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Tomb Raider Review

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Let’s get this out of the way. Don’t read this review if you’re expecting impossible jumps, crazy puzzles, and short shorts. This reboot isn’t for you my dear friend. Because this is a Tomb Raider game in name only. So run — run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. Okay, now that they’re gone let’s get down to business.

The Story – Tomb Raider explores the intense and gritty origin story of Lara Croft and her ascent from a young woman to a hardened survivor. Armed only with raw instincts and the ability to push beyond the limits of human endurance, Lara must fight to unravel the dark history of a forgotten island to escape its relentless hold.

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  • Quite the Looker – The art direction is stellar and graphically this gives most modern games a run for their money. Now keep in mind that I played the PC version. But I’ve seen the console ones in action and in my opinion they look great too.
  • An Interesting Tale – The story borrows heavily from LOST, but it’s an interesting enough tale.Everyone loves a mysterious Island, right? And it’s smoke monster free!
  • Shoot – The shooting feels just as good as it does in any other third person shooter. Aiming is easy and you’ll be pulling off headshots in no time. Wait – I can’t believe we’re talking about headshots in a Tomb Raider game. It’s kind of weird, but you quickly get over it.
  • Loot – You gain salvage and weapon parts by looting dead enemies, killing animals, and opening crates. This quickly becomes addictive because it feeds into gamers’ basic desire to collect tons of useless junk.
  • Upgrade, Upgrade, Upgrade – Okay, salvage isn’t useless. It’s used to upgrade your gear. I put most of my points into the bow because I wanted to reenact the Hunger Games. The system isn’t extremely deep, but it adds a sense of progression. You can also upgrade Lara’s abilities. Want to use your axe as a mêlée weapon? Go for it!
  • Katniss Would Be Proud – Lara loves her bow and it’s easily the best weapon in the game. Once fully upgraded it becomes a force to be reckoned with. There’s nothing more satisfying than pulling off a headshot with a fire arrow.
  • Smart Cover – You won’t find a cover button here. Lara automatically goes into cover when you run up to something. Gone are the days of getting shot because you didn’t press circle fast enough. Every third person shooter needs to adopt a similar system.
  • Lara the Explorer – Tomb Raider doesn’t have an open world, but it’s far from linear. It opens up more as you progress and you can use the base camps to revisit old areas. Some areas are inaccessible at first, but you can go back and explore them once you’ve upgraded your equipment.

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  • #Reborn – Camilla Luddington delivers a believable performance as a young Lara Croft. Camilla’s task wasn’t an easy one. She had to honor Lara’s legacy while displaying a certain level of vulnerability. She does this and more with ease.
  • A Tight Squeeze – The camera always moved to the perfect position. When Lara enters a tight space it zooms in and makes things feel tenser. Prepare to freak out a little if you’re claustrophobic.
  • Audio Logs – Reading someone’s diary is wrong, but that doesn’t stop Lara from reading everything she gets her bloody little hands on. These diaries provide insight into the minds of your crewmates and the island’s inhabitants. Oh and they’re fully voiced.
  • Darkly Dreaming – I won’t give anything away, but this game can be really dark at times. Some sections had a survivor horror feel to them.
  • Island Life – Yamatai is filled with wild animals to hunt, secrets, treasure, beautiful vistas, and bloodthirsty savages. It’s the real star of this adventure.
  • The Little Things – Lara reacts to her surroundings. When she’s in a tight spot she’ll gently rub her hands against a nearby wall and when an enemy is close she automatically starts to slowdown and crouch. She also looks around frantically when she hears something terrifying in the distance. Lara’s believable interactions with her environments make Tomb Raider one deeply immersive experience.
  • PC Options – I played the PC version and it’s a great port. There’s a wide range of options and it looks good even on normal settings. It also has hair physics and a benchmarking tool. I couldn’t crank the settings up on my iMac, but I’ve seen videos of the game on ultra and it looks wonderful. But like I said – the game looks great on normal settings too.
  • PC Options II – My iMac has an AMD Radeon HD 6770M and I could play the game on normal settings at 720p. I averaged 43 frames per second on these settings. This isn’t bad for a computer that isn’t really made for gaming.
  • Uncharted? – When Tomb Raider was first shown off everyone said, “It looks like an Unchartedclone!” Now, at first it does feel like Uncharted with a female lead. But as you progress you soon realize that this isn’t a carbon copy of Uncharted. Actually, at times it feels more like Batman Arkham City thanks to the hub areas and “Survivor Instinct”. The marketing team did this reboot a disservice by just focusing on the action and set pieces. There’s more to the game. Naughty Dog could learn a thing or two from Tomb Raider. Because this game easily tops Uncharted 3. The subtitle for this review isn’t Lara’s Deception because I think it’s an Uncharted clone. It’s because I feel like most of Tomb Raider‘s promotional material deceived the hell out of us.

