Rise of the Tomb Raider – impressions


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I have literally just finished Rise of the Tomb Raider, the latest game in the famed franchise starring intrepid explorer Lara Croft.  The previous game, simply titled Tomb Raider was a very well made reboot for the franchise and saw our heroine shipwrecked on an island with more than a few dangers and adventures hidden within.  This game has Lara more as the adventurer we know and love and is more a straight-forward expedition to discover the ‘divine-source’ somewhere in Siberia, following in the footsteps of her father before her. 

rise-of-the-tomb-raider-8Developer Crystal Dynamics have created a very polished and detailed gaming experience that has all the climbing, exploring and ‘tomb-raiding’ you could hope for whilst also crafting a compelling, very well written story and believable characters.  Doesn’t hurt that it looks drop-dead gorgeous throughout.  The visuals on display here, with a wealth of effects and an epic scale are some of the best yet seen on XB1, with realistic rain, wind, smoke, fire, snow and water – also the little details to Lara herself from getting wet and mucky in water to a gradual coating of snow and grime on her clothing is quite something.  She also reacts realistically to climbing, leaping and falling or getting hurt that not for a second do you feel like this is just some videogame avatar, but a real, living and breathing person.  Quite an achievement, carried over it has to be said from the previous game. 

It gets pretty tough in combat, where as outside of getting shot exploring and solving puzzles is more about thinking your way through an area.  The combat however is at times fiendishly unforgiving and if you haven’t got enough bullets or you’re a crap aim or you have run out of bandages, you’re dead.  It’s also mostly set in Siberia apart from an epilogue that has Lara exploring a more sunny climate.  Flashbacks to Lara’s past, glimpses of Croft manor would have benefitted from a bit of gameplay thrown in, but the rest of the game is pretty immense with large open areas to explore and find secrets and hidden tombs in … so I can’t say I felt limited at all.  Also stealth, something that was hyped up (stalking and killing enemies in the forest wilderness) isn’t perfect as with the last game and getting spotted is all too easy…so going in all guns blazing is usually the best plan in the end.

screenshots captured directly from my Xbox One

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This kept my interest throughout, and Tomb Raider has always been gaming crack for me – I just can’t get enough of it.  So this met and exceeded my expectations no doubt. 

An essential purchase.

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The casualties of war


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More than at the recent E3 event, the big wigs of the gaming industry, Sony & Microsoft have really pulled no punches when bitching at each other’s announcements.  The big news of course was Microsoft securing Rise of the Tomb Raider as an exclusive for it’s Xbox platforms (XB1 and Xbox 360).  This has pissed off it seems a big portion of the internet with Microsoft rushing to clarify the announcement by saying they paid for a timed deal with Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics … which basically means Sony fan boys may see the much-anticipated title arrive on their platform eventually.  Sony’s response to this?  They offered a statement saying ‘they don’t need to pay for exclusivity in their games’. Oh, and so Xbox owners can expect Uncharted on their machine soon then?  Yeah … thought not.

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It’s all very petty and a bit juvenile.  Microsoft did kind of mislead people by not mentioning the timed aspect of their deal, but then again – aren’t most exclusives timed these days unless they are first party?  Also I don’t really get the uproar surrounding such news as Microsoft need to have a few more trump cards up their sleeves to grab customers in the wake of PS4’s popularity … it’s just good business sense.  Tomb Raider made a real name for itself on PlayStation, granted and also on PC so I can see the frustration, but this isn’t just about several machines all enjoying a piece of the pie – this is a war, and one a big company on the scale of Microsoft aren’t going to lose without a fight.  So grow up everyone and realise that first and foremost … videogames are a business.  If you don’t want to lose out in some way, buy all the consoles.  I love Mario but don’t own a Nintendo console … see me blubbering?  No.  So trust your loyalty to a particular format and deal with the disappointment instead of moaning about it on internet forums.  It actually makes you look a bit silly.

I am interested in getting a PS4 later in the year, and like the look of some of it’s exclusive games (especially The Order: 1886).  I can live without them at the moment as XB1’s announcements are good for my general taste in games (loving the look of Quantum Break’s gameplay), and yes if Tomb Raider had been said to go to PS4 instead, I’d be pissed too.  But then that is why owning both consoles is the way to go this generation.  I understand many will not be able to afford it (and I can’t really) so like I said … stick by your decisions and let the games speak for themselves.  Competition is good for the industry, bitching is not.  Simple as that.

Internet (in)famous at last?


Ok I was having a bit of a rant over at the Sky official forums recently (for my American readers if unsure, Sky is a satellite TV service).  It was about the revelation that they were about to start charging for using the Sky TV app on my XBOX 360, which had previously been a free service, accessible as part of my existing Sky TV subscription … something they do called ‘Sky Go’ that enables existing customers to watch Sky TV on a mobile device like a phone or tablet, a PC and up to now, a games console (the Sky Go App is coming to the PS4 shortly).  So I decided to have a moan!!

See my rant HERE – I’m called CraigUKGamer on there.

But what really surprised me was how this little, albeit justified rant actually caught the attention of a popular games website I frequent called ‘Eurogamer.net’.  And what did they do when mentioning this little rant (I was clearly first to the post with it I presume…), well, they only went and quoted me directly!  Wow.  I am beside myself now.  Check out the story HERE.

I sincerely doubt Sky will suddenly change their minds about his new policy, but hey, at least I feel my voice has been heard.

It’s a moral victory.

Birthday prezzie highlights…


Just a few things I got this year…

Enjoying Batman so far … don’t know why I took so long to get around to it.  Not watched any American Horror Story yet, but from what I have heard I will enjoy it.  Oh and expect a review in the next few days once I have sat down with The Fury – early impressions?  Very nice HD image quality!

Update


A small update from me.  Not a great deal going on here, but I did pick up a new computer recently.  I am currently getting my head around Windows 8.  Now I have read (some) of the negative feedback of the Microsoft operating system, but honestly – I like it.  It’s very stylish, so makes your computer look very nice and colourful.  Also the start screen is pretty cool, even if I am using the standard desktop more – yes, old habits die hard.  Yet I am enjoying finding my feet and just exploring – it’s actually fun not knowing the way things work straight away, and having to actually learn – it feels refreshing, and probably the boot up the ass Windows has needed for a long time.

Other than the above I have been playing two games, namely the acclaimed PlayStation 3 exclusive The Last Of Us, which is proving very impressive … and also the hotly anticipated Grand Theft Auto 5.  This is easily proving the best in the long running series, with superb graphics and total fun gameplay, with the evolution of having three characters to swap between proving very well implemented and giving the series a deserved face lift – without losing any of it’s risqué image or attitude.

I have a few movies on the horizon also, including Iron Man 3 and Elijah Wood serial killer thriller / remake Maniac, so expect reviews soon.