Tag Archives: lara

Tomb Raider – Writer’s Raid

Tomb_Raider_raid

The logo for this project is created by The Well-Red Mage

Official website

The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy are series that have a lot of loving fans. Now, besides the Legend of Zelda series, there is another series that had a strong presence in my childhood. As a child, I fell in love with the Indiana Jones franchise. I played the various Indiana Jones games until either the cartridge or the CD gave up. Now, I wanted more. Because of that lust for more, I discovered the Tomb Raider franchise. The first Tomb Raider game I ever played was Tomb Raider 5 – Chronicles. That was enough for me to decide to hunt down all Tomb Raider games and play them from start to finish. And I’m not the only one who enjoys Tomb Raider and let me prove that to you, I’m going to raider the various tombs this franchise throws at us together with some amazing befriended bloggers. I hope you are ready since various treasures of articles will await you in these tombs. Let’s. Get. Raiding.

1996 – Tomb Raider

Tomb_Raider_(1996)Games With Coffee takes us through Lara’s adventure to help Natla.

Grab yourself a cup of coffee, since we are taking a journey through the good old first entry of Tomb Raider.

Together with Games With Coffee we take a nostalgic look to Tomb Raider and discover how it “holds up” today. Depending on who you ask of course.

The analysis of this game is extremely well done and made me remember various stories of the first time I played Tomb Raider. Seriously, give it a read! 

1997 – Tomb Raider II Featuring Lara Croft

Tomb_Raider_IIABXY Game Reviews is following Lara through her journey to find a Dragon’s dagger!

ABXY Game Reviews really wanted to play an old school Tomb Raider game. And I was looking for writers. A match made in heaven I think.

In heaven, that’s where the object Lara is after in her second adventure. A mythological Chinese dagger can came from the heavens that can turn mere mortals into dragons.

Did ABXY Game Reviews enjoy his journey through old school Tomb Raider or do fans of this game get blinded by nostalgia? You have to read this article to find out.

1998 – Tomb Raider III – The Adventures of Lara Croft

Tomb_Raider_IIINekoJonez helps us find four artifacts.

I love telling this story. When I first played Tomb Raider III, I thought I was playing Tomb Raider IV. The reason for that, well, I explained that in my nostalgic look-back of Tomb Raider III.

I tried to avoid writing a review for this game and give some retrospective facts. But it was great fun playing through this game again for this project.

So please, feel free to give one of my entries in this project a read.

1999 – Tomb Raider IV – The Last Revelation

Tomb_Raider_-_The_Last_RevelationSarahsGameCollection is going to take us on a journey to raid the Egyptian tombs!

I discovered Sarah’s website through this project. And I haven’t regretted it at all. Her website is a joy to browse through and read.

Her unique writing style is something I love most about her website. While she writes, she adds personal comments like if she is telling a story to you and it’s great fun to read.

I think that this article came together quite well since it made me want to replay Tomb Raider IV for myself.

2000 – Tomb Raider V – Chronicles

Tomb_Raider_-_ChroniclesTriformTrinity is taking us to Lara’s funeral…?

If you want to know if you should play Tomb Raider Chronicles, you shouldn’t look further. Triform Trinity wrote a short review of the game.

I wrote an article on this game last year, and it shows how people can differ in opinion.

Anyways, I  highly recommend you reading this article. It was a joy to work with TriformTrinity and reading his through his website is such a great and fun time. Since I can assure you that I always have a fun time when I visit his website.

 

2000 – Tomb Raider Level Editor

Tomb_Raider_Level_EditorNekoJonez took a look at Tomb Raider fan’s levels.

I have to admit that I was planning to write an article about the level editor for Tomb Raider for quite a while.

To be honest, this game is one of the reasons why I organized this collaboration in the first place. Since it’s a creative platform that brings a community together. And this project is the perfect “excuse” to talk about something unique like this.

So, if you are curious about what the level editor can do, feel free to read it on my blog and I hope you like it.

2003 – Tomb Raider – Angel of Darkness

Tomb_Raider_-_The_Angel_of_DarknessSarah’s Game Collection is helping to solve this murder mystery…

If there is one Tomb Raider game I haven’t fully played it, it has to be Tomb Raider – Angel of Darkness.

I heard so many things about it. From it being a bad game to being a decent game. After reading the review that Sarah wrote for this game I got even more interested in finishing this game.

Now, I invite you to read along with me this amazing analysis of the final game that Core worked on in the series.

2006 – Tomb Raider Legend

Tomb_Raider_-_LegendLiana takes us on the legendary journey for a sword.

In this retrospective collaboration project, I always give freedom to the writers. This resulted in Liana writing an amazing piece where she analyzed the game very deeply.

Not only that, she talks about the history and development of this game. And she even took a deeper look at who Lara Croft actually is.

I can highly recommend that you give this article by Liana a read. And if you are interested in more of her work, you can also visit her YouTube channel, which I HIGHLY recommend as well.

And allow me to slip some personal advertisement in as well since I reviewed this game last year myself.

2007 – Tomb Raider – Anniversary

Tomb_Raider_-_AnniversaryGames with Coffee takes us, again, on Lara’s adventure to help Natla…

Now, I hope your coffee didn’t go cold since we are going to take a look at the remake of Tomb Raider I.

Games with Coffee brings you a very in-depth review and look at this game. He played it on Steam. I played this game on my PC as well and I have to agree with a lot he said in the article.

This game was one of the games that really drew me into the whole Tomb Raider franchise and it hasn’t let go since.

2008 – Tomb Raider Underworld

Tomb_Raider_-_UnderworldLiana takes us on a journey through the underworld.

Now, Liana takes a look at Tomb Raider Underworld in a very interesting way. You won’t find a review of the game in this article but a very interesting in-depth analysis of the game’s story.

Reading the article was extremely interesting. It helped me to connect some dots I didn’t even realize that there were before.

She also analyses Lara’s character and how it all fits in the lore of the series. Seriously, what are you waiting for? Go read Liana’s article!

2010 – Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

Lara_Croft_and_the_Guardian_of_LightLaterLevels is going to battle for the light.

After I finished Tomb Raider Underworld, I was waiting on the next entry in the Tomb Raider series. To my surprise, we had to wait 5 years on a new entry in the main series.

Yet, during this wait, we got Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. A game that’s on my endless backlog list.

When I talked to Kim from LaterLevels and asked her if she wanted to be part of the Tomb Raider project, she suggested playing this game on stream together with her other half. She didn’t stream this game but the other spin-off. More on that later.

Now, what did she think of this game? You can read it in Kim’s article. Enjoy!

2013 – Tomb Raider

TombRaider2013OverThinkerY takes us to a Japanese island…

“A famous explorer once said, that the extraordinary is in what we do, not who we are. I’d finally set out to make my mark; to find adventure. But instead adventure found me. In our darkest moments, when life flashes before us, we find something; Something that keeps us going. Something that pushes us.”

That was one of the best quotes out the reboot of Tomb Raider in 2013. In this article, my good friend OverThinkerY took a look at the game. His analysis is great and I loved reading his article. I think you will enjoy it as well.

Also, this game has a special place for me on my blog since it’s the first game I reviewed since I started my English blog in 2013. You can read it here.

2014 – Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris

Lara_croft_and_the_temple_of_osiris_artLaterLevels takes us on a journey through the Temple of Osiris.

So, Kim didn’t know that there were two spin-off games. When I told that to Kim, she didn’t hesitate for a second and decided that she wanted to also write about the 2nd spin-off game.

Kim did a stream of this game together with her other half. You can watch Twitch.TV archive in case you missed it: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/310930370

But I also highly recommend to check out her review of this game. Since I loved reading it.

2015 – Lara Croft: GO! & Lara Croft Relic Run

TriformTrinity puzzles his way through various tombs…

…and runs for relics.

Now, in this Writer’s Raid, we also took a look at two Lara Croft mobile games. These are Lara Croft Go and Lara Croft Relic Run. Honestly, I have played a bit of Lara Croft GO myself, but I haven’t played a lot of Lara Croft Relic Run.

So, if you are curious if these games are something for you and worth buying on your Android or iOS device, I think you will enjoy these two articles that TriformTrinity wrote. Have a great read!

2015 – Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise_of_the_Tomb_RaiderOverThinkerY looks at Lara’s rise in Lara Croft.

Of course, had Tomb Raider (2013) to end with a cliff hanger. So, the story could continue in Rise of the Tomb Raider.

OverThinkerY takes a great look at the game and gives his own honest opinion on it. (And I gave mine a few years ago)

Something I really liked in OverThinkerY’s article is that he compared this game to what he likes in other games. And he played this game with the DLC included. So, give it a read, I can highly recommend it.

