Copyright Adam Schlosser
Contact:
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Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser


Posted by Pip

R5B10- What Are You Sloth

Apples wasn't sleeping alongside Baxter, it was totally just pinning him down waiting for somebody to count Bax out. That's definitely what it was and definitely not Baxter introducing laziness and sleep to a group of warriors. Good thing the Cap'n is there to keep them all in shape. She won't be pushed around by “basic body functions”, no-siree.


Quick Review: Tomb Raider (2013)- I've talked about the Tomb Raider franchise a lot in previous AGWS reviews, so I didn't really want to make a video out of this one. To go over my high-level feelings on the Tomb Raider reboot: I'm not a fan. These aren't the Tomb Raider and Lara Croft that I know and liked. Tomb Raider is a series about a cartoon character for a cartoon story and world and it worked well. Aside from all the terrible gameplay you can see in those AGWS videos... After playing the new one, I stand by how grossly over-violent I thought the reboot would be, but as a game, the beginning was better than I was expecting.
The one actual puzzle you have in the beginning of the game is fun. It's a multi-step process and as you discover each step, you can see how it works and it's up to you to find all the steps and chain them together properly. It also introduces and teaches you the three main game mechanics in one single puzzle: physics and weight are important, you have to use Lara to manipulate the environment, and fire burns things. That's great! But then the next hour is hand holding "go there" or "use this on that" gameplay followed by an attempted rape scene and combat murdering dudes. The bow hunting in the beginning is fun too but then they quickly give you a gun, you finish the game with three different guns and you never want for ammo, and that ruins the "survivalist" feel the game had. It would have been such a better game if it was all archery and you had to scrounge for your arrows and reuse ones, then at the end of the game, that's when you find like a pistol and you think that's amazing. But no, guns are easier to animate and engineer, so give those people on that isolated island machine guns and near infinite ammo. Then, you find a grenade launcher and strap that to your machine gun. You can murder woodland creatures too and it's done kind of poorly. In the beginning, Lara has to hunt a deer for food and it's done as a character building "oh god this deer is looking me in the eyes and I have to kill it with a knife" moment (and Lara takes waaaay to kill the poor thing; slit its throat, you heartless monster!). Then two minutes later you can just run around sniping deer and you don't get any meat or anything useful for doing it. You get like 10 experience points but just opening a box is worth more than that in normal gameplay. Lara goes from "It's you or me and I'm rather sorry about this" to "Blam! Watch me shoot that rabbit" in the blink of an eye. There's a stretch that really drags on through a shanty town to pretty much the end of the game that has few puzzles and just so much combat. Many of those sections feel unnecessary, so to drag the game down even further with the combat arenas and enemies that spawn during cinematics, it's a very low point for what had a promising start. Rather than the puzzles getting trickier or the exploration tasking you, the game just throws more and more dudes with guns at you. The tombs are best part of the game once you get out of the intro, but there are only seven of them, they're extremely short, and they're all out of the way and optional. So, in a game called “Tomb Raider”, actually raiding tombs takes a backseat to shooting people. Of course, the game STILL has the same problem that old Tomb Raider games had where Lara will refuse to grab onto a ledge or will jump through a rope or won't cling to a rock face, so even the exploration and puzzles have their annoyances. What's the point of a reboot if you can't actually fix the gameplay? Then just to bog things down further, the game frequently relies on a ridiculously shaky camera, it keeps throwing crap onto that camera (like blood or dirt, water, hexagons for some reason I think that are supposed to be a wet lensflare?), and instant fail QTEs. The final boss in the game isn't even a puzzle or a fight; it's a string of quick time events.
The updated gameplay misses its mark, so how do the story and camera fare? As previously mentioned, it's gruesome. Gruesome in a Saw/Hostel bloodletting for the sake of bloodletting way. Lara starts her quest by getting impaled by a rusty old metal shard at the beginning of the game and then... just walks it off? Not only does she walk it off, she's sprinting and climbing and twisting all around just minutes after being hurt. The game repeatedly does that too. It knocks Lara around and maims her to prove she's human, but then the next minutes she's back up and running without a second thought. Sure, regenerating health after taking a sword to the face is just a silly gameplay thing, but what's the point of showing a vulnerable human struggling if she can just slap a bandage on or take a pill and go back to being more agile and stronger than a professionally trained explorer/athlete/super hero? Lara also spends a lot of the game shivering and shaking out in the wet and cold, but never really seems to think to loot a jacket or shirt off any of the dozens of people she kills even as her shirt and pants deteriorate over the course of the story. For as dirty and gory as the game is, it still doesn't miss an opportunity to focus the camera on her chest. Trying to sexualize a character with open wounds that's caked in blood and dirt as her shirt gets more and more torn up with a camera aimed directly at her cleavage is pretty damned weird to me. Old Tomb Raider's Lara was cartoonishly ridiculous so her silly sex appeal worked in a clean cartoony world. New Tomb Raider's Lara is dirty and gross and you'd probably get tetanus from touching her, but they still try to sexualize her. You can't have it both ways.
The game looks really pretty and the environments are fantastic, but the enemies are generally all gray/brown on muddy backgrounds so they can be hard to pick out. They make the super odd choice of having enemies in gameplay's dead bodies stick around but some enemies that die in cutscenes just melt into thin air. It's usually the opposite. There are also a lot of mostly cosmetic glitches with physics and objects. You'll regularly encounter pots just floating in the air or you'll knock a table over and the table will break but everything that was on it will still hover on nothing. In cutscenes or scripted moments, Lara will pass through debris and rocks after something exploded. I spent the whole intro to one scene with Lara inside a wooden beam and just her arms and a leg sticking out of it. Kind of ruined the dramatic effect. I encountered one part where two guns were just floating in the air, they weren't solid so Lara could walk through them, and I couldn't interact with them or pick them up. The funny thing about that one was that there weren't any enemies in that area. There had been a cutscene where you heard gunfire and a character mentioned she was under fire over the radio, but you never actually saw any enemies shooting. I did hit some pretty major bugs as well. On one play session, one of the skills I unlocked after leveling up might have stopped working. It's just a "you spent a skill point on this or you didn't" kind of perk system, so the game screwed me out of a skill point and the extra salvage I was supposed to be receiving. I don't know if it was totally broken, because I started getting the extra scrap again the next time I played but then stopped getting it again later. So either it kept breaking or the skill was so useless that I couldn't tell if it was working. Another big one was that I walked into a cave and the whole level just disappeared and Lara fell into the air then died.
New Tomb Raider has a fever dream feel to it. Things don't coherently or logically string together; crap is just always going down and things are horrible... because. There's a scene in the beginning where Lara steps on a bear trap and if you try to think of the situation that had to occur to have the character set that up just to be a dick, it's just not logical. Just expect that everything Lara tries to climb will break and trigger a QTE or send you sliding down a tube or down a river. Everything is so relentlessly awful, but since everybody just walks it off, none of it has any weight or meaning. I was kind of hoping the game's finale would be “none this really happened, you're actually dead/unconscious and made the whole adventure up”. It would have been a total cop out for why all this crazy crap was going down, but I was actually disappointed that they didn't take this route because it meant that everything actually did happen and it was this silly just because. The beginning of this game had so much potential. Scrounging for supplies, hunting, Lara's weaknesses, and the Lost-like mystery of the island. The ending of this game was terrible. Wielding ridiculous guns, killing dozens of dudes, things constantly exploding, and the Lost-like reveal of the mystery of the island.