The lights are on
Lara has returned and she left the "Tomb Raider" out of the title this time around. I'm just going to say it: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is amazing! I, however, have only played 3 Tomb Raider games and 2 of them were demos. The one I did play to completion, Underworld, was fun but lacking. GoL takes all that makes a Tomb Raider game great and redefines it. The end result is one hell of a ride that you must experience for yourself.
Lara Croft: GoL, right away, looks much different than its predecessors. Gone is the 3rd-Person camera you're so used to fighting with and replaced with a isometric point of view much like how the Diablo games are played. The game also has a feature new to the series: cooperative play. [I should warn you, however, that the XBLA version (which is the only version out now) lacks online co-op play and instead has only local co-op. A patch will be released for the Xbox 360 version once the PSN and PC versions are released late in September.] I have only played the Single Player campaign myself which has Lara using her signature infinite pistols and Totec's spear. in Co-op, Lara doesn't have the spear and instead your partner, Totec, does. You must, in turn, work together to navigate through the game. The game has been altered for Co-op and SP alike so the experience alone of with a friend will feel slightly different.
The most important thing about the series is the puzzles and GoL doesn't disappoint. With the new camera angle, solving the puzzles is great. The puzzles are as challenging as they are diverse and nothing is overly easy: a good balance, basically. I sometimes found myself getting killed by traps and enemies because I don't often play games with an isometric view so a bit difficult but once you get the hang of it you will have a blast. Platforming is also good but, again, if you're not used to the view you may over-jump and die. So a bit of a learning curve but all was well after a few minutes.
The story leaves much to be desired. Totec stopped Xolotl some centuries ago but a moron, in the present, releases him from his slumber along with a sleeping Totec. Lara and Totec must now work together to stop Xolotl from destroying the world and whatnot. It's a very generic "Bad guy is released and you must stop him/her/it from destroying the world" story. It's basically just an excuse to set us, the player(s), up for the game itself. It's the weakest part of the game but nothing that should keep you away from the game.
GoL has many collectibles around each level and upgrades for increasing your health and ammo capacity. There are challenge rooms located in each level that, once the challenge has been met, will give you access to an artifact. These artifacts are not just for collecting. They grand you special abilities but only if you have it equipped. you can have up to 3 equipped at a time. You also have access to many weapons as well. Other than the infinite dual pistols, your basic assault rifles, shot guns, and machine guns. You are also graded at the end of each level for performance.
To sum up my experience with Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, I had a blast, despite playing it alone. I'd strongly recommend this game to anyone and everyone. Replayability is moderately high and there are plenty of artifacts to collect. Co-op extends your stay in this game and changes up the game in the process. It is worth more than the 1200 MS Points ($15) I paid for it. Crystal Dynamics is also working on 5 DLCs for GoL as well which will add some skins for variety and extra levels that will keep you playing time! If you haven't already bought this game buy it now! For those without an Xbox 360, save your money for this one. You will not regret it!
Story: 7.5 The weakest part of the game but easily overlooked
Graphics: 9.0 Very good for an XBLA title
Sound: 8.0 Lots of recycled music and sound effects from previous Tomb Raiders
Gameplay: 9.5 The best reason to play. Minor learning curve if you're not used to the view but not a big issue
Replayability: 9.5 Co-op, collectibles, and the promise of DLC will keep you coming back for more
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