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  • Magnetic Ledges – The platforming is automatic. Just jump in the right direction and Lara will magically fly towards the ledge. This will disappoint long time fans and anyone looking for a challenging platformer.
  • Press ‘Y’ or Die! – The QTEs are kind of annoying. Prepare to die often until you get the timing right. I wish developers would abolish QTEs. They add nothing to a game. There are tons in the beginning, but they drop off by the end of Lara’s adventure.
  • Hunting is Shallow – You don’t have to hunt to survive. You just kill animals for extra salvage.
  • Wave After Wave – Really? Another wave of enemies? I just killed hundreds of your brothers – call it a day. Sigh, okay, here’s an arrow to the… face. Jokes aside – the endless waves of enemies can become tedious.
  • You Call That a Puzzle? – The puzzles are a little on the easy side. A few of the optional tombs are confusing at first, but once you figured out what to do you can solve them in a matter of minutes.
  • So So Multiplayer – The multiplayer isn’t bad, but it’s nothing to get excited about. Serviceable is the best way to describe it. I could go into more detail, but if you’ve ever played a third person shooter online then you already know what to expect.

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  • Walking Clichés – Tomb Raider’s cast of characters includes a tough black woman, generic geek, lovable big guy, supportive best friend, mad scientist, wise old man, and a few other stereotypical character archetypes. These walking clichés get some backstory in the form of audio logs, but they never become truly interesting.

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Crystal Dynamics crafted one of the best third person shooters of this generation, but it’s also one of the most derivative games ever created. It shamelessly wears its influences on its sleeve (every popular game from the past five years). This doesn’t take much away from the game, though. It’s still one hell of a ride and a must buy for fans of the genre.

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Review: Crysis 3

Having really enjoyed Crysis 2 I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to get my hands on 3 to see what Crytek could bring me this time around. After taking on the Cell Corporation and the Ceph in the previous title Prophet is back, complete with his DNA enhanced Nanosuit. His suit has had some cool upgrades and you’ll need these to assist you as you pursue the Alpha Ceph.

This is one of the best looking games I’ve played on the Xbox 360

This is one of the best looking games I’ve played on the Xbox 360

The game brings you back to New York, 24 years after the events of Crysis 2. New York has been encased in a giant Nanodome created by the corrupt C.E.L.L. Corporation. New York really has become an Urban Jungle, with broken skyscrapers surrounded by a large rainforest complete with waterfalls, swamplands and huge raging rivers. I remember being amazed by the visuals in Crysis 2 and I’ve not been disappointed this time around either, in fact I’d go as far to say this is one of the best looking games I’ve played on the Xbox 360.

I enjoyed the story in Crysis 2 and it seems that Crytek have made a real effort to improve the way they tell the story in 3. Prophet is joined by a sidekick in the form of Michael ‘Psycho’ Sykes, who has been stripped of his Nanosuit and tortured by CELL. It’s a really interesting relationship as ‘Psycho’ is clearly struggling with the fact he is just a normal human again where Prophet is doing all he can to hold on to the last shreds of Humanity that he has. I’ve already mentioned how impressive the game looks but I didn’t mention that character models and the facial features on the likes of ‘psycho’ are brilliant, accompanied by the brilliant voice acting you can really get immersed into the game.

