Wot I Think:Lara Croft & the Guardian of Light

By John Walker on October 1st, 2010 at 4:03 pm.

Oh look, a leather bound book intro! New ground for gaming.

Earlier this week Lara Croft’s latest adventure, an isometric action platformer The Guardian Of Light, was released. Unfortunately, despite being assured, we did not receive review code in time. So rather late, having completed it about twice over, I can tell you Wot I Think.

I really don’t want to write this, because there’s still so many red skulls I haven’t found. There’s levels that still haven’t revealed all their artefacts. And I certainly haven’t completed most of them in the target time. I’ve completed the game twice now, once on 360, a second time on PC, and I’m still compelled to keep replaying the same fourteen levels over and over, finishing the completely unnecessary targets.

I think that says a lot. Crystal Dynamics’ diversion from the traditional Tomb Raider series is a stunning success. Played from an isometric third-person perspective, while strikingly different from the gymnastic escapades of the previous games, it still manages to capture so much of what a Lara game consists of. Despite looking closer to Diablo than Prince of Persia, the game is still very much about acrobatics, well-timed jumps, and elaborate puzzle solving.

If CD have gained one reputation, it’s for being able to create masterful, level-wide puzzles. The very best levels here require you to gather vast stone spheres from many areas, bringing them all together in a central room. Each is hidden behind a particular challenge, meaning there’s constant variation. This is so infrequently a game about blasting through enemies to get to the other end of a corridor, and so often about thinking smartly, manipulating the environment, and searching for useful secrets.

The story is as disposable as a snotty tissue – something about Lara and her new buddy, Totec, a 2000 year old Mayan warrior, chasing after some big cross dude because of something. It didn’t seem important. (The evil Xolotl was imprisoned 2000 years ago by Totec in Mirror of Smoke, and has just escaped. Lara has to retrieve it before dawn – Substance Ed)

Totec’s role only makes sense if you play in multiplayer co-op – something I have not done at this point, because the game, idiotically, cannot be played two-player over the internet. (Jim and I will play some co-op next week and report back.) Otherwise he disappears for huge stretches of time, seemingly uninvolved in events.

But the story is completely unnecessary. This is a playground, packed with challenges, and also a lot of enemies.

There is far more combat than in the regular Tomb Raider games. Lara gathers a remarkable arsenal of weapons, from her trademark pistols to rocket launchers, all of which share a common ammo pool. Enemies attack in huge numbers at times, but a rarely a significant problem. Larger beasts threaten at first, but impressively they can be introduced as boss fights early on, and become just easily disposed of regular enemies later. Not because of artificially changing the difficulty, nor due to Lara’s gaining special equipment, but rather your learning how to better play the game. Even the final boss, despite needing to be killed about forty-seven times, isn’t an unfair or overwhelming task. Just a lengthy one.

However, the weapon you use the most is one of the game’s highlights. The spear. It’s a special magic spear, of course. Let’s call it The Spear Of Cobbletoc. You can throw it infinite times, with the most recent three existing at the same time. Throw a fourth and the first will evaporate. These are an extremely effective attack against most enemies, but also are used for completing various puzzles.

Throwing them into walls creates a bar to help Lara climb, while chucking them at specific targets will trigger switches, and so on. It’s such a fantastic weapon, and one that could do well to make an appearance in Lara’s next full-scale adventure.

The other infinite weapon is the bomb, which Lara can drop anywhere, and then fire later. Again it’s a useful attack, but again again it is more often helpful for puzzles. But I’ll not say how, as figuring that out is much of the fun.

Lara also has her grapple, which is strangely underused throughout, but again makes for a really elegant solution to some of the smarter puzzles.

In fact, so keen is the game on giving you these puzzles that there’s even special, skippable tombs for the toughest trials. Complete them and you’ll get a bonus item, but run straight past and there’s no penalty.