2018 – Shadow Of The Tomb Raider

SotTR_HERO-1-heroNekoJonez is going to take us on Lara’s latest journey.

While we were planning this project, the newest Tomb Raider game got released. To be honest, I claimed this game right away. I wanted to play this game anyways and I felt that it was a perfect way to close this collaboration.

So, what did I think of Lara’s latest adventure? If you want to know that, you’ll have to read my article on Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

And then this was the loot

I knew in advance that the group of writers for this project was going to be very different compared to my previous projects. I want to thank all the writers who helped me in this project, some even replayed games which didn’t age too well.

I hope you enjoyed reading this collaboration between me and these lovely bloggers: Games With Coffee, ABXY Game Reviews, Sarah’s Game Collection, Liana Kerzner, TriformTrinity, LaterLevels, and OverThinkerY.

Do check these people out! They are all amazing people and I have to thank all of them to make this become a reality. Besides The Legend of Zelda, Tomb Raider is one of the biggest series from my childhood and reading all these different pieces made me remember why I love the series.

I have to admit that the games didn’t age all too well so it was quite interesting to see what everybody thought about the games they played.

I hope you enjoyed reading through these articles and enjoyed exploring the websites that made this unique project come to life. Feel free to be a Tomb Raider and explore these websites since they are all great sites that I can highly recommend.

If you want to read more articles like these, last year I did a similar project like this on the Zelda series. Also, my friend the Well-Red Mage did something similar to the Final Fantasy series. So, thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Writer’s Raid: Tomb Raider III – The Adventures of Lara Croft

Tomb_Raider_IIIWikipedia entry

I remember quite well buying a copy of Tomb Raider IV & V in one bundle. When I came home and placed the install disc for Tomb Raider IV in my PC, I was surprised that Tomb Raider III started installing. I didn’t mind so much, I found the files for Tomb Raider IV on the disc labeled Tomb Raider V. I already owned Tomb Raider V, so I got extremely lucky there. Since I took a look at Tomb Raider IV in the past, I think it would be more interesting for this project to take a look at Tomb Raider III. Now, what do I mean with “this project”? Well, a group of writers and myself took a look at the whole Tomb Raider series and like the Zelda project last year, there is a hub article you can find here if you want to read the other amazing articles.

The Adventures of Lara Croft

TR3-1In this game, Lara is searching for the Intifada Stone. When she finds the artifact, she gets approached by a researcher from RX Tech, who informs her about a meteorite that landed in Antarctica millions of years ago. This meteorite was used by the Polynesians to create various powerful stones, one of which is the Intifada Stone. So, Lara starts a quest to find all the stones before they fall in the wrong hands.

The story is quite interesting. The main arc of the story, I explained above. But the story takes Lara on several different journeys with their own story. It’s a bit like Tomb Raider V, but the big difference is that they aren’t remembering Lara’s adventures after her death.

So, compared to Tomb Raider II, what is new in this game? Quite a lot actually. The game was primarily made for the PlayStation and was meant as a sort of next-gen Tomb Raider. Core Design created a totally new engine for the game and a lot more. If you want to read up on the development, the Wikipedia page I linked above has a lot more to talk about.

The game did rather well. The game scored an average of 7/10 from different publications. If you look on GameRankings.com, the PS1 version even got a bigger score than the PC counterpart. It’s a 5% difference.

Now, the version I have in my collection is “Tomb Raider III – The Lost Artefact”. This is a version with some additional levels included. With these 5 additional levels, the game takes a nice 25 hours to beat the game, making this the longest Tomb Raider game in the series.

The story of the expansion pack takes place in between the story of Tomb Raider III. So, it’s no epilogue or prologue. Also, this expansion pack was only released for people who owned the PC or MAC version. Sadly enough, this game was sold as a standalone game. The previous two games also had an expansion pack which was either part of a re-release or free to download from the official website.

The game also provided quite a lot of new things and moves to play around with. Lara got some new abilities like using the monkey bars. The new things in this game include new swimming and water mechanics, quicksand and various other things.

I’m glad that I played this game on the PC since on the PS1, the save feature is restricted. The save feature works sort-of like the save feature in the early Resident Evil games. Where you have to find Ink Ribbons for the typewriters to save. In Tomb Raider III, you have to find save crystals to use the save feature in the main menu.  Since I love to save often in the older Tomb Raider games, I would have been so frustrated if that was also the case on the PC.

During the game, you go to India, UK, USA, and Antarctica. You can also visit Lara’s home in this game. If you are a first-time player, I highly recommend that you explore Lara’s home first. This way you can get used to the controls and the mechanics of Lara’s jump in the gym. Also, yes, I have fond memories of locking Winston up in the freezer.

How does it hold up?

TR3-2For me personally, this game was fun to play through. The game tested my retro gaming skills quite a lot and I enjoyed walking around the levels. While I had my share of frustrations when missing a jump or not directly knowing where to go, I still had a lot of fun exploring this game.

Now, this game hasn’t aged like fine wine. This game isn’t for everybody. While I don’t mind the dated visuals, I can understand that some people would hate the visuals. The visuals are early PS1 visuals. Yet, I feel they still have some charm and still look better than Tomb Raider I or II.

This game has decent controls. The big issue I have with them is that you can’t rebind the keys easily. There is some trickery you can do, but it shouldn’t be this annoying. Also, since I use an AZERTY keyboard layout, some keys were in different places. Thankfully, I got used to the controls after a few levels and I was able to pull of great moves.

Something that did age quite well, in my opinion, is the music and sound effects. While the soundtrack is extremely short, it’s still a joy to listen too. The soundtrack really fits the mood of the game. It’s relaxing when you are climbing and tense when you are fighting a boss. The sound effects pulled me into the atmosphere of this game.

TR3-3I really enjoyed the puzzles in this game. The only thing I had issues with was the vehicle sections. But, that was mostly because I didn’t know you could speed them up. After I learned how to do that, I had fewer issues with them. While it’s quite possible to play this game without a walkthrough, I used BadAssGamez’s walkthrough when I was stuck. He finished this game without using any medkits and got all the secrets as well.

In his video’s he also shows tricks on how to skip certain fights or how to easily defeat enemies. If you aren’t used to old-school Tomb Raider games, I highly recommend that you watch his walkthroughs if you need some help in beating this game. If you are used to old-school Tomb Raider games, this game will provide you with various challenges. My favorite level was the 8th level, the Temple of Puna. Mainly because it had various moments that reminded me of Indiana Jones.

I think that this game is still worth a playthrough. If you enjoy playing retro adventure games, I can’t recommend this game enough. I do understand that this game isn’t for everyone. There are moments where the game clearly shows its age. Don’t expect a game with a more modern polish, expect a game that challenges you in various areas that takes you back to when you were young and played games after homework on your parent’s computer.

If you want to give this game a try, it’s still being sold on Steam for 7€ and on GOG, you find Tomb Raider 1+2+3 together for 9€. So seriously, what are you waiting for?

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game. If you are interested in a full review of this game, please tell me in the comments. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Game Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PC) ~ Trinity Awaits You.

Tomb_Raider_raid

The logo for this project is created by The Well-Red Mage

This post is a part of the Tomb Raider – Writers Raid collaborative project. In this project, various bloggers came together to take a critical look on the Tomb Raider series. Mixing nostalgia and a critical look at every game in the main series. You can read more in the hub article here.

SotTR_HERO-1-heroWikipedia entrySteam Store page

I remember the day that the picture leaked of the guy working on a powerpoint presentation of Shadow of the Tomb Raider on the metro. I was so hyped for the 3rd Tomb Raider game. I quite enjoyed the reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise and I wanted to see how the trilogy ends. I pre-ordered the game as soon as I could. Of course, I pre-ordered the collector’s edition and I was able to play this game 48 hours before the official release. Now that I finished the game, it’s time to give my honest opinion on it. Is the game any good or should you skip it? Let’s find out. Also, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Trinity awaits you

20180912191126_1If you are planning to play this game, I highly recommend that you play Tomb Raider (2013) and Rise of the Tomb Raider before this game. The story in this game continues on the story of those two games. While you will be able to understand and follow the story in the game without any problems in this game, the impact of the story will be stronger if you played the first two games.

To avoid spoilers, I’ll keep some parts a bit vague in my plot description. So, in this game, Lara and Jonah are exploring Cozumel in Mexico for a piece of the artifact that Lara’s rival gang Trinity is after. It doesn’t take long before the duo finds Trinity and they discover something huge about Trinity. This leads Lara to a nearby temple where she finds a dagger that sets off a chain of events that might spell the end of the world but this might help Trinity to succeed with their plans. Now, will Lara be able to stop Trinity and save the world? Since Trinity awaits you in this game…

The story of this game is your typical adventure movie story. Personally, I enjoyed the story in this game quite a lot. The writing is pretty well done. I grew attached to the characters in this arc and it kept me engaged. While I was able to predict some plot points and twists from a mile away, I was entertained by it. The pacing of the plot is so good, I was less distracted by side quests than in the previous two titles.

