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Lara Croft | Guardian of Light | review | game | Lollipop

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

(Square Enix for Xbox Live Arcade)
By Mike Delano

The context of this downloadable title couldn't be more bizarre. It takes the legendary Tomb Raider series, which has been drifting in a less action/more exploration direction as of late, and makes it not only all action/puzzles and little to no exploration, but transforms it from a 3D platformer to a Smash TV-style top-down shooter. Beyond that, it drops the Tomb Raider moniker, even though there is plenty of tomb raiding going on in Guardian of Light, and not nearly as much Lara Croft as there was in the last franchise entry (what with her evil doppelganger and all). Luckily, all of these head-scratching decisions have no effect on the quality of the game itself, which is great. It's easily this year's Shadow Complex since it pushes the boundaries of what is expected from a downloadable XBLA game, both in terms of presentation (the environments look fantastic) and depth (there's a ton of meaningful customization options and a bunch of attainable mini-objectives that encourage replay). Most importantly, it's fun to play, whether you're blasting through the lengthy campaign yourself or tackling it with a friend (which is highly recommended, but not essential). It's a confusing turn for the Tomb Raider series, to be sure, but as a downloadable arcade title, it's a complete success.


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