Archive for Tomb Raider

God Of War: Mini-Review

Posted in Best / Worst, Games, Screenshots with tags , on May 13, 2018 by slateman

Having taken a few weeks to complete the campaign, I sit thinking of how to describe the experience. The game may have received rave reviews across the board, but was it truly as memorable, inspiring and wonderful as everyone says? To begin, let’s address some facts after the obligatory here be spoilers warning.

The middle sections were iffy and revisiting places felt a bit drawn out. The music wasn’t as heroic as I’d hoped and I never found myself humming any tunes as I itched to return to Midgard. There were some lighting issues, particularly with shadows, where everything would go dark and it gave the game an unnatural and jarring feeling from time to time. Initially, there were too many menus, upgrade choices and options to go through. One of the later gameplay mechanics felt too video-gamey, especially for a title that aimed to bridge the gap between cinematic experience and games and I also hit a checkpoint bug that was frustrating and made for too much work.

Phew…that’s a long list of woes. However, as a true testament to the game’s magnificence, I would still give it a 10/10 as the laundry list of good/great/fan-fucking-tastic things is easily 20 times the length of the previous paragraph. From a gameplay perspective, the puzzles were almost all interesting and fun and they were tied in with the story or side quests perfectly. Fighting as Kratos has never been as satisfying, challenging or glorious to behold. A series staple, this game somehow made me forget about the blades of chaos, at least until they returned. On the one hand, the leviathan axe was a brilliant change of pace, both brutal in its weight and also marvelous to watch, and its integration into puzzles made it the ideal weapon of choice. But as Kratos’s past returned, the blades were not merely a prop or throwaway weapon: they served a purpose, both with their fire element and also the gravity of accepting his prior life.

Which leads, inevitably, into that conflict Kratos suffered. I can all but guarantee nobody saw our protagonist as the “most developed character of 2018”. (I realize, Red Dead Redemption 2 will likely win story of the year for many). Honestly, who believed Kratos could undergo such a transformation from a one-dimensional anger machine to a wonderfully-blended father figure, tormented god and, rarely, funny character. The BOY memes are not unfair, but I genuinely cared about him, his journey and above all, his relationship with Atreus.

The dynamics the duo faced throughout this journey were simply remarkable. When Atreus was in trouble, I felt my own inner Spartan Rage building. I don’t know if non-parents could truly experience the emotional side of this story, but I like to think they can, even if a portion might not resonate as much as a father of a son, like I am, can. At points, I hated Atreus and wanted to slap his face. On others, I felt for him, the way I do when my own child hurts. Finally, on others, I relied upon him to stun my enemies, distract them, reach those I couldn’t and for tossing me some energy when I was getting an all-too-frequent beat-down. He is the single best non-player sidekick I’ve ever had the joy of semi-controlling and his journey, as Kratos mentions at the end, is the true center stage of this tale.

Finding that out, however, was a vast undertaking, through realms, fighting behemoths and ultimately landing at one of the more emotional finales I’ve ever experienced. The implications of Faye’s predictions: whatever that final panel meant, makes me yearn for more in a way no God Of War ever has. The significance of the final name reveal: Loki, has me questioning everything! I’ve been entrenched in Norse mythology and, knowing my stuff, the ending means OMG – bad shit’s a’comin’! Balder’s death signifies the beginning of Ragnarök – orchestrated by Loki himself. Plus, Loki is the father of Jormungand AND Fenrir which turns the entire timeline on its head.

And all these superlatives just gloss over the incredible attention to detail, the way the developers integrated lore without overwhelming you, the utterly gorgeous graphics and pristine sound design. It doesn’t capture how after my finale and the post-finale, “I want the sequel NOW” reveal, that I just want to dive back in to collect more, defeat valkyries, upgrade equipment and, as of yesterday, tinker with the new photo mode.

The only true downside is that a sequel will never be able to capture the magic this reboot has offered us. This game is very similar to the Tomb Raider reboot from several years ago: the new take on Lara was compelling and its gameplay superb. I actually cared about the lore, though that was overshadowed by GOW’s, but the two have many parallels. Much like the Tomb Raider sequel, more is always great, but I don’t think it can ever live up to the experience I just had which is, without a doubt, among the best in my gaming life. And to think, I only just beat Bloodborne three months ago! Two games which likely reside on my top-20, mayhaps even my top-15!

I’ll cut this off now, as I surely could gush for countless other paragraphs about Brok and Sindri, about the single-shot presentation, about those damn valkyries, about…..yeah….let’s call it a day now. I’m pegging it as Game of the Year now. It’s not a question of it being deserving, it’s only a question of something else being able to topple it. OMG, so good.

Mini-Review: Tomb Raider – Oh Yes!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Reviews with tags on March 17, 2013 by slateman

tombraiderIt isn’t 1996 any longer. While there have been many Tomb Raider games since then, none have lived up to the standard set by the first two games. And with Uncharted coming to take the torch, how precisely can a reboot live up with the legacy of both UC and TR? By doing precisely what they’ve done in this game.

And Uncharted IS important because it took a formula and perfected it. Its second entry is probably my favorite game of this generation. Its third iteration, however, didn’t live up to the standard set by the first two games. Sound familiar? (Plus, we’ve talked about thistwice!) As Lara Croft scrambled to safety in the 2013 reboot, I was a character who was real. No more one-liners after murdering two dozen swarming enemies. It’s not that Nathan Drake is unlikeable; it’s quite the opposite. It’s just that by the third time, it was all expected. We knew we’d be dangling by one arm at least six times. Every action sequence felt familiar the intensity was thereby reduced. When Lara first killed a person, it was a big deal. The intense moments in Tomb Raider were intense! The entire journey was a remarkable one; even if it felt like UC a few times (which itself felt like TR a few times).


Lara was a mess. She was hurt. Her pain felt real. The visuals in the game were positively incredible, the sound outstanding. The gameplay was impeccable and FUN. The weapons were powerful. Their customizable evolution was perfectly executed. I felt a draw to the history, the lore. The locales were lush and vast. I listened to the audio logs. The collectibles fit within the world created. I went back to collect GPS caches, using my new-found abilities to unlock new paths. More than once during my adventure I stated, “This represents everything I love about videogames!”

This review is pretty simple. The game absolutely rules and is one of my favorites in a long time. In retrospect, I’m stuck trying to find a weakness. Perhaps more diverse enemies would be nice. I guess the biggest problem is how to deal with a sequel but who cares about that now? Tomb Raider has somehow returned to form, copying and trumping a game that copied and trumped it in the first place. This is just about perfect; it cannot be praised highly enough.

Tomb Raider: First Thoughts

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Uncharted with tags on March 8, 2013 by slateman


I got Tomb Raider from my favorite service, GameFly yesterday and have managed to squeak out maybe 45 minutes of gameplay. First impressions? Awesome! Crystal Dynamics couldn’t really go the Uncharted route…and seeing how UC ripped off TR in the first place, what could the developer do? Well, what they’ve done is revamp Lara Croft entirely and craft a spectacular new style of game. I’m super psyched to play through the rest of this, foregoing even God Of War to do so. That’s saying a lot. The snapshot above looks like it’s straight out of UC actually. However, I most certainly am not complaining. Now, if I only didn’t have to take that photo w/ my phone. Perhaps if there were a Share button on my gaming controller……. :D