The story takes you to various locations in Mexico and Peru. There is one section of the game that will put a huge smile on veteran Tomb Raider players, but I won’t spoil that one. While a lot of the game takes place in the jungle, the scenery never gets boring. I totally loved exploring the world after I had beaten the main story and I can’t wait for the additional content that they are going to release in the upcoming months.

Something I would love to talk about is that this game had two different epilogues. In this article, I want to focus on reviewing the game in its current form but if you want to know more, Kotaku has a great write-up with developer commentary.

The writing and pacing of this game are excellent, but something I really liked in this game was the voice acting. I really felt that the actors were giving it their all while creating this game. When Lara gets mad, she really sounds mad. Something I think is amazing is that the NPC’s can either speak English or speak in their native language. This setting in the options menu is such an amazing immersion feature. It really adds to the charm of the voice acting.

Now with the reboot plot wrapped up, I’m quite curious about where they are going to take Lara next. Which adventures will Lara have next? Will they create a new game when Lara is older or will they create a story that takes place right after this game? Only time will tell.

Take a jaw-dropping picture

sotr.jpgWhen I saw the minimum requirements of this game, I became worried. In order to play this game, you need to have an i3-3220 Intel processor or something similar to AMD. You also need 8GB RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 660/GTX 1050 or AMD Radeon HD 7770 at the minimum. My computer has an i7-4820K, 16GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 660. So, my computer fits the requirements of the recommend system requirements besides my graphics card. I was so afraid that I would be bottlenecked due to my graphics card. I was afraid that I had to put everything at the lowest settings to even get a playable framerate out of the game.

Surprisingly, that wasn’t the case.  I was able to play the game at medium visual settings at somewhere between 25FPS to 66FPS. The framerate was quite stable as well. While I was playing, I ran MSI Afterburner on my 2nd monitor to keep track of the temperatures of my GPU and the usage. Since that caused issues in Rise of the Tomb Raider for me. In this game, I only experienced three game crashes in that 48-hour pre-launch period but a quick restart of the game fixed the issue. And since the patch released on launch, I never had those crashes again.

25FPS might be too low in some people their opinion but I don’t mind it that much. 30FPS is still an acceptable frame rate for me and I don’t mind it that much, I understand that a lot of people prefer 60FPS, but I’m just glad that I have the game at a playable and stable frame rate.

I’m happy that my computer can run this game since this game takes you on an amazing journey. You come across gorgeous landscapes that are begging you to use the photography feature built in this game. This is even a small basic editor included. I only used the photography mode once, to test it out. If I ever replay this game, I have some spots that I totally want to use this feature on and create some amazing wallpapers.

While the visual presentation is amazing, I did experience some tearing issues and I saw some clipping. But, this happened so rarely and fixed themselves so fast, they weren’t a big issue. Most of the tearing issues were just for a few seconds here and there is a cutscene. I have to admit that updating my graphics card to the latest driver made me have even less tearing issues. So, if you are experiencing them too, check if your graphics card is up-to-date.

Visually, this game is jaw-dropping. While exploring the packed jungle, hidden cities, and various tombs; you get even more eye candy with the animations in this game. From Lara jumping down to make a stealth kill to two characters speaking to each other in a cutscene, the animations are extremely well done. One minor complaint I have is that some death scenes felt a bit reused from the previous two games, but some look even better than before.

Yet, there are a few things about the visuals I thought weren’t the best they could be. The first problem with the visuals is that sometimes when the game reloaded after I died, the visuals went to a lower setting. This happened to me 5 times out of nowhere. Yet, after a patch, I didn’t experience this issue so I guess that might be fixed.

A 2nd complaint I have with the visuals is that the liquids in the death scenes became see-through. It might be a nitpicky complaint, but I felt that it was rather awkward. It didn’t feel quite right. It would have looked a lot better if the camera zoomed out with Lara’s scream fading away as if she drowned.

Now, let’s talk about gameplay. Since the reboot, the gameplay of the Tomb Raider series changed quite a lot. There are more action sequences in between puzzle segments and the exploration of tombs. Lara has a few new abilities compared to the previous two games. Outside of the expanded moves with the grapple ax and the stealth mechanics, all these mechanics are underused.

For example, some enemies have heat goggles. These enemies appear so frequent, it’s a gimmick. Another example is the underwater creatures, like eels and phirans. These can provide for some unique swimming puzzles but they are rarely used or are quite easy to avoid. Also, there are some tripwires that can activate traps. But, these traps are always the same trap and the same way of disabling them. It’s sad to see these mechanics under used so much.

Something that really annoyed me is that when you used the explorer sense, Lara almost always gave the solution of the puzzle away immediately. She spells out what you have to move to where. Even this sense sometimes provided the solution to the puzzle. This made some puzzles in this game too easy. I preferred it when Lara didn’t give the solution right away. It was especially frustrating when she talked over dialogue. In one tomb, Lara and Jonah were exploring. While they were talking about the room they were in, I pressed the explorer sense button. While Lara and Jonah were having their chat, Lara spoils the solution of the puzzle. That way I didn’t hear what Lara and Jonah said. It would have been much more fun to solve the puzzles when Lara didn’t give away the solution away so quickly. It should work like those special mushrooms in the latest Mario games, that it appears when the player keeps failing to solve the puzzle or is stuck in the room for some time.

It’s a shame since the puzzles are very fun to solve. They are well crafted and I enjoyed solving them. Thankfully, the issue of Lara spoiling the solution doesn’t happen with the platform sections. These were amazing to play through. I can’t wait to see what the new challenge tombs will bring in the upcoming months. On the 14th of November, a new tomb will release. I can’t wait to explore it.

Anyways, when I changed the puzzle difficulty to hard, Lara didn’t do this. I wish I knew this earlier before I had beaten the game. Since I had chosen the “Rite of passage” difficulty. It would have solved one of my major gripes with this game. I did have to set it to the hard setting, and that took away a lot of things in the explorer sense as well… So, I’ll stick to normal and just not use explorer sense only if I’m stuck.

Something I really love in this game as well is that you have more than one indicator on the map and in the explorer sense. You have the yellow marker that guides you to the next story point, the green one for the side quest you are doing and the blue one for the marker you set in the map mode. This is so handy and helped me to keep track of certain things. Great feature!

Orchestral exploration

20180912191114_1This game has an orchestral soundtrack. The soundtrack has been composed by Brian D’Oliveira and he created something amazing. The soundtrack adds so much power to the cutscenes and the game.

I also added the soundtrack to my music library. It’s a great soundtrack for when I’m writing various articles or when I’m playing other games like Minecraft or Europa Universalis IV.

It was especially tense during the stealth sections. I’m the type of player who usually goes all out and doesn’t use a lot of stealth. In this game, I highly recommend that you are careful while you have enemy encounters. They can quite easily overwhelm you if you go out of hiding too quickly. Also, in this game, the traps like flaming bottles and smoke bombs are way more useful than in the previous games. They helped me quite a lot. The music is a great help in these combat sections since it’s your guide if there are still enemies around or if you have defeated them all.

Together with the great soundtrack, the sound effects and sound design of this game are extremely well done. I played this game with headphones. If you play this game, I highly recommend that you use a decent pair of headphones or speakers. The sound effects and the music add so much to the experience and the immersion, it’s essential in my opinion. It made my heart pound at certain moments and I felt so relieved when I was finally able to beat that section that gave me problems earlier.

The controls in the game are good. I do have one complaint and that is that I find the controls for the crafting system a bit awkward to use. I got used to it, but I preferred the crafting system in the previous game where you were able to map the crafting of (special) arrows or ammo to a single button. Now you need to use two for them. Then again, I see the benefits of the current system, so I think it’s a personal complaint.

I never had any major issues with the controls. Maybe once or twice that Lara didn’t grab a ledge, but these things happen in games all the time. The checkpoints in this game are frequent enough that you don’t lose a lot of progress. The game also has an autosave so you never have to worry that you lose progress.

Earlier, I talked about the extended mechanics or the grapple ax. A grapple ax is an essential tool in Lara’s arsenal in this game. She uses it as a sort of whip to swing across gaps, Indiana Jones style. She also uses is it for stealth killing, climbing almost vertical walls and using it as an anchor point when she needs to go down. There are certain moments when you hang on a wall right above the entrance of a tomb and Lara has to lower herself to either safe reach the ground or to swing back and forth to create enough momentum to jump to the platform that leads to the entrance of the tomb. Rappelling down was always a great joy to do.