The bonus items let you tweak how you approach the game, and while they don’t have an enormous impact, judicious application can prove helpful. There’s Relics, which are the most powerful bonuses. By the end of the game you may have found some that boost four or five properties at once, from health and ammo regeneration to improving your speed. However, these are only effective when your Relic Meter is filled, completed by killing enemies without damage, and finding gems. Then there’s artefacts, which have a lesser but permanent effect.

Which all combines to having a lot of fun. That’s the key here: it’s just tremendous entertainment. It’s all so well put together, the solutions to challenges smartly hinted at. Often a bonus item will be visible, and it’s in figuring out how to reach it that you’ll uncover how to progress to the next ledge too. The levels are designed with real finesse.

Which also leads to the desire for repeated goes. Completing an area will show you the completion screen, informing you mostly how much you missed. A first play through an area is very unlikely to see you reach the end within the extraordinarily tight time limits. In fact, if you attempt to complete any of the other targets it’s almost impossible that you’ll have sped through quickly enough. Each level also has ten well-hidden red skulls to find, along with level-specific tasks.

These might be to get a large stone ball onto a raised platform elsewhere in the level. It’s not in any way relevant to progress, but it tests your ability to use the skills the game’s taught you in interesting ways. So revisiting completed areas becomes extremely compelling, first to find any collectables you may have missed, then to see if you can achieve the tougher trials, and of course to see if you can take a speed-run.

It looks gorgeous too – it’s made using the same engine as the recent Tomb Raider: Underworld, and includes all the physics you could want for.

Weak points? Well, the lack of online co-op is mystifying. It’s a daft shame. There’s the odd glitch, which sees Lara plummet to yet another of her deaths. Excellent checkpointing means this wouldn’t be a huge issue, if it didn’t punish you by lowering your score for the level. And since you can replay earlier levels with all your equipment from the end of the game, I’d have liked to have seen some new challenges opening up after completion.

It’s fabulous. A real treat, and at fourteen levels it’s plenty long enough too. I’ve played them all at least twice, some of them six or seven times, and am plenty keen to go back to try again. I suggest you do the same.

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86 Comments »

  1. yves torres says:

    I really liked the demo, though I was quite put off at first. The missing online co-op is a real shame methinks, but other than that, a great game for a very fair price.

    more like this please!

  2. Tyshalle says:

    I know this may be taboo on a PC gaming website, but how do the PC and 360 versions compare?

    The only reason I care is because I can’t decide if it would be better to go co-op on a single 360 with my girlfriend, or two buy two copies of the game after they add multiplayer co-op on the PC.

    • John Walker says:

      They’re absolutely identical, apart from some smartly localised PC controls, giving you a mouse cursor if you don’t want to play with a 360 pad. And of course a much nicer resolution on PC.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      Consoles?!? On RPS?!? I place the blame for this heresy on KG’s abandoning us for greener pastures!!!!

      Honestly, this whole PC vs console thing is silly.

    • Gundrea says:

      what John meant to say of course is that the glorious PC master race have a superior control system and far more powerful graphical resolution. Once again the PC rides across the backs of those dirty console gaming peasants to a land of rich and plenty.

      Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light…

    • Tei says:

      This is not exactly a Console title ( generic blablablalicous brown generic stuff), is a XBLA title. This means is limited, very limited, but also more creative with his use of resources (than a normal console game, but much less creative than a PC game).

      As a PC game, is lacking. RPS seems happy with the game, but if you don’t have 2 chairs, and 2 humans beings to play, this title will not do much for you.

    • Premium User Badge

      UW says:

      The PC version IS multiplayer, just not online yet. If you have a controller for your PC (Preferably two although the mouse/keyboard controls are fine) then you can play local multiplayer with you girlfriend just fine.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I actually found myself preferring it with a mouse and keyboard to a controller.

    • sassy says:

      Online multiplayer (hopefully LAN too) will be patched in at a later date, they have stated that it just wasn’t ready so left it out until it is. Apparently they also promised the first (of I think 5) DLC will be released free to make up for the lack of online capabilities.

