Gamer’s Thoughts: NekoJonez’s Top 10 Played Games of 2018

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2018 was an extremely strange year for me personally. A lot has happened in the past 12 months both good and bad. I have graduated this year. I’m now a bachelor in Computer Science – Networking. But on the other hand, I have gone through a lot of personal rough patches that did quite a number on my mental health. I’m slowly recovering and the support I’m getting is motivating me even more to go forward and get better. That said, I also played quite a lot of games this year. I got a Switch this year and I enjoyed it quite a lot. I also finished and completed a lot of games I started in the past few years so I had a bit of trouble putting this list together. So, for those who are new here, this list contains my 10 favorite games I have STARTED playing in 2018. The release date of the game itself doesn’t matter, what matters is that I started playing it in 2018. Before we get into the actual list, reminder, this list is my personal opinion. So, feel free to discuss it in the comments and also feel free to post your own list into the comments. I’m rather curious. Anyways, this introduction is getting quite long, it’s time to get into the actual list.

Place 10: Angels of Death (Nintendo Switch)

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My review

At first, this game would have a higher place on this list. The story and theming of this game grabbed my attention so much, I felt the black hole after finishing this game quite hard. I wanted to spend more time in the world of this game and spend more time with the characters.

I think that my love for the Corpse Party series and the Zero Escape series made me enjoy this game so much more. If you are a fan of either series, I highly recommend that you check out this game.

In addition to that, this game might have one of the best soundtracks I have heard this year. How many times I have listened to it this year, I lost count already. And mind you, I found this game in late October.

Now, why is this game not higher on the list? I praised it quite a lot in my review and I might have given the impression that this game would be my game of the year… Well, it’s because I played another horror game this year that just did that bit more. Outside of that, the short length and gameplay; the game felt like a game I play in between big releases. So yeah. That’s why.

Place 9: Shining Resonance – Refrain (Switch)

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So, back in 2016 I played Stella Glow.I got quite into the story of music playing a big role in an RPG by giving buffs or debuffs. When I found Shining Resonance: Refrain on the Nintendo eShop on the Switch and read that music played an important role as well, I was sold.

When I started to play this game, I got flashbacks to Stella Glow. Even when this game plays quite a lot differently than Stella Glow. This game is more action focused and in real time while Stella Glow’s gameplay is more a big puzzle and turn-based.

While I haven’t even come close to finishing this game, I’m quite curious what else I’ll encounter in this game. I’m at the midway mark of this game but I have been rushing through it. I think that the next couple of playing sessions will be to catch up with various side quests and improving my characters and their equipment since I quite a lot of trouble while battling the last boss.

Now, this game is a port of a PS3 game released in 2014. It’s also a part of the Shining series. If the other games in the series are as enjoyable as this game, I think I might explore this series in the future. Too bad that a lot of games in this series hasn’t left Japan.

Place 8: Atelier Rorona – The Alchemist of Arland (Nintendo Switch)

Atelier Rorona

Wikipedia

So, not too long ago, a bundle of three Atelier games got released on the Nintendo Switch. These games are the Arland trilogy. After I figured out what was the first game in the series, I started playing Atelier Rorona.

I was very surprised with the game actually. The game is quite enjoyable to play but it can be repetitive. The game is about an alchemy workshop with a very lazy owner. You play as her pupil named Rorona. When the kingdom orders the closure of the workshop, you get three years to prove the worth of the shop and finish various assignments of the kingdom. If you fail one of these, the workshop closes right away.

Now, what I didn’t know is how replayable this game is. These are so many mechanics I discovered during my first time playing this game, I also found out that there are a lot of various endings to the game. Now that I have beaten the game once, I think I’ll first beat the other two games before I do another playthrough to get an even better ending.

I personally really liked this game but I have to say that this game isn’t for everyone. I recommend this game to everybody who enjoys a more laid back RPG game. This game does have a lot of depth, but overall I found this game a more relaxing experience. That statement might change if I try to go for the other endings, who knows.

In any case, I’m rather curious what the other two games have on offer for me. Since, I’m going to beat those next. And who knows, these games might convince me to further check out the Atelier series, of which there are many… many games.

Place 7: Resident Evil 4 (PlayStation 2)

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Wikipedia

When I started playing games like Corpse Party, Fatal Frame and Zero Escape; I knew that one day I’ll have to look into the horror genre. A long time ago, in one of my local toy stores, there was a PS2 booth where a demo of Resident Evil 4 was playable. I think I was 14 years old and while I enjoyed playing the game, I didn’t even know the title nor the impact that game was going to have in the gaming scene. I think I only played the game for like 10-15 minutes in total since the next time I went, the booth was replaced with a demo Gamecube with Donkey Kong Jungle Beat.

I actually forgot about the game until some of my favorite YouTubers started to talk about it on their channels. Back then, I was more into adventure and puzzle games, so I took note of the name and moved on.

Fast forward to this year. I was browsing the second hand games in my local game store and I saw a copy of Resident Evil 4 for the PS2 for only 10€. I didn’t hesitate twice. I bought this game and after I came home I started to play it right away. While I was afraid that I would suck at survival horror, I was able to finish chapter after chapter.

I also got quickly used to aiming and firing a gun with a controller. Since that was one of my biggest fears. I tried playing various shooters with a controller in the past and I always had a lot of trouble.

So, because I was highly surprised at how much fun I was having, I felt that this game rightfully deserved a spot on this year’s list.

Place 6: Project Zero II (Fatal Frame II) – The Crimson Butterfly (PlayStation 2)Fatal_Frame_II_-_Crimson_Butterfly.jpg

Wikipedia

So, due to Project Zero V – Maiden of the Black Water last year, I got quite into the Project Zero / Fatal Frame series. But seeing the pricing of getting other entries in the series ranging from 30€ to 60€, I had a hard time tracking down a copy.

To my surprise, around my birthday, somebody brought Fatal Frame I, II and III in to my local game store and I was able to buy the three titles for 20€ each.

I started playing all three games to test out if the games worked or not. Yet, when I was testing Fatal Frame II, I found myself not able to stop playing the game. The concept of the story where one sister is always looking for her sibling just spoke to me on a personal level. It was quite tricky to get used to playing this game on the PS2, since I always tried to move the camera while moving the PS2 controller since I was used it that playing the other game on the Wii U.

I enjoy playing this game the most, late at night while I darken my room and turn off the lights so I have only the glow of the TV and the disc spinning in the PS2 to keep my company. This makes the game and the experience that more enjoyable. I can’t wait to boot up my PS2 again tonight and try to make some more progress in this quite enjoyable game.

Place 5: Death Mark  (Nintendo Switch)

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Official website

It looks like I was on a horror rush this year. Death Mark is the 4th game on my favorite games of 2018 list. Now, when I wrote my Halloween special on Angels of Death this year, I actually completed the game before Halloween. So, I was looking for a new horror game to play on Halloween and that’s when I found Death Mark on the Nintendo eShop.

When I was looking at the screenshots and reading the description, it felt like a mixture of Corpse Party and the Zero Escape series. A visual novel horror adventure game that throws you in front of a lot of puzzles.

And that’s what the game delivers perfectly. An enjoyable story with multiple outcomes depending on your actions and one that gripped me to the end. While I was able to see some twists coming from a mile away, the pacing and writing the story more than made up for it.

