Since it's release in 1996 it's no mystery to anyone that Tomb Raider has struggled over the years and has tried it's utmost hardest to realize it's own potential, so Crystal Dynamics had resorted to plan B.
A reboot which, fair enough it was probably the only solution left.
Well it has to be said that they've finally stopped being gentle with her and to be quite Frank it's about time to, seeing Lara delve into the unknown mysteries of a tomb and fight her way back out without so much as a scratch was wearing thin and the prominently featured texture effect whenever Lara rolled around in the dirt too much was just rather simplistic and nothing really to get excited about.
Now we get to see Lara in a more realistic view, she appears younger than in previous titles with no skills or combat knowledge what so ever, we see her get punched, impaled, and potentially molested, they've done away with the emotionless, flirty level headed explorer that she once was now she is essentially a scared, helpless girl crying for help that isn't coming, forcing her to take up arms and fight to survive anything the island throws at her.
She's not alone this time however, this time Lara has a whole team of friends this time all in need of help and want off the island that for whatever strange reason wont let them leave.
Well the first few hours of the game are not so much the start to a grand adventure, but rather a test of survival where you must hunt the wildlife to eat, where we see Lara sympathizing with her prey and apologizing for what she had to do. However hunting the wildlife may sound like an important task that needs to be carried out on a regular basis but really you will only ever need to do it once, at the beginning.
To do this Lara acquires a bow to help take down her prey silently, it may seem as though Tomb Raider is built all around survival and while that is true the bow isn't the only weapon you will be acquiring. You will find a pistol, a rifle and shotgun as well which will come in handy to take down heavily armored cult members all of which are a worthy challenge for our hardening survivor, you can take them down any which way you please but you will need to be clever about it if you decide to go with stealth because they are not always traveling alone and finding somewhere to stay out of sight until an enemy passes so you can execute a stealth maneuver can be quite difficult. Some sections of the game enemy NPC's will know you're coming to which an all out gun battle goes down which is very enjoyable, it's nice to let loose once and a while but be careful, your enemies are clever and will attack in numbers as well as throw grenades and molotovs in your direction just to draw you out into the open, so remembering to duck and dive from cover to cover is quite important but your cover can be blown to pieces to so be sure to move around a lot. Enemy cultists as said earlier, some are heavily armored so firing countless amounts of ammo is a big possibility but if aiming in the right place, providing they aren't moving around to much then take a shot. The aiming system tends to be a bit off sometimes but nothing really to complain about.
You can also evade enemy attacks an stab them in the back as sort of a counter attack but only if you have the skill to do so.
To upgrade Lara's weapons and teach her new skills and of course if the right parts are found, build new weapons you can do it at a campfire where Lara will also record events so far in a journal, these campfires can be found all over the island and also you can fast travel between them.
This is handy if there is an area on another section of the island you haven't explored whether it a cave or a tomb, upgrading your weapons and tools is very straight forward enough it will give you some options of what you want on your weapon or if you wish to strengthen them and you either accept or cancel.
For Lara's skills they are broken down into three sets, Survivor, Hunter and Brawler each with a list of different skills within their categories and by gaining experience points ensures you unlock more skills that can be learned with skill points.
Experience points are gained simple enough by killing enemies, looting their bodies and animal bodies etc. For weapon upgrades you can loot dead bodies of cultists or animals for salvage but it can also be found in lockers, wooden crates and chests.
Though it may not be open world Tomb raider gives more than enough exploration to satisfy your thirst for adventure all around are secret hidden tombs for you to discover and investigate each with puzzles to solve.
little caves will be easy to spot but it's possible something might be lurking inside and the chances of you seeing it are not all that slim, Lara now possesses a torch and can still aim while holding it.
Climbing and shimmying across walls and cliffs is still possible however Lara now has to use a pickaxe to help her climb certain rock facings which she also uses to hold onto rope zip line.
Over the years Lara has been liked by some and hated by others because of her lack of emotion and realism, which in this Tomb Raider she is full of, whatever pain and sorrow Lara feels throughout the game effects the player also she makes you want to see it through to the end and help her friends get off the island.
Here and there you will come across journal entries written by soldiers of the past or certain cult members of the present and the odd entry from Lara's friends that go into so much detail about the history of the island and the storms that come from nowhere and some to do with the sun queen, you really get a feel for it almost as if it were real. Of course without spoiling anything people obviously will die and these are tender moments and do make you feel sorry for what Lara and her friends have and had to go through, it certainly is one for the shelves and adventure of a survivor and hero will certainly have you on the edge of your seat praying you make it through.
