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Just in case you missed the isometric adventure game Lara Croft an the Guardian of Light in 2010, you can now play the game for absolutely free. Square Enix has added the title to its "Core Online" platform, the ad-supported, browser-based game service it launched it August.
The game is supported on Chrome, Firefox, and IE browsers, and Mac users can play it using Chrome's Native Client. The game received positive reception from critics, despite being a fairly radical departure from the standard Tomb Raider series. It's a co-op adventure in which Lara teams up with a 2,000 year old Mayan warrior named Totec to recover the Mirror of Smoke.
Core Online currently hosts Hitman: Blood Money and Mini Ninjas, and still plans to release Tomb Raider Underworld and Gyromancer as promised in the initial announcement. As previously reported, the Core Online business model lets you choose between watching intermittent ads, or paying a fee to bypass them altogether.
Square Enix is launching a new Web-based gaming portal that offers some of the company's back catalog for free. The "CoreOnline" service lets you play Hitman: Blood Money or Mini Ninjas by either watching advertisements between chunks of the games, or paying a fee to bypass them.
The CoreOnline site (via GI.biz) only boasts those two games so far, but promises others on the way like Tomb Raider Underworld and Gyromancer. Save data is also stored on the cloud, so you can pick up from a different computer or browser at any time.
This isn't the first time the publisher has experimented with cloud gaming. During the launch of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the publisher included a free OnLive version of the game with every retail copy, leading to a scuffle with GameStop. It appears Square Enix is now more interested in pursuing its own platform, instead of partnering with the beleaguered streaming company.
"Square Enix is at the forefront of experimentation of new business and services models in the game industry," said Square CEO Yoichi Wada. "Through our CoreOnline technology service, users can access our content easily through the browser."
Square Enix and Sony Ericsson have just secured a partnership that will bring a number of the publisher's games to the first PlayStation-certified phone, the Xperia Play. Starting in November, Square will begin releasing games for the device on the Andriod marketplace, the first such offering being Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.
"This is just the start of what we plan to do together," said Ben Cusack, head of mobile for Square Enix Europe, "but right now, we are delighted to be able to show off the full potential of our games with this innovative smartphone, bringing them to life as our creators intended."
Previously released as a downloadable title for PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and iOS. Given Xperia Play's foundation on the Android OS, it's likely the game will find a wider Android release in the future.