The game itself doesn’t really play any differently from the previous title, which is no bad thing but there are plenty of things that Crytek have done to help improve your experience. Your Nanosuit has been upgraded with a rather clever visor that will allow you to scan the environment, it will pick up enemies, weapons, ammo and any items that you are able to hack such as turrets, door panels and even minefields. Whilst you are scanning you can also get real-time information on things such as enemy’s amour and what their state of mind is. Hacking requires you to take part in a mini-game that will test your timing skills, it’s a bit mundane but when you hack a minefield as a group of enemies are headed towards you the reward is totally worth it.

The game itself doesn’t really play any differently from the previous title

The game itself doesn’t really play any differently from the previous title

There some cool weapons in the game for you to utilise including sniper rifles, shotguns and assault rifles but there is one weapon that I couldn’t stop using, the Predator Bow. Hit your target once and they are out of the game, the best thing about it is that you can use the bow with the cloak engaged. Arrows are limited, though you are able to collect them from your deceased foes. As with most of the weapons in the game you can get specialised ammo for the Bow, with electrified darts, thermite-tipped rounds and explosive arrows giving you options to attack your enemies in a number of ways. I found myself doing all I could to use this weapon as often as possible since it could easily defeat most adversaries. Of course when the chips are down you can always armour up and melee the life out of the your attacker!

Thanks to an improved control system you adjust your weapons on the fly, add sights, change ammo and even adjust the upgrades on your Nanosuit without ever having to pause the game. Double tapping Y swaps you over to grenades – everything about the UI is easy and quick to use.

At times during the campaign I did feel like I was just going through the motions. Each area you encounter will have a certain number of enemies for you to take out, and occasionally things were made more difficult by having to avoid searchlights or huge towers with guns that will obliterate you. There are primary and secondary objectives for you to take on but I struggled to really enjoy any of them, which is a shame because of how good the story and characters are. There were moments in the game that made think ‘That’s awesome’ but these moments were few and far between. There are also vehicular sections which left a lot to be desired, the view from your vehicle wasn’t good, they controlled badly and it was just a bit disappointing.

Multiplayer is a lot better than Crysis 2

Multiplayer is a lot better than Crysis 2

Of course Crysis 3 isn’t complete without multiplayer, I’ll be the first to admit that I started off really enjoying multiplayer but quickly fell out of love with it so the prospect of playing again in 3 didn’t fill me with excitement. Thankfully I’m having a much better experience this time round. It’s hard to get the balance right for games like Crysis 3, especially when you have the likes of COD and Halo dominating, but Crytek seemed to have nailed it.

On a basic level Crysis 3 MP is no different to any other you may have played but on closer inspection, and most importantly if you want to have any chance of doing well in the game you will need to change your attitude. You’ve got to manage your enemy levels and your suits abilities as well as the different modules that you can upgrade as you progress through the multiplayer. There is a lot more strategy than just running and gunning, but it’s great fun.

All the usual modes are there, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and headquarters as well as a new mode called Cell vs. Rebel, which removes the Nanosuit so those who are struggling to play with the suit can still enjoy multiplayer. The maps all look amazing, though if you are taking a stealthy approach they all seem to take forever to get traverse!

The multiplayer is well worth some of your gaming time, it’s tough to get used to but with time you can become a really good player and you will have a lot of fun.

Crysis 3 is a great game, it looks good, the combat is fun even if some of the missions are a bit boring

Crysis 3 is a great game, it looks good, the combat is fun even if some of the missions are a bit boring

Crysis 3 is a great game, it looks good and the combat is fun even if some of the missions are a bit boring. What kept bringing me back was the story and wanting to see how the relationship developed between all the characters. Despite my desire to see how the story ends it seems that Crytek would like to keep me in suspense for a good while longer. After defeating what I think is the final enemy the game crashes resulting in me having to hard reset the Xbox, a patch has been released to ‘fix’ the problem but this has made no difference to me and on further research many other users are also suffering too. It sours what has been a really good experience and hopefully I’ll see the end at some point.

I took a long time thinking about how to score this, it started at 80%, bugs can patched but hen you need to fix such an important bug so soon after release it can’t be ignored and for that I decided to reduce my score to 70%.