PS3 Reviews: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Review

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Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Review

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Graphics:

 

8.5

Gameplay:

 

8.9

Sound:

 

8.6

Control:

 

8.3

Replay Value:

 

8.8

Online Gameplay:

 

8.4

Overall Rating:       8.7

 

 

Publisher:

Square-Enix

Developer:

Crystal Dynamics

Number Of Players:

1-2

Genre:

Action/Adventure

Lara Croft is an icon of the industry but she has been mostly non-existent this generation. It seems Crystal Dynamics is working on a full-fledged installment for release some time next year – yet to be confirmed – but in the meantime, we’ve got a downloadable iteration of Lara’s latest. The busty vixen has adopted a top-down three-quarter view for Lara Croft: Guardian of Light, and it focuses on standard dungeon crawling elements- lots of enemies, puzzles, traps, and platforming. It may not sound all that interesting but trust me, this is one of the most complete, rewarding downloadable games available. Everything comes together beautifully and with the exception of a few small drawbacks, the addictive nature and longevity of this great new digital adventure is undeniable. This isn’t my favorite type of gaming but after starting play, I didn’t once look at the clock for two straight hours…that rarely happens; a game really has to hook me for that to happen. You gotta try this one.

Downloadable productions have come an awfully long way over the past couple of years. Back in 2007, I never would’ve imagined something like this could be delivered via simple Internet download; it may clock in at a hefty 2400MB (or somewhere around there) but the time spent is warranted. The level design is fantastic, the visuals are smooth and clean, there’s plenty of enemy and environmental variety, the animations don’t fail, and the effects are pretty and effective. It’s a very solid, stable presentation throughout, with only a few collision detection issues that impact both the graphics and gameplay. Much like Shank, the developers opt to tell the story through static cut-scenes, where one only sees comic book-like drawings and hears the narrator (Lara herself). I don’t mind this approach, though, as it places the focus squarely on the impressive visuals seen during your dangerous travels. It works out very, very well.

The sound is a definite highlight, too, as the effects pull you in and keep you there; the designers even went so far as to add nice ambient effects one normally doesn’t hear in smaller digital titles. Lara’s equipment jingles when she moves, the growls and roars of enemies are clear and intimidating, skittering freakish critters emit accurate and consistent effects, and even the voiceovers are good. I’m not sure who voices Lara but she has an English accent and put in a nice performance. The soundtrack is fitting but doesn’t quite reach the level of the effects in my eyes, and the latter often overrides the music in pressure-packed encounters. However, the soundtrack isn’t as repetitive as one might expect and the crisp, often explosive effects – along with the aforementioned ambient sounds – put an exclamation point at the end of Lara’s fun quest. Overall, in terms of technicals, the game doesn’t disappoint at all.

No, we don’t have the 3D action/adventure blockbuster we’ve come to expect over the years, but we do have a game that looks and feels every bit like a fully realized production. You know, Lara Croft: The Guardian of Light reminded me of a game but for the longest time, I couldn’t quite place it…but eventually, I hit it: Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance. Square-Enix’s new game is hardly an RPG but it looks a lot like Dark Alliance with the exception of larger areas to explore. Toss in a dose of Gauntlet on top of that, and you get an accessible dungeon crawler featuring all sorts of challenges, ranging from puzzles, platforming, and straight-up gunplay. This is a classic format because the game follows a once-traditional formula and style: most anyone can pick it up and play with little difficulty, but it’ll take some definite time and practice to really master every aspect of Lara’s skill set. This is the main reason why the game is so rewarding.

There’s a lot more to do and think about than you might presume. Lara can equip up to four different weapons at once, easily selected by holding L2 and hitting the corresponding directional button, and she can even find and equip a Relic and a couple other Artifacts that have a direct impact on her offense and defense, and can even offer special abilities. There are a bunch of goals to hit for each level, some of which come with valuable prizes; for instance, hitting the max point total will usually result in a new weapon, while there may also be level-specific challenges (i.e., take down a specific enemy, defeat a puzzle within a certain time limit, etc.). This gives you plenty of incentive to go back through any given level, especially because the location of some Red Skulls and the time restrictions can be pretty damn tough.  Good luck.

