GDC 2010 Preview: Lara Croft & The Guardian of LightBy Andrew Pfister - Posted Mar 16, 2010
No, Lara Croft & The Guardian of Light is not a regular Tomb Raider game. Yes, Crystal Dynamics is still planning on making regular Tomb Raider games. Changing Lara’s perspective from fully 3D to an overhead fixed viewpoint is not cause for panic, nor does it appear to be a hastily-thought out experiment: the guys in charge are just taking the Tomb Raider ingredients and turning it into a new downloadable recipe.
It’s a move not entirely unheard of: the first Killzone on the PS2 was a first-person shooter, but its PSP counterpart Killzone: Liberation was an isometric action game. So, too, is Guardian of Light -- a predominantly cooperative action game for two human players. One person controls Lara, who has pistols with unlimited ammo, a grappling cable, and the same agility she’s always had. The other player controls Totec, a resurrected deity who once battled the game’s primary villain many moons ago. He possesses a powerful shield, throws spears, and quickly learns to appreciate the convenience of modern-day assault rifles.
It’s the interaction between Lara and Totec that makes up the core of Guardian of Light’s gameplay, which does in fact pull from classic Tomb Raider exploratory conventions. If Lara needs to climb somewhere, Totec’s shield can provide a boost, and his spears can serve as makeshift ladder rungs. Lara can easily wall run across a chasm, but Totec needs some help, so Lara’s grapple cable can pull him across, or even catch him in a mid-air jump. It’s these moments of trust between two players that Crystal Dynamics really wants to explore (that I’ve since dubbed “Couch Trust”) in the massively vertical level design.
They’re so dedicated to the human cooperative concept that if you play single-player, you only play as Lara, with her inheriting all the necessary weapons and tools, and the level design tweaked to accomodate just a single hero.
The team views recent downloadable games like Shadow Complex and Trials HD as inspiration for Guardian of Light, and considering the thought put into the co-op play and that it actually uses the regular Tomb Raider graphical engine, it looks to be just as meaty as those games. And even though it looks different, plays different, and the words are omitted from the title, there’s still a lot of Tomb Raider happening here.