8:21 AM

How Lara Got Her Grove Back

Tomb Raiding has never felt so good!

lara-croft

Vanquish Xolotl
Regain the Mirror of Smoke

Gamerscore = 25    Acquired 10/9/2010

I really liked Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.  There, I said it.  I didn’t realize before I purchased this game just how much I was to enjoy it.  You see, I have had a history with Lara Croft .  There is some water under the bridge between us, and we have jumped over it.  The difference between Tomb Raider of yore and today’s Lara Croft is that ‘jumping’ that water has never been so effortless and exciting at the same time!

LC

Lara Croft has always been synonymous with the Tomb Raider franchise which is, for good or ill, one of the most storied in gaming history  Tomb raider of course spawned movies, comics, and numerous games.  In my opinion, Lara Croft got by on her looks for some time after the initial smash hit that was Tomb Raider, but it was clear to me that with each of the ensuing games in the series, each had less of that Lara Croft magic than the original. Developers would continue to resuscitate and reinvigorate the franchise with varying degrees of success and failure, but each refresh only momentarily recaptured my imagination.  That was until the developers at Crystal Dynamics took a gamble on the biggest shift for the series yet.  A gamble that in my opinion has paid of handsomely.

LC_GoL_10_xlWhat is first striking about Lara Croft is that it has abandoned the Tomb Raider name.  Using exclusively Lara Croft rather that the recognizable Tomb Raider is a clear effort to separate this game from its past, and I think it is for good reason.  If this game were carrying the Tomb Raider brand, gamers may expect a Tomb Raider game.  Lara Croft is not a Tomb Raider game… well not exactly.  The first major difference is this is a downloadable title, a first for the brand.  With a downloadable versus a boxed game come expectations of length, quality, and fidelity.  While Lara Croft delivers a full retail experience, it is presented in this fashion.  Another major change is the game isometric perspective.  I could not help but think of Sonic the Hedgehogs' foray into the isometric with Sonic 3D Blast and what a disappointment that was.  Fortunately Lara Croft does not suffer the same fate.  The transition to the new perspective was in my opinion a very smooth transition.  The action and platforming elements do not suffer at all for it.

Now Lara Croft may be exceedingly different from its predecessors in many ways, but at the same time it still capture the essence of what made the Tomb Raider popular in the first place.  Personally, I like to call Lara Croft a Triple-A game.  Not in the way that it cost $80 million dollars to create, rather that this genre is an Arcade Action Adventure.  The arcade refers to with the speed the action plays out as well as the score and time-attack elements of the gameplay are integral to the experience.  This game can travel at a break-neck pace, or you may need to take the time to solve the numerous, yet fair, puzzles that populate the gamescape.  The games looks and sounds like a Tomb Raider game as well, the difference being your character model is very small on the screen to allow for the bevy of monsters, mazes, and traps that make up the rest of your perspective.  For a downloadable game, it is a real looker.

What would a tomb raiding game be without loot?  For me, this is what really separates this game from the rest.  Your ability to accomplish tasks and solve puzzles will give you the opportunity to uncover loot such as ancient relics and treasure, weapons, and upgrades.  From there you can customize your character to take on those quests you may not have been able to accomplish your first time around.  Lara Croft also supports co-op gameplay.  Unfortunately I was unable to explore this feature as the online component is still yet unavailable.  But if you do have a friend nearby there is always the couch co-op option!

LC_GoL_08_xlLara Croft has done an another amazing thing, it has me believing in Tomb Raider as a franchise again.  To be honest, the next game I would like to see is another Lara Croft title.  While I was thinking about this game and writing this particular review I was thinking of  a way to describe this game.  It then popped into my head that Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is the ultimate evolution of Activision’s Pitfall for the Atari 2600.  If you sit back and you think about it, you will see what I mean, and I will leave you with that.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

-SG

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