Like so many franchises, Tomb Raider has gotten a reboot. I went into this high hopes for the story since it was written by Rhianna Pratchett. While I will never forgive her for Mirror’s Edge, she did write the Overlord games which were wonderful fun.
I was not disappointed.
Rhianna gave us a believable beginning to an iconic gaming woman. A story that builds on the genius that is a young Lara that isn’t so self assured. From the beginning we are presented with someone who is not only smart but also insecure. She knows she’s right, but she doesn’t have the years of experience behind her to be the confident Lara we’re all used to seeing. I like this a lot. It shows a humble, if smart, beginnings of the confident woman. As we travel through to very well crafted story, she becomes more sure of herself. By the half-way point we’re seeing that familiar Lara and by the end you know she’s gotten a taste for something that she’ll never turn away from again.
I will say one thing about the whole “threat of rape” thing that was spinning a few months back. Yes she is threatened in this way, but she’s threatened with horrible-ness through the whole game, including murder. So yea, she is threatened, but it’s nothing to write home about.
Gameplay is what you would expect. Plenty of running and shooting and climbing ever surface in sight. The controls are all very easy to use straight out of the box. There are some quicktime events, but they’re unobtrusive and not a pain in the ass to do. I’m notoriously terrible at aiming shots in games like this but he aim assist saved me. So even if you’re rubbish at aiming, like me, don’t worry. I used the fucking hell out of the bow & arrow too. That thing was so awesome to use as an alternative to guns. One of my only complaints is that here really just wasn’t the amount of puzzles that I’ve come to expect from a Tomb Raider game. There are puzzles that are integral to the game, but it just felt a little lacking for me. You could tell what your upcoming tools would be simply by having a look around at what you couldn’t climb. Sure it was a little predictable, but I can forgive it this one thing.
I really liked the music and sounds of the game. They conveyed mood and drama very well. I didn’t find annoying, repetitive or boring. There’s not a lot I can say about the music than that.
Visually the game is stunning. You have this deserted island full of mystery and wonder surrounded by this impossible storm. The world around you is rendered in a very believable way and really has been thought out and deigned nicely. It felt like a lost island filled with a mythical ancient story just waiting to be discovered. Also, video games have had hair issues for a long long time, but this has made some great improvements. On the PC version you get to use the TressFX engine which is a special engine for just rendering the hair. Just wish it had been in the console versions too.
Ya know really did like he prequel a lot. My only gripes are the lack of more complex puzzles and it really felt kinda short. Even with doing a lot of exploring and completing about 90% of the game extras outside the main storyline; I only got about 16 hour of play from it. I know that’s pretty much normal these days, it still feels like it’s too short. This isn’t uncommon for me though, I don’t want the goodness to end.
Go get the game. It’s definitely worth it
There’s a neurological phenomenon that we’re all familiar with, in one way or another. Artists use it to double the effectiveness of their pieces through ‘negative space’; puzzle books use it to make our eyes water; neurologists use it to study the brain. It’s called “closure”, and it lends its name to this surprisingly difficult indie game from Eyebrow Interactive.
“Closure” is what happens when your visual cortex sees an arrangement of shapes, shadows, or lines that should (when complete) delineate a single object — and fills in the gaps. Here’s a familiar example for you:
Try to not see the white equilateral triangle in the middle. Hard, right? Well, it’s almost impossible unless you have an atypical brain, so don’t worry. What’s happening is that evolutionarily speaking, your brain is adapted to interpret patterns of light and shadow in a way best suited to spotting predators, prey, obstacles, etc.
The creators of Closure have designed a game specifically to mess with your visual cortex: in this game universe, any object that is not lit doesn’t exist (apart from the character you play, light sources, and some crates). You’d think it wouldn’t be much different from games that force you to stay in the light. Nah. Think about it: you can make holes in the floor by redirecting lamps. You can ride a lift up the centre of a stone column if you have a moving spotlight.
In sum: so cool. And you have to retrain your brain, otherwise you’ll spend hours falling through the floor and getting stuck in isolated bubbles of water.
You can buy Closure on the Playstation Network. Find gameplay trailer and images from the game on the official website, here.
~ Alice M.
This week Microsoft kicked off its Summer of Arcade promotion with the release of of Limbo, a game created by indie developer Playdead. It’s been getting a lot of attention due its art style and focus on puzzle solving.
You start the game as a boy and wake up in a grey, shadowy world. The game gives you no clue as to what the controls are or what you are supposed to do. Like the young boy on screen you are left on your own to figure out what to do in a particularly hostile and foreboding environment. Moving about and interacting with objects is easy figure out. It’s the puzzles and the hidden dangers that get you.
