Tag Archives: Lara Croft

One can’t stop moving in Lara Croft: Relic Run

1440953266_lara-croft-relic-run_5

First, once more, it’s hard to find good screenshots for Lara Croft: Relic Run that adhere to my blog’s specifics, which is why the above image looks all stretched and odd. It’s better than no image, I guess. I already used my one allotted Angelina Jolie shot for the game completed haiku. Or maybe I should’ve just used the game’s title image screen, which is easily found as a desktop wallpaper in all types of dimensions, but I’d rather you at least see what this adventure into the dinosaur- and lizard monster-laden jungle looks like. It looks like the above, just not all stretched and odd. In fact, the visuals in this mobile game are top-notch, though it moves a little too fast to really notice.

It can be hard to determine when one is done with an endless runner, as the genre name itself implies a certain indefiniteness. That said, I think I’m done with Lara Croft: Relic Run, having played for many hours and gotten most of the Achievements and seen nearly everything I want to see as Lara herself zips forward, slides to not lose her head on a low ceiling or fallen branch, shoots a red barrel to explode and kill two monsters, and tumble to her grisly death as she misses a jump, but snags a shiny map icon along the way down. Whew. Long sentence.

Hey, remember Temple Run 2? Yeah, me too. Well, Lara Croft: Relic Run is mostly Temple Run 2, but with its own branding and a few slight differences, though I guess all endless runners are simply about moving forward, collecting stuff, and not running into walls. In this one, you control Lara herself, except no scary monster beast is chasing behind you; instead, you are running forward, in search of relics, which will hopefully provide clues to a missing friend. Or unlock the mystery behind a shadowy conspiracy. Honestly, the smidgen of story text you get from each collected clue barely gives you any idea of what is going on, but that’s okay–story takes a backseat in this, especially when you start hopping off a T-Rex’s back through fallen rubble like some kind of cool action hero.

You jog forward into the jungle, swiping left and right to change lanes, up to jump, down to slide. As you hustle, Lara will collect coins, occasionally shoot things, like lizard-monsters tossing spears at her face, fight a T-Rex in various ways, gather glowing clues to unlock relics, and rinse and repeat until she stumbles and tumbles to her death. Which definitely will happen eventually as the obstacles ramp up the farther in you get. Then, before your next run, you can use those gold coins (or harder-to-get diamonds) to purchase power-ups or upgrade your outfit/weaponry, as well as buy curses to send to other players on your friends list, which affect how the game looks and plays for a limited period of time.

One element I’m really not fond of in Lara Croft: Relic Run, which I also wasn’t fond of in that Tomb Raider reboot, is that when Lara Croft dies, she dies in the most outrageous manner possible. Her bones seemingly separate beneath her skin, and arms and legs flip and flop like fish out of water. The camera occasionally lingers on a shot of her crumpled form for a few seconds too long. It’s a little too much for a cartoony game about running and jumping.

I’m walking away from Lara Croft: Relic Run with three Achievements still locked. One requires Lara to run a certain distance without every sliding, which I swear I’ve done before, but it might be glitched. The other asks you to send six curses to friends, but only provides five to purchase; good job, Square Enix. The last one requires Lara to collect a total of 1,000,000 coins; seeing as I’ve only garnered 79,461 after all my play-time, this is too much of a grind for even l’il ol’ grindy me. Yup, the dude that got co-op Achievements by himself in Lara Croft: Guardian of Light doesn’t want to make the effort here, which probably says enough.

I wonder what the next free-to-play endless runner I’ll try will be. A sick part of my brain worries that it’ll be Despicable Me: Minion Rush.

2015 Game Review Haiku, #48 – Lara Croft: Relic Run

2015 gd games completed lara croft relic run

Lara Croft can run
Not even a dinosaur
Will catch her, swipe up

From 2012 all through 2013, I wrote little haikus here at Grinding Down about every game I beat or completed, totaling 104 in the end. I took a break from this format last year in an attempt to get more artsy, only to realize that I missed doing it dearly. So, we’re back. Or rather, I am. Hope you enjoy my continued take on videogame-inspired Japanese poetry in three phases of 5, 7, and 5, respectively.