The story is about a mysterious mark that appears on your body when you go to a haunted place and that mark spells death by dawn if you are unable to clear the grudge of the spirit that gave you the mark. So, if you enjoy a visual novel style horror adventure game, I highly recommend that you check out this game.

Now, Japan is getting a sequel/follow up to this game next year.  Now here is my call to the developers, please localize the follow up game as well. Looking at the screenshots and the teaser, I’m quite interested! And here is my call to everybody who is interested in horror, please give this game a shot and share it around. This game is highly underrated and deserves more attention and love!

Place 4: Blossom Tales (Switch)

Blossom Tales

My review

I often check the Nintendo Switch store for interesting and unique games. When I came across Blossom Tales, I was sold. The game looked like a well made 2D-Zelda clone and as a big fan of the Legend of Zelda… Let’s just say it was a no-brainier.

And I didn’t regret that decision once. I enjoyed playing this game quite a lot. I felt right at home as a Zelda fan. Also, this game reminded me a bit of the Fairune games. It reminded me how fun that 2D Zelda games are and how much I miss that style of gameplay. I wonder that if we are going to ever see a 2D Zelda game again after the massive success that was Breath of the Wild.  Only time will tell, but for now, I’m happy to see that there are indie game studio’s that will create games in that style so I’ll always have a game in that style to look forward too.

What I liked the most about this game was the unique way the story was told. A grandfather telling his grandchildren a story since they are bored. That’s one of the biggest strengths of this game. It gives off so much charm and character to the game, for that alone I would recommend that you play this game. And, since we are in the holidays period, the charm is even better!

Place 3: Fire Emblem Warriors (Nintendo Switch)

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My review

Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. This game is one of the reasons I bought a Nintendo Switch. I think the praise I gave in my review on this game made it pretty clear that this was one of the best games I have played in 2018.

Honestly, at first I was afraid that I wasn’t going to like the game. Since I had put so many hours into Hyrule Warriors, I was afraid that I was burnt out on the formula and gameplay.

But Fire Emblem Warriors brings a lot of new and fresh mechanics to the table to make me enjoy the game even more. The only criticism I have about the game is that some parts are a bit too complex and not well explained enough in-game. Everything else is highly polished. Even the trick that Drakalus gave me to improve the frame rate in multiplayer aided quite a lot.

Thanks to this game, I got back into the Fire Emblem series. I think that in the upcoming months, I will start tackling my huge backlog of Fire Emblem games I have in my collection. I have at least 6 Fire Emblem games that I have started but never finished. I think it’s time to change that. This game convinced me that the series has quite a lot to offer and I can’t wait to see which adventures the world of Fire Emblem will bring me.

Place 2: Dragon Quest Builders (Nintendo Switch)

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My review

When I saw a trailer for Dragon Quest Builders for the first time, I was hooked. I was disappointed when I learned that this game was going to release for the PlayStation 3, 4 and PSVita. At first, I was considering to buy a PSVita for this game (and Corpse Party Blood Drive before that got ported over to Android)

The game got ported to the Nintendo Switch, so I was able to buy it on the system I bought this year. And I’m glad I was able to play this game. I loved every moment of this game and I’m so extremely hyped for the upcoming sequel. The Japanese version released a couple of days ago. It’s quite tempting to look up let’s plays but I want to keep my experience as spoiler free as I can.

The only new negative is that I’m unable to play the Terra Incognita mode. Since I have to pay for a Nintendo Online subscription and purchasing that for only that and a few NES games is currently not worth it for me in my opinion. But hey, that’s my opinion.

Honorable mentions

Now, I have played a lot of games and some games deserve a mention but haven’t made it on my list for various reasons. So, before I reveal my “game of the year” / number 1, it’s time for the honorable mentions.
Cleopatra – A Queen’s Destiny (PC), Knights of Pen & Paper (PC/Switch), Darkest Dungeon (Switch), Kamiko (Switch), A Magical High School Girl (Switch), Grumpy Cat (Android),
Etrain Odyssey 5 (3DS), Zack & Wiki (Wii), Steamworld Dig 2 (3DS), Silent Hill 4 (PS2), Telsagrad (Wii U), DuckTales (NES), Age of Empires – Definitive Edition (PC), Devil May Cry 4 (PS2).

Now, I know that a lot of major titles released in 2018 didn’t make it on my list or on my honorable mentions. In any case, I think it’s time to reveal the game I was most hyped for this year and I enjoyed the most. Which game is MY personal game of the year 2018? Let’s. Find. Out.

Number 1 – Game of the Year – Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PC)

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My review

So, this experience. This game, is my game of the year in 2018. Shadow of the Tomb Raider. When I was planning the Tomb Raider – Writers Raid collaboration, I claimed this game right away. I wanted to write about this game.

While some fans in the Tomb Raider series aren’t a big fan of the reboot since it’s a more action focused and linear game; I enjoy the new direction of the series. Especially this game. The improved visual style, the improved writing, the improved quality of life features… The game is just an amazing way to finish this reboot trilogy.

I seriously hope that this isn’t going to be the final game in the Tomb Raider series. Since I enjoyed myself with this game so much, I can’t wait to see where Lara goes next. Besides that, this year a new Tomb Raider movie got released. That movie I personally enjoyed quite a lot. For a movie based on a video game, I find that they did an extremely good job. I’m not really a movie review but if I have to grade the movie, it would get a 75/100.

Now, why did I enjoy this game so much? Why did I pick this game as my game of the year? For several reasons, the first reason is that this game’s story is the best story out of the three games in the reboot series. I had several moments where I felt the emotions of the characters, the voice actors did that good of a job.

A second reason is that this game is just beautiful. The visual presentation is just amazing. There are various spots where you look out over a huge forest from on top of a mountain or you get other breath taking views. Now, a few moments had some minor visual glitching or some spots where the game could have look a bit better, but that might be because of my older GPU in my desktop. That might explain various lighting glitches I have in the post launch DLC.

A third reason why this is my game of the year is that the Tomb Raider series just means a lot to me personally. I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan and I see and I have always seen Lara Croft as a sort of “sister” to Indiana Jones. But Indiana Jones doesn’t get a lot of attention in the video game scene while Lara does get that. So, being able to play games like Tomb Raider… Well, it’s my favorite genre and style of games after all. A mystery adventure game mixed with action and platforming segments.

The only disappointing thing is that I don’t have a physical copy of this game. The PC version of this game hasn’t gotten a physical release. And I feel it would be a waste of money to buy a PS4 or XBOX copy of the game just to have a physical version. But, if you want to know my actual opinion on the game, I advise that you read my review. Since, I really detailed my opinion in that article.

So, if you will excuse me now. I think it’s time to wrap up this article so I can play the newly added tombs and story segments.

Wrapping up 2018.

Like I said in the beginning of this article, 2018 was an extremely weird year for me. I even got my articles stolen various times. Outside of that, I had 25,000 views on my blog. This is more than double compared to the amount of views I got in 2017.

This inspires me to continue and write even more articles in 2019. I have a few in mind so I hope I’ll be able to welcome you on my blog next year. Blogging is my biggest hobby since I’m able to share my opinion on the games I have played with the world. I’m quite grateful of everybody who reads my articles and leaves comments or talks to me on social media or even in person about my articles and/or the games I have talked about.

