Tag Archives: Tomb Raider

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

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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.

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.

The hostile inhabitants of Yamatai have nothing on this Tomb Raider

tomb raider crash impressions

As you all know, I have a sickness, and that somewhat imaginary disease is downloading videogames–both free and paid for–and then not doing anything with them for a very long time. Actually, this also applies occasionally to retail products, seeing as I got both Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection and Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story back in October 2013 and have yet to even crack their cases. Sure, I’ll install a game on Steam and check to make sure it runs, but that’s as deep as I go sometimes. I mean, really…there are moments where I feel catastrophically overwhelmed with content to consume, considering I get a free game a week on PlayStation 3 thanks to PlayStation Plus, two games a month for being an Xbox 360 Gold member, and countless titles on the PC from bundles or cases of freeware.

Well, I’m happy to announce that I fought back this week and immediately began playing Tomb Raider after it finished downloading–and installing further after that–and boy howdy, I’m pleased with the results. It’s one of March’s free games, along with Thomas Was Alone and Lone Survivor: Director’s Cut, and it’s actually only the second “traditional” tomb raiding game starring Lara Croft that I’ve played. Yup, I’ve played the original 1996 release–and beat it multiple times–as well dabbled with the co-op-focused Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, and now this 2013 reboot of the series. That’s it. A couple of the games in-between 1996 and 2013 did pique my interest, but many also seemed too unnecessary and too far from form, like when Lara was running around the Natural History Museum in London.

Strangely, while this new Tomb Raider is most definitely a reboot, it’s both close to form and far from it, as the focus is much more on QTE-lead action sequences and firefights than exploration, though some of that stuff is in there via optional tombs. The fact that the best aspect of an Indiana Jones-like videogame series is now partioned off to something secondary and missable is extremely depressing. But otherwise, I’m really enjoying it. My save slot says that I’m a wee bit past the halfway mark, and I’m focusing mostly on just moving from story beat to story beat, saving many of the collectibles for later after I’ve earned all the vital Metroidvania-inspired weapons which will give me access to hidden areas and such.

Well, here’s how a reworked Tomb Raider story takes shape in the current day and age: Lara Croft, an ambitious archaeology graduate with theories on where the location of the lost kingdom of Yamatai is, has convinced the Nishimura family—descendants from the Yamatai—to fund an expedition in search of the kingdom. The expedition eventually ventures into the Dragon’s Triangle, east of Japan, but the ship is suddenly struck by a violent storm and shipwrecked, leaving the survivors stranded all across an isolated island. Well, maybe not as isolated as initially expected, as Lara begins searching for her friends and stumbles across other inhabitants and a trend for nasty shipwrecks and plane crashes. No longer is Lara simply a rich archaeologist out for personal gain; she is young, naive, fragile, acting out of instinct rather than planned aggression, and it works…for the most part. That is, until it becomes a videogame again.

While billed as open-world gameplay, Tomb Raider is surprisingly linear, with sections of the map broken up by hidden loading sequences of Lara crawling under something or through a stretch of cave. Once in a section, there is some room to explore and find XP-giving collectibles, salvage, and crates of ammo, but the story path is always straightforward, from one place to another, and there’s usually no chance to tackle a scenario in a different manner. Much like in Mass Effect, you’ll arrive in areas where you’ll instantly know a shootout is about to go down, given the number of cover pieces and layout. Despite being all sad about killing a deer and reluctant to fire a weapon anymore, Lara Croft is a killing machine. An absolute sociopath when it comes to QTE kills and arrows to the head. Sadly, a lot of the gunfire moments force you to constantly keep Lara behind some kind of cover, so a lot of the melee moves and shotgun blasts are not utilized. But the bow is pretty awesome, especially once you can start lighting your arrows aflame.

I do have more to say about the distinct disconnect between Tomb Raider‘s story and its gameplay, but might save that for another post. I mean, you can’t watch Lara grimace at gutting a deer for food when she goes on in the next scene to choking a man out with her bow string, especially when you later realize that “food” is not a game concept and literally do not have to kill any other non-aggressive animals for the entire game. Ugh. Like I said, I got thoughts.

