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I'm Lauren. I write about video games for money. Kind of neat, huh?
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I don't care what you say - this is so freeeeeekiinn' awesome maaaannn!

In other news - Mirror's Edge is awesome. Getting Tomb Raider early. Will be spamming avatars on this blog
when I try out my NXE tomorrow and the gathering 08 event coverage when I finish up the report.









As we get closer to the dawn of a true next gen Lara Croft, Eidos released a tasty Tomb Raider Underworld demo via Xbox Live. While the demo proved far too short for a veteran raider, fans were getting a look in at the new Lara and how this adventure proves so different from past titles.

After reading around on various Tomb Raider communities one thing is clear - This will be a love it or leave it title. While new fans to the series seemed to enjoy the faster control of Lara, old fans found the new motion cap animations too edgy to deal with. I myself have always been fascinated with how previous Tomb Raider titles have been hand animated so to see how mo cap has ruined a good flow between running around, combat and exploring is particularly disappointing.

You start off on a boat near a Thailand temple. A cut scenes starts and you can see where the motion capture has really come into play. Laraís lips look gorgeous as they talk locations and artefacts and all you can see is sit back and enjoy the delicious visual display on hold in from of you. So graphically Tomb Raider Underworld has a fantastic start, truly next gen and so breathtaking. The style and environments have always been a very important and popular aspect of Tomb Raider and to see it like this is a dream come true. I can only hope I can afford a better TV to run this on soon as I feel I am missing out so much on my tiny 19″ W/s monitor.

The sea water was so impressive that not only does it looks beautiful below, the ambient blues and green drowning the screen, but above was just a sight to behold. The waves a great addition and the reflections from what's beneath really felt like underwater adventure will have such a key part in this game. I canít wait to just swim around for hours in this beautiful blue sea. Ledges and pathways look natural rather than obvious and Lara just looked amazing. She has ages wonderfully and itís great to see her new look hands on.

Animations though are a huge draw back. During the demo, for example, Lara is climbing across a large pit on small thin platforms that require her to keep great balance. Meanwhile she is also being attacked by spiders on the walls but instead of the combat feeling natural and difficult on the balance platform, her arms stretch out in all different directions in seconds making the whole process feel robotic and busted. Her body couldnít keep up with the speed of her arms buzzing around to different targets and the whole act looks ridiculous.

The same can be said during general running around, the sensitivity and speed is just too high if you choose to turn around quickly and it looks like Lara seems to be on some kind of steroid trip. One good thing about Laraís new control is that small obstacles that one would normally vault over no longer requires us to stop against the wall and vault over. Laraís new AI allows us to just hold forward and she will hop over the wall with ease. This looks wonderful and is especially helpful during combat when you just require some distance between you and your target.

She has a huge selection of new moves available. The demo only really showed the new wall jumping skill in which Lara can reach higher ledges by jumping up between two pillars. Timing is key with these moves and Lara usually gets short second grip onto the wall giving you chance to react. This brings out so much more to the exploring aspect of Tomb Raider. Previous titles had really obvious ledges and jumps that after learning the basics pretty much proved the rest of the game a matter of time. The new environment and ways to use it in TR:U are so impressive that even for a veteran TR fan like myself, I had to really think about how I was to get from A to B. Her balancing act is also been tweaked to make it more difficult to just walk forward, previous titles usually had a timer where you would have to straighten Lara up. Now the only reason Lara would waver on the pole is if you are not keeping a straight line on the controller.

