Rumor Round Up Update
What’s going on TLN Sparx here with an update to the Rumor Round Up, as you’ve probably noticed there hasn’t been one in a while, and that’s mainly because there hasn’t been much going on in the video game world that isn’t either common knowledge or backed up by numerous sources. So, I came up with a plan in these little slumps and that’s to write an article on the subjects that are the more evident at those points in time in the gaming industry, possibly a review or two. I’ve also decided to move the Rumor Round Up to a monthly article, weekly seems to burn subjects out and I’m left in these rumorless times with nothing to talk about, and that’s never a good thing.
This month then, I will do a review and a personal analysis on an event that’s happened in the past month. This month’s subjects are a review of Crystal Dynamic’s Tomb Raider, and was the Battlefield 3 Premium subscription worth it?
I’ll tackle Battlefield first, as the majority of you play that game and are interested in it, so was the Premium subscription worth it?
This question is a very tough question to answer even on a personal basis, for me it was half worth it, mainly to continue playing with you guys when the new maps came out for premium and 90% of the people I play with regularly have the premium subscription, but if we look at it from an expansion to expansion basis there could have been expansions i wouldn’t have purchased as standalone DLC’s, for example Armored Kill, I’m not a fan of those maps, or the mode it brought to the game, so I wouldn’t have purchased that map pack. But the other 4 map packs, i would have purchased. Back To Karkand came with the limited edition version of Battlefield 3 so I would have got that DLC pack regardless as I got BF3 on release date.
But a run down through the other DLCs and to me it was worth it for a couple of the packs, but not all of them.
Close Quarters – worth it
Armored Kill – not worth it
Aftermath – worth it
End Game – half worth it
To me End Game didn’t need maps, what it needed was the new modes, and those game modes and the other DLC game modes put into place on the other maps, obviously no Tank Superiority on CQ that’s just silly, but gun master on the other maps etc. you know you’d love a round of CTF on Damavand Peak, its perfect for it, as is Metro if they opened the entire map. Tank Superiority in an urban setting would be a totally new experience, as would Conquest Assault on the linear maps, like Metro. DICE still have the chance to do this, BF$ isn’t even announced properly yet (apparently that’s happening near the end of the month) but there’s nothing stopping them doing this.
We also got Dog Tags, assignments, and some other random bits of content through the subscription, but that content should have been available to all players, not just those who put an extra £50 (I don’t know how much it was in the US someone let me know and I’ll edit it in)
So overall, the Premium subscription admittedly saved me some money.and got me some stuff to work on in the game, which if that wasn’t there I would have burnt out on BF3 a long time ago, probably before I hit Colonel, but for the vast majority, who enjoy everything Battlefield, then the premium subscription was worth it.
Now for the review of the latest addition to a 17-year-old franchise, and one that’s looking to change the way people see one of the most famous video game characters ever created. Crystal Dynamic’s take on the origin story of Lara Croft, Tomb Raider.
I’m a massive fan of the Tomb Raider series, I’ve played every one, completed every one several times over. but there’s always been that little thought in the back of my mind, where did Lara actually start out with all this, no-one just appears with guns and starts looking for mysterious objects in random places in the globe, inadvertently setting off a cataclysmic chain of events if something isn’t stopped, and finally we have a look into that beginning, how Lara became the heroine we all know and love in various ways. Some of us love her because she’s the first (kind of) female lead in a major series, many of us it’s because it was one of the first games we played on the original Playstation, some because of her over sexualisation. but for most, it’s because the Tomb Raider series is one of the best series we’ve played.
Now in the age of the PS3 Lara saw herself took over by Nathan Drake, who (fun fact coming) is based on the original Tomb Raider character, who was male, but Eidos software decided that a female lead would surprise people in the style of game they created, and thus Laura Croft was born, her name then changed to Lara as Eidos thought American’s wouldn’t be able to pronounce Laura properly and would instinctively call her Lara. (Another fun fact is her overly large chest was done by accident, a developer was making changes to the character model and pushed her chest size up by 150% creating the triangle boobs of Tomb Raiders 1-chronicles).
This latest addition to the series is not only an origin story, but also a welcome break from Lara’s usual exploits. The story takes place on an island in the Dragon’s Triangle, where they’re in search of an ancient city called Yamatai part of ancient Chinese mythology, similar to that of Atlantis. However the ship Lara and her crew are on crashes and the crew are split up, and find themselves captured by a cult that has developed on the island. Thus beginning the story of Lara’s change from fresh out of university archeologist to survival expert.
