This post is part of a series exploring the history of the Tomb Raider series and its entries. Be sure to check out the hub article on NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog for links to all the great retrospectives written by other bloggers, and to find out more about what makes this franchise such a classic.
A few days after writing the draft for the post on my thoughts about Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, my other-half and I decided if was finally time to tackle the sequel. Restarting the original after a couple of years away from it, knowing we had to do so because of a promised stream and poor character development had made us reluctant to pick up the second game but there was no putting it off any longer: the TTomb Raider: Writers’ Raid collaboration needed us. And as I said last time, a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.
The story (and I use that term loosely) begins when our favourite archaeologist and rival Carter Bell find their way into the mysterious Temple of Osiris. As they race towards the Staff of Osiris however, Lara warns Carter to stop before they reach it but he doesn’t listen; and after picking up the relic, a curse befalls the companions. They join forces with imprisoned gods Isis and Horus to defeat the evil deity Set, gather all the fragments of Osiris and stop their enemy from enslaving all humanity. Simple.
My biggest problem with Guardian of Light was the poor plot and character development and unfortunately the sequel suffers from largely the same fate. Although the script this time isn’t so full of cheesy one-liners, it’s discouraging to have Lara take a back seat after getting to see her personality shine in the later Tomb Raider games. Here’s a tip: keep reminding yourself that this series is all about dangerous, puzzle-filled treasure hunts and you can almost manage to push the disappointment to one side.
Similar to its predecessor, Temple of Osiris takes the form of an arcade-inspired action game with a fixed isometric camera but this time around you can have up to four players join in. Each character once again possesses unique weapons and skills to enable the group to work together as a team; for example, Lara can help Isis reach higher levels using her grappling rope, while she can jump on top of her magic shield in return (these were the protagonists my other-half and I selected to play as respectively).
Where the title shines just as brightly as the treasure you gather is in its puzzles: it’s a lot of fun working together to figure out which levers to pull and switches to press without setting off any traps, and I can imagine it being great with a full team of four. The combat is a slightly different matter and although not completely unenjoyable, it feels as though it’s simply there to fill the gaps between puzzles. It’s also relatively easy throughout the entire gameplay, with the exception of a few boss fights.
Overall, Temple of Osiris is much the same as the previous game with a few improvements sprinkled in for good measure; and playing the sequel under different circumstances made me realise its predecessor wasn’t as bad as it felt at the time. It was having to return to a title we’d originally started two years ago, combined with the fact we had to play it because our Tomb Raider: Writers’ Raid stream had been scheduled, that had made it a painful experience. It wasn’t anything to do with the title itself.
We asked my stepson if he wanted to join in shortly before started playing, because he usually jumps at the chance to play something where all three of us can choose a separate character. As soon as he saw what this particular release entailed however, he was about as enthusiastic as we’d been about our return to Guardian of Light. He made his excuses and promptly left for the sanctuary of his bedroom, while we headed off into the underworld with Lara and Isis.
Although I wouldn’t refer to it as the best co-op title my other-half and I have ever played together, Temple of Osiris wasn’t too bad. The eight hours we spent with it were enjoyable enough and there was none of that are-we-on-the-last-level-yet feeling we’d experienced with the previous game. Neither myself or Pete are all that bothered about going back in to complete all the challenges or pick up the season pass though, so I think that’s the last we’re going to see of the archaeologist and her crew on this occasion.
For me personally, the Tomb Raider games work better when they’re in third-person action-adventure mode and Lara is the focus. Our heroine is an interesting character: no longer the pointy-boobed hotpant-clad model from our younger years and instead fully realised, with real personality and depth. She’s come a long way over the years and while I can appreciate the franchise trying something different, I’m not sure Guardian of Light or Temple of Osiris give her the attention she deserves.
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