Lara jumps with X, rolls with Square, utilizing her grappling hook with R1, aims the equipped weapon with the right analog, and fires with R2. This last control aspect is the only reservation I have concerning the gameplay because I think the aiming is a little too sensitive. Sometimes, I found it difficult to aim accurately while dodge-rolling and running all over the place, and this caused some battles to become super annoying. I did get better as time went on, though, and I imagine some gamers would fare better with this system from the get-go. The only other notable problem involves the camera and your typical line of sight. I just don’t see enough along the edges of the screen at times, and the more fast-moving enemies can often come out of nowhere if you aren’t careful. I also found dropping down to hang on a ledge to be iffy and unreliable; you have to press Circle to do so because it won’t automatically happen.

But besides this, I have very few complaints, if any. Each level feels different, offers its own set of distinct challenges, and with 14 levels in all – and plenty of reason to replay each – you’ll definitely get your money’s worth. The puzzles are meticulously crafted and force you to think in a variety of different ways, the diverse enemies force you to reevaluate your weapon selection, and there are plenty of cool things to equip that will alter Lara’s abilities. Once a certain meter fills, you can utilize the skill attached to the Relic you have equipped, and this can be most anything. I personally liked the ability that allowed my bullets to spray out wide and hit multiple enemies. Control is always responsive, you always find yourself wanting to push through the next obstacle, puzzle or barrage of enemies, and you will earn great satisfaction from completing the challenges. Menu interface is simple and easy and we even get a handy-dandy map, although it’s not entirely necessary.

Lara Croft: Guardian of Light offers a ton of nicely polished entertainment. It’s one of the most accomplished downloadable games we’ve seen to date, and it goes beyond the appealing graphics, on-point sound, and relatively long length. It features much of the professional refinement we just don’t normally see in the digital universe; such a clean production reminds me of Joe Danger’s sharp palette. The multiplayer suffers from similar problems but again, they’re minor, and it’s always fun to play with others. There are a few issues involving the camera, hit detection, and looseness or sensitivity of control and aiming but each of those drawbacks are minor. Those who are looking for a flashy 3D Tomb Raider adventure will have to wait but if you desire an old-school dungeon crawler with a modern sheen, this one is for you.

10/4/2010 Ben Dutka

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Comments (45 posts)

X_shadowkilla_X
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 9:42:10 PM
Reply

how much $$ for this downlable?

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THEVERDIN
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 10:15:42 PM

I believe it's $14.99. Download the demo and give it try it's pretty good.

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Qubex
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 9:50:24 PM
Reply

Have to admit, I grew up on Lara Croft during my PS1 days. Enjoyed here initial adventures, even though the close up texture distortions and bad camera clipping always annoyed me... and that was some 12 odd years ago.

This title does look good from what I have seen. Watched videos and have studied the screenshots in a fair amount of detail. Looks decent enough. Probably similar quality as Trine. For me Trine was very well done and one of the few PSN titles that oozed quality all around. This Lara Croft game seems similar in the quality and polish department; and the game mechanics seem decent enough. Camera view and environmental clarity helps make the adventure more compelling and encourages the player to "move on" and continue exploring.

Could be worth a purchase in the future.

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 10:23:46 PM

I was blown away by the first one, it was so cool. That's why this top-down adventure irks me, it ain't right. I guess if you like a series being turned into an arcade title you won't be disappointed. Bugs me though, this isn't the way to reboot Lara.

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Qubex
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 @ 12:40:42 AM

Fair enough... I hear you World. Having the camera "immersed" in the Croft world may have been more atmospheric, but the camera POV at times was quite bad.

Try killing those dogs that attack you right at the beginning of Croft 1 and man did I suffer. I felt spastic trying to kill those animals, they were jumping on me from all sides...

I think this camera view may give you a better chance all around, but I guess, in some ways, it is pretty different to the original Croft games that it is almost like a different game entirely.

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 @ 12:48:12 AM

I'm thinkin they could resolve the camera issue on the ol PS3. I'd still like to see the Video Game worlds first real sex symbol get a proper reboot, but maybe the franchise is toast. Hey I'll even take a multiplat attempt at an Uncharted 2 wannabe, as long as it does SOMEthing sweet and exciting. And you have to put the sex moans back in when she hits a wall ;)

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cxmnky
Friday, October 08, 2010 @ 9:16:17 AM

@world
But this ISN'T a reboot. Like the review said, this is a spin-off to pass the time while the studio continues work on a full fledged Tomb Raider game. That's why they kept Tomb Raider off of the title on this game.

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556pineapple
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 9:53:41 PM
Reply

If you ask me, the TR series has gone downhill since II, but judging from this review, sounds like there's hope for it yet. I hope SquEidos can give us a really good traditional TR game in the future.