I also love it when developers contact me and give me various chances to play unique and fun games. It also helps me to expand my collection and takes makes me even more happy.

If I have to pick my favorite blogging moments of this year, I have to say how the community came together for helping me and other bloggers in fighting article theft, the Tomb Raider project and the various milestones I reached like 500+ followers on my Twitter. It’s still the best way to keep up-to-date with me.

2019 is going to celebrate the 9th year I have been blogging. Before 2013, I had a Dutch blog. That means that this blog will be 7 years old next year.

That will mean that 2020 will be an extremely special year for me. But, let’s focus first on 2019. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Speaking of 2019, I think I should talk about the games I’m looking forward to! That’s going to be (one of the) next articles on my blog. So, keep an eye out for that.

With that said, I want to thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it 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.

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Tomb Raider – Writer’s Raid

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

Official website

The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy, both 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 regret it at all. Her website is a joy to browse through and read.

Her unique writing style is something I love most of 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 on 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 what the level editor can do, feel free to read it on my blog and I hope you 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 analysed 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 to play 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 hestitate 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 the 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 of 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 the 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 with 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 to 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 Infada 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 Infada 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 primary 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 of 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 lay-out, 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 were 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 less 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 area’s 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.

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

This post is a part of the Tomb Raider – Writers Raid collabarative project. In this project various bloggers came together to take a critical look on the Tomb Raider series. Mixing nostalgia and a critical look on 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 much 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 on 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 is excellent, but something I really liked in this game was the voice acting. I really felt that the actors where 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 option 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 to 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 of AMD. You also need 8GB RAM and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 660/GTX 1050 or AMD Radeon HD 7770 at the minimum. My computer has a i7-4820K, 16GB of RAM and a 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 in 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 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 axe 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 are 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 gave 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 is 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 axe. The grapple axe 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. Rappling 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 option 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 myself, 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 on 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.

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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/

Gamer’s Thoughts: Remakes & Reboots ft. Get Good Gaming

So, today I want to take you on a different journey through my thoughts. Not too long ago, the people over at Get Good Gaming invited me to be on one of their Get Good Talks. A 30 minute long podcast talking about a certain subject. In this episode, we talked about reboots and remakes, a topic I wanted to cover in the past on my blog. Here is the actual podcast. I’m sorry for the connection issues you can hear at my end. 

It has been quite a long time since people heard my voice. But doing this podcast made me do more. So, if there are any YouTubers/podcasters reading this that do podcasts, feel free to contact me. I would be interested in doing some more podcasts.

In addition to that, I would love to expand on this topic in the future. Thanks to my friends, I have a whole list of games I could cover that are remakes or reboots.

Also, if you are interested in videos about gaming, be sure to give the channel from Get Good Gaming a look. They guys behind it are pretty nice people and I wish they get more recognition. So, go ahead and take a look, okay?

Review: Tomb Raider Legend (PC) ~ The Sword of King Arthur

Tomb_Raider_-_Legend

Wikipedia entry

I remember picking up this game quite well. I was hyped for this game. Not too long before the release of this game, I got a new computer that was able to run to this game quite well. It even ran with the next-gen graphics. Back then, I finished this game and I remember that I had a lot of fun. Eleven years later, I decided that I want to write a review of this game. So, I took my copy from the shelves and booted up my Windows XP retro game pc and restarted playing this game. So, does this game still hold up or is this game just good in my nostalgic filled mind? Let’s dive into the Legend of the Tomb Raider. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of the article in the comment section below. 

Thrill ride

160089-lara-croft-tomb-raider-legend-xbox-360-screenshot-use-your

The story of this game starts off with a young Lara on a plane. She is flying with her mother through a thunderstorm when suddenly, the plane crashes.

Lara finds an ancient sword and touches it. Her mother pulls Lara away and then pulls out the sword and disappears.  We fast forward a few years when Lara starts the journey to try and find out what happened to her mother.

In my opinion, the story is pretty good. Not great, since some parts of the story a bit too predictable. I was able to guess what was going to happen in the last parts of the game. I really liked the twist at the end, setting up the next game Underworld perfectly.

I know that Anniversary released before Underworld, but it has really nothing to do with the story of this game and Underworld.

In any case, the voice acting in this game is pretty good. I loved it when I played the game for the first time when I was a child and I still love it now. My favorite voice actress in the game is Keeley Hawes. She voices Lara Croft in this game and she does a pretty great job, just how I imagine Lara Croft sounding like.

Most of this game story is told in cutscenes. But, if you already finished the game, you can skip the cutscene by tapping the pause button and choose for “Skip Cinematic”.

I have played this game on two different systems for this review. One that can handle the next generation content and one that can’t handle that. The next generation content is nothing really special in my opinion. It just adds some additional visual fluff to the game.

Something I did notice, is that when I played it on my more than capable retro gaming PC, one that his the recommend specs perfectly, there is a lot of flickering in some stages and textures not fully loading in. I mostly had this problem when I did the motorcycle bit in the snowy area.

There is a lot of variaty in this game. You have driving sections, QTE, platforming and shooting sections. Wait, Quick Time Events? I know that some people really hate this, but I personally don’t mind them too much. They aren’t too frequent and they are over quickly. To be honest, I enjoy most of them.

Exploring Lara’s house

Tomb Raider Legend

It’s a shame that the game has some graphical problems here and there. Maybe it has to do with the fact that old PC has an ATI device in it, and the other PC has a NVidea card. It does display at the start.

But, the overall presentation is good. The environments and tombs you explore in this game are pretty well designed. The animation is great too. Some death animations really send a shiver down my spine. They felt a bit too real, but some became funny when Lara keeps sliding more than you expect and falls off a cliff.

You can also explore the Croft Manor in this game. In this game, the Croft Manor isn’t the tutorial like we have seen in all previous Tomb Raider games. Now, you can unlock certain training areas to explore when you finish a certain level in the game. I personally recommend that you play through the Croft Manor when you either want a relaxing level or a post-game thing to play.

There are also secrets to find in the Croft Manor. These extras range from character profiles to object models. There is also a special surprise if you collect them all. Thankfully, it’s quite easy to replay a level to try and find secrets you missed.

One thing that really annoyed me was the saving mechanic. It works fine and the autosave points are placed perfectly, but the loading of save games is just a bit broken. Tomb Raider is known for difficult jumps sometimes or multiple jumps you have to do in a row. I like to save after I did a few of them so I can load the game when I did something wrong. In all the previous titles, that I played, when you load; you start right back at the position you saved. Not in this game, you start at the beginning of the jump bit or sometimes even earlier.

The soundtrack of this game is great. I really enjoy listing to it and it added a great atmosphere while you are exploring the tombs. The orchestral soundtrack of this game really impressed me as a kid and it still does as an adult. The sound design for this game is good as well.

Put that gun away, Lara!

tr7_ghana

If there is one thing that could use some improvement in this game is the controls.

Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t terrible in any meaning of the word.

There were just a few times that I pressed the grab button, but Lara didn’t grab a ledge. Yet, it isn’t the wrong thing about the controls. There isn’t a “put your gun away” button. And if there is, I wasn’t able to find it. This was really annoying when you were done fighting some enemies and you wanted to start a jump puzzle and Lara doesn’t grab the ledge because she is still holding a gun.