2015 Game Review Haiku, #40 – Lara Croft: Guardian of Light

2015 gd games completed lara-croft-and-the-guardian-of-light

Find mirror of smoke
By yourself or with Totec
Never stop rolling

From 2012 all through 2013, I wrote little haikus here at Grinding Down about every game I beat or completed, totaling 104 in the end. I took a break from this format last year in an attempt to get more artsy, only to realize that I missed doing it dearly. So, we’re back. Or rather, I am. Hope you enjoy my continued take on videogame-inspired Japanese poetry in three phases of 5, 7, and 5, respectively.

Playing co-op the solo way in Lara Croft: Guardian of Light

guardian of light gd cooping by myself

I keep saying that I’m working at completing games saved on my limited Xbox 360 hard-drive space in hopes of then deleting these finished games and making room for those in my growing download queue too large to acquire until some room clears up…but really, I’m dragging my feet. Or rather, my hands. Sure, sure, I polished off The Raven‘s first episode and Assassin’s Creed II some time back, but it’s not enough. Not when Microsoft keeps giving out full retail games as digital downloads, with each ranging between 6 and 9 GB of required space. Feel free to insert a first-world problems snarky comment here; I’ve earned it.

So, over the weekend, I took a good hard look at the list of games on my Xbox 360 and decided that I had let Lara Croft: Guardian of Light sit idle for far too long. According to How Long to Beat, it should only take me about six hours to complete. I think I can do that, especially when you consider that my save sits somewhere around the fourth or fifth level; basically, I just took down the magically deadly T-rex, which was previously a stone statue. Perhaps that means I only have about four or five hours to go if I really get to work and don’t run into any snags. I don’t plan on trying to collect every weapon or relic or do all the challenge rooms that are unearthed, simply finish all the levels.

Perhaps I’ll have more to say about the main storyline or rolling around, dropping button-controlled bombs, and blasting enemies with a staggering assortment of weaponry, but for now, I want to speak about co-op play, as Lara Croft: Guardian of Light is designed mostly from the ground up to be played simultaneously by two players. Either with a friend beside you or across the great expanse we know as the Internet.

Ultimately, honestly, I just wanted to unlock the four Achievements tied to co-op play, because I guess I still care about these things, which are as follows:

lc gol a friend in need ach

A Friend in Need (20G) – Play Co-op mode

 

lc gol leap of faith ach

Leap of Faith (15G) – Catch Totec with the grapple while he is jumping over a death fall

lc gol return to sender ach

Return to Sender (15G) – Reflect an enemy’s projectile back to him using Totec’s shield

lc gol jump jump ach

Jump Jump (10G) – Jump from Totec’s shield while he is jumping

 

Here’s the rub: I did unlock them all…by myself. Yup, I sunk low and played a two-player game with myself, jumping back and forth between two controllers on my lap, one for Lara and one for Totec. First, I did try to find if anyone was online and playing, but after numerous attempts, no games were found. Which makes total sense, seeing we are five years out from its launch, especially given that there’s already a sequel to this, called Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris. Second, I don’t really have many IRL gamer friends, which is one of the reasons I still haven’t even purchased a second controller for my PS3.

To be honest, because I did this single-handedly (well, not literally), these Achievements feel all the harder earned. Though the first one, A Friend in Need, simply required me turning on a second controller and starting a co-op game. Easy peasy there. It gets gradually more difficult. Jump Jump saw me holding down the left bumper on the controller for Totec, while using the other controller to get Lara to jump on his shield; after that, while still holding down the left bumper, I had to hit Totec’s jump button and quickly follow it by hitting the jump button for Lara, which took a few tries. Leap of Faith required similar tactics.

However, to unlock Return to Sender, which requires Totec to use his shield to bounce an enemy’s projectile back at them, one must make it to the second level. That means completing the first co-op level, and for the most part, I could simply leave one character standing still in a corner while the other character took care of enemies and puzzles before moving both of them along the main path. There are two sections in that first level where both characters need to be constantly moving, working in tandem, and this proved challenging as I had to juggle moving both Lara and Totec and using their respective skills–Totem can create platforms with his spear while Lara can use her rope thingy to make bridges and climb walls–truthfully, I’m still amazed I got through it all.