Now, there is one mechanic that actually returns from a previous Tomb Raider game. In Tomb Raider Anniversary, there are certain sections while you use your grapple you run on walls. This mechanic returns in this game. It’s used in combination with the lowering down mechanic I described in the previous paragraph.

These mechanics were fun to use. Slowing going down and seeing the big temple appear in the distance were my favorite moments in this game. It really made me feel like I was exploring the area. Paired with the amazing visuals and soundtrack, I enjoyed myself quite a lot. Speaking about those visuals, sometimes your path blended in with the environment so well, it was fun to explore. Trying to find the path you had to take to find your way back from a tomb. Also, in some platforming sections, especially when you are escaping from a crumbling building, the visuals make it even better to play through. You have rubble falling just past you or poles you bending the right way for you to continue. The adrenaline in these sections was amazing for me.

Now, this game took me 20 hours or so to beat. On Howlongtobeat.com, there are people who have beaten the story in 13 hours. I think I might complete this game, so I have a few additional hours in this game. The difficulty of this game really depends on the abilities and outfits you use. The fewer abilities you unlock and if you don’t use the benefits of your outfits, the game gets a lot harder. But, I found this game not that difficult. There were a few moments that I had to redo, sometimes more than 3 or 4 times but each time I learned the patterns of the enemies or where I needed to go. The game provides some challenge but once you get the mechanics down, you breeze through this power fantasy.

Now, about the difficulty. There are a few different options. Something I really like is that you can set the difficulty for combat, exploration, and puzzle. So, if you find something too easy and you want more challenge, just change that in the gameplay section of the options menu. The only nitpick I have about the menu is that there should be a “confirm” button. Since it felt kind of strange that the changes happen right away to me. Then again, that might be just me.

Also, if you are quite nostalgic like me, there are outfits that even remodel Lara’s character mode to look like in the earlier Tomb Raider games. I think that I’m going to use those outfits to complete the game now that I have beaten it.

Personally, I enjoyed the combat in this game quite a lot. Outsmarting your enemies and silently killing them before they can group up on you to overpower you was enjoyable. I felt my heart pounding when I was finally able to beat that one section I had to do over and over again. These sections made me consider playing other more stealth focused games in the future.

A big plus in this game is the in-game store. In the two previous titles, ammo could become a bit too rare to find in the post-game. This is solved by merchants in the villages you visit. There you can buy gear and ammo. You can also sell your materials for coins. This is a great mechanic since you really need to think about what you can sell if you want to complete this game.

The final fight in this game really took me back to the old school Tomb Raider boss fights. I only wish that it was a bit more challenging. I was able to beat the final fight with only dying twice. This time it felt like a proper final fight and not a gauntlet of enemies. It’s the best final fight in this trilogy.

So, that was everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s high time for the conclusion of my review.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Good story, pacing and voice acting.

+ Amazing visual presentation.

+ In-game store.

+ Great soundtrack & sound design.

+ Great final boss.

+ Nostalgic outfits.

+ …

The bad:

-Some mechanics are underused.

-Sometimes some minor visual issues like tearing and clipping appear.

Final thoughts:

As a veteran Tomb Raider player, I wasn’t disappointed in this game. While I completely understand that this game isn’t for everybody, it did click with me. I enjoyed myself while playing this game and I think that this game turned out amazing. The biggest flaw of this game is that some fun mechanics go underused. Maybe these mechanics might be more used when I up the difficulty in my next playthrough.

I enjoyed playing through this game so much that I’m going to play through this game again for sure. The visuals are extremely well done, the animations, soundtrack, sound design… it all pulled me into this game. If you really enjoy playing adventure games like the 3D Indiana Jones games, Uncharted, Tomb Raider (2013), Rise of the Tomb Raider or games of that nature, you owe it to yourself to give this game a try.

In my opinion, this is one of the best Tomb Raider games I have played in recent years. It reminded me why I enjoy playing through this series so much. The adventure is just so much fun and it reminds me of watching Indiana Jones when I was younger.

I can’t recommend this game enough. If you can, buy the season pass. I know that this makes the game more expensive but the additional costumes and the additional challenge tombs that will be released in the upcoming months will be more than worth it.

Thank you, Square Enix, Eidos Montreal and all the other companies who helped develop this trilogy. I hope you continue creating adventures for Lara Croft. The quality of this game is amazing and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Thank you for the journey and I hope this won’t be the last stop. You thanked your fans in the credits, allow me to thank you and your team for this amazing experience! Keep on creating those tombs and we shall keep raiding if it’s this amazing of a game.

Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care. Also, be sure to check out the hub article where you can read more articles on the Tomb Raider series. More information is at the start of this article.

Score: 90/100

Creative Christmas #6: Transportation Time

OrnamentsTrim_treetoppers99792-171002_1506972985225

So, I’m still in the collab with LaterLevels, where myself and a few other bloggers answer a question each and every until the 1st of January. Now, I have to warn you, tomorrow and the day after that won’t have a question to answer. So, after this article, this series will be back on the 27th of December. Plenty of time to think of a theme. Yeah, I haven’t forgotten about that. But, look, I’m almost done with the intro; this way I can pick up my phone that keeps ringing and tell you about the question for today. 

You’re woken from your drunken haze by another frantic call from Santa, who’s worried he’s not going to make all his deliveries in time. Which video game item or vehicle would you recommend for him?

portal-gun-3d-model

An easy answer would be a portal gun of course. I mean, it would save Santa some time if he didn’t have to climb down each and every chimney.  Somehow, I feel that that wouldn’t cut it. Since it would mean that Santa has to focus on way too much.

He has to aim each and every time, guess where the tree is located in the house. In addition to that, he can run the risk of using the wrong portal and creating a loop. Oh dear, I think I have to look for another solution.

Mario Kart Double Dash-1

Maybe the elves can help him, while the elves are driving one of the carts from Mario Kart Double Dash, Santa can throw presents into the houses of the children.

But then again, that aiming aspect of him having to put it underneath the tree. This is getting trickier and trickier.

I have to find something useful that he can use without (m)any additional issues that he has to worry about. I need to keep it simple for sure. Or have I? I mean, I looked for a logical answer each and every time, I think it’s time to go fully off the walls crazy with this one. For this one time.

Impulse_Command_Block.gif

So, get this. What if I gave Santa a couple of Command Blocks from Minecraft. This way he can input commands to replace blocks. So, what if he has the elves help him to write a script that translates the wishlists of the children into commands for the command block and then with a 2nd command block, replaces the air underneath the Christmas tree with said presents?

Meanwhile, a 3rd command block and check for nearby letters for Santa, cookies and milk so those get to Santa as well. While Santa’s IT-department will call this idea nuts, I just think it might be as nuts that it might just work.

Besides, if Santa wanted a better answer, honestly, I think it would have been a better idea that he called me when I wasn’t in my drunken haze anymore. I did have a big party last night, with a kiss underneath a mistletoe you know.

Otherwise, if I was more awake, I would have been able to think about a more clear and not too crazy answer for him. If only he called me later, I would have been able to suggest a better solution. With the Time Pieces that Hat Kid, from A Hat In Time, has in her spaceship, Santa would have been able to mess with time and make his deliveries in time. Would have been way more practical than setting up all those command blocks. Oh well. Perhaps a next time?

So, that’s my answer to today’s question. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

More answers here: https://laterlevels.com/

Creative Christmas #5: Smooch… I mean smoothy.

OrnamentsTrim_treetoppers99792-171002_1506972985225LaterLevels has a collab this Christmas, but you should already know that since this is the 5th article in the series. I still don’t have a theme for these and I hope I don’t get on the naughty list for this. I mean, I’m trying my best to provide you with interesting entertainment and stories and feelings from my personal life. But, I still don’t have someone special to share it with. For those who didn’t get my subtle clue, I mean a girlfriend. So, let me think about a theme for these articles and meanwhile, you can enjoy my answer to the question of today. 

The party is still going strong and you find yourself conveniently positioned under the mistletoe. Which video game character would you call over for a cheeky kiss?

Oh dear lord, there is a lost of superstition when you kiss somebody under a mistletoe. I mean, I’m not that superstitious, but just in case the girl is that I kiss, is superstitious; I do have to make this one count. So, who would be interested in a 24-year-old Belgian guy who works in education, writes about his life in video games, collects retro and modern games… Wow-ah there Jonez, you aren’t writing a profile for a dating site here.

20_Years_of_Croft.jpg

I mean, maybe a simple British woman would be interested. A classy but adventurous lady. Someone like Lady Croft. She was my first crush when it comes to video games. (Just like many other males I think).

