Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is an isometric action adventure game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4.
Lara Croft became an iconic videogame character in 1996 when the first Tomb Raider game was released for the PS1 and received much attention for starring a female protagonist, while the original game was followed by four sequels on PS1 which saw the heroine gain even more prominence across the entertainment industry. During the transition to PS2; Angel of Darkness saw the series arguably lose its way somewhat, although it did massively bounce back with a series of successful titles including Legend and Anniversary on PS2 which were later re-mastered for PS3 in a trilogy story arc that also included Underworld which had previously released as the first Tomb Raider game on PS3. However, it was the terrific Tomb Raider reboot which has resulted in the Tomb Raider series and Lara Croft’s character being at the peak of their popularity and quality. The character and the series are certainly no strangers to spin-offs as there have even been a range of side projects such as Game Boy Advance spin-off games that are not considered to be connected to any of the story arcs found in the home console games, while there have even been two films starring Angelina Jolie and the production of a third film is planned to tell Lara Croft’s origin story. Upon entering Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris; the main question has to be if it can use the more powerful hardware of the PS4 to noticeably improve upon the quality foundation set by its isometric prequel Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light which released on PS3 in 2010?
The story revolves around the eponymous hero being in competition with another treasure hunter called Carter Bell as they are both looking to find the Staff of Osiris, but encounter far more than what they had anticipated as they are unaware that removing the Staff from its resting place would trigger a trap potentially dooming them both for all of eternity, while awakening Horus and Isis, the son and wife of Osiris who help Lara and Carter to resurrect Osiris and prevent the evil Set from returning. This motivation provides the story with the appropriate pacing as it becomes a story of life and death as Osiris is the only god capable of lifting the curse placed on Lara and Carter, while Horus and Isis have the further motivation of wanting Osiris to return in order to restore their family bond and the fragments of Osiris must be recovered to stop the evil god Set before he enslaves all of humanity.
Overworld acts as a central hub for all of the tombs that allows players to revisit them with ease and replay them to earn more gems, complete challenges and retry areas that have already been completed with different people in the team, while there are other intricate effects such as a weather system in which rain could flood an area with the rainwater freezing over, therefore creating a path to a new area that had not previously been explored. Overworld also houses the combat challenges which allow players the opportunity to activate a scenario in which wave after wave of enemies spawn with their soul purpose being to attack as the player desperately attempts to fight them off to survive.
There is a variety of in-game challenges to comlete, such as knocking skeletons onto spikes using remote bombs or achieving a bronze, silver or gold points tally will earn upgrades including an increase of maximum ammo capacity and increasing the player’s maximum health. Players can score points mostly by collecting bronze, silver and gold gems that are worth anywhere from 50 points to hundreds in a vast amount of ways such as from the surrounding environments that sometimes have gems out in the open; lighting torches with fire which usually produces two gems; placing a remote bomb in an area that has a crack in the ground will usually have three or four gems hidden underneath; destroying ancient vases to release their contents which will more than likely result in gems although health or ammo could be contained within them too and killing enemies will sometimes drop gems also, although there will on occasion be a bag full of gems to collect particularly after killing a larger or stronger enemy. However, there are also other methods of scoring points beyond collecting gems such as collecting red skulls with between 5 to 10 red skulls positioned throughout each level, while killing enemies will award points regardless of whether or not gems are dropped.
Lara’s journal comprises of an inventory, a map of the current area and challenges with the inventory including a weapons loadout, the Staff of Osiris, amulets, rings and costumes. Players will find new weapons scattered throughout the environments such as submachine guns, an assault rifle, a shotgun, bolt action rifle and much more besides, although they will consume ammo unlike a standard dual wielding pistols, while remote bombs also have infinite ammo and can be used to propel spheres up into the air during puzzles or lay traps for approaching enemies.
Lara possesses a grappling hook which is an essential tool as it hooks a rope onto a golden ring in order to scale the wall by swinging back and forth until there is enough momentum to jump onto the ledge or to even fire the hook at a golden ring or a player in the team to help form a rope for another player to cross a chasm by jumping onto and walking across it onto the rope, while the Staff of Osiris is another tool of extreme importance during puzzles and exploration as it is capable of activating Osiris Glyphs and refracting light off mirrors to create a path forward, although the Staff of Osiris can also be used as a weapon when aimed at enemies.
