Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light • Page 3

Tomb it may concern.

What if you don't have a partner? Neuburger confirms there is a solo play mode, but says the dynamics are slightly different: "We've actually enhanced Lara's abilities and we've hand-tailored the puzzles for our single-player experience - so we designed for co-op, and we used that as inspiration for the single-player."

That could be worrying news for Lara traditionalists who are all about solo adventuring and the sense of isolation. Isn't Neuburger concerned about alienating them? "It's something I do enjoy about the Tomb Raider games, that isolated feeling, but that's where our game is different," he says. "The situation Lara's in here is different to situations she's normally in, but she's still Lara - it's about how she would act and what she would do in this situation. Through and through, this is a Lara Croft experience and it is made for Tomb Raider fans, but it's an experiment. That isolation won't be lost in future Tomb Raiders to come, I'm sure."

Stewart point outs that everyone working on Guardian of Light worked on the previous three Lara games. "They know how to make sure the experience is there. We eat, sleep and breathe Tomb Raider. This game is about showing puzzles, exploration and combat in a unique way."

Which brings us to the question of how those three pillars are balanced in Guardian of Light. "We've tried to make it an exact split, or as close to that as possible, where you really get an even amount of them all," says Neuburger. "Legend was probably a bit more combat-heavy, Underworld was pretty combat-light, Anniversary was somewhere in-between. But this one's definitely more towards the even split."

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No matter how well this turns out, we'll never forgive them for that quick-time T-rex.

The combat shown during the demo looks arcadey and simplistic. Lara and Totec use heavy waves of bullets and spears to despatch enemies, which include glowing troll-like creatures and giant hairy spiders. Most of the puzzles shown are familiar - here's a switch to pull, here's a fire to put out, here are four holes in the ground which must be filled with four similarly shaped objects you'll find hidden in various corners of the level.

The difference is you need your partner to help you reach that switch, extinguish that fire and find all those objects. This is the other big idea in Guardian of Light - the co-op dynamic doesn't just improve your chances in combat, but changes the nature of exploration.

There's plenty to explore. The isometric viewpoint and the enclosed sections we're initially shown suggest the levels are cramped, but it becomes clear this isn't the case. Neuburger brings up a map so we can get an overview of the entire area. "You can see this is a really large, sprawling space. The gameplay here is completely non-linear, so you can get out and do whatever you want and along the way there are tons of puzzles, traps, surprises and rewards."

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