Actually, I don’t think that’s a good idea. I’m not that adventurous in real life and I think I’ll just get in her way. So, Lara Croft, I’m sorry. I have to pass on you.

Elizabeth-COh, I have an idea! Maybe Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite! A lady I have a who lot of respect for. I mean, just look at her, she is a smart and caring lady that I can get behind.

When things get heated, you can be sure she can take care of herself. She got into multiple heated firefights with Booker after all.

Alas, I don’t think this would be a very wise choice. Without spoiling anything, just play Bioshock Infinite or look at it’s ending to understand what I mean. There is something about her that would make it pretty hard for her to have a boyfriend you know.

Maybe I’m thinking about this too much. Maybe, I’m taking this question a bit too serious. I mean, a cheeky innocent kiss. That isn’t a confession of love right? It’s not that I’m saying that I like her, right? Besides, I might get myself in an anime style war called that “Waifu” war here if I take things too seriously. Gosh darn, I’m raising the stakes even higher for myself now. I have to take something that offends almost nobody to avoid the “Waifu war” in the comments.

Sakuya

That would mean that somebody like Sakuya from Stella Glow would be a bad pick too. Since, if I would pick here, fans from the game will maybe argue with me that Popo or Risette is a better girl.

In addition to that, if I had to choose between her songs and Popo’s; dear lord, I would have a big problem on my hands.

Oh yeah, maybe some context for the people who haven’t played the game yet. In Stella Glow’s world, nobody can sing apart from witches who can use magic by singing. Yeah.

Also, I will have an even more hard time with Sakuya since one of my absolute favorite characters in the game in Nonoka, Sakuya’s servant. So, I think I won’t ask her.

So, I still don’t have an answer to this question. Besides, I think I should answer honestly since this is my blog after all. I pride myself on giving my opinion to the world about the games I recently played. I think I might be superstitious after all. I think about this too much.

… Princess Zelda? No! Link would be so mad and besides that, Zelda’s fate in the legends is always so hard on the emotions, I think I will be able to handle that.

… Princess Peach, well, I think Mario will stomp me to a pulp. So, no. I think I’ll pass there too.

FredericaMaybe Frederica from Etrain Odyssey Untold? That would be a lovely idea too, but then again; she is urhm… Well; just play the game and you will understand why. On second thought, I think I wouldn’t mind a kiss from her.

I can relate somewhat to her. When I meet people for the first time, I’m a bit distant too. But, I open up more and more when I get to know the other people and to trust them.

I also have difficulties to express my feelings to others. I’m also shy as well. So, I think I might be able to match with Frederica.

I wouldn’t mind a kiss from her under that mistletoe from her. At those moments, I wish that the superstitions were true, you know? Since she deserves all the good luck she can get. Or did I look too deep into this? Who knows, who can say?

Maybe I was playing a role all along in this article you know. So, while I’m standing underneath this mistletoe, Frederica you want a smooch– I mean a smoothy? Phew, nice save there.

And this is a perfect time to end this article. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

More answers here: https://laterlevels.com/

Review: Tomb Raider II (PS1) ~ French Lara

tomb_raider_2_boxWikipedia entry

Before you ask, what the title means… Let me explain that to you. So, I live in Belgium and we have three national languages here. These are Dutch, French and German. So, when I bought this game in a garage sale, I didn’t notice that I bought the French version of the game. Yeah. That’s why I played this game in French. Thankfully, after I had beaten this game I got my hands on the English version and the expansion pack for the PC, so I was able to enjoy the original voice acting. But, enough stalling. It’s time to talk about my experience with this game on the PlayStation 1. What is my opinion on this game? Let’s find out! As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article.

A dagger with power

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In this game, you play as Lara Croft on an adventure for the Dagger of Xian. The legend goes that with this dagger you can turn into a dragon. On the condition that the dagger is in your heart.

In present day, Lara is looking for the dagger. But she has the mafia on her heels.

Personally, I love this story. But that has to do with a few reasons. I enjoy stories about powerful artificats that can transform people or give them supernatural powers. Also, my favorite mythical creature are dragons. So, I’m a little bit bias to the story.

The writing is well done and the voice acting still sort of holds up. What I mean with “sort of” is that the voices are in rather low quality for today’s standards but this game is 10 years old, so I can forgive it for that.

Something I think that could be learned from this game is the fact that this game doesn’t have a real tutorial. I think it’s a great game design philisophy to first learn the player the mechanics in a safe of semi-safe enviroment and after that, you throw in the traps and puzzles. I don’t mean a full on tutorial, but a room where every mechanic can be learned without the fear of dying. Thankfully, you can save the game at any moment in time so you can quickly recover when you made a mistake. On the condition that you have saved often of course.

That is what I thought at first, but when I started messing around in Lara Croft’s manner, guess what… There is in fact a tutorial. So, when you play this game for the first time, I recommend doing the Croft Manner before you go into the main game. Thank me later.

As a side note, the save system is something you have to get used too. My French wasn’t good enough to understand everything of the UI. But, after some trail and error, I was able to figure it out. My advise when you play this game is to save often or you will regret it. There are a lot of traps in this game and when you haven’t saved, you will have to do those all over again.

Speaking about the UI itself, I think it’s amazing. The only complaint I have is that you can’t show Lara’s health at all time on the screen.

Showing it’s age

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I think it isn’t a surprise that this game is showing it’s age. Comparing to later titles in the series, this game hasn’t aged all that well.

But, the PS1 version has some disavantages compared to the PC version. In the PC version, you can have more than one save in a level and in my opinion, it controls better.

The reason that is controls better is, at least according to me, I usually play Tomb Raider games on my PC and rarely on consoles. So, my brain is somewhat hard wired for these old Tomb Raider games, making it trickier for me to play it on a console.

Something that was also present in the PC version is the texture clipping. In some cases or viewing angles, you can see white lines on the screen where the textures start and end.

Visually, this game looks dated. But I personally don’t mind. I think the visuals has still some charm to them. Just the early 3D adventure games that try to go full 3D have so much charm. I wish that more games are created that way, since it’s so nostalgic in my opinion.

The controls of this game are a mixed bag. At most moments, they work fine. But, if don’t play a lot of PlayStation, you might forget which button does what and in stressful trap situations, this will lead to some frustation. But, I had a hard time adjusting to how Lara walks. But, I think that issue has also to do with the annoying camera.

I had several times that the camera didn’t always follow the action. I died so many times because of that, it got frustrating.

Atmosphere

tr2_1The lack of music sometimes creates a great atmosphere. You visit various locations in your journey and in key moments, you get music.

The music in this game is extremely well done in my opinion. Surprisingly enough, according to various sources, the composer of this game worked on the soundtrack for only 3 to 4 months.

The sound effects of this game are still great. These have aged well. Just like the atmosphere of this game. I loved my journey through this game. The gameplay is really enjoyable. There are puzzles that got me stumped and jumping puzzles that I had to attempt more then once, but I didn’t mind. The fact that I can save and reload my game at any place I wanted made the game more forgiving. This game can be difficult in some places, but after playing a level or a section over and over again, you get more skilled and pass more difficult things easier.

You have 18 levels in this game. This game can be finished in give or take 20 hours, if you know what you are doing. Otherwise, it’s a lot of trail and error. Also, if you like exploring, there are three secrets hidden in each stage so you can explore to your hearts content. I wasn’t able to find each secret, so they are pretty well hidden. Each level has it’s own fair share of enemies to kill, puzzles to solve, gaps to jump over and traps to avoid. This adventure is a fun one, but some timed puzzles can be a bit strict. Also, it isn’t always 100% clear where you need to go. But, after some exploring and trying, I was always able to find the path to continue.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. This means it’s time for the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-The controls on the PC version are better.

-The save feature is better in the PC version.

-This game is showing it’s age.

The good:

+ Enjoyable story with great voice acting.

+ Addicitive gameplay.

+ Great music.

+ …

Final thoughts:

While I enjoyed this game a whole lot, I enjoyed it more on the PC. But, would I recommend this game to someone? Well, it all depends. If they are a hardcore Tomb Raider fan, I would say… You haven’t played this game? Shame on you! If they enjoy older games, I would say to give this game a shot. It’s a classic game after all.

This game hasn’t aged well, so you will have to get used to the controls and visual style of the game. But, when you get used to it, you are in for a great adventure that takes you around the globe full of surprises.

Personally, I think that the first 5 Tomb Raider games should have a remake. These games would be a lot of fun for modern gamers if the visuals get polished up.

But even when this game is better on the PC, the PS1 version is still great and fun to play, yet a bit flawed here and there. Too bad that you don’t have the expansion packs in this version.

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game, so I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 70/100

First Impression: Tomb Raider 5 – Chronicles (PC) ~ Is Lara dead?