Most of her climbing/vaulting animations, minus a few demo bugs, are great and natural. The only one that I did not enjoy was the wall climbing. Her legs stretch out and her robotic style of climbing turns her into this rather creepy looking spider. Itís actually quite a shock at first to watch, I just didnít know how to react.
Combat has never been an important part of Tomb Raider. The run and gun tactic as well as auto targeting has been a simple but enjoyable break from the exploring and puzzle solving. Laraís jumps feel unnaturally fast and her quick targeting skills are a sore sight when stood still. While running around however combat feels much more enjoyable and round house kicking tigers in the face is a fun move to pull off. The slow down from previous legend and anniversary titles has been improved upon once again with a head shot system where while shooting you can press another button to slow the action down and gain a head shot at the right moment. This time to slow down is not as extreme so combat doesnít feel separated into special move sets. New features include dual targets and shooting from walls. While I didnít experience much of either, I can say it works pretty much the same as normal combat. Itís nice to be able to shoot a few pesky critters from afar.

The last section of the demo offers a short puzzle using the new Pole system. You can pick up objects from the environment and use them to help climb ledges for example. You can also use the pole to attack enemies as well which will be interesting to see what kind of objects will be available to use as potential weapons during the course of the game.

It all ends abruptly after solving the puzzle and pulling the leave however. Just as I was getting used to the new controls and animations the game fades out to the start screen. Initial impressions? I am not sure. I have been waiting for this game for a long time but I am not blown away. Itís just the animations that have put me off and if they can be quickly tweaked I will be a happy lady. Until then I can only grind my teeth during the irritations and enjoy the puzzle solving action that will hopefully unfold in front of me.
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So I've been receiving some really stupid messages. This guy sent me a few stating that I knew nothing about games and that because I don't have a high end pc and a 1080p tv etc etc I am not a true gamer etc etc. Crysis is the best game evar!!1onoeneELEVEN

Frustratingly I replied saying that I didn't enjoy Crysis that much and thought the story was a bit generic. Though my PC runs games like Half Life 2 and Team Fortress 2 and I was happy with that. I went back to playing Fable 2 and enjoying my evening.So I get this sent to me. What is this man on about? So instead of arguing with him via text I sent him a voice chat invite.

Some 29 year old man was sat there telling me how he's played ALL the AAA titles and he knows everything. I know nothing. If he knew I was a GIRL he would not of contacted me (even though the inside xbox has a picture of me on it...) and that because my bio said that people should not contact me for COD5 keys (as I am being asked for them) that I am a vein person and think I know everything about games. /sigh

I tried to reason with him. Telling him it's his opinion to enjoy Crysis but he was having none of it. Team Fortress 2 is apparently an over simplistic game. Fable 2 is not free roaming (urmm?) and is too scripted.... it's... a RPG/Action? .. aren't they supposed to be scripted to some degree? I tried to say I just prefer things like Fable etc and then he went on about how COD5 is nothing on Crysis and how Crysis has the best physics ever and that no game for 5 years will beat it etc. While I don't know much on in game coding and physics all I know that Crysis is famous for is the fact when you pile barrels up and knock them down it looks cool. Oh and that there is an awesome LEGO mod for it....

Am I wrong to not thing Crysis is the greatest thing ever? Or am I such a simple person and should go get a better job and buy a 1080p tv and high end pc and every console ever because this guy does.

Also if you have time tell your opinions to that guy ;-) Just don't let him know I sent ya! hahahaha~
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Got this forwarded to me this morning and if your a Team Fortress 2 fan you will enjoy the fun remix this guy has to offer. As well as an awesome BOINK and GRUNT version of Portal's "Still Alive".

There are 15 tracks altogether and all of them are using the in game sounds of TF2 and some original music. More for fans of dance and trance music but worth a listen non the less!

Anyway you can download it for free from: http://rockingfortress.wecreatestuff.com/

Also if anyone needs a TF2guest pass please add "atheistium" to steam and send me a message for a guest pass. First will get it!


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360 Fan Boy claims to have official screens of the up and coming 360 Avatar Creator. While they do look pretty good I don't really understand how the creator is really going to work or if these are just sub menu's. I tend to like being able to see my avatar while creating a style for it and both these shots so no full avatar.

Real or fake? What do you think?



