XBLA Review: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

Lara ditches the Tomb Raider name to go…Tomb Raiding! But with surprising results…

When I first heard of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, I was sceptical to say the least. Even when I saw footage and screenshots, I was scratching my head thinking why they chose to take the franchise down this path. One of the greatest things about being a reviewer is being proven wrong and that’s exactly what happened with this game.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is a downloadable game which for the first time, ditches the Tomb Raider name. Why it does this is beyond me since Lara raids tombs in her classic way, but the game has a new perspective and co-op play with Totec. It also has an almost cel-shaded look to it, especially during the very few cutscenes. The story is a bit too simple for my liking, but it serves as a good enough excuse to go through the game.

GoL is a big game at over 2GB to download, so make sure you have the space on your HDD first! Each level varies in 2-15 minutes in length or more depending on your skill, there are also a ton of collectables hidden away that will require multiple playthroughs. Such unlockables require you to finish key objectives like gaining a certain high score, finishing the level in a specific time or doing something level-specific. It’s almost like a separate achievement list, but you’ll need to do almost all of them to unlock everything and get the “Tomb Raider” achievement worth 25g.

As you progress through the game, you’ll get new equipment to use. But you start out with a spear that can be used to climb up and kill enemies plus bombs, pistols and a grapple hook. You get better weapons towards the end of the game, like a more powerful spear that can kill almost anything in one hit; it can even kill the final boss in just a few hits. The collectables you gather offer bonuses towards defence, attack, speed and so on. You also get a 3x multiplier for your high score if you build up your meter and withstand attacks from enemies.

You can play the game on any difficulty you wish as they don’t affect the achievements. It’s actually quite a difficult game and you will die a lot as you try and figure out how to solve some of the puzzles. There’s a good balance between combat and the puzzles, there are a variety of different enemies that you will face, some of which need to be downed and then blown up to defeat. There are a few boss fights in the game, but these are pretty easy.

The Verdict

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is an almost perfect mixture of puzzles and combat. Online co-op will be added as a free update in September, but the game is pretty simple to do solo (except for the specific co-op achievements). Overall, this is a big surprise (and a big download) which is more than worthy of your Microsoft Points.