Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is an isometric platform action video game developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix for the PC, PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade as part of the Tomb Raider series for digital download. Unlike previous games in the series, the game does not carry the Tomb Raider brand and has a heavy emphasis on cooperative gameplay, both online or locally.
In the multiplayer, players take the role as either Lara Croft or a 2,000 year old Mayan warrior named Totec. They must work together in order to stop the evil spirit Xolotl and retrieve the Mirror of Smoke. A single-player campaign mode is available that does not include the non-playable character AI following or helping Lara. Guardian of Light uses the same game engine as Tomb Raider: Underworld, and includes modern visuals and physics. The video game was shown at E3 2010 on 14 June and was released for the Xbox Live Arcade on 18 August 2010, but online co-op gameplay will not be enabled until 28 September, the day of the PC and PlayStation Network release.
The game is a departure from the main series as being a third person adventure game. Instead it is a non-linear "arcade-inspired" action game played from an isometric viewpoint using a fixed camera. The game also features cooperative gameplay, and players can take control of either Lara or an ancient Mayan tribesman named Totec. Each playable character possess unique weapons and skills. Lara retains her dual pistols with infinite ammo and a grappling hook, which she is able to use to make it across difficult gaps and Totec can ride along. Totec carries spears which can be used both as a weapon and on the environment. Both characters carry unlimited "bombs" that can be dropped and detonated. Tombs can be explored and some will have "booby-trap puzzles" to solve. The game will not have any loading times.
Guardian of Light may be played with a single player, and a second player may join at any time, whether online or locally. In the single-player campaign the only playable character is Lara; Totec will not be available to assist and Lara will have all the tools required along with new abilities to make it through her own unique adventure. The puzzles and bits of the map are also different. Creative director Daniel Neuberger said that this was because he did not want the player to get frustrated by having to rely on AI. The campaign will reportedly feature up to eight to ten hours of gameplay.
In multiplayer, teamwork has a heavy emphasis on gameplay. Lara is able to use Totec's shield as a portable platform as he holds it above his head to make it a difficult height. She may balance on a stack spears that Totec throws in the wall but the spears are not be able to hold Totec's weight. Totec can tightrope walk using Lara's grappling rope. As the game progresses, Totec learns from Lara how to use modern weapons, such as rifles. When enemies are killed, point scores will appear above their bodies—red or blue—depending on whether Lara or Totec did the damage. There are pick-ups, such as gems, scattered throughout the levels that increases the player's score. Receiving high scores in each level rewards the player with unlockables. To add competitiveness into the game there is a limited number of enemies and gems in the world so the player must beat their partner to kill and grab them all. The multiplayer mode reportedly features up to six to eight hours of gameplay, depending on teamwork.
Guardian of Light stars Lara Croft, a fictional English archaeologist and Totec, an ancient Maya warrior and leader of the Army of Light. An evil spirit called Xolotl is the antagonist. Some of his minions that he makes come to life include: giant spiders, demon like creatures, and huge trolls. Lara is again voiced by Keeley Hawes and Totec is newly voiced by Jim Cummings.
Two-thousand years ago in ancient Central America, a battle began between Totec, the Guardian of the Light, and Xolotl, the keeper of darkness. Totec's army was defeated when Xolotl used the mirror of smoke to unleash hordes of ghastly creatures. Totec survived said battle, and found a way to defeat Xolotl, imprisoning him in the mirror of smoke and watching over the mirror as an immortal stone statue. In present day, Lara Croft reads of the legend and attempts to find the mirror. After a long and dangerous hike she is successful. She stops to observe the mirror, only to find the a band of mercenaries; led by the local warlord, followed her into the temple and took the mirror from her. Unknowing, or unbelieving of the curse opun the mirror, the leader of the mercenaries handles the mirror and recklessly releases Xolotl. The stone statue of Totec comes to life and warns Lara that Xolotl must be stopped before the light of dawn. Depending on whether you are in single player or not, Lara and Totec will either join forces or go separate ways to try and stop Xolotl.
Guardian of Light is not part of the main Tomb Raider brand, instead it is intended to start a new series simply titled, "Lara Croft". Brand director Karl Stewart said, "When Underworld was finished, that was an end to the trilogy, and kind of the end of a whole era for us. We took a step back as a studio and spent a couple of months experimenting, trying to make a decision on how to go forward". He also said that everyone who worked on Underworld also worked on the Guardian of Light. Guardian of Light uses the same game engine as Tomb Raider: Underworld and features real-time lighting effects, realistic shadows and "tons" of physics-based objects. Vegetation sway in the wind and react when the player walks through it The environments have a "nice sense of scale".
The game's producer Forest Large said in a podcast that New Orleans, LA was considered as a location; though due to time restraints, the location was ultimately decided to be set in Central America and elements from previous games, such as plants, were borrowed and modified for Guardian of Light. Crystal Dynamics stated on their Facebook page that development on Guardian of Light has not affected development on Tomb Raider 9, the next main instalment in the franchise.
Lara Croft And The Guardian Of Light uses recycled musical cues from Tomb Raider: Legend, Tomb Raider: Anniversary & Tomb Raider: Underworld by composer(s) Troels Brun Folmann & Colin O'Malley. No official release has been made.
Template:VG Requirements Guardian of Light was shown at E3 2010 on 14 June. It is a download only title and was released on Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade on 18 August 2010. Co-op online gameplay will not be enabled until the 28 September, the day of the PC and PlayStation Network release. Karl Stewart said, "The agreement with Microsoft is, in order to participate in their hugely successful Summer of Arcade promotion there is a window of exclusivity. That window of exclusivity is a set four weeks." The PC download will be distributed exclusively by the digital distribution platform Steam. The download will be approximately 2 GB.
Guardian of Light will receive extended support after its official release date with five downloadable content packs, which are expected to be released from October through December 2010. Three of the packs will contain new maps and puzzles, while the other two will feature alternate playable characters.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light received critical acclaim. The Xbox 360 version of the game holds an average score of 86% on the game aggregator Metacritic, based on 60 reviews. On another aggregator site, Game Rankings, the Xbox 360 version has a 88.21% percent score based on 38 reviews.
Daemon Hatfield of IGN gave the Xbox 360 version of the game a rating of 8.5 whilst saying "Guardian of Light is the best Tomb Raider game in a long time." Though he said the story and dialogue are "definitely the weakest parts of this game". Chris Watters of GameSpot also gave the Xbox 360 version a 8.5 rating, and said "Punctuated by clever puzzles and lush visuals, each level begs to be replayed thanks to the varied and enticing challenges that promise substantial rewards". They did however, criticise the "cheesy and forgettable plot." Tom Hoggins from telegraph.co.uk stated "Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light restores the queen of adventure to her former glory".
Matt Cabral of GamePro also gave the game a positive review, giving the game 4.5/5 and saying "A seamless blend of the series’ trademark puzzling, exploration and combat gameplay in a neat new package". Like most critics, GamePro expressed that the game's weak point was the storyline, but added "Guardian of Light signals a triumphant return for one of gaming’s most iconic heroines". This turned out to be a popular opinion. Keza MacDonald of Eurogamer gave Guardian of Light a 9 out of 10 and stated "The story is cheesy nonsense but Lara is cool as ever, responding to the appearance of massive lizard demons with a calm 'Oh, my goodness'". Meagan VanBurkleo of Game Informer gave the game a 9 out of 10, closing her review with "In taking a chance with Guardian of Light, Crystal Dynamics rediscovered Lara’s latent potential. For those of you concerned with the direction this ancillary title has taken, rest easy. We now know that Lara Croft is as versatile as she is flexible".
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