Each level has a small cacophony of challenges available. Finishing these within the parameters - which are displayed on screen as a tip if you choose to leave tips on - grants you an Artifact or Relic. Each player can carry two Artifacts and one Relic, all of which boost your stats (sometimes at the expense of another). With more than 30 weapons to choose from and over 60 Artifacts and Relics available, you can create a highly customized loadout that carries back and forth from single-player to co-op, and vice versa. However, if you so choose: you can actually complete the game without ever equipping anything more than just your default weapons.
All fans of co-op will appreciate the Halo-style "death" mechanic in The Guardian of Light. Falling off of a ledge (which is hard to do, thanks to the quick reflexes of Lara and Totec, who will automatically grab hold) or getting blown up usually renders a player immediately dead, but getting downed in combat gives the other player a chance to revive their partner with a quick press of the action button. If someone manages to get killed, all their cohort need do is to stay alive for about six seconds while the respawn timer counts down. The only penalty for dying is a half-full health bar upon respawning.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is a co-op hit, as far as I’m concerned. The campaign should last the average co-op pair about eight hours. After the campaign is complete, there are enough unlockable items and secrets to keep players coming back for a long time to come. The only two real complaints that I have are that online support is still pending (a huge detraction for what is otherwise one of my favorites this year), and that there isn’t a version available for portable platforms - I would love to see a PSP version, even if the controls had to be pared down.
Crystal Dynamics has delivered. I feel the responsibility to detract some kudos for the lack of online support, but otherwise I’d be holding The Guardian of Light on the highest pedestal I could. I hear that some extra content is coming in October - here’s hoping for plenty more isometric Lara Croft in the future.
The Co-Op Experience: Play as Lara or Totec in this isometric view shooter/puzzle hybrid where players must work together to kill enemies and solve environmental puzzles.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.