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Temjin001
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 10:38:35 PM

I was disappointed by TR2. The series went downhill after the first game, and then started coming up again with Legends, but right back down with Underworld.

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Jawknee
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 9:56:23 PM
Reply

Eh, no thanks. I'll wait for Dead Nation for my top down arcadey fix.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 10:01:42 PM

More zombies are coming?

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Jawknee
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 10:14:03 PM

Oct 20th i think.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 10:48:06 PM

I hope it's good, thought I never purchased Zombie Apocalypse cause it sounded just like Zombie Revenge, which I have.

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Jawknee
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 11:01:50 PM

It looks much better than Zombie Apocalypse. I played the demo and didn't like it. Dead Nation looks humorous and has great lighting. Looks like good old fashioned party fun.

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BikerSaint
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 11:53:09 PM

World, I'm with you on this one.
I guess for a DL game, it's probably a damned good game. And although it was graphically good & I liked the color palette, I hate that it's a top-down game.
Oh well, at least it's good for those who don't mind it/

Just doesn't seem like my Lara Croft games to me.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 @ 12:28:34 AM

That's the crux of it isnt' it, doesn't feel like a Lara Croft game. Even if it is the first with that as the title.

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Orvisman
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 @ 9:54:27 AM

LOL. I'm waiting on Dead Nation too... been waiting a looooong time for this one.

I'm a huge fan of Housemarque. It is a real shame Housemarque went multiplat with its next game.

Although, I would think a mention of Dead Nation or Yakuza of the End would have made it into the Dead Rising 2 review not a review of Lara Croft.

Anyway, I have Zombie Apocalypse... it is okay.

I, however, prefer Burn Zombie Burn to Zombie Apocalypse.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 10:01:28 PM
Reply

I hated the top down style, they really should have just made this with the original camera angle or at least closer up. The controls stink too.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 10:16:42 PM

I'm hardly the only person to disagree. GameSpot, 1Up, VideoGamer, PlayStation Universe, Gaming Target...

Not sure what you're playing.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 10:18:00 PM

I plays teh demo. I know Saint agrees with me. Though he's no Saint. Lemme clarify on the controls, they aren't busted or anything, the button mapping is something I couldn't get used to at all.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 10/4/2010 10:19:00 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 10:44:59 PM

Oh, I see. Well, they took some getting used to for me, too. But once I got them down, they seemed to flow really well.

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Highlander
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 @ 1:31:31 PM

I enjoyed the demo, it's refreshing to have a top down view arcade style title for a change. It's not a third person game or anything, but that's not a major issue. I mean, OK it's not a third person action adventure, but does it have to be one of those?

I enjoyed it, I may have to pick up the full game.

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Alienange
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 10:11:28 PM
Reply

I'm surprised by your review. I really wasn't expecting anything great but I'm glad they've put together a quality Lara adventure. DLC type games aren't my thing though... unless it's Monkey Island.

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Temjin001
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 10:35:42 PM
Reply

I've always liked Lara, but it's too bad that the majority of her games haven't been too great. This has been made even more apparent with the Uncharted games that encroach on her turf with the ancient civilization treasure finding similarities.

I tried this demo what seems like a month ago, or so. And as the reviews have confirmed, the game is well put together and more polished than Lara's previous outings.

But similarly to the feelings of some on these boards, the iso-metric, classic-style perspective is something of a turn off.

Basically, I think the isometric fixed view point disconnects the player from the role of experiencing the adventure through the perspective of what Lara sees ( or nearly sees as her games have been TPS) to a more "game-like" or "arcade-like" presentation that interferes with my ability to more acutely sense the exploring element--something I've always felt is so attractive about the nature of these types of games.

Anyhow, maybe when I'm low on good games to play and I'm in the mood for something akin to this, I may give it a play through.


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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 10:46:35 PM

You mean they took the Lara out of Lara. ;)

And I understand that. This game could almost have anyone as the hero or heroine, and it wouldn't really affect much. There is a bit of her patented cockiness but for the most part, she's more faceless than ever.

It's certainly not character-driven. But it's really great for what it is.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 10:46:53 PM

Lara Croft plus SmashTV does not a great game make. However, I suppose I should bear in mind the pricetag is low.

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Temjin001
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 10:57:26 PM

"I'd buy that for a dollar!"
=p

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Jawknee
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 11:03:36 PM

It's Highlanders job to quote 80's sci-fi movies. ;)

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Qubex
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 @ 12:42:58 AM

Yip, Ben, as you put it, it could almost be generic now; that "immersion" is not really there anymore...