Lets take a trekk back in time to the mid 90's, 1996 was the year that games developers Core Design released one of six action-adventure games featuring or starring the games industries most iconic heroine for many generations to come.
Lara Croft started jumping around our box television sets hoping to bring something new and exciting to the table and while that may have been the case at the time, multiple indecisive opinions arose soon after it's release.
Even though the first game sold over seven million copies worldwide and was considered widely influential, when asking ten individual people what they thought and why they thought what they did, things became semi clearer.
As it turns out Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider series itself was a lot like marmite, you either loved them or hated them, others remain undecided but the one that is most concerning are the people who claim to hate the game but secretly play it and enjoy it, apparently it wasn't considered cool to like Tomb Raider, even to this day that still goes for younger generation gamers.
Lara became so popular in 1998 that she began a large sponsorship with Lucozade, the commercials/adverts would feature Lara stuck in a dangerous situation where upon her bottle of Lucozade would help provide a solution. This was most certainly the biggest sponsorship of Lara's career, the ads would at first show her drinking original flavor but further ads revealed Berry and Apple. And while most of the ads featured a computerized Lara from the actual game franchise, others used actors impersonating her using slogans such as "Gone a bit Lara."
It's no mystery that the hatred towards Tomb Raider is due mostly towards the game-play, Lara unfortunately possessed the bone structure of a child's plastic bike that can't turn left or right forcing the player to halt at every corner/corridor just to turn and face her in the right direction and continue on her journey. Yes you could press a single button and Lara would perform a quick turn flip but not in any direction you wished but rather the opposite way to which she was facing, as frustrating as that sounds, there's more.
It would appear that Lara was mentored by a disembodied head seeing as that was the only feature that worked well on her, she would of done great as a lookout but try to use her for anything else and she seems to stumble and trip over her own feet. Jumping from ledge to ledge was considered in layman's terms a nightmare especially since she would jump too high, not high enough or just not grab hold and fall into a spike pit or concrete floor. Sometimes she just wouldn't jump at all, again falling down to a splattery death. Enemy encounters were certainly unforgettable, everyone was certainly getting their hair off with with the fact it took just under two magazines to kill one human (I counted) when if equipped with a melee weapon they can knock your health meter down to half with two swings. But the number one problem that got under everyone's skin was the camera angles, Oh yes venturing through the tombs, camera's set directly behind Lara but come to a long jump however then it's a completely different story, the camera will be set either from the side, up above or down below making it hard to determine a good position to jump from.
Same goes for the vehicle section that all sound similar and drive as well as Lara walks and at certain points the camera will pan round to another spot, normally after a jump.
The hatred towards Lara stemmed from the fact that she had no real personality and the voice of a low budget radio show hostess, she's difficult to relate to and to make sense of. Tomb Raider never was a game for many cutscenes up until Last Revelation, Chronicles and Angel of Darkness, where upon a story was starting to reveal itself linking the last 3 games together. And showing a more charismatic Lara than before but still plain without emotion but still with a flirtatious attitude toward her male rivals and voiced by Jonell Elliot who replaced Judith Gibbins who voiced Lara in Tomb Raiders 1-3.
By Angel of darkness we'd hoped to of seen a new side to Lara as she's wanted for the murder of her former mentor Werner Von Croy, but soon after she discovers his body she shows no feeling what so ever even given the circumstances they were both in in Last Revelation Werner was still her mentor but all Lara could do was stand their and look at her blood soaked hands with a face that said "what the hell is this red stuff that i'm covered in."
In 2001 Angelina Jolie starred in Tomb Raider the movie as Lara Croft which as of October 2010 grossed $335 million worldwide. Reviews unfortunately were largely negative, criticizing sloppy direction and video game-esque action-sequences, but of course praising Angelina Jolie's performance. Reviews were particularly similar in the 2003 sequel Tomb Raider and the Cradle of life but critics noticed an improvement in the action sequences which led to more praise for Jolie.
Tomb Raider was signed over to British owned U.S studio Crystal Dynamics where in 2006 Tomb Raider Legend was released with a whole new story and a whole new Lara, voiced by Keeley Hawes, a reboot one that wasn't very well thought out.
Crystal Dynamics also reinvented the first Tomb Raider game using it for the new story of Lara in Legend calling it Tomb Raider Anniversary, still set in 1996 however with a young Lara about 25 years old. By Legend this would have made her 31 and then by Tomb Raider Underworld the last of the story line that was released in 2008, looking at it realistically Lara would have been 33 years old by Underworld.
