And You Thought Lara Only Worked Alone


Keir Edmonds, Group Community Manager for Eidos, spent some time at E3 showing off what Lara Croft is up to in her new jaunt, Lara Croft and the Guardian of the Light. Two-player Tomb Raider isn't exactly familiar territory, but this game clearly takes inspiration from the series, while not being beholden to its conventions. Trying to see the world of Lara Croft through fresh eyes has created something that may raise eyebrows with some fans, but that we expect will successfully find its niche in the marketplace. At the very least, it may bring some new fans to the game that haven't got the same kind of romantic attachments we do, from our experience in the last decade of following the series on a succession of next-gen consoles.

Most of the people that buddied up to Lara Croft in the past were either expendable drones providing local color for her exploits, or double-crossing baddies with their own agendas. This time around, she'll be exploring with a true compatriot, if you go the multiplayer route. We suggest you do, because there is a great layer of gameplay exposed once Lara teams up with the Mayan warrior named Totec. Playing solo is fun enough, and it does feel a bit like a top-down version of the game we've enjoyed from over Lara's shoulder all these years. Comparisons to Diablo are fair, but a bit misguided, because this is ultimately going for a more pure action/arcade feeling. When you play with Totec at your side, the potential uses for your skills are opened up and resolving puzzles or battling enemies takes on an entirely new dimension.

Lara's abilities in Guardian of the Light are divided - true to tradition - between her skill with weapons and her acrobatic prowess. Those double pistols with their bottomless clips of ammo are present, and there was also a nice AK-47 style rifle equipped during our demo. Planting mines that can be detonated with a second button-press allows you to set up nice booby traps, and Lara's zip-line is a standard-issue item. If Ms. Croft's style centers around agility and rapid-fire weaponry, Totec is her polar opposite. He packs a shield and a spear, so don't expect too many fireworks from this guy... Where Totec comes in handy is when he uses his shield to help Lara ascend to places in the level she otherwise couldn't reach, or that would require special moves on her part in a solo campaign. There are also puzzles that are positioned as side-quests, where Totec and Lara working together will be more successful.

The controls are quite different than what we expected, more like an old-school arcade game. You move with the Left Analog and aim with the Right, firing with the Right Trigger Button. It takes some getting used to, but there seems to be a subtle lock-on that prevents aiming from being a chore. Puzzles viewed from above use different conventions than those we were used to seeing in the series, but the spirit of using elaborate set pieces that test your intellect as much as your twitch reflexes seems to have survived the genre transition. Thinking back to that comparison with Diablo, we didn't see any type of RPG elements, but if there is sufficient depth in the game we have every expectation that Lara Croft and the Guardian of the Light will be a great waypoint in the ongoing adventures of our favorite British trust-fund recipient.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of the Light
Square Enix