      I really must say I love this game. If the DLC is additional levels then it will be the first time I am willing to pay for DLC, if it is just outfits then I spit at it!!!

    • Boris says:

      I don’t really feel that incorporating capslock and alt into the controlscheme could be described as “smartly localised”.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      I love how the first few comments were basically either “console vs. pc is childish” or a sarcastic, pretend pronunciation of PC’s superiority, and then someone makes a bunch of silly PC elitist statements.

      I honestly thought it was more sarcasm, but upon second reading, no.

      So much for us being past that. Oh humanity, you make me lawl.

  3. Mr Dyslexic Face Head & Neck says:

    Well this looks different.

  4. Jimbo says:

    How do games like this (and Trine) still keep getting put out without online co-op working? You’d think it’d be one of the top priorities for games with such an apparent focus on co-op. It’s just baffling. I am baffled.

  5. Nallen says:

    I’m utterly confused, this game is meant to be crap (by ‘meant to’ I mean, according to my preconceptions) and yet people I respect the opinion of keep saying it’s good! REALLY good!

    Did you use the PC controls rather than a 360 pad? I’m going to have to give the demo a go I think…at the very least it’ll give me another excuse not to open the Amnesia demo (which I’m afraid of. Scared of a line of text in my steam library no less. How sad.) and a break from Starcrack2.

    • sassy says:

      By all respects the same should be a cheap cash in but they have made a marvelous game. They have successfully mixed two completely different genres. Making a unique experience which is familiar but unlike anything before it.

      You won’t regret trying the demo.

  6. Lanster27 says:

    I would like to point out, the grapple is actually one of the main tools in coop, often to get Totec across a puzzle or to save your partner from leaping into the abyss. There’s also the shield jump, a coop only mechanism. In short, the coop has much more to offer than the single player.

    One of the best coop games to be played with a mate in the last couple of years, just beside Gears of War and Borderlands.

    /End coop rant.

    • Wilson says:

      @Lanster27 – Yes, the coop is amazing! Much better than single player, and it’s very different from single to multiplayer. I’m stunned at how good the game is, and it’s only £10! Such a bargain. This is the first time I’ve been really pleasantly surprised by how good a game is in a while.

  7. Al3xand3r says:

    It’s Larablo! I quite like it.

  8. Butterbumps says:

    I was very pleasantly surprised by this. I may not have been paying attention, but the trailers made this look much more shooty and much less puzzley than it actually is. It is more shooty than traditional Tomb Raider, but in a good way, and not at the expense of having excellent puzzles.

    It’s annoying that the online co-op is delayed, but I’m sure it’ll be great when it eventually arrives.

  9. Morgawr says:

    Apparently, online co-op will be patched in at an unspecified “later date”.It was supposed to in at launch for the PC and PS3 versions, but that didn’t happen for some reason.

  10. joe balls says:

    I find that some of the challenges are only challenging because of the camera angle. Jump between 7 jars? I would if I could see Lara in a way that allows me to tackle it. Jump over the river without going in it? It’s five square slabs of stone set at irregular intervals, that’s all but the camera angle adds a special twist. I’m playing it via kb and mouse so maybe that’s the problem but I tend to do that on a pc.

    That said I have found the game to be great fun and agree with most of your points John.

    • Xocrates says:

      Really? I found the (keyboard) controls quite responsive (if, by default, a bit awkwardly placed) and found those particular challenges pathetically easy.

      In fact, I was quite pleased this was a “tomb raider” game where I didn’t had to struggle with the camera.

    • Mr Labbes says:

      The jar-hopping thing nearly drove me mad. I actually switched to my controller for that one puzzle, which made it far less annoying. Still, I prefer the keyboard+mouse controls.

    • sassy says:

      The jar hoping really needed an analogue stick, I was also using keyboard. I was all geared up for some major frustration from it but managed it on my third go.