Oh, and there’s online multiplayer. Which I’ve not touched, and most likely won’t touch once I’m done with the story and finding the remainder of the trinkets, journal entries, and weapon-upgrading items left on the map. Looks uninteresting. No biggie, kids. That’s not what Tomb Raider is about, unless there’s a mode where you are each trying to grab a single item first before others get to it. No, no, not Capture the Flag. More like…Capture the Priceless Ancient Totem and Deliver it to the Museum for Zero Dollars but Some Career-pushing Recognition. Yeah, I’ll play that.

The Top 10 Videogames I Didn’t Get to Play in 2013

2013 top 10 games didn't play Sad-Puppy

Well, I’m not gonna deny it–this year went fast. Except for June through July, but that always seems to drag by due to non-gaming reasons I won’t get into, but otherwise, the months really did seem to slip by. This was extremely noticeable once I began to actually work at my “five games I want to beat in 2013” checklist, and it seems like I was only able to polish off three out of five: Chrono Cross, Silent Hill 2, and Primal. I’m pretty proud of that, but I probably should have started much earlier than the summer. However, I did complete a good number of games over the past three hundred and sixty-five days, and one might consider some of them big AAA titles that are probably going to be on everyone’s final praise list, such as BioShock Infinite and Grand Theft Auto V, though they absolutely won’t make mine. Sorry, Animal Crossing: New Leaf is my game of the year; just deal with it.

Once more, here’s what I didn’t get to play last year, the year before that, and the year before that:

Also, do not worry: I have plenty of sad puppy photos to do this kind of post for many more years, so long as videogames keep coming out and I keep not playing ’em. That sounded more threatening than I originally wanted. But enough behind-the-scenes talk. Let’s get into the meat of this yearly post, shall we? The meaty meat, I mean.

10. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

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Sounds like this is a return to form, though the last Assassin’s Creed game I played was Brotherhood, so hopefully people are meaning that game. I’ve kept my distance from the franchise since then for good reasoning, as the later games have seemed repetitive, clunky, and sub-par, but I do enjoy pirates and the ship-based combat looks kind of neat. I wonder if the multiplayer is still there, as that is surprisingly an enjoyable slice of cat-and-mouse. This could be a really perfect summer time-sink for 2014, though I still also have an untouched copy of Assassin’s Creed II in my backlog to get to as well. Hmm.

9. Saints Row IV

Saints-Row-4-Has-Character-Tailored-Alien-Abductions

Originally, the Saints Row series was just another take on Grand Theft Auto, if a bit more ambitious and zany. I never got into it until Saints Row: The Third, and that was only after hearing the Giant Bomb staff praise and praise and praise it. I’m glad I finally listened to them, as I absolutely loved my role as the leader of the purple-clad gang on the rise, but I haven’t made the jump to Saints Row IV yet, as this year I gave my time and money to Grand Theft Auto V instead. I probably choose poorly. In this one, you can literally jump up to rooftops, thanks to alien superpowers. However, the console versions don’t sound up to par to the PC, but I don’t have a great gaming computer so I might just let this one slip by entirely.

8. Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider trailer - video

Here’s a little known fact about me: I’ve only played the original Tomb Raider. That’s right. Just the first one, and I remember it fondly, despite it probably aging terribly. My copy sits proudly next to Suikoden and Suikoden II. The sense of exploration was fully realized–for the time–and I loved how the game slowly revealed its supernatural hand with each level. Like Indiana Jones, a perfect mix of serious and silly. This 2013 reboot looks gritty and grimy and throws Lara in one terrible situation after the next, but sounds well done. Plus, she can use a bow for stealth kills. Mmm. Stealthy. Rhianna Pratchett wrote the script, which gives me hope that Lara, as a person, is more fleshed out here as well.

7. Rogue Legacy

didn't play rogue-legacy

I enjoy rogue-likes because, for me, they don’t ask for much. You can do a run, and if things end terribly, then that’s it. Try again. Conversely, if you’re on a hot streak, every action, jump, and sword swing becomes stressfully vital. This is why I continue to poke at The Binding of Isaac, in hopes of hitting a lucky note and making it to Mom easily, brimming with powers and extra hearts. Alas, that’s not happened yet–but it totally could one day. Rogue Legacy seems to share a lot of that, with the neat mechanic of playing as the children of whatever character you just got killed. These kids acquire different traits–such as colorblindness and vertigo–which affects how you move through the main castle. It’ll probably end up in a Humble Bundle some time in 2014.