With those silly Achievements now mine, all I really want to do left with Lara Croft: Guardian of Light is complete the main story, with little concern to score challenges and collecting all the weapons or relics. Once that’s done, it’ll be uninstalled, and I’ll be one step closer to maybe causing chaos in Just Cause 2.

2014 Game Completed Comics, #26 – Tomb Raider

2014 games completed 26 - tomb raider resized

Every videogame that I complete in 2014 will now get its very own wee comic here on Grinding Down. It’s about time I fused my art with my unprofessional games journalism. I can’t guarantee that these comics will be funny or even attempt to be funny. Or look the same from one to another. Some might even aim for thoughtfulness. Comics are a versatile form, so expect the unexpected.

Lara Croft mourns her first deer kill, slaughters dozens more

Tomb Raider hunting deer

I think I’m just about done with Tomb Raider. No, wait. I am done. Given the new low that I stooped to last night, it’s best that I just put it and its unlocked Trophies, as well as untouched online multiplayer aspect, behind me, orphaned on some storm-hidden, sun goddess-worshipping tropical island, one which, with any luck, I’ll never find again.

Tomb Raider‘s story came to a close a couple weeks back for me. I don’t remember the exact percentage number at the end of it all, but since then I’ve slowly been working towards that soul-settling 100%. Basically, nabbing all the leftover collectibles. Well, that’s not going to happen. Sure, I’ve upgraded all my weapons with every mod available, finished every optional tomb, collected every relic and document from every level that had ’em, earned all the ability skills, and done most of the GPS caches and challenges.

It’s that last mentioned category that will go incomplete, thus robbing me of a full completion rating. Oh well. The GPS caches actually end up getting marked on your map, making them easier to find since they are only glittering lights, but the challenges, which are things like “shoot down eight tiny wind chimes that blend in really well with the background” or “find 10 specific mushrooms in a forest filled with mushrooms” are not labeled on the map. That means you spend a lot of time running around the same environment, constantly clicking left trigger for Lara’s hunting vision in hopes of seeing something glow. At this point, I have two mushrooms left to find in the forest levels, and that seems like an impossible task–even with an online walkthrough–as I can’t tell which ones I’ve already collected and which ones are still out there, being fun guys.

But let me talk about earning salvage in a post-game Tomb Raider world. In order to pay for weapon mod upgrades, you need salvage, which is earned from finding crates of it in the environment, looting fallen enemy bodies, and skinning slain animals. However, the first two–crates and enemies–are quite finite once the game ends, with little to no respawning for both of them. This means that if you don’t have enough salvage by then, you’re going to have to grind for it, and the quickest and easiest animal to kill over and over again like some mindless sociopath are deer, the same forest friend that gave Lara Croft some minor heartache when she first had to kill the beast to feed her tummy.

Let me start at the start. Early on in Tomb Raider after acquiring the bow, Lara is given a quest to kill a deer, with the implication that she needs to do this to stay alive. To eat, keep her energy up, etc. She goes through the hunting motions and even apologizes to the deer as she guts it. This is supposed to be an emotional scene, but it quickly dissolves into just perfunctory videogame mechanics, as gutting the deer earns Lara both XP and salvage. Note, not food. The quest was for food, and the reward was other stuff. I’m not a huge fan of hunger meters–looking at you, Minecraft and Don’t Starve–as they constantly put pressure on you to always be looking for something scrumptious to keep that meter high instead of letting you just play the game, but here, where hunting is emphasized, it would’ve made sense to have Lara kill a deer every now–for hunger’s sake.

Anyways, since killing deer obvious meant nothing to Lara in the end, just a means to more skills, I took her down a dark path for my last half-hour with Tomb Raider. Back in the coastal forest sections, I had her running in circles, assault rifle at the ready, blasting deer to the ground with a single shot, sometimes  popping off a rabbit or two while waiting for the deer population to respawn. When ammo ran out, I took to practicing how far I could snipe a deer with a loosed arrow, as well as how high they could bounce into the sky once I got the “exploding arrows” perk unlocked. Evidently, kind of high.