  11. Homunculus says:

    Third person isometric is the marketable way of the future; a technological achievement that eclipses that hoary old first person perspective that the modern gamer perceives as tired and associates with relics such as 3D Monster Maze and Mercenary.

    Just imagine it: classic, flagging franchises, such as Fallout, reinveneted and reinvigorated utilising this innovative, stunning breakthrough.

  12. pkt-zer0 says:

    You haven’t played this game properly until you’ve played it in co-op. The single-player versions of the puzzles don’t seem anywhere near as interesting, though admittedly I’ve only checked the first couple of levels.

  13. jonfitt says:

    It’s a shame they didn’t get you the review code earlier. I might have bought this with the Steam offer.

  14. laikapants says:

    I’m really mostly enjoying it thus far, though there have been a fair number of instances of me telling the computer screen to fuck right off (mostly having to do with jumps that felt lined up and suddenly I’m gooified). My only other grievances have to do with Totec A) as you mentioned, not so much being around in the single-player B) is not a homunculus (which really isn’t his fault, I just somewhere along the line misread that he was such a creature and grew to like it very much so).

    Stray observation, the hurling of the spear into random demons made me long for a similarly controlled and laid out Buffy/Angel-verse game. Someone get on that.

  15. pkt-zer0 says:

    Also, the game will have more DLC! Supposedly some of it is going to be free, too, as a means of apology for delaying the online co-op. Hopefully the non-free DLC will be sensibly priced, as I wouldn’t mind a map pack for a game, as long as the levels are similarly entertaining. The alternative character choices is looking to be an interesting addition as well, I’m hoping for Kain and Raziel.

  16. Max says:

    I must be a stickler here: this is not an isometric game. Isometric (in this context) means that there is no perspective effect i.e. distant object appear to be the same size as nearby objects. It is evident from the second screenshot that that is not the case with this game.

    Similarly Diablo 1 and 2 were isometric, whereas Diablo 3 is not.

    • Brumisator says:

      Good point, the meaning of the word was seemingly lost in the mists of time.

      But I guess “three quarter view” or something else is a clunky way of putting things.

    • TheApologist says:

      Interesting – I didn’t know that was the precise meaning.

      I appreciate your sticklering.

    • Taillefer says:

      “Interestingly” enough, isometric games weren’t true isometric either because drawing the lines at 30 degrees looked too pixellated. But even engineers and draught/draftspeople tend to refer to any non-perspective, 3D view (or any view that looks 3D) as an iso now before I tell them not to.

      Uhm, I’m sure the game is great. I’ll be trying it in the near future.

    • Mil says:

      @Taillefer:

      “Interestingly” enough, isometric games weren’t true isometric either because drawing the lines at 30 degrees looked too pixellated.

      I didn’t know this and found it quite interesting. No need to put the first word in quotes :-)

      Apparently the correct term is axonometric projection. The types of axonometric are isometric, dimetric and trimetric; of these the most common in games is dimetric.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axonometric_projection

  17. SuperNashwan says:

    The game is excellent fun, reminds heavily of classics like The Chaos Engine and Crusader: No Remorse, but bang up to date. The combat is way more satisfying than it has any right to be thanks to the roll and bomb and variety of meaty weapons. It’s good value too, real incentive to replay the levels to hunt down items and complete challenges.

    • Radiant says:

      I thought I was the only person to ever play Crusader No Remorse.
      I only bought it cause of the cover.

      This game [Tomb Raider] is far far too easy.
      It also sets of my pokemon reflex where I have to collect EVERY god damn thing it asks me to or I don’t feel entirely satisfied with it.
      Thankfully most of the things it asks you to collect are right there in front of you.

      Actually this Tomb Raider feels remarkably like those Lego Star Wars games in the complete absence of any challenge.

    • Taillefer says:

      Crusader is excellent. Now I’ll have to try this sooner.