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Wikipedia entry

If my nickname doesn’t give it away, I’m quite a big fan of Indiana Jones. When I played Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, I wanted to play more games where I raid tombs and have large adventures. It didn’t take long for me to find a cheap copy of Tomb Raider 5 and install it. And, I wasn’t good at playing this game as a kid. I barely survived the first level. Yes, shame on me. But several years later, I decided to put the game in my Windows98 machine again. And I have to say, my feelings towards the game changed. But I’ll go more in-depth about that in my article. Nowadays, I’m a big Tomb Raider fan and I keep up-to-date with the latest releases. So, is this game any fun and good to play. Let’s take a look at it! And as usual, feel free to write a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article in the comment section down below.

Let’s tell stories

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Usually, each Tomb Raider game has an overarching story. You go searching for a treasure and visit a ton of interesting locations. But in this game opens right after, what appears to be, the funeral of Lara Croft. Winston, her butler, and two of his friends recollect and tell stories of her adventures. Now, you might have guessed this, but the stories are the levels you play.

This is a very interesting way of telling the plot of this game. Since you go on little side adventures that might never get a full game. It almost feels like the developers had so many ideas for this game, they threw it all together in one nice flowing narrative.

The voice acting in this game is really excellent. As a kid, I was convinced that the characters were real. The voice acting is that good in my opinion.

While I know that the technology and animation were very limited back then, but the mouth animations weren’t that good in this game. Games like Half-Life and Deus Ex had better mouth animations. This might look like a detail that I’m talking about, yet there were moments that it distracted me from the game.

Less ropes!

tomb-raider-5-screen-2 Something I truly didn’t like in Tomb Raider 4 was the parts with the ropes. Thank god, this is way less present in this game. But, let’s focus on the gameplay of this game. In this game, you explore 13 levels filled to the brim with puzzles of the solving and jumping variety.

All levels are quite lengthy, apart from one…. and that one was quite difficult to finish in my eyes. Something I truly liked in this game is all the differences between the levels. You play through 4 different adventures and each adventure has its own gimmick. Like the levels I’m currently at, you play as a young Lara. So, she doesn’t have any guns.

Visually, this game looks dated. But, it looked dated in some places back then. But, if I compare games from that time period to this game, the reason why this game looks so dated are the character models. If there is anything that could have been improved back then were the character models.

But hey, the setting of the game and animation look all quite nice, apart from the mouth animation that is. Also, if you think that this game looks ugly, well… if it would be released today, it would. But, it doesn’t look ugly in my opinion. Even nowadays.

This game can be quite challenging. I have to admit, I have used a guide in some places to finish the level. If you play this game, I highly recommend that you save often. You will thank me for that.

If you look at a let’s play of this game, you might think that this game is quite difficult with all the jumping. But take it from me, an amateur when it comes to jumping puzzles, it’s possible and it’s so rewarding when you get a jump from the first try!

Pew pew pew

tomb-raider-v-chronicles-mac-screenshot-3

As a kid, I always dreaded the rope sections in this game. Walking on the tightrope is a new ability of Lara Croft in this game. But, somehow my kid brain wasn’t able to beat the rope. I was so happy when I crossed it successfully. But when I played through this game as an adult, I have no problem with it.

The controls are almost always very responsive. I had a few times that Lara didn’t grab a ledge or didn’t jump in time. Perhaps, I didn’t press the right buttons in time.

Something that made me replay the levels I had finished are the secrets in this game. In this title, various golden roses are hidden throughout the levels. The sound that plays when you find a secret is as addictive as the sound of Link finding a new item.

Speaking of sounds, the sound design and the soundtrack of this game is excellent. I felt rewarded when I got a music cue or some music. Actually, that’s something this game lacked as well. There wasn’t enough music in this title. I can understand that this is done to build the atmosphere of the game, but I personally would be happy with a bit more music. The whole soundtrack is about 25 minutes long. And that’s quite short for an adventure game like this.

So, the sound design of this game is pretty well done. Like I said earlier, the voice acting is very well done. Also, there isn’t one sound effect I would have changed or that would improve the game. I played this game using a headset and thanks to the sound design, I was really pulled into the game.

If I was allowed to change one thing, that is the loading of save points right after death. It’s so annoying that the main menu first has to load and right after that, the default option is “new game”. I can’t count on one hand how many times I have started a new game when I wanted to load a game. Yet, I wish I was able to change two things. The second thing would be the autorun feature. It’s broken. It autoruns the game yet you are unable to save your game. That’s an annoying bug!

Also, I have to praise the game for something. The optional tutorial section is such a great idea. At the start of the first level, you can go straight ahead or to the left in a building. If you go to the left, the basic controls are explained in a quite safe area. If you go straight ahead, you continue on with the level. If my mind severs me correctly, there are no secrets hidden in the tutorial area. Yet, there are various useful items hidden there. So, I advice you all to go and explore there.

That is everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I have some other things I want to talk about with this game but I’m leaving those for the review. So, it’s time to wrap this article up. Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

First Impression: Tomb Raider IV – The Last Revelation

600px-Tomb_Raider_4_coverTomb Raiders.net entry

The year is 1999 – 2000. Young NekoJonez was 8 years old. I only had a gameboy and quite an old pc. It could run old dos games and such just fine but as soon as I started to play games that were released after 2001, my computer freaked out. So, I grew up with handhelds. Although, there is one game I played as a child while not being 100% allowed. I played Tomb Raider 5. A game I picked up at a local toy store for a few bucks. I heard quite a lot of rumors of an Indiana Jones style game on the PlayStation, and that they were able to take a peek when the big brother or parent played the game. So, curious Jonez is curious and when I played TR 5, I was kinda disappointed. The controls really threw me off. Years later, I get myself the Tomb Raider bundle after having so fond memories of Legend, Anniversary, Underworld and it’s latest reboot. So, the last few weeks I gave TR 4 a try… Did it change my opinion when I was a child? Let’s take a look at the game. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game.

Editoral note: The reason I linked to Tomb Raiders.net their informative entry of this game instead of my usual habit to link to WikiPedia or the official site is because I used their images for this article. They deserve the credit. 

Tutorial

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I choose this game since it’s one that I wasn’t able to play as a kid. When I bought two TR games, they actually messed up and put TR III on the disc where IV should be. And they put TR IV on the one which needed TR III. I still own that copy, so I might show it in a video.

TR III and TR V worked just fine. Until I tried to run TR IV. The game crashed as soon as it wanted to boot. And because I didn’t knew a lot about computers back then, I wasn’t able to fix it. Then Steam came around and offered me this bundle of all the Tomb Raider games. So, I bought it. I was surprised when I saw that my 64-bit beast of a gaming machine was able to run the game just fine.

The game opens like how I remember the other old school Tomb Raider games open. With an introduction screen with ‘new’, ‘load’,’options’ and ‘exit’. In the background you have an animation of a few levels you will encounter in the game. I adore these title screens since they give the game that much more charm.

Yet, I wasn’t pleased with the first level. Not at all. With little to no backstory, you are dropped into the tomb and you have a guide with you that explained all mechanics of the game to you. The voice acting is a bit off. There are sometimes small moments of silence between lines and the young Lara has barely any emotion put into it. (At least, that’s my opinion).

I wanted to explore the level, yet, out of the dialogue of the tutorial I felt that it wasn’t really allowed. What really made me annoyed is the fact that you don’t have a weapon in this level while there are enemies.

Tank Larabaddies1

Truth to be told, it actually let me get used to the controls. The controls that threw me off and stopped me from playing the Tomb Raider games in the past. So, this brings me to one annoying thing in this game. The menu to configure your controls. While it works fine, it doesn’t recognize azerty keyboard lay-outs. It isn’t the biggest issue though, it’s that you can barely “read” the menu. It’s quite hard to actually make out what key does what unless you take out a ruler and put it on the screen. It’s a nitpick I know, but it’s rather annoying. … Oh, I actually lied. There is an even bigger issue. You can bind one key to more then one action.

The controls are responsive yet they are outdated. Playing old games like this really proves to me how hard wired my mind is in using the controls in a game now-a-days. Yet, after you get used to it, you will be able to pull off some nice moves. Yet, there are two major issues I have with the controls… and that is how picky the game can be of your location to be able to pick up an item or pull a lever. The second issue I have is how awkward the controls are for swinging on a rope. At least to me. Maybe I’m too used to the control scheme Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine used.

 Gameplay

scenery1I think it would be unfair to judge the game on graphics and animation, in a way. They are quite outdated and on modern systems they then to glitch out a bit. Yet, I don’t think it’s an issue. The presentation brings an amazing atmosphere. It really feels you are exploring a tomb.

