Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
No one expected Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light to work—Tomb Raider fans most of all. Who knew the idea of a third-person isometric title with puzzles, light platforming, and barrages of pistol fire would be received well by both fans and critics alike? By all accounts, this could have easily been a game that people would remember as a nifty spin-off, a standalone proof of concept. But luckily, Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics are expanding the franchise behind the one-hit wonder with Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris.
The major upgrade from the original is the introduction of four-player cooperative action, starring the titular British archeologist and a strapping upstart named Carter Bell, who reaches the legendary Staff of Osiris in the Egyptian Temple of Set before she does. Of course, this sets off a chain reaction of epic proportions and releases an ancient evil, the god of chaos otherwise known as Set, from the crypt. (Haven't they watched The Mummy? Bad things happen when you touching anything in an Egyptian tomb.)
Both Lara and Carter are cursed and marked for death, but the retrieval of the Staff of Osiris also frees Horus and Isis, Osiris' son and wife who were imprisoned by Set. But if this newly formed team can reach and resurrect Osiris from his grave in time, cracking the skulls of monsters driven mad by Set's power, then this ancient evil can be expunged from the world.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris operates more or less like a twin-stick shooter, except that the right trigger must be depressed to fire each shot. Lara and Carter begin the game with small arms with infinite ammo, along with grappling hooks they can use to attach onto large gold rings, rappel themselves up walls, and assist Horus and Isis in crossing obstacles. Horus and Isis, on the other hand, both come equipped with a magical staff that can fire a steady stream of evil-purging light. For a handy assist, they can conjure an orb of protection around their bodies, which shields them from projectiles but also allows companions to jump on top of the orb to reach ledges.
Action switches often between eradicating all manner of undead abominations and puzzles involving the orbs and grappling hooks. Heroes can drop and detonate bombs on the floor (oh gosh, the friendly fire), roll away from projectiles, and evade under obstacles, which is handy when being chased by a giant beast on a narrow pathway. Along the way, treasure can be obtained for a higher score, which doesn't mean much beyond reaching bronze, silver, and gold score challenges. More importantly, additional weapons like assault rifles (not sure how Horus and Isis know how to use them, but whatever) and enchanted rings and armor can be equipped for minor buffs.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris releases on December 9, 2014 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.