Scrapping the “Tomb Raider” title for various reasons, The Guardian of Light is a completely new experience by Tomb Raider standards. That being said, veterans of the series may loathe everything about this title; though it's highly unlikely.
Gameplay is now that of a dungeon crawler, with controls similar to dual-analog shooters. Various traps and puzzles still await you at (nearly) every turn, but the primary element of this game is battle. This fast paced gunplay is addictive and generally easy to learn. Lara can jump over enemies, drop explosive mines, dive out of harms way and kill monsters with stylish shotguns. Though simplistic, every fight was genuinely entertaining.
As you progress through the games many levels, you will come across new weapons and powerups. Nearly 30 weapons exist, as well as a plethora of stat modifiers. Though some of these unlockables will be found via normal progression; the best and most interesting ones will be awarded from completing challenges and optional puzzles. Each stage presents the player with a multitude of challenges such as collecting many hidden objects or “crossing a river without touching water.” Naturally some are simple with others being highly difficult. Being able to return to previous stages using new found equipment and stats is addictive- and I applaud Crystal Dynamics for providing an incentive for discovering hidden areas other than just Achievements.
Co-Operative gameplay was one of the main selling points for Lara Croft. You can currently play through the entire game with a partner in local Co-Op. Sadly, at launch, online Co-Op is unavailable. This will be ratified with a free patch around when the PS3 version is released. And to make up for this annoyance, Crystal Dynamics is offering the first of five DLC packs to you for free. This will be a limited time offer (Offer will last for 30 days) so be sure to snag that once it is released. Future DLC is hinting towards costume and level packs, even hinting that you will play as “very famous” gaming characters. Logical analysis points to Master Chief and Marcus Fenix.
Playing a cooperative session of Lara Croft changes up gameplay quite a bit. In single player, Lara is capable of progressing through levels on her own. In Co-Op, gamers must rely on one another. “Totec” (Lara's partner for this game) primarily makes use of his shield to aid Lara. Though the lack of online Co-Op is a major bummer for now, looking forward I'm pretty excited for the multiplayer sessions I'll be having.