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Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Even if you're one of those people who has completely written off the Tomb Raider series, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is still worth checking out. The developers have made enough changes to warrant another look, especially if you're looking for a fun two-player experience. Just be prepared for a long way for an online multiplayer mode! Rating: 92%
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
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Once upon a time there was a large-breasted adventurer named Lara Croft. Her adventures were so popular that it spawned movies, comic books and a slew of sequels, reboots and remakes. Unfortunately, audiences quickly tired of predictable quests and terrible controls. It got so bad that the original team responsible for creating Lara Croft were fired off of their own video game.

But just when it felt like Lara Croft's fifteen minutes were up, Eidos Interactive managed to reverse the downward trend and make a couple of half-decent Tomb Raider games. With games like Tomb Raider Legend and Anniversary, there was a glimmer of hope that maybe Ms. Croft's best days were not behind her. Now comes Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, the best Tomb Raider game in more than a dozen years.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (XBLA)

Ironically, this is not a Tomb Raider game at all. Apparently, the name has been changed so that console gamers won't get confused between the main series (which Eidos has all but run into the ground) and this brand-new, creative and exciting game starring Lara Croft. After playing through Guardian of Light, I would prefer if the publisher would just ditch Tomb Raider all together and focus on making more of these offshoots.

Unlike most Lara Croft outings, this is not a game about searching through a bunch of old tombs in hopes of finding some sort of mythical treasure. Instead, this game starts just as Lara has discovered the Mirror of Smoke (not to be confused with "smoke and mirrors"). Unfortunately, she's led a big group of mercanaries to the treasure, which they steal and leave our hero to die. But what's this? As soon as they take the mirror, it unleashes two locked spirits. Xolotl is an evil spirit dead set on doing something evil. Together Lara must team up with Totec (the protector of the Temple of Light) to beat Xolotl and save the world from certain doom.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (XBLA)

While the set-up is unorthodox, the level designs will be familiar to anybody who played even a minute of Tomb Raider. Players fight their way through 13 levels of ancient tombs, forests, marshland and more. Even if these levels didn't come directly out of a previous Tomb Raider game, they are reminiscent enough to warrant their inclusion in this spin-off.

With all of these familiar trappings, one might wonder why this game isn't using the Tomb Raider branding. As best I can tell, the only thing keeping this from being part of the long-running franchise is its brand new camera angle. Instead of being a third-person action game, this brand new Xbox Live Arcade release offers us an overhead perspective that you cannot change or move at any time.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (XBLA)

This is a massive shift in how the Tomb Raider games are played. It's as if the developers decided to cross the familiar elements of this series with a dual-stick shooter. Much like Smash TV or Geometry Wars, the player moves around the screen with the left analog stick, while aiming the gun with the right stick. But this is not the kind of game where you just run around shooting weird tribal monsters, you still have to solve puzzles and explore involving levels for treasures, weapons and other goodies.

Despite the camera angle and redesigned gameplay, Guardian of Light isn't the drastic change some people are expecting. There's more of an emphasis placed on run and gun action, but there are plenty of object-oriented puzzles for you to solve. Thankfully it's a little easier to keep track of what you're supposed to be doing in this game. I often found that the puzzles in Tomb Raider gamers were so complicated, that by the time I actually had what I needed I would have forgotten what I was doing in the first place. Guardian of Light's more linear approach keeps the action moving fast and exciting. I couldn't wait to keep playing, which is why I fought through all five hours in practically one sitting.
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