Lara, Princess of Persia...

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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Highlander
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 @ 1:40:18 PM

Indeed Jawknee, indeed. and as we all know, there can be only one!

I'll be back.

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cxmnky
Friday, October 08, 2010 @ 9:24:00 AM

@world
"Lara Croft plus SmashTV does not a great game make. However, I suppose I should bear in mind the pricetag is low. "

Speak for yourself. This is an awesome game that does everything it was trying to do extremely well, and the reviews and the reception it's received from gamers proves that. A lot of people have said that they would have been willing to pay MORE than the $15 price tag and been satisfied because they had so much fun with it. Just because it's not YOU'RE type of game doesn't mean it isn't a great game.

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tes37
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 10:42:40 PM
Reply

I played the demo and decided to buy the game. The controls are different but I got use to them. I think playing Trine as the theif kind of prepared me for using the right stick to aim. I do like the way it's used in Trine better.

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Jawknee
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 10:48:50 PM

The aiming sounds like the My Blaster Runs Hot mini game in R&C ACIT.

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tes37
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 10:58:12 PM

It's been too long since I played that mini game, so I can't remember exactly what it was like.

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Jawknee
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 11:02:21 PM

Top down shooter, you aimed and fired with the sticks. That's basically it. ha

Last edited by Jawknee on 10/4/2010 11:02:29 PM

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tes37
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 11:10:07 PM

You just aim with the right stick, the fire button is separate. Trine is different as well. Playing as the thief you pull back on the right stick and release to fire an arrow. The tension on the bow is determined by how far you pull back.

What I wrote about aiming with the right stick in Trine in my first post is incorrect. It's hard to keep up with all the different control schemes.

Last edited by tes37 on 10/4/2010 11:16:47 PM

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___________
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 @ 2:16:58 AM
Reply

downloaded this a while ago, its alright which more or less sums up the whole series perfectly!
i wish crystal dynamics would go back and do a sequel to the game that made them famous, and the best platforming game ever!
pandemonium!
loved that game so freaking much!!!!!!!
still play it on my PSP from time to time.

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BikerSaint
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 @ 2:50:18 AM
Reply

Off topic for a sec....

FYI, here's a free "Dynasty Warriors ONLINE" beta key giveaway! (Promotion ends 10/07, so get yours before they're all gone!)

Please note that you won't be able to D/L the actual client until "THE EVENING OF OCTOBER 12TH" (but that's still 2 days earlier than the other beta testers are getting it).

http://www.gamespot.com/event/codes/dynasty-warriors-online/?tag=nl.e513

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chucknasty
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 @ 4:25:47 AM
Reply

Annoyed that online coop is not up. I bought it but I don't want to figure out all of the puzzles before I can play w/ my friends in other states so it is shelved pending a patch. grr.

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Akuma07
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 @ 11:12:34 AM
Reply

If you think 2400mb is hefty.

The Brotherhood beta is 3048mb.

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Amazingskillz
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 @ 12:56:50 PM
Reply

Top down sucks. This is some bull-ish. Looks like a kiddie game. I was really hoping for something better.

@Temjin - I think you got your games mixed up because Tombraider 2 was the best of all of them.

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Highlander
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 @ 1:39:22 PM
Reply

It's an arcade game based on Lara Croft. I don't see why people are being so harsh on the game. If you don't like arcade games, that's fine, but just because you don't like arcade games it doesn't mean that this game is bull-whatever or a kiddie game. It's juts an arcade game, nothing more and nothing less. Personally I enjoyed it - precisely because it's an arcade game instead of being yet another cheesy third person action game. I just don't see why making an arcade game based on Lara Croft is problematic for people.

Either way, I enjoyed the demo and will probably pick up the full game.

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Highlander
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 @ 2:05:54 PM
Reply

OK, I know it's not directly on topic, but it's a top down arcade game, so I'll just pop the question here in case someone know the answer.

Why is Atari not producing a version of Haunted House for the PS3? XBLA, Wii-Ware and PC only - apparently. Now, I don't know about you, but to me that's nothing less than a direct snub to the PS3 community. It's not like it's a huge budget game, it's a downloadable game, so where is the PS3 version?

Atari, you suck.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 @ 2:42:55 PM

Atari can't get anything right any more.

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Jotun
Wednesday, October 06, 2010 @ 10:41:26 PM
Reply

I didn't even know Crystal Dynamics was still in business! I'm glad to see they still make great games.

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