Let us begin by saying right off that we’re sort of rabid Tomb Raider fans. We liked even the lesser entries in the series, except Angel of Darkness, for obvious reasons. Even so, one does not need to be a Tomb Raider fan at all to enjoy Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. One also doesn’t need to play it in co-op – it’s still a tremendously fun experience when played alone. Before we get into the rest of the review, though, we should address Lara’s elephant in the mansion: the lack of online co-op for the initial release. In case not everybody knows, although we were all led to believe it would be an online co-op game from the get-go, instead it currently features only sit-next-to-your-buddy co-op, with online being released through a patch in about a month.
Above: In co-op, Lara has her guns, while Totec has spears and a shield - although he can also use guns after a little explaining. In single-player, Lara gets to have the spears as well, but no shield
This review assumes the online co-op is going to perform as well as the offline. We'll dock the score if this proves to be incorrect. Although we've not let the business decision impact the current score, we absolutely do not agree with it and would very much have preferred they simply delay the game until it was finished, Summer of Arcade be damned. That being said, we’ll get on with it.
If you’ve never liked Tomb Raider’s slow, methodical gameplay, or you grew tired of it after a few too many retreads, worry not: Lara Croft is still raiding tombs, but she’s doing it in a style closer to Diablo (visually) and Smash TV (gameplay-wise). That’s right: this is a twin-stick shooter as much as a platforming puzzler. Luckily, the shooting mechanics are anything but half-assed – they're smooth, fast, and exciting. The two key elements that make the action feel different from standard twin-stick shooters are the somersault and the bombs. The somersault will be familiar to Tomb Raider veterans, but here it’s extra nimble – a hurtling dart that can get you out of all kinds of tough situations. Combine this with the bombs and you have a more tactical approach to twin-stick shooting.
Above: The levels are amazingly massive in scope
The bombs, of which you have an unlimited supply, are plopped down one at a time, and triggered manually. They have a nice bright circle, colored red or blue depending on which player you are, which tells you their radius of explosion. This allows you to drop bombs with extreme precision. Running into a pack of enemies, dropping a bomb, somersaulting out of the group, and triggering the bomb just as you inch out of its radius is ridiculously satisfying, addictive, and most importantly, effective. The bombs are absolutely integral to the combat, especially later in the game or at higher difficulty levels when huge swarms of enemies come at you.
Above: When enemies swarm, whip out the bombs. In fact, just whip out the bombs always