Players can collect amulets to gain powerful abilities that are capable of being shared with allies and activating newly acquired powers by dealing damage to enemies and collecting gems in order to activate the power meter of a selected amulet, which will remain active until the first occasion the player has taken damage following its activation with some amulets providing a single power to any weapon equipped such as the Iron Poison Flail which gives poisonous projectiles, while other amulets provide multiple powers such as the Copper Osiris’ Fire Flail which adds scatter shot and fire projectiles abilities and some amulets will even offer perks beyond improving weapons such as the Bronze Ice Spirit of Heb which not only provides an ice bomb, but also reduces the amount of time before another is ready to be used and even regenerates Lara’s health.
Similar to amulets; rings can be collected as players explore and provide various improvements to everything from weapon damage to ammo efficiency and even resistance to poison, fire and cold, although unlike amulets rings can mostly provide a weakness to counteract the strength that your chosen rings provide such as a reduced defence and weakness to cold and fire.
There are four characters main characters including Lara Croft in her traditional outfit from the original Tomb Raider games, another treasure hunter, the aforementioned Carter Bell and the son and wife of Osiris in the form of Horus and Isis with all four characters looking really well designed and animated. The enemy design ranges from a variety of mummies approaching at different speeds or the earlier mummies having no protection while the later variations have some form of shield to protect them from attacks; Scarab beetles that can bite or flaming Scarab beetles which can be just as hazardous as they are capable of setting the surrounding area and the chosen character on fire for a limited period of time; lizards and crocodiles, amongst many more enemies and even fights that see players pitted against Egyptian mythological creatures.
The environment design is quite imaginative as it is full of tombs, temples and ancient architecture to explore which really embraces Egyptian mythology with ancient ruins of huge monuments, pillars, blocks, sand and weather of biblical proportions from heavy rain causing flooding to thunder and even meteors at times.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris supports the share feature that allowsplayers to upload a video clip or a screen shot to Facebook or Twitter; and broadcast live gameplay footage via Twitch or Ustream as the game is being experienced with a simple tap of the share button and selecting the option of choice. The PS4’s hard-drive continuously stores the most recent fifteen minutes of gameplay footage, so players still have the chance to decide if they would like to share something amazing a few minutes after it has taken place. The share feature is a next-gen revolution that has only improved with the further customisation provided by the Share Factory app that allows commentary, music, themes, stickers, effects, text, picture-in-picture video between game footage and player’s reaction from the PlayStation Camera and much more besides, which will only continue to prosper and flourish as it matures with additional features and further experimentation in the future. The Share Play feature provides a platform for a gamer that does not own the game to take control of the game started, although it only lasts for one hour; it is a great service as it effectively presents a demo of the game to anyone invited who does not own it, while being an excellent sociable feature too.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris supports the remote play feature that allows play on almost any PS4 game on the PlayStation Vita via a Wi-Fi internet connection by pairing up the PS4 and Vita, then entering the code provided from the settings menu on the Vita’s PS4 Link application with the initial setup taking around only two minutes. The performance during remote play is excellent as the graphics, audio and general performance are all on par with the quality of the PS4 version, while the controls have mostly been appropriately optimised as the core controls remain the same with the touch pad mapped to the touch screen to open Lara’s inventory, but that is not all as firing the weapon has moved from R2 to R and using the Staff of Osiris has changed from L2 to L, although that has meant that firing the grappling hook has been reconfigured from R1 to the right of the rear touch pad and using fire to light the surroundings is the left of the rear touch pad rather than L1 which is the only criticism as it would have been better if they would have been mapped to the bottom left and right of the touch screen, although it is still a very functional control scheme as it is.
The downloadable content includes a season pass that enables players to purchase all of the packs for one affordable price of £7.99 and provides unique costumes to wear, new tombs to explore and treasure troves to seek out which collectively extends the game, while there is even a Hitman pack that is styled on Agent 47 which includes his signature weapon consisting of dual wielding Silverballers, the Hitman ring to provide increased weapon damage and more powerful remote bombs and an Agent 47 costume.