Also, the default layout for the controls is just bad for some functions. For example, to switch your weapon, it’s “End”. To switch your light on or off, it’s “Del”. Medkit is “Home” and your binoculars is “Page Down”. So, I highly recommend you rebinding those controls when you want to play this game.

I don’t know what was causing this problem, but sometimes, the camera moved without me moving my mouse at all. This happened multiple times when I was swinging on a rope.

That’s enough complaining about the controls. Let’s talk about the rest of the game. There is a sort of help system in the game. The PDA. It’s helpful, but I rarely used it. The only time I used it was when I returned to the game after a long while to check what I needed to do.

But, the binoculars can help there as well. With them, you can see what you can use and plan out your route. Yet, the level design is so clear, you barely have to use it when you pay attention to what’s around you.

The difficulty in this game is spot on. No complaints there. The UI of this game is pretty well crafted too. Again, no issues there.

The combat in this game is really enjoyable. My favorite moments are when you enter a sort of bullet time mode and you jump on enemies shield to launch you into the air and shoot the defenseless enemy.

Before we go to the conclusion, I want to touch on one final thing. This game’s length is spot on. It isn’t too long but it isn’t too short either. If you decide to complete this game that is. Since, if you rush through this game, you might be able to beat it in a day. Since it’s 8 hours long. If you want to complete this game, you double your play time.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Good story, while predictable sometimes

+ Great voice acting.

+ Good level design.

+ A lot of variety in gameplay styles.

+ ….

The bad:

-Some visual issues on some computers.

-The controls, while good, could use some polishing up. The default layout is just bad.

-The game is too short if you rush through it.

Final thoughts:

This game didn’t age too well. As a kid, I thought this game was one of the best games I have ever played. But, looking at it now as an adult, I see the flaws of this game. It’s by no means a bad game. The story, voice acting, level design… they are all good.

The big issue is that they aren’t great. The sequel games, like Anniversary and Underworld, are so much better in my opinion.

In general, this game has its problems. Some are noticeable, others aren’t. I do remember having adrenaline rushes when I played this game for the first time. When I played it for this review, I had them too but way less.

In conclusion, I think that this game is worth it. I would recommend it to any fan of Tomb Raider and adventure games. If you have a decent enough computer that can run it and doesn’t get affected by the same graphical issues I was. Since I can tell you for a fact, I didn’t have them on my old childhood computer. This game is good, but not great. It could have been better if there was a bit more polish.

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

Score: 70/100

Game Music: My Favorites – Numerbo # 20: My favorite soundtracks ever!

a00bceced7419b083d8273b7e59c94f7More music article right here

It’s time. Time to make harsh decisions. Which soundtracks are currently my favorite soundtracks? I have thought long and hard about this, and I have come up with this list. The list is based on how much I played the game, how much I listen to the soundtrack and how much of the game sticks with me. Some might come as a surprise, but some won’t. But, I’m curious. What are your favorite soundtracks? Feel free to leave a come in the comment section with them or you can comment on my selection too. But keep it civil, that’s all I ask. In any case, here we go. Time to list my favorite soundtracks in this moment of time. Oh, be warned, this is a long article. So, yeah. 

Remember, the choices are my opinion. I haven’t played all games on each system and some soundtracks are picked for personal reasons. I’m not saying that my choices are the best soundtracks on the system, I’m saying here which soundtracks are my favorite on the system.

Side note about the honorable mentions:

  • I limited myself to only list 5 games as honorable mentions. To avoid this article’s length getting out of hand.
  • While I know that some games are multi-platform. When it’s listed with a certain console, that means I played that game on that console. Or if I played the game on more than one console, it means I prefer the soundtrack on that console the most.
  • I only list games that I own and/or have played for an extended amount of time (at least 5 hours or more)

Favorite PC soundtrack: Rise & Fall – Civilizations At War

_-Rise-Fall-Civilizations-at-War-PC-_YouTube playlist

First Impression

Long time readers of my blog know before I started blogging, I used to write fantasy stories. One of my favorite stories was a nature fantasy medieval world where a lot mattered upon the value and amount of land you owned.

When I bought this game, I was right in an RTS-period. My favorite games were Age Of Mythology and Age Of Empires II/III. On that moment in time, I was writing a climax in the story I described earlier. Just give the soundtrack a listen and try to imagine a story like I described. Doesn’t it write itself?

Also, it helps a lot that this game had a gimmick that I find amazing. You can control your main hero during battles. I wish that this was in more games today. Well, with controlling I mean, you control your hero in first-person! Yup, first-person. This game is such a hidden gem. I rarely hear it mentioned when people talk about old-school RTS games. I even have a virtual machine setup just to play this game. Since the annoying copy protection is a real pain in the backside when you try to run it on Windows Vista or newer. But, recently I fixed an old PC and installed Windows XP on it and now I play the game on that machine.

Just listing to the soundtrack while writing this segment makes me very nostalgic. I wonder, has anybody played this game? Let me know! Since I barely find let’s plays or reviews from other people online.

Honorable mentions: Halo: Combat Evolved, Tomb Raider Legend, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, The Elder Scrolls III – Morrowind and Europa Universalis IV

Favorite Gameboy/Gameboy Color soundtrack: The Legend Of Zelda – Oracle Of Ages & Oracle of Seasons aka The Oracle Games

260px-OracleofagesYouTube playlist with both games’ soundtrack

Oracle of Ages review

Oracle of Seasons review

Well, before you call me a cheater, hear me out. When you finish one game, you get a code to transfer some data over to the other game. In that game, you play through the whole game to see the real ending of these games. So, technically, this is just one giant game split up into two big standalone games. So, TLOZOOSthat’s why there is sort of, kind of, two games for this entry.

 In any case, this was one I was pretty certain about. While I have a lot of soundtracks I enjoy listing to from the Gameboy & Gameboy Color period, the price must to go to my favorite games on the system. In my eyes, these games are nearly flawless. Apart from some bad sound effects and sound mixing here and there, this game is flawless.

So, these are my favorite Zelda games. I love the story, gameplay, music, art design and the memories attached to these two titles. But, that are stories for another time.

Honorable mentions: Pokémon Gold/Silver & Crystal, Harry Potter and the Chamber Of Secrets, Super Mario Land 3: Warioland, Kirby’s Dreamland 2 and Tetris

Favorite GBA soundtrack:  Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire & Emerald

Ruby_EN_boxartYouTube playlist

My review of this game

So, I decided to give the GBA a separate entry on this list because the sound chip of the GBA is so much different than the Gameboy & Gameboy Color’s so it wouldn’t be fair to put them all in one entry.

In any case, it’s time to talk about my 2nd favorite Pokémon games ever made. And the soundtrack in this game might use a lot of trumpets and French horn, but I honestly don’t mind one bit about it. The soundtrack is enjoyable to listen to it.

The secret bases in this game is a feature I messed around with a lot. As a kid, I always imagined that it was my own gym. And wouldn’t you know it, they use exactly that blur when they advertise the remakes of that game. “Build secret bases, build it like your own gym.” The childhood nostalgia is strong for this one.

Honorable mentions: Nicktoons – Battle For Vulcano Island, The Legend Of Zelda – Minish Cap, Golden Sun, Mario & Luigi – Superstar Saga and Sims 2

Favorite DS soundtrack: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Explorers Of Darkness/Time & Sky

Full OST250px-MD_Sky_EN_boxart

Review of the game

So, the DS is my favorite portable system ever. The follow-up system, the 3DS is an amazing replacement. I had the hardest time choosing my favorite soundtrack for this system and even deciding on only 5 honorable mentions.