Rumored Avatar Customization Options

Hats:

* Black Baseball Cap
* Baseball Cap
* Flat Cap

Hair:

* Side Parting Hair (and with hat)
* Slicked Parted Hair (and with hat)
* Clean Cut Hair (and with hat)
* Compact Hair (and with hat)
* Crew Cut Hair (and with hat)
* Slicked Hair (and with hat)
* Ponytail Hair (and with hat)
* Swept Hair (and with hat)
* Flat Hair (and with hat)
* The Captain Cut
* Old Hair (and with hat)
* Bun Hair
* Thick Hair
* Pig Tails
* Hair Layered with Fringe Hair Tied On Top
* Bob with Fringe Hair
* Spiked Hair
* Studious Hair Number 66
* Shaped Hair
* Basin Hair

Eyes:

* Happy Eyes
* Sharp Eyes
* Half Moon Eyes
* Focused Eyes
* Harmless Eyes
* Passive Eyes
* Relaxed Eyes
* Surprised Eyes
* Soft Lashes
* Restful Eyes
* Monday Morning Eyes
* Bold Eyes
* Soft Eyes
* Funky Eyes
* Wild Eyes
* Comforting Eyes
* Droopy Eyes
* Content Eyes
* Slim Eyes
* Excited Eyes
* Eagle Eyes
* Polite Eyes
* Rested Eyes
* Puppy Eyes
* Rounded Eyes
* Strong Eyes
* Boxed Eyes
* Thin Eyes
* Studious Eyes
* Tranquil Eyes
* Dark Eyes
* Dot Eyes
* Tilted Eyes
* Delicate Eyes
* Almond Eyes
* Wavy Eyes
* Thick Lashed
* Eyes Wide
* Awake Eyes
* Calm Eyes
* Slender Eyes
* Kind Eyes
* Drowsy Eyes
* Acorn Eyes
* Sunset Eyes
* Genial Eyes
* No Features

Eyebrows:

* Normal
* Straight
* Arched
* Studious
* Curvy
* Large
* Familiar
* Thick
* Small
* Angled
* Big and Flat
* Delicate
* Small and Thin
* Short and Thick
* Straight and Thick
* Half Moon
* Soft
* Strong
* Monobrow

Ears:

* Fantasy Ears
* Butterfly Ears
* Round Ears
* Elven Ears
* Long Ears
* Prominent Ears
* Shapes Ears
* Small Ears
* Spiked Ears

Nose:

* Define
* Boxer's Nose
* Curved
* Drooped
* Angled
* Hooked
* Bulbous
* Large
* Sharp
* Perked
* Rough
* Rounded
* Small
* Straight
* Long
* Tiny
* Wide
* Soft

Mouths:

* Spiked Puzzles
* Gentle
* Small and Rounded
* Curvy
* Deep Lips
* Smirk
* Grin
* Vibrant
* Unhappy
* Cheeky
* Lined
* Cute
* Fearsome
* Tongue Out
* Teethy
* Full
* Happy
* Open
* Bunny
* Vampire
* Wide
* Small
* Locked Teeth
* Glamor
* Thin Lipped
* Square
* Thick Lipped

Chins:

* Jaw Stubble
* Large
* Thin
* Long
* Chiseled
* Rounded
* Sharp
* Square
* Small
* Wide

Accessories:

* Funky Shades
* Hip Watch
* Sports Wristband
* Gold Ring
* Silver Ring
* Watch With Leather Strap
* Plain Bracelet
* Pink Bling Ring
* Green Bling Ring
* Cool Earrings

Tops Etc.

* Zip-Up Jacket with Chain Power T-Shirt (Green)
* Power T-shirt (Purple)
* Red T-shirt
* Polo Shirt
* Studious Checkered Shirt
* Blue Shirt Black Jacket with Zips Alt T-Shirt
* Manly T-shirt
* Cheap T-shirt
* Green Flowered Vest
* Tight T-Shirt (Orange)
* Tight T-shirt (Blue)
* Move T-Shirt Open Neck
* Navy Top
* Grey Shirt
* Yellow Cardigan with Green Vest
* Cowgirl Shirt
* Black Crop Top with Sweat Bands
* Short Brown Jacket Tight
* Green Flowered Vest

Bottoms Etc.

