Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (XBLA) Review – It’s This Summer’s Mini Uncharted

The Xbox LIVE Summer of Arcade ended with a bang, thanks to Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. Be ready to experience a fun, satisfying and action packed Xbox LIVE Arcade game like no other this summer.

Gameplay/Story: Let’s get the story out of the way before we get in to the ultimate experience the game offers. The sexy and sweaty Lara uncovers an ancient mirror in South America which then releases a demonic Aztec God, thanks to goofy and greedy loot hunters trying to take credit for the mirror. The Guardian of Light, Totec, wakes up to help Lara save humanity, before the demon ‘Xolotl’ owns it.

Ok, now for the best part of the game. The game has one of the best co-op modes found on any video game period. The game currently offers only local co-op, with future online co-op in the works. This is by far one of the most fun times I have ever had playing a local co-op game. I tend to stay away from games that have many puzzles, but thanks to the co-op mode, I can use help from my partner, in this case my son, to help me solve puzzles throughout the game without the frustrating experience. I will admit playing with my son, took out the best of me, we were a couple of puzzle solving fools this time around, we tackled the most difficult puzzles in the game and not once did it feel over frustrating or boring.

Grappling hooks, spears, weapons and ammunition, health packs, treasures are the perfect ingredients to the mix of features the game has to offer. A great example is using the grappling hook to help Totec run pass a broken bridge or using Totec’s Aztec spears to climb up a high stone. The game makes you and your partner work together to get passed even the smallest hurdles.

There are plenty of weapon upgrades available. Through the levels you will find ammunition orbs that unlock new weapons.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light has great pacing. The action gets crazier and more intense as you progress. One of the biggest surprises had to be the length of the game. Just when we thought we were going to hit the final level or boss, the game unfolded and continued with more action, puzzles, enemies, and co-op fun, keeping us stuck to the game and loving the fact that it gave us more level to play through.

Many games tend to implement the “you die, start from the beginning” type of deal, this will not be, in any way, part of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. If both you and your partner die, you will continue exactly where you left off when you died, giving this game additional fun points and leaving frustration for other games. This is a very awesome and thoughtful feature in the game.

Controls: The game has great controls. Lara Croft and The Guardian of Light plays much like a mini isometric Uncharted game. Seriously, when I say Uncharted, this is “the mini Uncharted”, it’s that good. I did however experience some occasional glitches; one of these glitches had us run through a level a second time, due to a gate getting stuck and not allowing us to continue. This was about the only frustrating part we encountered throughout the game.

Graphics: I did say this is the mini Uncharted right? This is probably one of the best looking isometric games in existence. The game’s graphics are top notch. This is the future of arcade games, and today’s surprises. Every single level, boss, explosion and action looks great. The character movements are very natural. Running through a falling bridge had never looked so good in an arcade game.

Click to see full image

Sound: The sound of the game sounds very familiar to those of none other than Uncharted. Yes, finding treasures, beginning a level or shooting through enemies has a much uncharted, ancient, Aztec theme sound.  The game also uses recycled musical cues from older Tomb Raider games.

Wishes or Changes: It’s hard for me to come up with any wishes or changes other than online co-op. The game was tons of fun with local co-op, and it should have been online co-op enabled from day one.

Final Verdict: The Uncharted of this summer is out now! Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light has been one of the biggest surprises this year. With enough gameplay to have you in for hours of action, the game is highly recommended. Just because this is an Arcade game, the game should not be considered short or empty, play local co-op for the ultimate experience!

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light gets TQ love!

4 Michelas out of 5 with an additional TQsummer award!

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (Xbox Live Arcade)
Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Metacritic score: 87
MSRP: 1200 Microsoft Points or $15