    • DrGonzo says:

      @ Radiant

      I agree with you that there’s not really a challenge. It’s much like Diablo and Diablo 2 in that respect. But it’s excellent fun to play with your girlfriend, or non-gaming friend.

    • Dominic White says:

      Play with combat difficulty on High and both players have to be really on the ball if they want to survive the fights. You get get knocked out really quick, and then the other player has to endanger themselves helping you back up. It’s not brutally hard or anything, but it does need both players to be fairly adept and dodge-rolling.

    • nvrnw says:

      Another Crusader:NR buyer. And it was expensive, too!

  18. Brumisator says:

    I’d forgotten this game existed. Downloading the demo now.

  19. Baka says:

    Fourty-seven times, eh?

    Will get this game as soon as the coop patch comes out, but the article doesn’t sound like it’s really a priority for them?

  20. TheApologist says:

    If they implement co-op it’s an instant buy for me, and indeed, a chum.

    Seems such an odd decision.

  21. Jad says:

    Question about PC co-op: so there’s no online co-op, but I assume there’s same-room co-op, right? Can you have one person playing with on mouse + keyboard while the second player uses an XBox 360 controller? Because if that is the case, that is what I will do.

    • Premium User Badge

      UW says:

      You can indeed do that. Also if you happen to have two controllers, that works as well.

      Honestly I find the controller much more intuitive and enjoyable but the mouse and keyboard controls are definitely functional.

    • Jad says:

      Thank you. I will probably buy a second controller at some point, perhaps I will hold off on this until then.

      (Although, as an aside, I get a small twinge when I think of buying another Microsoft controller. Not because of any political reason, but because if I ever do get a console it will probably be a PS3, and I’ll have all these controllers hanging around for the wrong console… Not import though.)

      Anyway: aren’t PC’s great? Mouse, keyboard, controller, joystick, crazy head-tracking devices, they all work on the same machine!

    • DrGonzo says:

      Get a PS3 controller then. They work fine on PCs.

  22. Joe says:

    I downloaded the Steam demo and thought it was fun, but I need to try it again with a controller rather than KBM — trying to move on an isometric grid while the WASD keys are moving you in the cardinal directions was . . . challenging. At least for me.

  23. Premium User Badge

    UW says:

    I have played local co-op on this game and it is utterly fantastic. Of note your friend often leaves their life in your hands, which is immensely fun. You can move off switches while your buddy is running over a bridge and drop him into the abyss, plant a bomb and detonate it when they run over, release grappling lines while they are hanging from it. Just simply messing with your friends is hours of endless fun.

    I can also tell from playing it that, while online co-op would be fantastic, it is much better played sitting next to the person you’re playing with. It’s just that kind of game.

  24. Dominic White says:

    Holy shit, you actually reviewed this game without co-op? You missed out, big-time.

    With another player, almost every single puzzle in the game changes, requiring both players to work smartly in tandem, in a manner very reminiscent of The Lost Vikings, but faster and smarter. A particularly clever one happens on just the first level – a moving series of metal ledges threaten to push the players into a spike pit, unless they are scaled, quickly. The first ledge is climbable normally. The third is too tall, requiring Totec to raise his shield, so that Lara can get a boost up to climb, then lower her grappling line to pull Totec up with her. A couple of ledges like this, and you encounter an even taller one that you can’t do this trick with. Lara needs to grapple a golden ring at the top so that Totec can tightrope-walk his way to the top, this time, and Lara can cast her rope to him so the he can pull HER up. And JUST as both players reach the top platform, a huge boulder falls towards you both, requiring you to dive to safety and solid ground as the entire mechanism shatters.

    And all this plays out in about 30 seconds of panicked shouting between the players, as you plot your route to the top. And as others have said, this isn’t a game that online co-op suits. There will be pointing at the screen, and shouting, and elbowing your buddy in the ribs because they thought it’d be funny to step on off a button suppressing an enormous jet of fire, while you’re standing directly over the vent.