* Blue Jeans
* Grey Skirt with Thread Detail Three Quarter Length
* Camo Trousers
* Short Frilly Black Skirt
* Layered Black Skirt with Belt Denim
* Short Shorts
* Hawaiian Hotpants
* Grey Jogging Bottoms
* Turn-up Surfer Shorts
* Fitted Black Trousers
* Polkadot Skirt
* Jeans with Pattern Detail
* Jeans with Side Stitching
* Beige Chinos
* Brown Trousers
* Faded Jeans
* Navy Jeans
* Brown Camo Jeans
* Surfer Shorts

Shoes:

* Formal Shoes
* Orange Sneakers
* White Trainers
* Hiker Trainers
* Brown Decks
* Light Loafers
* White and Red Trainers
* Orange and Blue Trainers
* Dark Brown Decks
* Sky Blue Decks
* Orange Decks
* Pink Decks
* Brown Sandals
* Black Boots with Buckle
* Sports Trainers

Gender and Basic Options:

* Male Body
* Female Body
* Male Body Head
* Texture Head

Neutral Animations:

* Closet Examine
* Lower Closet Examine
* Shoes Closet Examine
* Upper Closet
* Spin Animation
* Creator Walk On
* Creator Walk Off
* Creator Look Down
* Creator Look Left
* Creator Look Neutral
* Creator Look Right
* Creator Look Up
* Creator Turn Left
* Creator Pick Me Start
* Creator Pick Me Stop
* Creator Pick Me
* Generic Clap
* Generic Stand 0
* Generic Stand 1
* Generic Stand 2
* Generic Wave
* Generic Celebration

Male and Female Animations:

* Angry
* Confused
* Idle Looks Around
* Idle Check Nails (female only)
* Idle Shifts Weight (female only)
* Idle Stomp Spider (female only)
* Idle Stretch (male only)
* Idle Turn Around (male only
* Laugh
* Sad Cry
* Shocked Surprised
* Yawn

[Copy pasta of list from here]
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atheistium
3:48 AM on 07.28.2008

With consoles being connected to the internet, DLC is the next big thing. However are we getting ripped off or are we just getting a great service?

While Halo 3 continues to produce fantastic DLC which also becomes free over time, a lot of titles are not going under the same umbrella. I talked to Fourzerotwo yesterday while playing COD4 and he said "no new maps are coming", while he could of just been saying that to surprise us later.. I really don't see any new maps coming.. and that makes me a sad panda. So many great titles are just getting one update.. .and then bam.. that's it. Like Mass Effect, only one download has come after all that fuss about plenty of episodes. They even put a DLC section in the main menu! It seems a little pointless to just come out with one DLC pack when everyone makes a big deal about it at launch.


DLC should be something awesome they think of adding after the ship date. I don't like the fact that Samba De Amigo (coming to the Wii) has "DLC FROM LAUNCH"... which means we are basically paying for content we should of gotten with the game. I feel like I am getting ripped off a lot of the time. There should never be DLC from launch, it's an obvious cashwhore.



Plenty of music games do this and even Beautiful Katamari cashed in by requiring the user to purchase an extra level to get a complete 1000 gamer score on the title. I am a sucker for purchasing online content, so much so that I will need to upgrade to the upcoming 60GB xbox hardrive as my 20gb is running out of space.

Soul Calibur 4 is offering characters as DLC who should of remained exclusive to the consoles they released on. Why am I paying for a character they got boxed? And visa versa. All this is confusing and frustrating. The games cost enough as they are not to mention the content I will end up having to purchase.

So what do you guys think? I am fed up with paying for content that should of been boxed from day one. The fact that I cannot even be FEMALE in metal gear online unless I pay for the DLC.. it's ridiculous. I am all for extra content, but developers and the console companies them selves have got to realise it's turning into a rip off market.
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