Lara Croft and the Couch of Co-op [Preview]
There are two kinds of Lara Crofts in this world. There's the super-serious, gritty young woman at the heart of the recent Tomb Raider reboot, and there's the adventurous, gun-slinging veteran archaeologist we came to know and love prior to Crystal's dramatic re-envisioning. That latter is the star of Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, the sequel to 2010's Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, and her return is a most welcome one.
We really enjoyed 2013's Tomb Raider. It was a brilliant way to reboot a beloved character and introduce newcomers to one of the most celebrated female icons in video game history. That said, we did miss the classic Lara. Apparently Crystal did, too, and the developer has brought her back, along with few new friends, in another rousing isometric twin-stick shooter. There'll be new weapons and new puzzles, but most importantly, you'll be able to play with not one, not two, but three other friends all from the comfort of your own couch.
At New York Comic Con we tried out full experience with a few of the developers, and found there was plenty of action to split among everyone. That's because Temple of Osiris scales its content to the number of players currently involved in the action. The more people that are playing, the more enemies that will appear on screen. The same goes for puzzles. If you're playing alone, environmental puzzles are going to be fairly simple to overcome. But if you've got the full regiment with you, everyone will have to work together to traverse pits full of spikes, open gates using a series of mirrors, or even boost buddies up to unreachable heights.
Of course, completing the various tombs in the temple is nice and all, but it's also about making sure your friends get lower scores than you do. There's a bit of that ol' coopetition in this Lara Croft game, and it certainly makes things more hectic when you've got a few friends involved. You can respawn endless times, but dying saps you of all your earned gold and jewels, as well as reducing your score quite a bit. As such, it's sometimes advantageous to plant a bomb on the ground to explode a friend so you get a higher score. Sometimes it's just fun to do because watching them explode is hilarious.
In our time with Temple of Osiris, we ran through two different sections, and took on two different bosses. One was a simple chase escape, but the other required some deft teamwork to overcome. Where Lara and the other playable archeologist use standard firearms, there are two Egyptian characters who each use magic staffs. Using some mirrors in the stage, we carefully lined up magic beams to cut into the boss' life force. Meanwhile, those with the machine guns laid waste to the frequently spawning waves of attacking skeletons and scarabs. It didn't take long, but that didn't mean it wasn't enjoyable. The bite-sized action is perfect for drop-in, drop-out co-op, and keeps things fresh. You're never slogging through lengthy tombs with complicated traps and puzzles. You're just blasting away with friends having a good time.
There's a fairly large world map for the main story, as well as challenge areas which will open up as you progress. Coupled with the huge array of unlockables with which you'll be able to customize your characters, and it's clear there'll be plenty of replay value with TOO, too. What we got to sample a short time ago was merely a glimpse at what Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris was going to offer, and we can't wait to hike up our boots and uncover all the secrets later this year.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is due on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on Dec. 9.