In playing Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, I found myself in the same position that I think most long-time gamers can land. Having played earlier Tomb Raider games, I was accustomed to the dark, exploratory nature of the game. Lara Croft, armed with only minimal gear (including endless pistol rounds), advanced skill in combat and gymnastics, and knowledge of ancient artifacts could take us on a dangerous and exciting journey to exotic ruins and far-off places. The latest installment takes me back to my time playing X-Men games on the Xbox many years ago, which relied on team combat and reliance on the thinnest comic stories. With this new installment in the series, I was conflicted as to which course I should take in recommending this game: one course starts with “Yes, if…” while the other starts with “No, but…” (although by the time you have read this paragraph, you will have seen my answer).
In Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, you play as the aforementioned Lara or one of three companions: rival archaeologist and treasure hunter Carter Bell and Horus and Isis, the son and wife of the Egyptian god Osiris. On their chance encounter in the Pyramids, these four have joined forces to defeat the evil Egyptian god Set, whose battle with Horus is a main theme in Egyptian mythology. A simple treasure hunt and snatching of cultural artifacts led to a dangerous journey to reform the god Osiris and save the world. While some previous Tomb Raider games have focused on Lara’s singular excursions through dark, ancient ruins that required a bit more deliberate motion, Temple of Osiris speeds up the action, with plenty of enemy traps, perilous escapes, and high-powered weaponry. Loot drops are frequent, and gems can be traded in to purchase upgrades and new items from chests strewn about the dungeons. Auxiliary items such as rings and pendants provide passive abilities, such as additional health, increased weapon strength, or expanded ammunition capacity. Given the timeframe, I spent my gameplay as Lara in the single player campaign.
The faster pace and general feel harken back to some of the X-Men or Marvel: Ultimate Alliance console games: quick running to each new area, combinations of terrain challenges and boss fights, and focus on skill with controller mechanics. Enemies are diverse, and the boss battles are creative. For example, defeating a serpent by shooting it may have been fun, but defeating a serpent by reflecting magic light against mirrors to destroy it while fighting off smaller minions made the experience more memorable and interesting. The game treats weapon ammo like mana or magic points from your average RPG, which, for this type of isometric, run-and-gun platformer, makes the game go by smoothly. I didn’t want to be concerned with grabbing various types of ammunition. Besides, once you’ve accepted the notion of fighting alongside Egyptian gods while firing dual pistols with unlimited bullets and an ancient rod used for shooting lightning, you can’t really complain about how your shotgun takes the same ammunition as your submachine gun. The supplemental items allow for a great customizable experience through each of the stages, and the controls are easy-to-use on even my inadequate PC.
What gave me a nagging feeling about the whole experience was the change of pace for the series. Ancient Egypt is a setting that has been done in many games, so I didn’t always have the feeling of discovering anything new. Collecting gems in order to complete bonus quests detracts from the immersive experience for me. I found myself cleaning a room for gems in a particular section, rather than awaiting the next encounter to defeat. My suspicion is that the game was designed primarily with multiplayer mode in mind, so it will be more enjoyable in multiplayer mode in some sort of co-opetition style, but I’ve always enjoyed Lara Croft as a solitary character against the world, searching for the next adventure and adrenaline rush.
At the end of my playthrough, I didn’t quite know which way to go on this one. In the end, I asked myself one question: did I have fun playing Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris? The answer is yes, it was enjoyable overall, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store. So if someone asks me if I would recommend this game, I would say “Yes, if you consider this a Lara Croft game and don’t consider this a Tomb Raider game”. One cannot simply raid tombs to be a Tomb Raider, but taken as is, you will have an enjoyable time with your friends over a nice epic battle against alligators and giant beetles.