In the end, I went with a soundtrack of a game that brings back a lot of memories. From both playing the game and the memories of the events that happened in my personal life.

And that “I don’t want to say goodbye” track. Honestly, when I listen to it nowadays, I get teary eyes sometimes. The writing of that part was done so good. It’s a great piece. I love hearing remixes of it since the structure of the song is just so recognizable. Just play the game until the end and I think you will understand why this song has so many emotions for everybody that played this game.

Honorable mentions: Ace Attorney Trails & Tribulations, 999: 9 Hours, 9 Doors, 9 People, Time Hollow, Suikoden Tierkreis and Clubhouse Games

Favorite 3DS soundtrack: Stella Glow

SGCoverRGBYouTube Playlist

My review of the game

I’m glad that I choose to separate the DS and 3DS library for this article. I wouldn’t have been wise to combine those two for one entry. I would never be able to choose one soundtrack.

But, I’m getting off topic. Why is Stella Glow my favorite 3DS soundtrack? Well, because the game’s story is just so well written, I love it to bits. When I downloaded the demo for this game, I was hooked on the story. I placed a note in my budget of the upcoming month to buy this game. But then, thanks to ButtonSmashers, I got a free review copy of this game. Thanks again! Since I discovered this amazing gem of a game.

I know that the game has flaws, but in my eyes; it’s one of the best games I have played on the 3DS. If somebody asks me for recommendations to play on the 3DS, I always mention this game. Just read my review if you want to know why I think this game is so good. Oh, and I decided to replay the game from the beginning. To relive the whole experience again. But this time, I’ll pick different options! A story heavy RPG with replay value, what do you want more?

Honorable mentions: Zero Time Dilemma, Etrian Odyssey Untold 2 – Fafnir KnightProfessor Layton vs Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney, Fire Emblem Awakening and Kirby Triple Deluxe

My favorite Wii U soundtrack: Hyrule Warriors

WiiU_HyruleWarriors_BoxartSoundtrack

First Impression

To pick the best soundtrack on the Wii U was quite a tricky one. While there are so many great games released on the system, why did I choose for Hyrule Warriors?

First, because this is one of the best Zelda spin-off games I have ever played. It introduced me to a whole new genre I never really paid attention to. And now, I’m playing Destiny Warrior games when I have the time.

Second, this soundtrack is so fun to listen to. It brings back personal memories from when I was writing fantasy stories.

And my last reason, it has amazing remixes of existing Zelda songs. So, the nostalgia is strong in this one.

While I have finished the main campaign for a long time now, I haven’t finished adventure mode yet. But, writing about this game reminds me, I should review this game and give my final opinion on it… One thing is for sure, this game has an amazing soundtrack!

Honorable mentions: Captian Toad – Treasure Tracker, Lego City Undercover, Rayman Legends, Bayonetta 2 and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

My favorite PSP soundtrack: Corpse Party Blood Driven

Corpse Party (USA)

Soundtrack playlist (Includes soundtrack of sequel)

Review of this game

If you haven’t seen this one coming, shame on you. Corpse Party Blood Driven is one of the first gore horror games I ever played. I own this game one several different platforms.

The story and setting of this game are just amazing. I’m just so happy that this game is getting the recognition it deserves after famous YouTubers did a let’s play of it. The only thing I wish is that there were more new games made instead of the remakes. But hey, more Corpse Party is more Corpse Party. So, I’m not complaining that much.

Honorable mentions:  Shadow Of Memories, Legend Of Heroes – Trails in the Sky, Jeanne D’Arc, Ape Escape – On The Loose and Castlevania – The Dracula X Chronicles

My favorite PS1 soundtrack: Tomb Raider II

Tomb_Raider_II.png

Full OST

My review

As a kid, I heard a lot about the Tomb Raider franchise. My first Tomb Raider game was Tomb Raider Chronicles. I fell in love with the gameplay and it reminded me of all the adventure games I played.

Fast forward to 2014. I got my hands on an old desktop and I fixed it up, formatted the hard drive and installed Windows98 SE on it. Now, I started playing all the old Tomb Raider games. While I play all 5 Tomb Raider games on that machine in any order I feel like playing them, Tomb Raider II is a special case. Since I’m trying to beat that game too on the original PlayStation. Yup, I’m playing the PC version and the PS One version. For my playstyle, I prefer the computer edition since I am not too used to the PlayStation controller, to be honest.

The only thing that I dislike about this soundtrack is that it’s rather short. The whole soundtrack is just a half hour to forty minutes long. It’s a shame since the soundtrack for TR II is pretty great. It comes recommend when you love early adventure games’ soundtracks. But, to be honest, I don’t really mind too much about the short length of the soundtrack since the lack of music sometimes sets a great atmosphere for raiding tombs. Maybe we are too spoiled nowadays with music in every single area or event.

Honorable mentions: Rayman, Time Crisis, Final Fantasy 7, A Bug’s Life, Tarzan

My favorite SNES soundtrack: Lufia II

Lufia_II.jpg

Full soundtrack

First Impression

So, I love the SNES. It’s one of the earliest consoles I played over at my cousin’s house. But, my favorite SNES soundtrack is a game that I played in recent years.

The name of the game is Lufia II. Why is this my favorite soundtrack on the SNES. Well, because I own the boxed copy that got translated to my own mother language. Yes, Lufia II got fully translated into Dutch. The fact that I can play a classic RPG in my native language is just mind blowing to me. Dutch isn’t a widely spoken language, so it amazes me that they translated an RPG into Dutch. So, when I think about the SNES, I often think about that fact and the soundtrack comes right along with it.

Maybe the fact that when my uncle gave me his SNES, this was the first game I started playing has something to do with it, I have no clue. But hey, this game is really awesome and I should try and finish it.

Honorable mentions: Secret of Mana, StarWing, The Legend Of Zelda – A Link To The Past, Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG – The Legend Of The Seven Stars

My favorite Wii soundtrack: Okami

okami-wii-boxart

Soundtrack part 1Soundtrack part 2

First Impression

Do I think that Okami is a Zelda clone? Interesting question. Well, it’s a Zelda-style game, but the unique mechanic of the brush is enough for me to make it stand out.

The visual presentation, the setting, the music and the gameplay are all things that make me love this game. I think that Okami is one of the best games ever made on the Wii without a doubt. I honestly think that the game is better with the mention controls. At least for me, since I can’t imagine drawing with an analog stick. But hey, that’s my opinion.

I really have to finish this game, since I finished the sequel Okamiden. I also secretly hope that Okami 2 or a new entry in the series will be a reality one day. So, please be true rumors that went around at E3 2016. Please.

Honorable mentions: The Legend Of Zelda – Skyward Sword, BoomBlocks, Pandora’s Tower, Kirby Epic Yarn and Super Smash Brawl

My favorite PS2 soundtrack: Dragon Quest 8: Journey Of The Cursed King

Dragon_Quest_VIII_Journey_of_the_Cursed_King

Full soundtrack

First impression

I know that this game got a remake/port on the 3DS last year. I bought the game, but I honestly enjoy it more on the PS2. Just my nostalgia speaking, I guess.

