Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is an upcoming isometric platform action video game developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix for the PC, PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade as part of the Tomb Raider series for digital download. It is scheduled to be released in the middle of 2010. Unlike previous games in the series, the game does not carry the Tomb Raider brand and will have a heavy emphasis on cooperative gameplay, both online or locally.
In the multiplayer, players will take the role as either Lara Croft or a 2,000 year old Mayan warrior named Totec. They will have to work together in order to stop the evil spirit Xolotl and retrieve the Mirror of Smoke. A single-player campaign mode will be available that will have a different storyline and will not include the non-playable character AI following or helping Lara. Guardian of Light will use the same game engine as Tomb Raider: Underworld, and will include modern visuals and physics. The video game was shown at E3 2010 on 14 June and will be released for the Xbox Live Arcade on 18 August 2010 and in September for the PC and PlayStation Network.
The game will be a departure from the main series as being a third person adventure game. Instead it will be a non-linear "arcade-inspired" action game played from an isometric viewpoint using a fixed camera. The game also features cooperative gameplay, and players will take control of either Lara or an ancient Mayan tribesman named Totec. Each playable character will possess unique weapons and skills. Lara will retain her dual pistols with infinite ammo and a grappling hook. She will be able to use her grappling hook to make it across difficult gaps and Totec can ride along. Totec will carry spears which can be used as a weapon and on the environment. Both characters will carry unlimited "bombs" that can be dropped and detonated with a press of a button.
Tombs can be explored and some will have "booby-trap puzzles" to solve. The game will not have any loading times.
Guardian of Light may be played with a single player, and a second player may join at any time, whether online or locally. In the single-player campaign the only playable character is Lara; Totec will not be available to assist. Lara will have all the tools required along with new abilities to make it through her own unique adventure. The puzzles and bits of the map will also be different. Creative director Daniel Neuberger said that this was because he did not want the player to get frustrated by having to rely on AI. The campaign will reportedly feature up to eight to ten hours of gameplay.
In multiplayer, teamwork will have a heavy emphasis on gameplay. Lara will be able to use Totec's shield as a portable platform as he holds it above his head to make it a difficult height. She may balance on a stack spears that Totec throws in the wall; the spears will not be able to hold Totec's weight. Totec can tightrope walk using Lara's grappling rope. As the game progresses, Totec will learn from Lara how to use modern weapons, such as rifles. When enemies are killed, point scores will appear above their bodies—red or blue—depending on whether Lara or Totec did the damage. There will also be pick-ups, such as gems, scattered throughout the levels that will increase the player's score. Receiving high scores in each level will reward the player with unlockables. To add competitiveness into the game there will only be a limited number of enemies and gems in the world so the player must beat their partner to kill and grab them all. The multiplayer mode will reportedly feature up to six to eight hours of gameplay, depending on teamwork.
Guardian of Light will star Lara Croft, a fictional English archaeologist and Totec, an ancient Maya warrior and leader of the Army of Light. Both will be playable characters. An evil spirit called Xolotl will be the antagonist. Some of his minions that he makes come to life will include: giant spiders, demon like creatures, and huge trolls. Lara will again be voiced by Keeley Hawes.
2,000 years ago in ancient Central America, a battle began between Totec, the Guardian of the Light, and Xolotl, a dark spirit. After Totec defeated Xolotl he banished him and entombed himself in the Temple of Light along with the magical Mirror of Smoke to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. In present day, Lara Croft finds the temple and Mirror but mercenaries follow behind and steal it from her. Xolotl and Totec are awaken from their tombs by the chaos and Xoloti kills the mercenaries and runs away with the artefact. Totec blames Lara for the whole disaster, but realises that they will need to work together in order to retrieve the Mirror and defeat Xolotl.
Guardian of Light will not be a part of the main Tomb Raider brand, instead it is intended to start a new series simply titled, "Lara Croft". Brand director Karl Stewart said, "When Underworld was finished, that was an end to the trilogy, and kind of the end of a whole era for us. We took a step back as a studio and spent a couple of months experimenting, trying to make a decision on how to go forward". He also stated that everyone who worked on the previous three Tomb Raider games also worked on the Guardian of Light. Guardian of Light will use the same game engine as Tomb Raider: Underworld and will feature real-time lighting effects, realistic shadows and "tons" of physics-based objects. Vegetation will sway in the wind and react when the player walks through it and water will splash as the player runs through it. The environments will have a "nice sense of scale". Crystal Dynamics stated on their Facebook page that development on Guardian of Light has not affected development on Tomb Raider 9, the next main installment in the franchise.
Guardian of Light was shown at E3 2010 on 14 June. It will be released as a download only title and is scheduled to be released on Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade on 18 August 2010. It will be released approximately a month later for the PC and PlayStation Network. Karl Stewart said, "The agreement with Microsoft is, in order to participate in their hugely successful Summer of Arcade promotion there is a window of exclusivity. That window of exclusivity is a set four weeks." The PC download will be distributed exclusively by the DRM digital distribution platform Steam. The download will be approximately 2 GB.