The story of Crystal Dynamics franchise, like the game-play very linear, Lara is in search for answers as to the disappearance of her mom who is trapped in Avalon and is possibly still alive. Rather simplistic really, the story doesn't really go anywhere from there.
The game-play in Legend and Anniversary is exactly the same Lara moves more loosely but like Core Design we still face the same problems the camera angles, enemies taking a while to die, vehicle section. It's as if they haven't bothered changing much just making it more straight forward and Linear as well as multiple quick time events appear along the way.
Not essentially Tomb Raider, Lara Croft and the guardian of Light was released on Playstation Network, Xbox Life as well as other devices but not actually in game retail stores, no longer published by Eidos anymore, no this time Square Enix have gotten their hands into Lara Croft. (Who hasn't?..... No seriously i can't think of anyone she hasn't shot in the face.) Set with a fixed camera view point throughout the entire game single player and Co-op for that matter. Guardian of light became vastly popular selling 98,000 copies on Xbox Live within the first six weeks. All thanks to it's whole new retold game-play and RPG elements.
A whole lot of already known truths about Tomb Raider and Lara Croft but it never hurts to recap especially since now Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix have released another reboot of Tomb Raider, one that shows promise, and hours of satisfying game-play. Critics are already more than pleased with what it had to offer. But however bad or good it's fair to say that Tomb Raider is still unforgettable and Lara still remains number one heroine of all time no matter how many ups and downs. I myself personally have an odd relationship with the franchise i don't exactly hate it but i can't really say i like it but throughout the years i have kept a close eye on Lara and the entire franchise because deep down there is potential, it just needs to be realized.
All aboard the 8-bit express, Prince of Persia developer Jordan Mechner's 2D classic Karateka returned in all new 3D rendering in late 2012, all new HD graphics and visuals that stand out really well. The characters, playable and none playable however, appear rather chiseled with too much upper chest muscle (showing off a Jonny Bravo physique) and not possessing the ability to talk, all in all renders characters too animated (cartoon) and unrelatable due to lack of personality.
The story of Karateka is rather basic, you are one of three characters (suitors) out to stop the evil warlord Akuma and rescue a held captive princess Mariko. The three playable protagonists are Mariko's true love, a brute or a monk all following the same plot and path that renders the brute and monk needless as main protagonists.
The game-play is very simplistic and linear, full exploration of your surroundings cannot be found in Karateka, no you will simply follow the path in front of you (like a one way system) defeat Akuma's guards until you reach your goal. Upon engaging combat with a guard, you'll block his attacks (mainly one, two maybe three max) and strike back with a combination of attacks, but only using two buttons that are provided for the game-play controls. Fighting well will also help to build up Chi, allowing you to stun your opponents so you can deal more damage while their guard is down, you may get hit a couple of times but eventually it becomes predictable to know when your opponent is about to strike. But in case you should ever need to heal on your journey into the fortress you will find bundles of Mariko's flowers that will fill your health gauge back up to full.
Karateka may not have the most solid game-play or story that will entice you every step of the way but for a retro arcade beat em up it can certainly keep you entertained enough if all you're looking for is a simple none frustrating game with stunning background visuals, easy to use two button controls.
Survival horror is dead, stupidly evolved into survival action shooter...thing.
Dead Space is most definitely the perfect example of what a survival horror game is not.
Resident Evil completely changed it's game play from run around bored till something pops up so you can waste half your magazine in their face to run about in one direction still bored but with an over the shoulder aiming system, still emptying half your magazine into someones face.
Now every survival horror game developer has got it into their heads that since RE4 got good praise for completely retold game play survival horror fans will love anything even if it's the same.....Aww bless, they get an A for wishful thinking though.
So we see ourselves once again as the introverted Isaac Clarke a systems engineer and merchant marine, you have to wonder how he came into these careers seeing as in the first Dead Space Isaac lacked the ability to talk. Almost seems as if someone at EA took a note from Gordon Freeman a theoretical physicist who has heaps of experience with multiple weapons and grenades.... Oh and voiceless. But at least Isaac gains his vocals and bursts into song by the second game, not that theirs ever anyone around for him to sit and chat with.