    A reccomendation to all PC gamers: Get a second chair, a pair of gamepads, and a monitor that two people can comfortably use. If needs be, just plug your PC into an HDTV. It’s worth it.

    • andytizer says:

      I also second playing this on a PC hooked up to a TV with x2 360 controllers. I’ve been playing this with my wife and it’s a blast. Local co-op is much more fun than online co-op anyway. Get your PC in your living room and it will be an even better co-op experience (I don’t know about you but my desk is too crowded with crap whilst my PC/TV couch is more comfortable for more than one person).

    • Dominic White says:

      So, elaborating a bit, co-op play splits the puzzle-solving powers between the two players. Lara has her grappling hook (which sees a lot more use, as it’s the key to helping the bigger, heavier Totec across many obstacles, as he also functions as a valid grapple target), and Totec has his spear and shield. The spear works as Lara uses it, but he cannot stand on the spears he has thrown, on account of being huge and heavy. His shield can be used to block projectiles or traps, but also can be raised over his head to act as a platform for Lara to ride on.

      Essentially, Lara has more agility and tends to lead, but Totec has the tools needed to get Lara where she needs to be. Both players have their own bombs, and quite a few puzzles require use of their explosives in tandem. It’s a clever dynamic. Totec feels like the sturdier, more reliable of the two, but Lara is more proactive and trailblazing.

    • Dominic White says:

      Ah, and one other ability – Lara apparently has some serious upper-body strength, as if a grapple target is too low for her to use as a climbing point, she can hold her rope taut so that Totec can walk along it and climb up, then use the rope to hoist her up. It’s a classic buddy-movie dynamic.

    • Premium User Badge

      UW says:

      Totally agree with this. I’ve spent a good portion of my day today playing this in co-op.

      Some of the challenges are ridiculously satisfying – a few stick in my mind. One where you have to bomb a spinning boulder at just the right time and place to make it go straight into the hole it’s destined for. I tried this about 15 times and then I sat back and said “No, this is stupid. I can do this. Just watch, I’m going to do it right now and it’s going to be awesome.”

      I did, and it was awesome.

      Also been trying to get through all of the levels in the target times, managed it on all the ones I’ve tried so far. The one where you have to get all of those boulders into a central chamber and then sprint through a bunch of traps is immensely satisfying. This was about our third or fourth time playing through the level, and we were yet to get the reward for navigating all of the traps without dying. When we reached it we ran through every single trap with no problems at all. It was like poetry in motion.

      I’m not the kind of guy that usually high-fives but I’ve done it so many times today my hand is still numb,

  25. Clive dunn says:

    WHAT?!?! You mean that I need a real live person sitting next to me to get the best out of this game? What, like a friend? Err, will the wife do?

    • Dominic White says:

      The couple that tomb-raids together, stays together.

    • Dominic White says:

      Also, you can say things like ‘Jump atop my golden rod, buxom adventuress!’ and not get punched.

    • Dominic White says:

      Well, just so long as you let her play as Lara. Otherwise, that could get really awkward.

      Or kinky, depending on personal taste.

  26. Langman says:

    It’s actually good to get a solid review of this as purely a single-player game – it focuses on the game strengths for those of us who know they would only play it by themselves in all likelihood.

    I never MP/Co-op, so it’s good to know the game holds up this well in SP.

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      Spot on Langman, that’s exactly what I was thinking. Well done Mr Walker!

    • DrGonzo says:

      It really is a lot, lot better with two of you though. I can’t really describe how fun it is. You are nearly always relying on each other to stay alive, you always seem to only just survive each puzzle or platforming bit. If you play it co op and then go back to the single player it is no longer very much fun.

    • Renzatic says:

      It’s a great game singleplayer. I played through 3/4ths of it by myself, and loved every second of it. Even if you never intend on doing the tandem tomb raiding thing, there’s still more than enough game here for anyone to enjoy.