So, I learned about the Dragon Quest series when I played Dragon Quest IX on the DS. I was so hooked on that game, I wanted to play more Dragon Quest. So, when I was in my local game store and saw this game second hand, I bought it. I played it here and there but never got really far. But, last summer, I played a lot of this game during my break and I enjoyed myself a whole lot. It brought back memories of me playing Dragon Quest IX on my DS when I was younger.

At the moment of writing, I’m in Peregrin Quay. I know that isn’t too far, but hey, this game is quite grindy. But, I want to finish this game but that’s gonna take a long time.

Honorable mentions: God Of War, Shadow of the Colossus, Rachet & Clank, Escape From Monkey Island and Grand Theft Auto Vice City

My favorite Android soundtrack: Game Dev Story

YouTube playlistGameDevStory

Review of this game

Well, I think it’s no secret that I like the soundtrack of this game after you have read my review of the game.

There are times I listen to different music when I’m playing this game, but I play this game more with the actual soundtrack playing. It’s quite good and I recommend it to everybody who enjoys catchy tunes.

Honorable mentions: Quell, Monument Valley, Lara Croft Go, The Room and Thomas Was Alone

Final thoughts

I promised a special article, so here it is! A quite lengthy article, I know. At first, I was going to limit myself to a top 5 soundtracks, but then I decided… Hey, let’s pick for each game system one soundtrack. I had to limit myself to 5 honorable mentions/system, otherwise, the honorable mentions of some systems would be longer than the talk about the game and soundtrack itself.  So, I still have a lot of tracks and stuff to talk about for another couple of gaming music articles.

I think it’s quite clear that I love game music. I often listen to soundtracks while I’m at work or while I’m writing articles. I can’t really explain why. That love for gaming music is the reason why I love writing these articles.

In any case, it’s time to wrap this article up since it has been going on for way too long! I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

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

289451-tomb-raider-ii-starring-lara-croft-windows-screenshot-first

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

trII

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

Game Music: My Favorites – Numerbo # 19: I’m not running out of these!

a00bceced7419b083d8273b7e59c94f7.pngRead & listen to more music articles

It’s time to jam to my favorite game music tracks again. Since I love listening to soundtracks, I can’t get enough of them. At work, I often listen to various streaming websites instead of the radio. I always hope they don’t play those emotional songs when I need to concentrate since then I might have a problem. It would be so awkward if I started crying out of nowhere when I’m doing some administrative work on my laptop. In any case, in this series, I talk a bit about my favorite tracks. I’m only allowed to talk about the original track. Also, no remixes in this series… unless I specify it in the intro. And this is an original only article. Also, one track/series per article. If I ever talk about a track twice, feel free to leave a comment and I will add a bonus track in the next article of this series. In any case, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the article, music and or your favorite music tracks. 

Virtue’s Last Reward (3DS) ~ Pantry

Virtues_Last_RewardMy review of this game

Any excuse to talk about the Zero Escape series is a valid one in my book. Apart from the amazing story and the addictive gameplay, the soundtrack is one of the best horror soundtracks I have heard in years.

In this game, you are locked up against your will and you have to play a game where you have to solve puzzles in order to escape. This game can get very tense and thrilling quickly. There a plot twists at every turn in the story. And the track that plays in the pantry room in the 2nd game of the series is one of my 5 most favorite tracks from the series. Seriously, give it a listen. But in context, inside the game, the track is stronger. It’s even better. Oh, and if you want to play these games and you don’t own a 3DS or Vita, go and buy it on Steam! It’s out there!

Stella Glow (3DS) ~ Rusty Key

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My review of this game

Man, this game is a journey. The story, the characters, the universe, the writing, the visuals, the gameplay and above all; the soundtrack! Whenever I need some upbeat and happy music, I put on a playlist with every track of this game.

After my review, I have grown more and more to this game. I have to replay it one day. To take a totally different path. But for now, let us all enjoy the song of the character Popo. The blonde twin-tail girl on the cover. Everything flows just right in this track. Oh, if you want a translated version of this song, check out the English translated lyrics here! Thank you so much TDN-Shumi Blog for the excellent translation!

In any case, I think I have talked too much about Stella Glow in my review already. So, I won’t go too much in-depth here. But, for real. Give this game a try. It’s a great game in my opinion.

Tomb Raider Underworld (PC) ~ Mediterranean Sea/Escaping Niflheim

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 When I was writing fantasy stories in the past, I often used the soundtrack of the Tomb Raider games when I was writing somebody exploring an area.

The soundtrack of the Tomb Raider games is lends itself great to writers of adventure stories. It sets a great mood and atmosphere.

Besides being great writing music, the track is also amazing in-game. I remember that when I played this game with a good headset for the first time, I honestly got the chills.

I might go more in-depth on this game in the future, but for now, I have to say that I finished but the DS and PC version of this game. So, I don’t know which version to review first.

In any case, enjoy the music. Since this is one of the best tracks in the soundtrack. I have selected a track for this soundtrack in the past, just read my 3rd article to know more about that.

Lufia II (SNES) ~ Boss Battle Theme

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When my uncle gave his old SNES to me, I was so happy. I got amazing titles like Prince of Persia and Zelda – Link to the Past for the SNES. I have also a SuperGameboy. So, that’s how I play my Gameboy games lately. But, there is another game I’m also very happy that he gave me. That game is Lufia II for the SNES, in the original box! As a collector, I can’t be happier.

But, I play Lufia here and there. I often get reminded of the Golden Sun series when I play this game. But that’s beside the point. I’m quite amazed at the music the SNES-sound chip can produce. When I was listing to the music on YouTube, I fired up my SNES to double check if it wasn’t a remastered version. And truly, the SNES is really able to play such great themes. Now, I hope that I’ll be able to defeat that boss one day… But at the other hand, the track that plays during the boss fights is so good… Ugh, a dilemma.

Corpse Party (3DS eShop remake) ~ Chapter 1

Review of the PSP version of the game

I’m in love with the Corpse Party series. I love the story the game brings. It might be a horror game, but most of the scares are psychological. The actual murders and deaths that occur are in most cases so over the top, it’s not THAT scary.

Yet, the writing, voice-acting and the whole game actually are just amazing. I was so surprised when I heard they remixed the original soundtrack for the 3DS port and it’s actually pretty amazing. I’m even considering getting the soundtrack of the 3DS version as well to complete my collection.

I’m currently at the end of the 2nd chapter and I have to say, the remake for the 3DS is way better than what we got on the PC. The 3DS version is way closer to the PSP game. Yet, I can’t wait to play the new chapters. But meanwhile, I’m enjoying the whole amazing soundtrack yet again.

Finale

So there we go, a few new tracks to jam out to. I’m sorry that I choose so many tracks from handheld games, but that’s what I have been playing lately. Maybe when my desktop is fixed soon, I might play more PC games. But in any case, the next edition of my favorite video game music tracks is going to be special. I mean, it’s the 20th article I write in this series.

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

NekoJonez’s February 2017 update

2012-06-08-11-25-36So, this week I have some updates to share. At the time of writing, I have a serious cold. So, that means that this update article will be a bit shorter as usual. In any case, I have a few updates and thoughts to share with you guys. Oh, and I want to thank Sparta for being such a great companion during me being sick. Ah, the joy of pets. But, I’m rambling. So, let’s talk about the updates for this first update article of 2017. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion in the comment section down below!