This sort of obsessive, stalker-like hunting all became methodical, something which I think an archeologist would appreciate, approaching a task systematically, even if that task is basically slaughtering deer after deer after deer, and all for salvage, a secondary currency that lets her grow in power. Strangely, even after all the weapon mods were bought, Lara can still earn salvage, but that only makes the hunting seem even further without point. No thanks. I’m done voraciously knocking down digital deer, though I don’t expect their death-cries to leave my head for some time.

Lara Croft and the lost artifact to lock away an evil entity

Lara Croft GOL early impressions

Little did y’all know, but while I was playing Tomb Raider, I was also playing Tomb Raider. Er, I mean…Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. Which is not like Tomb Raider at all. Not that the newest Tomb Raider was very Tomb Raider-y either, in all meaning of the name. Wait, hold up. This is quickly getting confusing. Okay, let’s start again then.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is a downloadable, top-down action game set in Central America that has Lara Croft on a quest for some lost artifact that potentially has the power to lock away an evil entity. Specifically, Xolotl, the Keeper of Darkness. Back in the day, Totec’s army was defeated when Xolotl used the mirror of smoke to unleash hordes of ghastly creatures. Totec survived and found a way to defeat Xolotl, imprisoning him in the mirror of smoke and becoming its immortal guardian in the form of a stone statue. In the present day, Lara reads of the legend and attempts to find it. After locating the mirror, a local warlord takes it from Lara and accidentally releases Xolotl. D’oh.

Rather than the series’ traditional third-person perspective, the camera is high overhead, like a bird, meaning Lara is maybe as tall as a toothpick now. Players control her by using the left thumbstick to move and the other thumbstick to point her equipped weapon in a specific direction, with right trigger to shoot. You can roll and drop bombs and jump and throw magical ropes that attach themselves to ceilings, and that’s kind of all the main moves you have at your disposal. Well, that is if you don’t have a friend to play with, as Guardian of Light is designed as a co-op experience, with a second player using Totec, the titular light-guardian voiced by Jim Cummings. Totec has a spear and shield, which play a big part in the platforming puzzles, but when you are going at it solo, Lara just has the spear itself. Despite Guardian of Light being given out for free to all Xbox Gold members, I was unable to find an online game to join and try out some co-op action.

Let’s talk about how the game actually feels when being played. Lara’s a speedy, gun-toting English archeologist. That’s one of the first things I noticed in Guardian of Light, that she’s extremely light on her feet, able to dive this way and that while still being able to shoot enemy spiders and demon-like creatures with deadly precision. Or as much as an Xbox 360 analog stick can give out. But still–she’s fast. Gone are the days of old, when running and jumping from platform to platform was like moving through water and you often spent more time lining up your jump than executing it. Jumping feels a bit clunky, and I never felt 100% confident when jumping from one platform to another. Same goes with using Lara’s rope to run up and along walls. Lastly, and this could just be my controller, but any time I had Lara running down the screen, like towards me, she would stutter and occasionally pause, which made this one puzzle involving spikes shooting up from the ground a real hassle. You gotta keep moving, Lara.

Right. Guardian of Light–I do like it. It’s certainly a different kind of game banking on the Tomb Raider namesake for interest. In truth, Lara could be replaced with anyone else, and that game would be just as good as it is now. Heck, put Indiana Jones in there, and you suddenly have a pretty good Indy game, not to be confused with a pretty good indie game.

However…I’m stuck. Sadly, it’s early on in Level 3: Spider Tomb. It’s just after that spike trap I mentioned two paragraphs up, with Lara stuck in a small room with, seemingly, nowhere to go. I tried throwing spears into the wall and jumping up, throwing her rope like a rabid cowgirl, but nothing worked. I just kept throwing her into a pit of death, lowering my score with each fall. I guess I’m going to have to grin and bear it and find a walkthrough, as there are still eleven more levels to go, and I do want to see more.