Ok I know this game has received a lot of flack over the price. I was fortunate to grab it for 800 points, but that was only because I was anticipating this game and had logged on and was ready to pay 1200 for it.
I personally have some history with this franchise. I think I lost most of a summer playing Lode Runner on the Commodore 64, fighting through levels and then spending hours drawing out levels and then putting them together on the computer.
This game is an update of the same mechanics that made the old one so addictive. The graphics are now 3D and look really sharp and clear, but the same premise still applies - Collect all of the gold on a level before the bad guys can get you. Similar to N+ in gameplay you progress through levels and stages with an interesting transition between levels that lets you pick up bonuses to earn additional lives. The game has several environments to play in - mines, snow, fire/volcano, and a mechanical environment that changes while you move around it. 150 levels in all. The AI is pretty good - the guards will move to get at the same vertical level as you and then move across to you. You have a gun that drills away blocks in the floor that the guards fall into allowing you to slip by them. The effect is temporary and the blocks will return in a short time. In later levels there are some bombs to use also.
In addition to the single-player journey mode that takes you through the levels, there is free play which lets you go back to any level you already played, a puzzle mode that lets you try to work through different challenges that will definately make you think before you move since you can work your way into a dead end and have to start it over, and hang-on mode. This mode is similar to Horde in Gears of War 2. You start the map with a lot of gold on the map, then 2 guards appear at the start. After about 10 or 15 seconds, a second set of guards appear. A pair gets added every 15 seconds or so, so that before you know it you are running with 10 of them right behind you. If you can get to 30 seconds you are doing good. Depending on how much gold you get you are awarded a bronze, silver, or gold medal or diamond.
On multi-player there are a couple of modes. There is a co-op mode where you work with your partner on the same board. Each player has one guard chasing them. If one of you goes down, then both guards start chasing the remaining player. You do have an opportunity to revive the fallen player by getting to a revive point signified by a glowing spot on the board. You'll need to work together because there is some gold that can only be gained by one player standing on another's head. There is also a hang-on mode where you see who can live the longest over three rounds. Once one player goes down, he becomes a guard and chases down the other player.
As if that was not enough, there is also a level editor that lets you create your own levels for the different modes. You can share the map with others through a sharing component that lets you see a thumbnail of the maps before you download them. Like the old game, this gives the potential to play with hundreds of maps down the road.
The first batch of achievements are realatively easy to get. I snagged three of them quickly the first night within an hour or so. Some of them will take some time to get and will require you to take different approaches to the game.
Overall a lot to do with this game and a lot of replaying down the road. I'd give this game 4 stars (just hard to please) and I know a lot of people are up in arms over this game, but if I saw it on the store shelve for $15 I would not hesitate. Go ahead and download the trial and I think you'll you enjoy the game.