For players who would prefer to purchase a retail version of the game; it can be done so in the form of the Gold Edition which contains the full game on a disc as well as a redeem code voucher for the season pass, while being presented with a Lara Croft figure, a scrolling map and a full colour art book, though it is called a Gold Edition it comes across as more of a collectors version which really shows a lot of effort, care and attention to detail has been placed into creating the best retail version of the game for the Lara Croft and Tomb Raider fans to enjoy.
The controls are well mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the control scheme consisting of pressing X to jump; pressing square to roll or perform acrobatics; pressing triangle to plant an explosive to blast through a weak area of the environment; pressing O to interact with an object; pressing R1 to fire the grappling hook; pressing R2 to fire your weapon; pressing L1 to light a lantern with fire or use fire as a torch to provide light in dark surroundings; pressing L2 to activate Osiris Glyphs using the Staff of Osiris; pressing up, down, left or right on the d-pad to change weapons; pressing L3 to provide a voice chat indicator; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move the character; changing the direction of the right analogue stock to aim a weapon; pressing the share button takes the player to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. The touch pad is utilised as tapping the touch pad opens Lara’s journal, while the light bar remains white during menus and permanently displays a dark tone of red during single player gameplay, although it will change to bright yellow, blue or green to represent the character you have chosen to play as, alongside vibration when Lara is burned by an enemy who is on fire such as a flaming Scarab or is hit by a large and heavy object or enemy.
The graphics certainly possess qualities such as excellent lighting and shadows, great character animation and the destructible environments add a nice touch to the graphical detail as vases can be smashed, weak areas underfoot and in walls can be shattered, while the majority of the tombs and pillars can be destroyed by gunfire or remote bombs.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, find match, community, multiplayer, online leaderboards, downloadable content, options and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. The background of the menu screens revolves around the four main characters standing in front of a tomb as they lay in wait for what could be about to happen as a heavy wind gusts, while a flame lit torch lights the scenery.
Keeley Hawes returns as the voice of Lara Croft despite not voicing the lead role in the Tomb Raider reboot who was actually voiced by Camilla Luddington. Keeley Hawes has voiced Lara Croft since Tomb Raider Legend in 2006 with a further two Tomb Raider games in the form of 2007’s Tomb Raider Anniversary and Tomb Raider Underworld in 2008, while Keeley also voiced Lara for the first of the spin-off games Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, alongside starring in such television productions as Spooks and Ashes to Ashes. There are also more talented voice-over artists that all provide exceptional narration for each of their characters, such as Dorian Lockett who voices Carter Bell and who has previously voiced Alvin in The Walking Dead: Season 2; Rae Wright voices Isis; Jack Tilden voicing Set and Horus; and senior graphic artist Brenoch Adams who voices Osiris. The sound effects include running, jumping, using the Staff of Osiris, lighting a lantern on fire, shooting weapons and explosions, amongst other sounds, while there is atmospheric and climactic music composed by Wilbert Roget II who has also composed music for Dead Island 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic as well as having worked in the music department on both of the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed games and Monkey Island 2: Special Edition – LeChuck’s Revenge, amongst other high profile games and licenses. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation which is surprising as it could have showcased some of the excellent audio such as the voice-overs, sound effects or musical score.
The trophy list includes 12 trophies with 8 bronze, 3 silver and 1 gold trophy. The vast majority of the trophies are earned by naturally completing the game as 4 of the trophies are related to defeating a boss, while a further 7 of the trophies are story based, although the hardest trophy will most likely be the Tomb Raider gold trophy for completing all of the challenges. It is estimated that depending upon skill, a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 10 to 15 hours to 100% the trophy list.
There are no difficulty levels, although the difficulty curve adjusts to the amount of players within the group, therefore if playing the game in single player or with up to three players as allies; players will always feel the same level of difficulty as the gameplay will adapt by providing more enemies or changing a fundamental part of a puzzle. This is an excellent design choice as it prevents the game from being too easy when four players are playing the game together. There is also the case of the difficulty curve for the puzzles as each separate one does not take too long when players know what they are doing, but there is scope for some brain teasers that may potentially take some time to work out.
