Guardian of Light and is incredibly fun, it is the mixture of combat and solving puzzles that make it such a winner. The puzzles are quite thought provoking without ever being frustrating which is a hard balance to hit. What makes this game truly clever though is that the puzzles change from single player to co-op. There are several weapons or pieces of equipment needed to get past certain areas which are then split between the two players. For example Toltec uses the spear which can be thrown into a wall which only Lara is light enough to jump on, giving her the height to get to a ledge. Lara is the only one with the grappling hook though which she can then use to pull Toltec up. This measure of forced team work really helps bring the game to life.
This game is also surprisingly long with over a dozen levels not including the replay value of getting all the weapons, artifacts and relics, completing all challenges not to mention local and recently patched in online co-op to boot. Don't get much better value for money then this.
As good as Guardian of Light really is, it isn't perfect. The locked isometric camera view while great for single player and solving puzzles does tend to make busier combat moments a bit hectic occasionally losing track of your character or getting hit off screen though this is a rare occurrence. The other thing is while Lara's voice acting is superb, Toltec's and Xolotl's are an entirely different matter and just seem a bit forced, almost amateur, though outside of short in between level cutscenes they are almost never heard.
Overall Lara Croft: Guardian of Light is one of the best titles available on the Playstation Network. It looks fantastic, has fun multi-player and has plenty of life thanks to it's clever challenges and puzzles. This is a title everyone with a PS3 should try, you don't need to be a Tomb Raider loyalist to enjoy it.
+ Lush visuals.
+ Clever puzzles in both single and co-op play.
+ Great value for money.
+ Combat is fun.
- Some spotty voice acting.