Tomb Raider Part 2 – Lara Grows Up

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  • Game: Tomb Raider
  • Platform: Multi (Xbox 360 Played)
  • Developer: Crystal Dynamics
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Price: £32.04 (Amazon)

As I said in Part 1 of this look at all things Tomb Raider, my past with Lara Croft and her games it troubled at best. Having never really been a huge fan of the older games (despite playing a fair amount of them) this new game was a very interesting prospect. Doing away with the old trappings of the franchise and trying something very different but similar at the same time. At its core it is still Tomb Raider as we know it, you explore the environments finding hidden objects and collectables, fight bad guys with a small arsenal of weapons and Lara is still the same person. Albeit a greener, more rounded, more interesting character that you actually care for.

The main focus of the game is to bring Tomb Raider a very, let’s be honest here, cheesy franchise with awkward gameplay and a character larger than the game itself into the modern sensibilities of the games industry. So while it doesn’t do anything particularly groundbreaking apart from having a strong female character at its centre which is apparently still surprising thing in this day and age. It gives us the best bits of modern game design this generation all wrapped up in a very entertaining package.

Crystal Dynamics I doff my cap in your direction!

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Tomb Raider Part 1 – Me and Ms Croft

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In this first of a three part exploration of all things Tomb Raider I explore my history with the franchise and how it has always been there wether I like it or not. Part two focuses on my thoughts on the new game and part three is about why the new game is so refreshing and why that is both a good and worrying thing.

I have a mixed past with Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider games. The PlayStation age, otherwise known as the late 90s is the time that defined me as a gamer. My childish attempts to grasp the various genres available to me on the PSOne fed into my tastes and gaming styles today. Lara Croft, the poster child of 90s gaming and the games industry however is very much absent from my best of the best lists and the Tomb Raider games are squarely on the edges of my gaming memories from those years. Don’t get me wrong I still bought a bunch of them and like everyone my age I have memories of running around Croft Mansion locking butlers in fridges and killing Lara in various comical and frustrating ways. Sometimes because the games were annoyingly awkward other times to drown my sorrows.  But the games and the character have never felt quite, right to me.

The games have always had horrendous controls that hinder the player most of the time. You wanted Lara to take a small step to the left but suddenly she would leap off the edge of a perilous drop to her doom…to the right…. The character herself always, even to my childish view of the world back then, felt off. She wasn’t real. She was very much a cartoon to me. She was this impossible creature that was always there on the edges of my gaming leering at me seductively from a promo poster slapped on my wall.

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Top Games of This Gen

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Over on the NowGamer Forums, one of my regular gaming haunts, one of the forum members decided to pose the difficult question of asking what everyone’s top games of the current gen are. This was brought about by the looming spectre that is Next-Gen and the impending PlayStation metting on the 20th of this month. Unlike most discussions I’ve seen about best games for the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii era there was a limit imposed, you could only pick three games! So while I cheated a tad and included a long list of Honourable Mentions at the end I agonised over my chosen three games for days. DAYS! I tell you!

So here are my top three games of this generation and my nice list of honourable mentions taken from my response to the forum thread. Also if you are interested in joining a small but very passionate and very friendly community head on over to NowGamer and the NowGamer Forums!

So in no particular order:

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Conversations About Games Episode 6 – Halo 4!

This episode is all about Halo 4! My launch night shenanigans, including my now pending trip to visit 343 Industries! (yes you read that right). Then you have my thoughts on the game, gameplay of me and my friends Matt and Andrew playing Spartan Ops and much, much more. It is all there. All Halo. All the time!

If you have any questions and suggestions please feel free to put them in the comments below.

Halo 4 Limited Edition Unboxing

My unboxing of the Limited Edition of Halo 4!

Limited Edition Contents:

  •  Three War Games Map Packs
  •  Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn Special Edition
  •  Early access to specialisations
  •  Unique in-game skins and emblem
  •  Cryotube avatar prop
  •  Spartan Armour avatar costume
  •  UNSC Briefing Packet: Welcome Notice, Armour Schematic, Mission Brief Pouch, Combat Deck Score Sheet, Secret Letter

If you have any questions and suggestions please feel free to put them in the comments below.

Link Storm

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Sorry for the lateness of this week’s linkage but life stuff threw me for a loop yesterday. Anyway here’s the past week’s worth of gaming awesome in a nice condensed form. It has been an odd week for me because the only things that have caught my interest have mainly been videos. So make a cup of tea and get comfy!

Apotheon – First Gameplay Video

This is the first I have seen of Apotheon but the art style and approach is amazing. It tickles my love for all things classical and made me wonder why nobody has done something like this before now. It looks like the final game will be a great mix of using everything possible to make the game stand out and being a reflection of the story and setting.

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Link Storm

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What’s that? You like links? WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SO???

Introducing your new PlayStation Store

The PlayStation Store over on the PS3 has received a major facelift and despite some early teething problem sluggishness it is actually half decent and well…modern! There have been a lot of changes and tweaks along with a host of new functionality added to the digital store. Luckily the PlayStation Blog has all the details to avoid any major confusion.

Aesthetics of Play – Extra Credits

This week’s extra credits is well worth checking out if your a game designer or interested in game design theory. It basically lays out why we are applying genres to games incorrectly and what can be done to change it for the better. You should also check out the MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research paper that forms the basis of the episode. It is very illuminating reading.

Why Quick-Time Events Work 

Game Informer’s Kimberley Wallace argues why Quick-Time Events are a good thing and I’m inclined to agree with her. The reason why they get such a bad rap is because so many developers miss use them or oversaturate their games with them. They are a great narrative/mechanics tool when used correctly.

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