After the events of Dead Space 2 Isaac and his BFF John Carver are on the planet Tau Volantis (so not space) in an attempt to to put an end to the Necromorph threat, Necromorph being taken from Xenomorph and necrophilia seeing as certain Necromorph creatures do that dead body reanimation shit like in Halo (and Half-Life for that matter). Already there is no originality, neither is the game attempting to be scary, creatures just popping out of the ground or appearing out of the the fog has no real charm to it. The creatures of dead space are technically no different to the creatures of Resident evil 4, blow off their limbs and you reveal what's probably their true form underneath, which seems rather dull since blowing off the creatures limbs is the only way to kill them you would think this would provide some interesting combat and it supposedly would if all the guns in Dead Space weren't typically designed to dismember limbs, human or otherwise. Now EA's taking a note out of cyborg vampire Raiden. For the first few minutes of the game Isaac is pulling his sorry arse out of a ship wreck and can barely walk, but if you just use the aim button he tends to walk at a much faster less injured pace so there really is no need to get pulled down by the game just dragging itself on. Even quick time events are slow, pressing up on the analog stick is probably the only motion needed.
So Konami have finally revealed their true selves, "lets develop an entire series of stealth/action games, base it around weapons of mass destruction, global terrorism, a terrible conspiracy. And once we've done all that, lets trash it." Metal Gear Rising Revengeance a title you just have to laugh at, taking two words, revenge and vengeance and putting them together not realizing they mean the exact same thing.
The story takes place four years after the events of Guns of the Patriots, this is where it starts getting obnoxiously obscene, after Patriot control was lost the worlds PMCs have become countless smaller entities after cyborg technology had been proliferated, sparking new conflicts all around the globe.
So everything that Solid Snake, Big boss and everyone went through to end the control of the patriots a group of a hundred year old not so dead but probably dead men, Was for nothing.
So the year is twenty god knows what and Raiden has retired from the field of combat only to return, to the field of combat after being attacked in Africa by cyborgs, only to lose his arm and left eye. Konami seem to have a major eye issue, MGS3 Big boss loses an eye, MGS2 Solidus snake loses an eye, MGS4 Solid snake begins to feel left out and wishes he had lost an eye because he feels obliged to cover it with an eye patch anyway, oh and MGS1 Liquid snake loses an arm. So instead of using cyborg technology to give himself a new arm, Raiden decides to "enhance" and go for a new body all together and replace it with a cyborg body, this would mean that Raiden is technically a disembodied head, minus a lower jaw. At least that's the impression it gives. Everything about the character and the story looks and feels so typically anime that all the sense of realism that was Metal Gear Solid, has been completely scrapped by this spin off.
Raiden has never been a favorable character, not just to fans but in general, in MGS2 he was a loud, over talkative and whiny Nancy boy with the appearance of a fifteen year old girl, which made sense due to his very feminine slender build and acrobatic like skills which also appeared in MGS4, a game in which he spent most of the time unconscious and bleeding some rather suspicious white blood out of his mouth that looked as though he coughed up a mouth full of semen.
The good old hiding in lockers or role playing as foliage is no longer the means of getting around, unfortunately tactical espionage action is out the window and the hip new age of lightening bolt action is... well no not really it's typical hack and slash beat em up, nothing we haven't seen already but of course, Konami would beg to differ. The codec is still accessible calling your allies and team but there never seems to be any need, they just tell you everything you already know and during combat you're not going to need any information on how to kill a certain enemy NPC or boss fight for that manner since Raiden's weapon consists of a Hi frequency blade, it's pretty self explanatory really. Not a lot to be desired however the blade is capable of cutting through most objects, enemy NPCs and environmental structure. whether it's rockery, trees or just enemies in general, hacking things to pieces just isn't as satisfying as it sounds, once you've hacked an object up it just disappears, not giving you a chance to admire what a grand job you've made turning a rock pillar into a rather tasteless sculpture. Certain structures of the environment around you shouldn't be destroyed like say for instance, if you need to go up a set of stairs but you've gone completely insane flailing your arms everywhere and have destroyed said stairs and there's no boxes or crates to jump on, then your chances of advancing the plot have been foiled, leaving you no other alternative than to either start again or reload the latest save file and Raiden doesn't possess the ability to run and jump of all things.
Although as bitchy as all this may sound the combat is pretty remains to be solid bog-standard hack and slash controls, fighting is rapid as well as efficient, enemy NPCs can't be hacked to pieces unless the L1 button is held down and the choice of using square and triangle to swing the sword or using the right analog stick to chop them up. In doing this Raiden's health gauge can be refilled and if you are quick to press the circle button at the appropriate time, our cyborg vampire can extract their fluids and why not a souvenir of your kill. Taking the left hands of your enemies for upgrades from, Doktor as he calls himself, wonder what his profession is.