Out-Of-Town

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So, if you follow me on Twitter… you might know I have a schedule planned for this blog until April – May. So far, I haven’t changed a thing. Until this week, because some things will change my whole schedule.

This is because I have been sick the past few days and I want to talk about a game that wasn’t on my schedule.

I have said this on my Twitter, I will be out-of-town next weekend. So, I might not be able to write an article next weekend. But I’m considering two things. First thing is that I try to finish an article in the week before I go out-of-town or I write an article on my day off, the 6th of March. Oh, and if I write an article on the 6th… Don’t worry, I’ll still write an article on the 11th or 12th of March. For those who wonder, I’ll be on a trip with my acting group. I’m actually looking forward to it!

Also, in March, I’ll write another preview article about a game that hasn’t come out yet. I took a look at the trailer and the press kit and I’m really happy that the developer contacted me! But, you will have to wait until March to find out what it’s about.

The Nintendo Switch

switch.jpgI might be a pretty big Nintendo-fan, but I haven’t pre-ordered the Nintendo Switch. And that’s because one reason. That’s the price. Honestly, I can’t fit it in my budget currently.

And a second reason is that no game I’m interested in is currently coming out exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.

Does this mean that I will never buy a Nintendo Switch, heck no! I’m really interested in the console. I think I’m mostly waiting until they release something interesting or how the release goes. I just hope for Nintendo that this release goes well. Since the project has so much potential in my eyes.

What will 2017 bring?

So, what will 2017 also bring? Well, I promised that I’ll write an article about various games I want to talk about but I haven’t talked about yet for some reason. So, here is a list of games that are in my mind and I think about writing about in 2017.

Mini Metro (Android), Fairune 1 & 2 (3DS – eShop), The Legend Of Zelda – A Link To The Past (SNES), Bioshock 2 (PC), Ace Attorney (DS – The ones I haven’t reviewed), Lufia (SNES), God Of Thunder (PC), Lego City Undercover (Wii U), Tomb Raider II (PC) and various others I won’t reveal yet.

I have also a few “gamer’s thoughts” articles in the works that are done with the research phase. I’m not going to reveal the subjects, but I have toyed with them in my mind for some time now.

Misc. updates

So, what is keeping me busy outside my full-time job and my blog? Well, let me tell you. First of all, I still have to do 5 classes before I have my degree in computer science. If all goes well, I’ll finish 2 of them this semester!

In late April, I’ll be on stage again. It’s quite possible that I take a break in the 2nd half of April. But, I’ll update you guys and girls on Twitter if I won’t be able to write an article. Otherwise, I’ll write an article in those weeks.

I’ll be playing one of the lead roles in a play. I’m quite excited for that. It’s my 4th time in a play and I can’t wait honestly. The rehearsals are so much fun.

So, I said this on Twitter… but I want to say it here as well. Because various articles of mine get shared so often, I think it’s only fair that I share more often what I read. So, when I come across an interesting article, you’ll see it on my Twitter feed! Another reason to follow me on Twitter.

In any case, that’s everything I wanted to say this week. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I’m sorry if this is at the short side. I’m still a bit sick, so I can’t focus long enough to write a full length article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

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

Tomb_Raider_-_Chronicles.png

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

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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!

My TOP 10 games of 2016 – Part 1: 10 – 6

2016.jpgJust wow, 2016 flew by so fast. I barely noticed that December started. So, it’s time to look back on a great year in my life. 2016 was something else. Both on my blog and in my personal life, a lot of things happened that will make 2016 extremely special to me. In my opinion, it’s one of the best years I had so far. So, this week I want to take a look at the bottom 5 games of my top 10 games  I played this year. Oh, one major footnote here. These games are games I started this year. If I started or played a game in another year, it’s not on my list. Also, since I play a lot of retro games, the games on this list didn’t have to be released in 2016! In any case, enough stalling with this intro. It’s time to take a look at a difficult to make top 10!

 #10: Ratchet And Clank (PS2)

RachetandClankOriginalPS2Cover

First impression article

Past summer, I took two weeks off from work and I was home alone. In those two weeks; I chilled, updated my blog, worked on some personal things, watched some anime, spent some time with friends and family and above all… I played a lot of games.

My goal was mostly to play the games I had bought in the last years at garage sales but never really gave a chance. One of the best titles I played in that summer was Ratchet and Clank.

This game is a platformer, but honestly, I don’t really like platformers all that much. So, it’s double surprising to me I enjoyed it that much. I haven’t finished the game just yet, but I’m planning to do that in the near future! Also, I heard a lot of good things about the sequels of this game, so I’m looking forward to playing those. Now, I have to look for a copy of the second game in the original trilogy since I don’t own that one. So, I can’t wait to continue to play this enjoyable and charming game.

 #9: Lego City Undercover (Wii U)

lego_city_undercover10Article on the 3DS sequel

Back in 2013, I watched a let’s play of this game. I watched it from the first episode to the last episode. I enjoyed it that much that I decided to go and buy the game… Three years later. The main reason that I delayed my purchase was because I knew all the plot details and I thought that I wouldn’t have as much fun with the game when I bought it. So, three years later, I see the game at my local game shop for 10€ and I thought to myself, why not.

So, when I returned home, I started playing this game and honestly, I enjoyed myself a whole lot. Thanks to the open nature of this game, I can explore and play the game how I want. And I discover new things and have a unique experience.

I’m halfway through the game and I dare to say that this is one of my most favorite Lego games I have ever played. The humor and charm of this game are just so well made, I have a tough time putting this game down. Here and there I play for a few minutes and those quickly turn into a play session of two or three hours. So, yeah. Oh, and during the play sessions of this game, various memories come back of me watching the playthrough. This game is so worth it to play it!

 #8: Rise Of The Tomb Raider (PC)

2000900263Link to my review of this game

So, this year a sequel came out of the reboot of the Tomb Raider games. The Tomb Raider franchise is one of my favorite franchises ever made. Since they are an amazing adventure and exploration games. I love exploring caves and having a big kick-ass adventure. It’s one of the reasons why I’m thinking about upgrading my video card.

But this game has personal meaning for me too. I reviewed this game to celebrate my 3rd year of blogging on this blog and my 6th year of blogging.

If you want to know my thoughts about this game, I recommend that you read my review of it. Since I go more in depth on this game in that article.

But this game is one kickass ride and I can’t wait until my desktop is fixed later this month so I can start playing the DLC and finish up this game. But seriously, this game is one of the most kickass games I have played all year. It’s only surpassed by one…

 #7: Mirror’s Edge – Catalyst (PC)

mirrors-edge-catalyst-pc-pc-boxTalking about the original

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is one of the first games that nearly flew under my radar. If I didn’t check the pre-order list in one of my local game stores, I might have missed the release of this game completely.

Now, if you know me, I’m very bad at parkour. So, now you might wonder why I play Mirror’s Edge and it’s sequel. Well, that’s quite simple actually, the gameplay is just amazing.

I have gotten quite far into this game, but then the problems with my desktop started happening. Sadly enough, when your PC shuts down and you haven’t saved in this game, your save file corrupts and you have to start over from the beginning. So, yeah. When I get my fixed desktop back, I’ll surely start playing this game again.