After the tutorial level, there is little to no explanation on what to do. Thankfully, after you solved a puzzle, a small cutscene plays showing you the general direction you need to go in.

It actually blows my mind how well designed this game is. You can explore around and find hidden areas and I rarely got the feeling of being lost. While I was thinking about what I wanted to talk about in this article, I wanted to mention the lack of an ingame map… Actually, it isn’t an issue. Since it helps to build the feeling that you are exploring a location nobody has visited for quite some time.

So, let’s talk about the music. This is actually difficult for me since I feel that the soundtrack of later games are better then the old soundtracks. Before you write angry comments trying to explain to me what is wrong with my opinion here, let me explain. What I mean is that the more action packed soundtrack fits the atmosphere more then the more calm, bit creepy soundtrack of the old school games.

Actually, I like the soundtrack of this game. From what I have heard, it adds to the creepy atmosphere you would get when you are really exploring tombs. It fits more to the style of the old school Tomb Raider games.

In any case, I think I’m going to wrap up this article for now. I know that I talked a bit too much about the controls in this game. If you didn’t get the clue, I’m quite enjoying this game. If I finish it, I’ll surely write a review article about it. I wanted to focus in this article more on the issues I have now-a-days with the controls and why they actually made me stop playing Tomb Raider as a kid. I think I should return on that topic.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this article. I wish you an amazing day and I hope to meet you another time. Take care, NekoJonez.

Review #023: Indiana Jones And The Infernal Machine (PC) ~ Overdosing Childhood Nostalgia

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Wikipedia entry

“Time to go to work” is the opening of the game. Indy slides down a slope and lands on stone platform overlooking a canyon. Now you’re ready to start the game’s tutorial. Well, I can try to write a billion introductions for this game but I will never really be happy with it. I will always restart writing this article and after many tries, I just decided to write it. Since this game is filled with childhood nostalgia for me. I always try to replay it but with all broken copies, bad compatibility with later operating systems,  it’s a big pain. If you want to play this game, your safest bet is to either go and buy a truly old pc that runs Windows 98 or be lucky and play in a virtual machine. But the third option is that you go and buy the N64 version. I can’t talk much about that version since I only played the PC and gameboy color version. I still remember that one morning I woke up on my birthday at my aunt’s place and she gave me Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine for my gameboy. Okay, enough nostalgia. Feel free to leave me a comment with your opinion on this article and or game. Let’s dive right into this. 

Overlooked gem

Infernal_Machine_MeroeIf you look around the internet, you find mostly an overdose of content about it. But this game got overlooked. My best guess is that it’s mostly compared to a cheap Tomb Raider clone. Whilst this is somewhat true, I think that if you look at this game as an entry into the 3D adventure game genre, it’s a pretty solid entry.

Let’s talk about the story. While it isn’t a deep story, and it only has enough characters to count on your both hands, I think it actually works in favor of this game.

All the characters are flat and you barely got to know them. If I need to put aside my nostalgia, I have to admit that the story is weak. But then again, this is an action adventure game, so it’s a bit forgiven. Action games don’t need to have a deep story. While adventure games, a deep story is a must!

The story brings us through various locations. From Egypt to a boat in the middle of the sea. And every location is nicely introduced at the end of each level. And that’s the main function of the story, tying the levels together nicely.

The infernal machine

Indiana-Jones-and-the-Infernal-Machine-indiana-jones-35225169-800-600Thanks to some great voice acting, I personally can forgive the weak story. But the gameplay is where this game shines. And it truly shines.

First of all, there are around 15 levels in the game. Each level has a decent length. At best, you can finish this game after a few weeks of play.

Most area’s wont give you any trouble. Not that this game has low difficulty, not at all. But the game is pretty straight forward. While some puzzles can stump you, it’s not that you can get stuck easily.

Each level requires you to kill enemies, jump from platform to platform and try to find the exit to advance to the next level. Basic adventure game stuff. But the execution is amazing. Since each area, while falling into the cliche area’s, feels unique and feels true to the Indiana Jones movies. It’s almost like you are playing an Indiana Jones movie.

A volcano, jeep, boat, pyramid or a tropical island level are present in the game and tons more. And the main objective in each area is different and fun. While some have fetch quests, they don’t feel boring or lazy in any way. Plus, the game isn’t extremely linear. Some area’s can be finished with doing things in a different order.

Recommended

map14So, in each level you can find 10 treasure items. With these you can buy ammo, health packs and various other items at the end of every level. Some treasures are in plain sight, but some treasures ask some exploration of the open levels. A tip that I give to you guys is that in the Olmec Valley (level 10), there is a treasure hidden in a pond. That was one that took me a long time to find.

Visually, this game has aged quite poorly. The animations and graphics will look terrible to the modern gamer. But truth to be told, the design of every place is beautiful. For a retro gamer, this game is a jewel. A pearl in design.

The level design is just pretty and provides quite the variation in gameplay and will not easily bore you. Even a couple of easter eggs are hidden. I will reveal two of them. Both extremely close to each other. In one level, where you need to enter the mines, you will visit a control room. On the desk of the control room there is a picture of the Young Indy. If you press the action button, Indy will give a nice comment. After that, try to get on top of the control room. It’s tricky to do, but the boxes outside will help you. Once on top, light your lighter and somewhere in the middle you will see the name of one of the designers edged into the wood.

So, what haven’t I talked about? Oh yes, the music. While it’s mainly absent, I think that it’s a missed opportunity. The game could have benefited from a more extended musical score. But the sound design isn’t bad at all and gets a thumbs up from me.

Oh, before I forget, there is a big reward if you collect all the treasures. You will be able to buy something really special that will put a big smile on your face if you have seen the first movie. Just saying.

And to finish, let me talk about the cheats. Yes, there are cheats. From god mode to have each and every weapon in the game. But there are even easter eggs in the cheats!

So, I think I am going to leave it here for this review and go on to the conclusion. Don’t forget to draw everywhere on the walls with your chalk in the game! I haven’t talked about everything inside the game as usual, since I want you guys to have some discoveries in the game if you’re interested!

Conclusion

The bad:

– Tricky to get to work on modern system.

– Some weapons can crash the game if you have Windows XP or higher.

– The story is weak.

– This game could have benefited from more music.

The good:

+ The easter eggs are truly worth finding.

+ The replay value is high.

+ The length is very great.

+ Nice sound design.

+ Epic visuals for retro gamers.

+ Nice voice acting.

+ Addicting gameplay.

Conclusion:

Dayum, this was harsh to do. My nostalgia was always taking the better of me and pushing every bad thing I wanted to say, was pushed out of my head. The old warning I have to give is that this game is a pain to get working properly on modern systems. It even acts funny from time to time on my virtual machine. So, please, keep that in mind.

But this game was the cause I got truly addicted to gaming. It’s a very influential game in my eyes and I often reference it in my head when I’m reviewing or writing. Somehow it gives me inspiration.

Let me reveal a few things I haven’t talked about in my review. Like the adjustable difficulty, boss battles and a map system. Yeah, the game is pretty deep when I think about it. I had enough material for a long review for sure, but just because I felt like writing a review about this game and finally publish it, since I was always somewhat displeased, I kept it to my usual length.

Anyways, I’m writing a longer final thoughts then I should. Play this game for yourself and tell me what you thought of this game. I truly think it’s a master piece with a few flaws.

Score: 90 / 100

NekoJonez: My Favorite Game Music #3: Blasting.

GameMusic_InArticleLet’s blast speakers again. Well, sort of. I felt like sharing some amazing game music with you guys again. I had to open my two previous articles on my 2nd screen to make sure I didn’t duplicate a song. But I think that once I have a few of these articles I might pay a bit less attention to that. I mean, with which witchcraft is someone able to make sure he didn’t duplicate an entry in a series. If you have a tip, be sure to leave it in the comments. Anyways, feel free to leave a comment on this article with your thoughts. What do you think of my selected music and what is your favorite game music? I look forward to reading them.

#1 – The Legend Of Heroes VI: Sora no Kiseki FC (PSP) – Battle Theme


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Ah, this game is my current addiction. This PSP title is such a gem of a game. I truly enjoy the story and idea behind it. This battle theme is pretty cheery, what you normally don’t expect from an RPG. Yet, I truly think it fits in the soundtrack.

The writing and art make the game feel lighthearted. And this track truly adds to that fact. Sometimes I left battles to go on just to keep listing to this track.

I admit, with some shame, I danced one this track in my room once or twice… Maybe three times. Not more than ten times, though.

Anyways, this game feels fresh to me and hearing that there will be a sequel on Steam is making me extremely pumped. As soon as I find an entry on Steam I’ll surely put it on my wishlist and buy the sequel. Yet, this game will only be released in 2014. So, we will have to wait.