In addition to well balanced combat, boss fights are actually worth breaking a sweat over, giving you a real adrenaline kick and force you to fight as though you are actually fighting to the death, certainly a challenge. Throughout a boss fight enemy cyborgs will intervene, giving you a chance to go metal dracula and replenish Raidens health gauge.
Overall a rather disappointing presentation, though background and environmental art and structure is something to admire as well as the combat, the story and characters don't appear serious or believable. It's hard to believe that after creating peace, cyborg technology becomes the next big trend and everyone becomes a ninja/samurai of all things, it's like Deus Ex meets Devil May Cry.
DmC is a new game by Capcom and western game developers Ninja Theory, a typical hack and slash beat em up as well as possessing elements of a platform/puzzle genre, rebooted from the original franchise Devil May Cry, again typical hack and slash beat em up, minus the platform but rather faffing around until something happens genre.
DmC has you assume the role of Dante, a cool headed and foul mouthed young man who possesses supernatural, demonic abilities and powers thanks to having parents at opposite ends of the biblical food chain, his father a demon his mother an angel which makes our protagonist a, something that is more powerful than angel and demon apparently.
Upon realizing he has a twin brother, presumably an hour after meeting him in person Dante soon discovers the ugly truth about his past and the world in which he dwells, or rather city controlled by demons from both human world and Limbo, a demonic realm mimicking the human realm with slightly twisted decor to which he is forced to take up arms with his sword the Rebelion, not just a sword but rather a swiss army sword that turns into just about anything. And two twin pistols Ebony and Ivory that he loves talking to so much.
Though it may have a strong and gripping story plot the combat is unfortunately as laid back as our protagonists ego, so gaining S ranks is in no way challenging as it used to be in the previous series but. Although it's predecessor had the challenging combat you would find yourself mostly running about it's snooze worthy corridors and streets awaiting the next horde of disembodied creatures that are supposedly demons, DmC has more to keep you interested every step of the way, whether its grappling onto ledges with your swiss army swords grappling hook also known as Osiris or using the Arbiter to free a ledge or pull a floating piece of ground to climb onto (these items you will be able to gain quite easily at early stages of the game). Or waiting for the walls of Limbo to crush you as well as the hordes of actual demonic looking-type-creatures trying to kill you every step of the way. But beware of the very ground on which you tread, floors themselves can be a sly trap or, a puzzle.
Again the swiss army swords Osiris and Arbiter that are supposedly grappling hooks as well as weapons, oh and not to mention keys of all things, are easy to acquire through very early stages of the game, the beginning basically. But other items/weapons can only be acquired after boss fights as well as your brother just giving them to you and other abilities such as the devil trigger can only be gained by other means (a puzzle). Capcom have also copied and pasted from the original, the Divinity statues, where upon you can upgrade Dante's abilities, weapons and also purchase useful items for your long journey ahead into god or devil, only knows what.
Unlike the Divinity statues in the previous franchise where upgrades and items all had to be purchased with red orbs, Capcom have decided in order to save everyone a cash sum of orbs that upgrades can no longer be purchased but rather earned with upgrade points and all health items etc can be purchased of course, with red orbs but in doing so after every purchase the price goes up. This is to with Limbo city's economy downfall probably.
Although gripping it isn't without humor, the original franchise had what it liked to call humor but seeing a grown man in a red catsuit dancing round his sword was slightly more than off putting. But DmC's new Dante as foul mouthed as he maybe does say and do things that will have you chuckling away to the point that he appears as a likeable character and it's good to see that Capcom isn't afraid to rip on its own franchise for example (Blonde wig falls on Dante's head) to which he replies "Not in a million years" and rips off the wig. For game developers to rip on their own product is a good way to show character.
Character development as well as the story is another important part of a game which Capcom have taken into consideration as you will see when Dante interacts with everyone he meets, coming off all cocky, not caring who they are or what they want. Throughout the game it is noticeable that the chemistry between the two brother is more than a little edgy, aswell as Dante and Kat become closer and closer as the game progresses forward. Even the attitude in which Dante takes towards his enemies is more believable than before instead of laughing it off and goofing around he just generally gets irritated and foul mouths...again. Whether you love or hate the new Devil May Cry it cannot be denied that the story is brilliantly well written and told just as the new Dante is more likeable and believable. Reinvented characters, reinvented world, more interestingly written and will have you caught on its hook playing the whole game without being able to put the controller down. Some devils may cry, this one just swears.