Let me start off by saying how much I was wrong about Crystal Dynamics and Square-Enix’ Lara Croft and the Temple Of Osiris at first glance.
After reading, but never trying, good things about previous entry, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, I was looking forward to having a bash on this “isometric platformer” but after only 5 minutes of installing the game, I didn’t like it. It felt rough and unpolished, similar to putting a Ferrari engine inside of a Fiat Panda. Even the title screen annoyed me. The comic book style cut scenes with voice actors had the personality of a lump of coal and were almost certainly evidence of the low budget. However I tried my best to give it a fair shot and followed the story intently. I was drawn in to the sense of urgency the opening scenes conveyed. The story builds like something big or impressive is about to happen, like your next move will be imperative to the story, like someone is cranking the octane to ten, the volume to eleven, like the pace and action is about to fly out of the TV and slap you in the chops! But it doesn’t. Nothing happens. So needless to say my initial impression was fairly poor and I started to explore the Lara Croft world laid out before me begrudgingly. Then, only ten minutes in, the strangest thing happened… I was actually enjoying myself. In fact I found myself playing for a good four hours before accepting I needed sleep. Like the puzzles and challenges before me, there is far more to it than meets the eye. This instalment of the Lara Croft games actually reminded me of all that was fun about the franchise. The problem solving aspect of the game is back in spades and although most puzzles are simple enough. I sometimes found myself scratching my head wondering if an evil genius devised the gameplay or I was being a dumb ass. Then adding more players to the game via local or Xbox live, the intensity and frustration grows. I tried introducing the game to my lovely wife to get her views on gameplay and ease of play… The only time we have ever argued so much was the Monopoly incident of 2009. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance of working in a group of four but something tells me it would be a hell of a riot. The general premise is an evil old god is being evil and you need to stop him. You do this with the help of your god friends and rival, Carter Bell. To do so, you must explore nine different tombs, each with varying levels of difficulty and design. Some use water as a key feature in the puzzles, while others use spikes, flames, ice flames (??) and weird green eyeball, gas leaking things (??) Using the overhead view, you get a better view of these tombs in all their glory. That being said, don’t expect world beating graphics, this is still an average budget game. Also, nearly all of what you see is unexplorable but it still looks nice and adds to the depth and individual feel of each tomb. Then once completed, a set of 5 challenge tombs await to test your grit and problem solving further. Don’t expect an easy ride with these puzzles, as the main game and story are only 6 to 7 hours long, they will certainly give you plenty to think about to keep you locked in the game for a little longer. Throughout the Solo and Co-op play you can unlock an armoury of weapons, rings and amulets. Some of these seem un-necessary but fun never the less to try and unlock them by completing set tomb challenges. Part of the games intent to keep you playing is to unlock all of these items but this is optional. Achievement whores need only apply. One of my minor gripes was that the controls were often clunky and left me feeling a bit ham fisted. I couldn’t decide if the overhead view was causing problems or the controls themselves. But something didn’t quite feel right. There are only so many times you can accidentally fall to your death without getting a little bit of a rage.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this addition and I may even pick this back up for some of the end game challenges in the future. Although I did whinge about the cut scenes and story, the people at Square Enix have put time and effort into where it matters, the game play. I can only describe this as an enjoyable game, whose affordability only makes it more attractive than the lovely Lara herself. Now, where is that shower cheat code?
Story – 2/5
Graphics – 3/5
Gameplay – 4/5
Overall – 3/5
Version Reviewed – Xbox One