6. The Last of Us

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Look, I barely got through Silent Hill 2 this year. Horror-themed games are very difficult for me to keep my cool in, and it sounds like the majority of the combat scenarios have you creeping around enemies, trying not to make a sound. That sounds fine to me, actually, but the monster designs and sounds they make are very unnerving, and I just don’t think I could ever get through The Last of Us, which is a dang shame, as it certainly sounds like an amazing–if depressing–experience.

5. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team

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The last Mario-based RPG I played, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, kind of left a bad taste in my mouth, and so I remained skeptic when a new one came out, even though it lives in an entirely different franchise. However, according to some reviews, it sounded like this one was maybe too hand-holdy, which is funny because Sticker Star couldn’t lift a finger to help you out. When I bought Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time and Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection, I also grabbed a used copy of Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story on the Nintendo DS for free. I suspect I’ll give that one a go and if I love the mechanics and all that jazz will move on to the newer iteration.

4. Super Mario 3D World

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Super Mario 3D Land is one of the rare 3DS titles that I continue to pop back into the handheld and fart around in for a few minutes, always with the hope of earning a couple more stars. See, I’m in the post-completion content, but only halfway through it, so there’s still plenty more to see. And it sounds like Super Mario 3D World is all that and more…and on a console, which is where I’d truly rather be playing my plumber-based platformers. Throw in a silly cat theme, and I’m salivating from the mouth. Alas, no Wii U in this house, and still no interest in getting one any time soon unless there’s a big price drop or more interesting games in the pipeline. Sorry, I have no interest in the Smashing Bros.

3. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

LEGO Marvel SHS_IronMan MK2-noscale

Love me my LEGO videogames, and I haven’t played one since LEGO Lord of the Rings, which means Tara and I are severely overdue for some co-op funtimes. Any will do, really, but I’d rather side with Iron Man and Wolverine over Batman and Superman. That’s right. I’ve always been a Marvel fan before a DC one. The formula doesn’t look to have changed one block–hub world, individual levels, a billion things to collect and unlock–but that’s okay, because at least I know what I’m getting here.

2. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

brothers 1920x1080

The subject matter of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, two siblings on a mission to save their deathly ill father, hits a little too close to home for me, and so I doubt I’ll ever get around to playing it. It’s not a direct parallel to my life, but there are enough elements present to put more weight on my shoulders, push me closer to the ground. Yes, I suffer from depression and would rather avoid mediums that enhance my feelings of hopelessness. I do love the idea of controlling two separate players with both analog sticks, but ibb and obb showed me just how difficult this could be for my brain to wrap its mind around. Also, Ni no Kuni did it first. I suspect the Giant Bomb podcasts will end up spoiling the story’s key moments and ending.

1. Gone Home

gone home did not play

Sigh. My gaming laptop is really great for playing indie Flash games or point-and-click adventure games that don’t require too much in terms of software. In the past, I’ve been able to play bigger productions, like Red Faction: Armageddon, but only if I turned down every setting, and even then it’s a bit rubbish. Same goes for Fallout: New Vegas and Skyrim; there is no draw distance because I can only see a few inches in front of my character. All of that is to say that I don’t think I can run Gone Home at the required settings to do it justice. Evidently, the game is loaded with high resolution posters, pictures, notes, and so on, and a big part is exploring the house and looking at stuff up close. I have no other way to play Gone Home, so hopefully it’ll come to consoles at some point, but I kind of doubt it.

Well, there you go. Or rather, there I go, not playing all these games. Of course, there’s more that didn’t make the list, such as Papers, Please and The Stanley Parable, but I had to draw a line somewhere. Given that I still haven’t played a few games from the previous lists yet–hello, Portal 2!–I wouldn’t hold my breath expecting to see me get to all of these next year. Maybe one or two. Plus a ton of older games. Can’t forget about the PS1 and PS2.

Anyways, what games did you miss out on this year? Shout ’em out in despair in the comments section below.