      Though if you can, try to get a friend to tag along. Multiplayer really is a kick in the ass pants good time. Having a bud (cuz my girlfriend says games are dorky and I’m a dork for playing them and she won’t play them with me) carry you around on a shield while you machine gun down various monsters, then playing death bumper cars with those stone spheres is truly great good fun.

      For clarity sake, I’ll try to sum up the differences between SP and MP as best I can.

      Singleplayer: wow, that was a damn cool puzzle, I just barely made it past those spinny flame things. Man, this game is so fun. :)

      Multiplayer: NO DAMNIT, NO! STAND ON THAT BUTTON THERE! NO, DON’T GET OFF IT! THAT MAKES THE SPIKES COME BACK! I CAN ONLY KEEP THE GRAPPLE LINE UP FOR SO LONG BEFORE MONSTERS START PUNCHING ME! SO HURRY UP AND CROSS IT WHILE YOU CAN! OH GOD! SHOOT THERE! THERE! HELP! HELP! YOU GOT ALL THE HEALTH KITS ON YOUR SIDE, AND ALL I’VE GOT ARE THINGS WANTING TO KILL ME! NO, YOU’RE DUMB!

      Oh shit, I died. Man, this game is so fun! :D

      So…yeah.

  27. Freud says:

    It is telling how much they wrecked this franchise that after the first one I bought the sequel without any hesitation, but this one I had no thought of buying at all.

    Sounds like this one is something I’ll pick up on a sale for $5 in April.

  28. John Peat says:

    Just to say this is easily my GoTY upto now – it’s just so much fun to play and replay.

    The combat works – the scoring works – the puzzles work – the challenges are just-right (except, perhaps the time limit on the Forgotten Gate level!!

    The fact it’s excellent in both single player and co-op is a massive bonus.

    THe lack of online co-op matters hardly at-all – it’s an arcade title which is already overdelivering IMO and I’d reckon maybe 5% or less of players would give a damn about that anyway…

  29. dfv says:

    Which role is “easier” to play in Co-op? I want my wife to try it but if it’s too difficult she’ll find it frustrating. What would you recommend?

    • Dominic White says:

      I’d say they’re about even, although Lara tends to be the one to lead the charge. If one player dies, they can respawn or be revived in pretty short order, though, at the cost of some points, so it’s not a big deal.

      If combat is too tough, you can set that down to easy mode. The puzzles will remain challenging, though.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Lara shoots faster, Totec has a shield that can deflect projectiles, and their starting weapon is different. That’s the only difference I’ve noticed between the characters.

    • Dominic White says:

      Combat-wise, there’s not a huge amount of difference between them. Puzzle-wise, Lara tends to do more high-risk platforming while Totec is the enabler. If both players have to make it across a chasm, Lara usually goes first, as she can then use the rope to help Totec over if he flubs it.

  30. bleeters says:

    because the game, idiotically, cannot be played two-player over the internet.

    Well, nevermind then.

    • John Peat says:

      You’re missing out – but that’s your issue…

      If all you want to do is play with someone non-local – if single-player doesn’t interest you – then you’re a strange fruit indeed.

      I think the Internet just likes to moan about SOMETHING – it can’t just be happy with an amazingly good game…

    • bleeters says:

      I itch for good co-op games. They are depressingly few and far between. So when a game apparently designed with co-op in mind comes around, it sparks an interest. I don’t find disappointment in said game then lacking any kind of online mode unreasonable, really.

      Sure, I could play singleplayer, I’ve no doubt it’s a solid experience based on what others are saying, but an AI helper is no substitute, really.

    • John Peat says:

      There’s no AI helper – there’s a single player game where you play as Lara on her own and a co-op game where a 2nd player plays as Totec.

      The puzzles are different for each mode – the combat is a bit different too.