When playing this game be prepared to die a lot. Sometimes dying is completely unavoidable and gives you clues on how to avoid it next time. It doesn’t stop it being any less nasty though. Whether you are being chased by monsterous spiders, trying to avoid bear traps or running from silent children who really seem to want you dead the game keeps you on edge and uses its nasty atmosphere to give you a little push to solve the puzzle faster. There is an achievement for completing the game with less than 5 deaths – I imagine that only the most dedicated gamers will manage it!
The game is fair and autosaves often so you never lose too much progress but some of the puzzles can be very tricky to figure out. Solving them can rely on many different factors; speed, interaction of objects, your own momentum, lateral thinking…and you won’t run across the same puzzle twice. The game constantly throws new and ever-more-challening puzzles in your path. Eventually the puzzles start becoming much more complex and difficult. Despite the difficulty they are also well-designed and once you understand the solution you’ll wonder why you didn’t see it in the first place. It also feels quite rewarding when you figure out something that has had you stumped for a few minutes.
Along with the gloomy, eerie visuals is a quiet and creepy soundtrack. The music in Limbo is very limited. Mostly you can hear the breeze and far off noises but when danger approaches the soundtrack gets more aggressive along with it. It’s enough to make you jump at times. Especially when it comes along with the visuals of a gigantic spider creeping it’s way towards you.
Limbo is full of character, atmosphere and provides an intense gameplay experience. I can’t think of any other game to compare it too.
Limbo costs 1200 Microsoft Points.
Swinging the spotlight over on the recently released special editions of Secret of Monkey Island and Return to Monkey Island!
I just finished re-playing through Secret of Monkey Island, and I must say – what a fun time! The new graphics are fantastic, and the game has a nifty hotkey (It was F10 for me on PC) that takes you back and forth from new graphics to old 1990’s gameplay. There are lots of major upgrades, like a re-done soundtrack and voice acting added to the new game.
As far as graphics go, I’m really happy with the way it was done. The game looked like a painting most of the time, and it kept with the same feel that I remember when I played this more than 10 years ago on MSDOS. A lot of things were also added, such as random skulls in the sky forming clouds and what not, but it didn’t take away from the overall feel of it, because it’s got the same art style we saw in Monkey Island 3: Curse of Monkey Island.
I know I’ve said it before, I find these Monkey Island games to be absolutely hilarious, and I’m very happy to see that LucasArts is bringing back the first 2 in the best way. It felt like I was playing the game for the first time again. The best part was, if I needed to remember something the old way, there was the hotkey. Another point, Monkey Island games have been cross-platform for a while, but I’ll mention it here anyway: The Special Editions are cross-platform! Now you can play them via PSN, PC..even your iPhone.
I strongly recommend anyone reading this that enjoys a fun puzzle game every now and then to at least download the demo’s available for these new games!
This past week I was out, so my regular updates naturally ceased for a short while, as did my gaming. Now that I’m back, I have a lot to look forward to! Right before I left, my boyfriend lent me Prince of Persia: Sands of Time for the PS2.
I’ve actually never played any of the Prince games, but I’ve always heard very good things about them. Someone gifted me Prince of Persia: Warrior Within a few years ago as well, but I realized it wasn’t the first game and have thus never played it. Another thing is I watched a friend of mine play through maybe 20% of the most recent Prince game (somewhere in the middle chunk of the game overall) on his laptop, so I had some familiarity with Prince by the time the movie, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time came out a few weeks ago. I recognized the references the movie made to the games, but realized it came a little short. My boyfriend also filled me in on a few storyline points that the movie changed, all the usual stuff.
I played through just the first stage or two (I call them stages, between the save points. You can call it whatever you like.) before going away on my trip. The visuals still hold up very well, I really like all the controls, and the sound track is amazing. Granted, the music in the actual game itself does not sound that good; it’s actually quite choppy and just too compressed. Listening to it from the soundtrack, though, is very pleasant. I really enjoy puzzle games, so I’ve been having a blast with this one!
And when I got home, it was my birthday.
Guess what my wonderful boyfriend gave me? Batman! Game of the Year version Batman AA. I’m thrilled, because I’ve been wanting to play that game for a long time and never really found a good copy at a good used price in the local shops, so I just never bought it. Elsewise, I decided to wait on that game since I’ve been playing other things. Once I’m done with the first Prince of Persia game, I’ll tackle Batman before I move on, I think. He’s my favorite superhero. I actually got 2 awesome gifts from him. Besides Batman, he found this great Green Lantern tumbler and decorated it for me.I know it’s naught to do with gaming, but I still would like to share!
Note that it’s all studded up around the logo and whatnot. The stars that are viewable are actually in the back around the word “WILL”. The bottom has my name sticker’d on. In my next post, I will show everyone what I do to super hero t-shirts and why my friends call me Fabulous Batman. =)