The local and online multiplayer supports two to four players with the ability to privately host a co-operative game by inviting friends to join the game or to open the game up to anyone to join whenever they want to or even lock everyone out of it by strictly playing solo. The performance of local and online multiplayer is consistently outstanding with more than competent matchmaking when searching for an online game or allowing players to join in yours, while there is a combination of local and online co-operative multiplayer as there could be two players locally and two players online, three players locally and one player online or vice versa which is certainly a positive design choice as it makes the multiplayer far more user friendly with fast paced action and puzzles that adapt to how many players are playing simultaneously within the same group.
There is a competitive element also referred to as co-opetition via collecting more gems, red skulls or treasure and killing more enemies to earn a better score in comparison to the players competing alongside. Co-opetition is certainly a great design choice as it adds far more to the multiplayer component than just helping others as players are also given the chance to beat them to each treasure trove, therefore increasing the pace and urgency of the gameplay and begs the question of loyalty to see the mission through as a team working on the same page or keeping a distance from the enemies, while leaving co-operative partners behind to fight off any enemies or even waiting until a higher powered weapon is earned to take your allies out with for a limited time until they respawn in order to earn the loot first.
The only major criticism of the local and online multiplayer is the restrictive screen particularly when playing in a group of four players as the camera angle only stretches so far accordingly to where the players are standing, so if one or two players are standing far away from the rest of the group, then it can seriously restrict movement for multiple enjoyment, therefore preventing a player from collecting gems or a red skull that would otherwise be within reach. The best solution to this age old problem that regularly occurs in single screen isometric games would have been to split the screen in this given scenario in order for half of the screen to focus upon one position and the other half of the screen to show other members of the group’s movement, so never losing track of where allies are headed, while still enabling the chance to wander off the beaten path to search for gems and red skulls. A further criticism would be that it is impossible for more than one player to choose the same character in local and online co-operative multiplayer which results in only one player per game being able to play as Lara Croft which can certainly be seen as a negative as more than one player per game would want to play as one of the most iconic videogame characters.
Community driven challenges consist of timed objectives as the community must work together on a weekly basis to achieve a large total sum in order to receive a reward such as the Burn Baby Burn objective for using SMGs to kill 5,000 exploding flaming mummies to be rewarded with a golden submachine gun and Bomb Voyage for using remote bombs to kill 1,000,000 Scarabs to be rewarded with a bronze set’s Crook and Flail.
The online leaderboards are focused on overall rankings, friends ranking and my score rankings with each leaderboard containing each player’s rank; name (PSN ID); the amount of points accumulated; the period of time the level was completed within; and the amount of deaths that has occurred for your character during the level with the positioning of each player based upon their total points scored for each particular level making for a total of 30 leaderboards when including the overall, friends and my score filters at launch with most likely more leaderboards to follow as downloadable content is released.
The replayability stems from a number of prominent areas such as the local and online co-operative multiplayer for two to four players, community challenges and online leaderboards that will collectively have you returning to the game long after first completion of each and every tomb.
Overall, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is perfect for fans of the Tomb Raider series and the iconic character, while taking a detour from what may be anticipated from the game as the isometric perspective makes this somewhat of a cross between Tomb Raider and Diablo. However, players should definitely still give it a try even if they do not usually play Tomb Raider or Lara Croft games and even if an isometric game has not been played before, this is an exceptional game with some interesting ideas that are really quite excellently executed. The digital version is great value as the game has a wealth of content, but the retail release is the best version to purchase due to all of the extras packed into it that are certainly designed with the Lara Croft and Tomb Raider fan at heart.
- Title: Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
- Developer: Crystal Dynamics
- Publisher: Square Enix
- System: PS4
- Format: Retail/PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1-4 (Local and Online Co-Operative and Competitive Multiplayer)/Online Leaderboards
- Hard Drive Space Required: 3GB (Version 1.02)