      In single player, Totec only shows-up in the cutscenes – no AI controls him – nothing nasty like that…

      You really get 2 games for the price of one…

    • Premium User Badge

      UW says:

      Online co-op apparently will be added, but seriously if you can get someone to play the game with you locally it is far, far better than playing online would be. Without a headset it would be extremely handicapped, but ideally the best way is to be sitting right next to the person.

  31. DigitalSignalX says:

    All the press on this game recently has made me decide to give it a try, after having given up on the Croft franchise well over a decade ago. The demo seems pretty fun so far, but I’m curious about the decision to hamper the restrict the player experience vs. the co-op. Why couldn’t an AI co-op be possible? Where the 2nd player gives us some single that they are about to perform one of the co-op moves and we either have to respond in kind to complete it, or ignore it and suffer the consequences.

    • Dominic White says:

      “All the press on this game recently has made me decide to give it a try, after having given up on the Croft franchise well over a decade ago.”

      Your loss. Ever since Crystal Dynamics took over the series (starting with TR: Legend), it’s all been golden. Core pretty much lost the plot after Tomb Raider 2.

      As for ‘Why couldn’t an AI do it?’. Most games have AI that has trouble navigating simple corridors. How do you tell an AI that you want it to hold in position until you throw a grapple line across this hallway, and then you want it to tightrope walk halfway across it, drop a bomb at that point, then jump to a ledge another ten feet forward and to the right?

      That shit would be hard enough to communicate online. That’s a key reason why I think offline co-op suits this better. You have to be able to point things out to the other player.

    • SleepyMatt says:

      Not to mention that having the AI always flagging the way to the solutions would completely spoil most of the fun of working the puzzles out..

  32. Shadram says:

    I actally quite liked reading this opinion without the co-op version tested. I was tempted to buy the game, but was worried it might be crap solo. I mean, I plan on playing it co-op, but would more often solo it, especially when it comes to time trials and hunting every last secret. Glad it holds up to such single player scrutiny!

  33. Mman says:

    I was pleasantly surprised by GOL, I was expecting an enjoyable diversion between the next “actual” game in the series and little more than that, but it turned out to be probably my favourite Crystal Dynamics Tomb Raider-based game so far. I also like how smoothly the co-op and SP are integrated, so while it’s better in co-op it’s still fully playable and polished in SP (unlike most games that mainly advertise on their co-op features). Like the review says the Spear and similar mechanics are both fun and also have a lot of potential for being built on in later games and/or the coming DLC.

    I think the stat boost system could have been balanced a bit more; I really like getting semi-permanent rewards for exploration and doing stuff but I think it would be better if it was modified a bit to lead to more meaningful choices (as opposed to just throwing on the best stuff you’ve got past a certain point) if they do something like it again.

  34. UncleLou says:

    Shockingly brilliant demo, and proof if proof was needed that we need more isometric games. They just have a magical charm of their own no other perspective can compete with.

    Will probably get the PS3 version for better local coop-ery, but Lara does look a bit like a mess of pixels compared to the super-detailed PC version.

  35. Jharakn says:

    I mucked about with both and found the xbox pad was best for the jumpy jumpy puzzles and the mouse keyboard was better for the shooty shooty combat, Just pick which ever you want to be better at, there really isn’t a “best” controller to play this game on.

    • Premium User Badge

      UW says:

      I agree but personally I find the controller to be a far better option.

      The difficulty moving or jumping in the wrong direction will cause a lot more accidental death and frustration than the slightly less accurate shooting system.

      I do think the shooting is handled very, very well on the control pad. Far better than I expected.

  36. Langman says:

    Okay, Playing through in single player: THIS GAME IS BRILLIANT.

    Ignore the naysayers sticking their noses up at the prospect of single player, believe me its worth it.

  37. GaGrin says:

    Tried the demo coop with a friend yesterday, completed it and we both agreed to just put in a fiver each and buy it on the spot.

    Tremendous fun, will be replaying. Lots.

  38. Dom says:

    I would love to have seen blizzard promise online play at a “later date” for starcraft 2. Looks very professional doesn’t it?