Playing this game gave me a liberating feeling. I started improving my parkour skills and I started to miss fewer jumps. Even outside this game, I started improving in the parkour sections. After I played this game for over 10 hours, I was convinced. This kick-ass game had to get a spot in my top 10 games I played in 2016! So, that’s why it’s here. It’s just a very enjoyable game in my opinion and it gets a recommendation from me!

#6: Rayman Legends (Wii U)

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Link to the review

Each year, we do a secret Santa in my family. This game was on my wishlist. Honestly, I had hoped that I got one of the other games on my wishlist. Since this game didn’t interest me that much.

But, when I got it as a New Years present, I was happy and thankful that I got it. But, the moment I started playing it with my friends, then… my whole opinion changed.

The game started to grow on me. The charm, the visuals, the gameplay, the excellent use of the gamepad and the soundtrack are just a few things that make this game great. Honestly, I think that this version of the game is one of the best to play with friends. Since you have two playstyles that perfectly complement each other.

The most fun with this game, I had on my trip to Germany this year. The countless soccer matches we had, the adventure through the whole game, the music levels and so much more. The memories with this game are going to stay with me for a while! So, playing this game is truly worth it!

The end of part 1

Oh yes, the top 5 games I played in 2016 is even harder for me to make. But, you will have to wait until next week in order to find out which ones I think were the best games I have played in this year.

I’m so disappointed that 2016 is nearly at an end. Since this year wasn’t only filled with great games and amazing things for my blog, it was also filled with a lot of amazing personal things. Just scroll through my Twitter feed and you will see why.

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

 The rest of the list can be found here

Review: Rise Of The Tomb Raider (PC) ~ Sequel of the Reboot

2000900263Steam store page

I have to talk about this game. It’s the sequel to the game I started this blog with. On the 20th of March 2013, I reviewed Tomb Raider. Now, three years later in 2016, the PC port of the sequel finally arrived. I would have reviewed this game sooner, but due to the patches, my performance was going down the drain. The weakest link in my PC is my graphics card. My CPU, RAM and all other parts of my PC are up to speed with this game, but my graphics card gave me issues. So, after experimenting and trying out different things, I was finally able to play this game with a fluent FPS. Thanks to windowed mode and normal graphic settings. In any case, that’s enough of the behind the scenes stuff! Time to rate this tomb, is it really worth the adventure or is this one better left forgotten? And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below. 

The divine source

Riseofthetombraider.jpgAt the center of the story, is the divine source.  Something that Lara wants to find to prove that her father wasn’t crazy. The story uses a lot of cliches this time around. Also, some people can see some plot twists coming from a mile away.

That’s why the story wasn’t all that interesting to me. It was enjoyable but bland. In my opinion, it could have done a lot more with the story. My biggest issue with the story is that some characters didn’t get any development. Thankfully, the writing is very well done which makes up for the middle of the road story.

Something that was truly lacking, in my opinion, was the ending. The ending didn’t convince me why Lara wanted to spend her life raiding tombs. Another thing I didn’t like about the story is that at the start, it jumped around. When I got used to the desert area, I was back in the snowy area. That was a let down for me. Mostly because I feel that I’m unable to go back to check the area out after I finished the chapter. (Just found out, you can fast travel there. Odd thing, when you play the chapter… You have unlimited ammo. When you fast travel there, you don’t have unlimited ammo. That’s a strange issue)

Something that’s even better is the voice acting. The voice acting made some characters come alive! Guys and girls, if you are ever to make a sequel to this game, more of this top notch voice acting, please.

Look at that!

rise-of-the-tomb-raider-pc-scr-image-4173.jpgI have explained in the introduction of this article that my graphics card wasn’t strong enough to run this game at it’s highest settings. But, at the normal settings… This game looks jaw-dropping.

The visuals have improved an awful lot from the previous game and drew me even more into the world the developers created. Yet, I do that to point out that I had some visual glitches with the hair and bow. Here are some screenshots I took of these visual glitches:

2 arrows and the bowSnow forgot to render/how it worksLet’s shoot that climbing axe

But I have to say, that in the latest version of the game, I rarely saw these odd things happening.

The design and the animations of this game are amazing. Yet, this game had issues with performance. Between the release of the PC port in late January and today (mid-May), there have been 6 big patches to the game, mostly all to improve performance. Strangely enough, each patch, my performance wasn’t improving. But, since then, I didn’t have any PC/game crash. Yes, this game crashed so badly that it shut down and rebooted my PC.

Anyways, I’m not going to let this become a long rant about performance. The game is visually stunning and looks great. The animations are amazing as well. Also, the game feels bigger and bigger than the reboot.

There is one thing I didn’t care about in this game and that is the card collecting thing. It bugged out on me several times and I stopped caring. Why do I bring this up now? Since it’s the only negative when it comes to menu design. Such a shame, since we got such a great menu system. I really like how the game reloads your textures while you are playing when you set the visual settings higher and/or lower. It’s fun to see in my opinion. Also, I have to applaud the fact that everything is explained on the side when you tweak your options.

More of the same?

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In this game, most of Lara’s abilities return from the previous game. Apart from some differences, every weapon in this game is the same.

One huge difference is made in this game. And that’s the health system. You can speed up the regen. Well, you can heal yourself. This eliminates the waiting to heal up and makes the combat a bit more intense.

This game has a very similar gameplay to the reboot. Which is great, since I really loved the reboot. But in this game, there are side quests and challenge tombs. While I have beaten the main story, this game has still a lot to offer. The main game is around the 20-hour mark, but in my playthrough, I got 60% completion. So, it’s time to go looking for the things I missed.

Also, in this game, you can learn foreign languages. So, sometimes you can’t decipher a scroll since you aren’t strong enough in ancient Greek. This little mechanic makes the game even more fun.

This game can be pretty difficult from time to time. I remember one area, I had to redo a couple of times. I have to mention, that I didn’t play on the hardest difficulty. If you are looking for a challenge, this game can give you one.

Before I forget, this game has an additional story DLC. I haven’t beaten it yet, but from what I have already played, it’s very interesting and fun to play through.

The controls of this game are excellent. Lara controls fluently and I didn’t make many changes to the default control scheme. I only had minor issues in the menus, but after I got used to them, it didn’t bother me too much.

To close off this review, I have to talk about the music and sound design. In last week’s article, I have already talked and praised the music. The music in this game is amazing. It really sets the mood for the game. Also, the sound design is nice as well. I have nothing to complain.

I played this game with a headset and sometimes I felt like I was really there. The visuals and the sound design are that good in my opinion.

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. Time for the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-Minor visual glitches

-Annoying performance issues with weaker graphic cards.

-Game crashes can cause a PC reboot.

-The story uses a lot of cliches this time around.

-The card game part. WHY?

The good:

+ Amazing visuals.

+ Great music and sound design.

+ The game is a good challenge. Both in combat, puzzle solving and feeding goodies.

+ …

Final thoughts:

This game is so close to being perfect. There are some parts of the game I haven’t reviewed. Like the 2nd game mode. The expeditions. That’s because I haven’t played enough of it to review it. So, that’s a surprise for you if you are interested in this game.

If the story was a bit more fleshed out, I would have given this game full marks. Most of the visual issues I had were fixed in the various patches this game got.

I recommend this game, but check before you buy since this game requires very high PC specs. And when you buy and play this game, be ready for a thrill ride from start to finish!

Score: 95/100