#2: The Legend Of Zelda – Link’s Awakening (DX) (GB – GBC) – Ballad Of The Windfish


Links_Awakening_boxLink

Although this might be a short track, the rewarding feeling is why this track is so special. Imagine that you go in several dungeons collecting these instruments and hearing bad things left and right.

Trying to defeat the monsters that stop you in your path. It’s a huge task.

This game is also full of references to other Nintendo games. It’s a unique game and I’m curious what the DX version is going to give me. I bought it a while ago on the eShop and I’m ready to play it.

The clip might not be of excellent quality yet, I play the song quite nice. And the remixes of this song are really neat as well.

#3: Tomb Raider: Underworld (PC) – God Of Thunder

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Link

So, the DS version of this game had its flaws. And in general, this Tomb Raider game had its flaws. Yet, I enjoyed it an awful lot myself. I think that this is a great entry in the series.

I was bumped out that we couldn’t explore the mansion at all. But the story covers the reason why.

Anyways, this song has been stuck in my head whenever I replay the game. It’s a great tune. The tense feeling I get when playing the game and hearing this song is the perfect mood set.

The length is the only issue I have with the track. I wish it would have been a bit longer since after a short while of looping this track gets somewhat annoying to some people. At least not to me, I take this track as one of my favorite tracks in the whole series.

So, what’s next Jonezy?

#4: Tomb Raider (PC) – Suite One, Level Three

 

Tomb Raider Survivor Box-Art.

Tomb Raider Survivor Box-Art.

Link

Call me cheaty with this one, but I won’t care. Two tracks from the same series on the last in one article. I honestly think it’s worth it.

Tomb Raider is an extremely tense game. And playing it with the amazing soundtrack this game has makes this game such a joy to play. It was also the game I reviewed to restart my career as a game reviewer.

This track makes me feel tense in a tense game. My heart got pumping and I was at the edge of my seat while playing this section of the game. I have to admit that I don’t exactly remember which part of the game this track played on. But it’s by far one of my favorite pieces in the whole soundtrack.

The orchestra that created this amazing piece of music really did amazing work and I’m hunting down a copy of the soundtrack album. If that even exists.

#5: Fragile Dreams (Wii) – A dedication to… everyone

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Link

This game is simply amazing. While the writing might be the weakest in the game. It isn’t bad by any means. I’m currently playing through the 3rd chapter of this game and the relaxing soundtrack is something that draws me in.

I really advise you guys to play this tale. I have discovered it through one of my favorite YouTubers. And the full soundtrack is something I have yet to comment on. And I won’t comment on it in this article since I haven’t fully played the game.

Yet, I sometimes let the title screen just play the music. It’s that great in my … ears, I guess.

I hope this game is a rather lengthy game. The idea behind it is simply amazing. I can’t wait to see in which directions this game is going to take me. While I do admit that the inventory system is kind of a pain. But find me one game that’s perfect.

Closing words

And with these 5 tracks, I think I’m going to end this article. I have a few great upcoming articles in mind but before I can write those I’ll have to finish some games and do some research. But like I said in my previous update blog, I’m quite busy with college work and various other side projects.

So, I hope you enjoyed the music and maybe you discovered a new game to play. Anyways, I have some work to do. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you at a next time here!

Review #001: Tomb Raider – Survivor (PC) ~ Dark game about the sun.

Tomb Raider Survivor Box-Art.

Tomb Raider Survivor Box-Art.

Link to the official site. (For more details of this game).

“A famous explorer once said.” is the very first line that you hear in this game. The opening of this game is beautiful enough to keep your attention but is it good enough? This series got a reboot after the negative reception of Underworld, which is still in my eyes a darn good game. In this reboot, you play as, who else, Lara Croft. Yeah, only younger this time around. I realize that I’m late with this review and that many played this game already. But I have only recently gained interested again in reviewing. So, yeah. A messy introduction is messy.

“Not who we are.”

Hardcore Tomb Raider fans will actually feel right at home with this game. There are many tombs to explore and raid, all in a nice package of amazing graphics and the athletic Lara. But there is a difference this time around. You can’t go shooting all you want. Ammo isn’t unlimited.

Many people give this game the subtitle of “Survivor”. Since it’s a survival game. Well, partially. Okay, not at all. There is a mission to collect food, but that only gives XP. You can hunt on animals but all she does is slice them open. And before you tell me that it would be too “cruel” to animate her eating her prey; well, think again. This game is Dark, with a capital d. Some scenery isn’t for young eyes.  So I see a missed opportunity there.

The only survival part about this game is that you need to find ammo since, in the battles where you need to survive, you’ll quickly run out. You don’t have a health bar. Nope, this is replaced with the “Call Of Duty” style of health bars. Where the screen becomes redder when you take hits. What’s nice in this game is that the screen becomes gray when you are one hit away from death.

“Adventure found me.”

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The earliest design sketches that where posted featured a lot of content that didn’t make the final cut. So which adventure did Lara find? Like I said, the game looks amazing. The graphics are really neat. For the most part. Some areas of the game will feel a bit unpolished. It could have been my graphics card but some pits their textures were too big.

And the water isn’t all that great. Since sometimes it stops caring. I had several times that in the game the water texture was glitched up and looked more like boiling mud. Or that a 9-year-old discovered a distortion filter in Photoshop.

The game is said to have an open world. What an empty promise that is. The world is “open”. The game is extremely linear. And yes, even backtracking to old locations appears in this game. The level structure might be gone, or that is what you think at least. It’s simply replaced by areas.

In each area, you have several secrets, treasures, food plants… to find. This is lovely since it makes me coming back even after I finished the game. The replay value is high in this game. Sometimes you have even enemies who respawn so that you have something to shoot with your collected ammo.

The gameplay is pretty neat. Again, for the most part. Like many other reviewers will tell you, get a sturdy keyboard to play this game. Since there are a lot of quick-time events. They break the pace of the game often and are in some cutscenes rather unwelcome. I even think that in some of the cutscenes the quick time events are responsive. And in some, your timing needs to be better as in other cutscenes. Hrm, great to be consistent.

Bomberman Croft

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There is no area without an explosion. Really, the game is on a deserted island and there is sure a lot of bombs, explosive material and other stuff that can go boom around. The developers got a tad bit lazy and made the area where some cutscenes of the story is triggered unreachable after you passed it. Either by a ladder that broke down or a building that goes boom.

Even the very first puzzles require you to blow up parts of the cave where Lara is held. But why is she held there? A good question to introduce the part of the review where I talk about the story.

The story is mediocre at best but gets extremely “meh” at the end. The Tomb Raider games never really got me into the story. And this game is no different. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a unique story that I enjoyed but it didn’t leave an impression on me. I skip the cutscenes in my 2nd playthrough since I didn’t want to be bothered by the story and just play. Some RPG or big story-driven games can smell the plot twists from miles away.

But the disappointing story actually gave me hope of something else. Voice acting. I loved the voice acting in this game. It’s top-notch. The sound in this game is amazing. I really advise playing this game with a good headset. I played this game with a headset and it makes the game way more intense than with speakers. The music is amazing. I truly enjoyed the music in this game. Although, I felt that the silence of some areas was a nice choice too.

Steam

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For a long time, I didn’t have steam. But thanks to this game, I got an account. I am glad that I di since I got easy access to the updates for the game.

In the game, you can collect salvage to upgrade your weapons. It’s possible that you can finish the game without upgrading all your weapons.

You can also get new skills with skill points. You get a skill point when you have enough XP after killing enemies, emptying out tombs, being a meanie to a rabbit…

The animation in this game of the characters is amazing and well done. Even with my weak laptop, I had to put this game on low settings, I really saw that a lot of work went into this game’s animation. Some death scenes may be disturbing, but it adds to the game.

Before we go to the overview, a quick rant. Why do the bodies of the enemies despawn so quickly?

Oh yeah, multiplayer. I didn’t care much for it. I’m not that good in multiplayer. Sorry guys.

Overview

The good:

+ Good length.

+ Replay this game, sign me up.

+ Great voice acting.

+ Strong animation.

+ Amazing music & sound.

+ Good gameplay.

+ Visually an eye-candy.

The bad:

– Mediocre story.

– Some graphics tweaks are needed.

– The enemies may respawn but too few to be of any danger.

– Framerate issues.

Conclusion:

Do you need to buy this game? Why are you asking me this question? Yes! Yes, you should. It’s a great game and I found this game very enjoyable. The flaws of the game might get a bit in the game, and the multiplayer is decent.

But for the great gameplay and the amazing visuals, the game is worthy of a playthrough. Even if you have to sit through annoying quick-time events.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 80 / 100