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Monday, January 27, 2014

Contemplating and Games

Lately I've been contemplating restarting this blog. Or actually starting it, as I've only ever written two posts for it. I've been starting more and more different types of projects, and it may be nice to keep some sort of documentation on the progress. Topics might be stuff I learn at uni, games, my writing, stuff I make, books I read and series I watched, and maybe current topics or stuff I found on the internet somewhere. I don't really know how interesting it will be for anybody else, but at least I'll have a place to put my thought and retrieve them later. I'll probably pick one or two topic(s) to do weekly to start with, and just see where it goes from there. So yeah.

I got a new xbox 360 after my old one's hard disk crashed, and it came with Tomb Raider (also Halo 4, but haven't played it yet). I've been playing it a lot since then, and I think it's pretty striking that graphics still seem to improve even though there's a new generation out. I was really excited about that (the new generation) but right now I think it´ll be a while before I get one.

But, back to Tomb Raider. It´s filled to the brim with fricking quick timed events, but they´re reasonably well executed, in that they pull you in to the plot emotion-wise.

**SPOILERS** (minor game play spoilers ahead)
For instance, at one point  in the game you're in sort of a landslide, and you're scrambling up a mountain. You have to alternatively push the left and right trigger to make Lara scramble up, which sort of reminded me of the Skate franchise, where real world motion is approximated by the controls instead of only moving a stick in a direction to make your character move in a direction. In Skate they sort of combine these features, where in Tomb Raider they alternate. So I'm frantically pushing the left and right triggers to make Lara scramble up the mountain, and every now and again some large piece of rock or debris comes crashing down the slope and you have to push the analog stick in the appropriate direction to avoid it. Or in another event, where Lara's hiding in a small shed in an enemy camp and gets discovered. Some burly guy starts to give her a *bad* touch, and you have to press Y at the appropriate moment, and if you don't you die. Then he does it again, and you have to press Y again, then cut-scene, Lara gets a gun and you get the chance to shoot him. In my experience (I had to replay the whole thing like five times due to not responding adequately) shooting him achieves fuck all, and to get through the next part I basically had to put the controller down, put my right hand on the left analog stick to move it left and right fast enough. I died at every step at least once, so when I finally got to blow his head off it was a pretty rewarding moment.
Game play-wise this sound pretty horrible (to me at least), but in the context of the game it seems to work reasonably well. The scenes are probably prettier as quick timed events than they would have been with regular game play, and they really pulled me in with the urgency of the situation.

**SPOILERS** (story spoilers ahead)
I haven't finished the game yet, but overall I like the storyline and game play so far. I guess I would dub it an adventure/third person shooter with rpg and puzzle elements. The rpg element mainly consists of upgrading your character and weapons, and I feel it fits really well with the character development. Because it's a sort of origin story Lara starts out as a reasonably helpless young woman who's horrified at the prospect of killing someone, but through the game she grows and toughens up and when her enemies, the hostile island inhabitants have killed off enough of her initial companions and she starts to call out she's going to kill them all I really shared in the emotion and was pretty pleased with my upgraded bow and my shotgun just blowing baddies away.
 The puzzle element is rather basic in my opinion, but I like puzzle games. It does incorporate some nice uses of elements like fire and wind, and for those who don't like puzzles relevant items in the environment can be highlighted as hints. I think that's sort of missing the point of the puzzle but I guess it's nice if you're really stuck on one.

So overall, I think Tomb Raider is a pretty cool game with an appealing storyline. I guess they took some risks with the quick timed events game play-wise, but I think overall it pays off and adds to the story, through congruency with the story/context, and because some of them are genuinely hard, instead of the clip just sort of pausing to give you time to respond. Also, as you can read pretty much anywhere online, it depicts Lara Croft as a real female character with character growth instead of just the big tits and short shorts which I remember of the old pc TR games. Go play it.

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