Game Picks

December 10, 2010 

An established franchise constantly needs more than what made it great. For Lara Croft and the "Tomb Raider" series, "more" means a clean slate, a change in direction.

About the only thing that " Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light" (PS3; rated T; $14.99) has in common with the "Tomb Raider" games that made the Lara Croft name famous is the fact that Lara once again seems to have forgotten to put on half her outfit. Otherwise, as indicated by the lack of the "Tomb Raider" name in the title of this downloadable game, "Guardian of Light" is utterly unlike the "Tomb Raider" audiences have come to know.

We are still controlling Ms. Croft, but now we're doing so as we see her surroundings in an isometric viewpoint not unlike PC dungeon crawlers "Diablo" and "Torchlight." Combat exists here, and Lara is given quite the impressive arsenal by the end of the game, but it is secondary to the puzzle solving. Roll a giant ball here, climb up a spear in the wall there, and we have a game that prides itself on taxing the brain over the trigger finger.

Where "Lara Croft" is changing a perception built upon nearly 15 years of games, however, Sony's "Uncharted" franchise is still in its relative adolescence. The "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves" Game of the Year Edition (PS3; rated T; $59.99;) sees a franchise doing what it takes to maintain its lofty reputation while still trying to attract new gamers.

The single-player centerpiece of "Uncharted 2" remains the same -- that is, it's the closest thing to "playing an action movie" as video games have yet managed. What makes the Game of the Year edition attractive, however, are the extras thrown in that encourage multiplayer play.

Perhaps most notable is the "currency multiplier" featured in this edition, which doubles multiplayer experience up to level 10. This allows new players to quickly get to the point where they "fit in" with some of the more established players of Uncharted's underreported but robust multiplayer experience. The "Siege" expansion map pack is here as well, not to mention various less gameplay-oriented goodies like avatars and virtual comics.

There's nothing here that will make current owners of "Uncharted 2" want to shell out cash for the same game again; still, as a means of reaching out to a new audience, this edition might just have enough icing to make the skeptics give it a shot.

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