As you’d expect there is a lengthy tutorial to the game, teaching you about the various new features, the most notable being the survival instincts, which allows you to find points of interest and spot enemies, much like Assassins Creed’s eagle vision, this isn’t the only thing the game takes from other series’, personally the game feels like a mixture of uncharted gameplay mixed with the exploration of Far Cry, however the exploration isn’t as open as Far Cry’s open world go anywhere anytime experience, this game is very linear in its exploration, you can’t go to the end area right off the bat like you could in Far Cry, you have to work your way around the island, sometimes finding yourself doubling back because you missed something you needed.
The weapons in the game are very well thought out in what Lara finds on the island, a pistol, submachine gun, shotgun, pickaxe and most notably the bow. All the other weapons besides the bow are very underpowered and very difficult to use without controlling yourself by burst firing, which is very understandable, its highly unlikely that Lara has shot a gun before especially a fully automatic gun. Whereas the Bow is the most powerful, and her expert accuracy with it is explained very early on with her feeling the need to tell absolutely no-one but her and the dead person she gets it off that she had ‘extensive archery lessons from a young age’.
contrasting to most survival games, you will never find yourself short of ammo, for any of your weapons, you’ll always have a spare clip, and even if you do run out, ammo is just around the next corner. the firefights in the game are cover based, a la Uncharted, and you’ll find ample cover at every point there will be a firefight, sometimes you’ll find cover before you even come into contact with the enemy so you’ll know there’s a fight coming. the platforming sections are also very similar to uncharted, you’ll find yourself seeing the same things over and over, and sometimes this can become very tiresome.
The puzzles also leave a lot to be desired with this being a Tomb Raider game, Tomb Raider has always been known as much for its puzzles as the game itself, with some puzzles taking hours of looking and working out to find the solution (who remembers the revolving pedestal puzzle in one of the original series) the puzzles normally have the solutions pointed out to you within seconds of finding a tomb to raid, or are blatantly obvious. There are a couple that will leave you confused, but none for so long you’ll lose sleep over it.
That isn’t to say that this game is bad, the game is fantastic, the pacing is brilliant, you’ll be happy for the slower sections but ready for the long firefight sections when they appear, the boss battles (of which there were only 2) are more about timing and less about fighting. There are also a lot of quick time events, you’ll find yourself hammering buttons quite a lot.
There is, however, one major downfall of the game, while its Lara’s transition from a sweet, innocent young girl to the cold-hearted raider we all know, she is a little bit more whiney than you’d like to admit. Throughout the game there aren’t many opportunities for her to complain that she passes on, while this calms down towards the closing stages, it’s always there. I will applaud Crystal Dynamics for putting emotion into a previously emotionless character, but they need to tone down this aspect in future releases.
There is also a multiplayer part to the game, which was not what anyone was expecting, people were expecting a 4 player co-op style gameplay from the perspective of the other crew members, like Far Cry’s Co-op campaign, however its a pretty standard affair, 4v4 teams, and your basic modes tailored for the survival aspect of the game, Team Deathmatch, Free For All, Capture the Flag and Domination/Conquest are all present, but the multiplayer feels like an afterthought, and not a passable afterthought. A terrible afterthought, the game is sluggish, it lags a lot, and the maps are too cluttered for any form of competition, for a comparison (for the Cod players and for those who aren’t I’ll explain) think a regular BF3 match, 12v12, on Call Of Duty’s Hijacked. Personally the multiplayer is taking disk space up that should have been used for more story, I would have happily taken another 2 hours of story content over the multiplayer.
Graphically the game is stunning, the setting is dark, and the weather is constantly terrible, you’ll find yourself wading through water, mud, and other substances throughout the game, and Lara’s clothing tells this, she starts off clean, freshly showered, clean clothes, but by the end of the game, she’s dirty, cut, bruised, haggard looking, looking like someone who’s been through hell and kicked the devil in the balls and lived to tell the tale.
there are also some really cool looking death scenes, with one rather disgusting one which nearly made me throw up with the graphic intensity of it. I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t played the game and want to, but it involves poles and fast water.
Audio wise the game always feels like it should, the music doesn’t give anything away, there’s no little noise for finding anything, it keeps the mysterious form that the island gives off, and you’ll find yourself not paying attention to it, which is how it should be, the music should be there and give the immersion more effect rather than detracting from it. However sometimes the music is a little overdramatic.
All in all Crystal Dynamics brought a fantastic game to the table, I thoroughly enjoyed the title, although the multiplayer aspect left a lot to be desired, and I am already anticipating their next Tomb Raider title.
So for the final rating