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Temple of Osiris is an unashamed celebration of old-school Lara Croft

By Chris Scullion on Wednesday 23rd Jul 2014 at 2:16 PM UTC

Although most eyes are understandably fixed on the upcoming Rise Of The Tomb Raider, it's worth bearing in mind that the sequel to last year's brilliant Tomb Raider reboot isn't the only game on the horizon to star Ms Croft.

Indeed, long before players will be able to get their hands on the further adventures of the new-look Lara, they'll first have the opportunity to control old-school Lara one more time.

Lara Croft And The Temple Of Osiris, which Square Enix tells us is coming on December 9, is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Lara Croft And The Guardian Of Light. As the name suggests, neither are Tomb Raider games in the strictest sense of the word, even though there are plenty more tombs being raided here than in most of Lara's recent outings.

Instead, Temple Of Osiris - like its predecessor before it - offers more arcade-like gameplay, with an isometric viewpoint and faster movement and combat. Stages consist of a number of distinct rooms, each with a puzzle or two that needs to be solved in order to progress through the titular temple.

Lara isn't just doing this for a laugh, mind. She and rival archaeologist Carter Bell have discovered the long-hidden Temple Of Osiris, but when Carter finds and removes the legendary Staff of Osiris, a curse is placed upon them both.

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The Staff also awakens a number of Egyptian gods, including the evil Set, brother of Osiris, who decides he's going to use his newfound resurrection to take over the kingdom.

However, it also awakens Horus and Isis, the son and wife of Osiris and very much good eggs. They decide to help Lara and Carter fight their way through the temple in order to resurrect Osiris himself so that he may kick Set's rump and send him back from whence he came.

The game is designed with co-op in mind with up to four players controlling Lara, Carter, Horus and Isis. The version we played only allowed us to play with two players, Lara and Isis.

Lara is armed with her trademark dual pistols, as well as a grappling hook she can use to attach to golden hoops throughout the temple. Isis, meanwhile, can use her staff to fire bright beams of light, and can also crouch down to create a light sphere around her.

Although Carter and Horus were unplayable in the version we played, in-game tutorials suggested they had similar abilities to Lara and Isis respectively.

"Temple Of Osiris, like its predecessor before it, offers more arcade-like gameplay with an isometric viewpoint"

Each room's puzzles, then, are designed to have players working together and using their unique abilities to help each other proceed. Take large walls, for example. If there's a golden hoop at the top of one then Lara will be able to grapple and climb up it, then throw her grapple at her partner and pull them up.

If there isn't anywhere for Lara's grapple to cling onto, then Isis can instead use her light sphere move to create a forcefield strong enough for Lara to jump onto, using her as a makeshift platform so she can climb the wall. Then, as before, she can grapple Isis and pull her up.

We asked what would happen if a player didn't want to chum up with another and fancied going it solo instead, so we were shown the single-player version in action.

With only Lara involved, each room is slightly tweaked so she can still access all the areas she otherwise wouldn't have been able to. Sections without grapple points now have them, and areas in which two different characters would have had to activate switches now only have one switch.

There's also an extra little cut-scene added to the start in which Isis gives Lara her staff, therefore letting her use all of Isis's magical staff powers without needing to have her tag along for the ride in AI form.

While it's undeniably a spiritual successor to the fun Guardian Of Light, it's still clear that Temple Of Osiris has had some tweaks to both its look and feel.

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Controlling Lara feels slightly more slippery than before, and her movements don't seem to have as much weight to them as they did before. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just feels different.

An undoubtedly welcome addition however is the game's greatly improved visuals. While at first glance it may not look a million miles from the previous release, the addition of real-time lighting makes some sections look fantastic.

The most notable example is an area in which Lara and Isis both have to roll massive balls around a large platform and onto two switches. Each ball has large holes cut into it and in the middle is a glowing flame, so when a ball is pushed the light shines through the holes, creating a sort of disco ball effect that fills the room. Blatantly included to show off the lighting, but lovely to look at all the same.

It takes a little while to get used to old Lara again after putting so much emotional investment into the Lara of 2013's reboot. Despite having controlled the cocksure Croft numerous times over an 18-year period, the vulnerable and inexperienced 'new' Lara redefined the character so effectively that it can initially be jarring to once again return to what was left behind.

It's also odd to be back in cheesy dialogue territory again, with Keeley Hawes - ditched from the reboot - returning to voice Lara for the fifth time and being given, from what we've played so far, a slightly cheddar-scented script to work with.

"Hurry, do not falter", she calmly and unconvincingly instructs her partner as the two are chased along a crumbling bridge by a massive mythical part-crocodile, part-lion, part-hippo creature. Our 'new', less headstrong Lara wouldn't be quite so assertive.

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But it doesn't matter, because this isn't trying to be the 'new' Lara. Temple Of Osiris is an unashamed celebration of the old Lara, the one who sponsored Lucozade and appeared on the cover of The Face and was praised and criticised in equal measure.

If the reboot was the gaming equivalent of cave-based horror film The Descent, this is very much back in Angelina Jolie territory again, and it makes no apologies for this. From what we've seen its clear this is no tale of innocence lost, of inner strength discovered, of privilege being replaced by primal instincts.

This is the return of the seemingly invincible Lara Croft, the one with infinite ammunition who will happily clear a room full of baddies without breaking a sweat and find some spare time to wipe out an entire species of bear while she's at it.

While there can be no denying that Rise Of The Tomb Raider will be Ms Croft's next major role, from what we've played of Temple Of Osiris we're convinced it'll keep long-time Lara lovers happy.

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