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Thunder and Lightning: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review

From moment one, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance focuses on making one thing clear: this is not a game about being quiet. Silence can be found, though only through the means of a swift blade. The title is unabashed in trying to deliver an over the top, fast paced, slick looking action title. While the game doesn’t service the same formula Metal Gear is famously known for,  Revengeance makes short work, in carving out an entertaining formula with a lethal sense of personality.

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Taking place four years after MGS4, and the fall of the Patriots, Metal Gear Rising represents a side story of the MG universe, but not without acknowledgement. Raiden has developed his own sense of place since the end of 4, and the dramatic fallout involving the previous game’s climax is apparent through out. Working as a sword for hire, Raiden takes a job as a well meaning body guard for a high ranking political dignitary.

Needless to say, things take a turn, and Raiden is forced into a chaos he knows all too well.

MGR Ray
The bulk of the game will have you fighting your way through wave after wave of baddies, mercenaries and cyborg ninja’s of some variety. The endless supply of grunts will keep your blade busy and your slice happy tendencies satiated. While the battles stay engaging through out the title, and mix up how the enemies are thrown at you, I will say the baddie variety is slightly lacking. I suppose the number of ways you can cut, distracts from the few types of enemies you will cut. The combat itself is highly customizable, from a blow by blow basis. Between a variety of sub-weapons, quick combos, aerial juggling, and Raiden’s High Frequency Blade, you’ll have plenty of ways to trim your way to a successful outcome.

MGR Blade Mode
The title’s pride and joy, Blade Mode, really steals the show, and represents the claim to fame Revengeance has as a distinguished action experience. Acting as kind of a gateway drug to carnage, Blade Mode will be your mainstay in any encounter. Unlike other action games, where the “Super Bad Ass” mode is a slow to build quick to use turn around, Blade Mode mimics the game’s overall feeling of speed. You don’t need much energy to attain it, and the mode can be quickly recharged by dispatching a foe in a stylish manner.

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Considering how dramatically Blade Mode effects the pace of the battles, in providing a sense of clarity and versatility, you won’t ever feel the need to distance yourself from Blade Mode’s proximity. This de facto in Revegeances game design may represent repetition, but lacks the feeling of redundancy. You’ll find yourself reveling, psychotically so, in just how many little pieces you may cut up the inanimate and organic alike, and always look forward to your next opportunity to feed the blade.

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The action genre gives way to ridiculous stories and exaggerated plot devices on a regular basis. MGR services a  great deal of the same ridiculous, Cyborg Ninjas, Super Villains etc, and does so unapologetically. One place it takes a step back and observes a greater sense of individuality is how sincerely abysmal war economy is. MGR does this through a number of ways, from taking inspiration from modern day events, to dealing with Raiden’s dark past as a child soldier. The game is over the top, surely, but it doesn’t abandon the over bearing tone from the reality it looks to warn against.

MGR War


While the story arc here is minimalistic, extremely so in compared to regular Metal Gear outings, Revengance makes up for it with characters and charisma. The personalities you’ll meet and greet with, on and off the battle field, all have that classic Kojima polish that makes the dialogue entertaining, if not just a little long winded at times. I feel as if Revengeance is a little more guilty of shallow exchanges than other Metal Gears, but there are plenty of moments of divided philosophy and dark humor that keep the cinematics fresh throughout.

MGR Close Up
Revengeance performs admirably in the graphics department, showcasing a courage in having explicit visuals, and the ability to slow down time to see them. While the soldiers of MGR will look dime a dozen (much like their Genome Brothers of past titles), the bigger personas and behemoth bosses you’ll encounter, will do an easy job of wowing you on detailed aesthetic.

The environments themselves look a little drab, and feel a little boxy as well. The game fails in doing a better job of masking it’s geographic linearity, and makes a habit of keeping Raiden surprisingly grounded. I thought for sure the game was going to give a ninja brother every chance to jump and run free and far, but the majority of the arena’s are narrow hallways or empty fighting rings, with little to no deviation, and lacking in multiple points of ingress.

MGR Ingress
I was faced with several moments of implied stealth, though the path and manner seemed awkward or non-existent. I am thankful there are specific areas where stealth is encouraged, the discovery of the cardboard box in game felt as if finding a loved one lost. Other times, the characters would speak of Raiden’s stealth specialties, but in many instances, I was unable to discover if these reminders were rhetorical or not. Often times confused of where the stealth opportunities  began, and when they ended.

I won’t take marks off of the game for lacking a more dedicated focus in the art of sneaking; as much as I would never be critical of a snail in his time trial capabilities  The game never promised to be one of a passive nature, quite the contrary, the game is thankfully forward about it’s brutality. The repeated use of possible stealth scenarios were some of the only real level design deviations, and one’s I was highly thankful for.

These slight nods, however short and to the point, exists in complimentary nature to Raiden’s quieter past, and in acknowledging Metal Gear’s  rich histories.

MGR Box
The camera system is one of the most problematic I’ve dealt with in an action game in sometime. The  camera seems to have trouble focusing on the right moments at the right time, and will jitter too and fro with aimless energy. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it can be a fight stopper, and certainly was for me on a few occasions. Similarly, Raiden’s ninja run mode (holding R2), allows you to  swiftly traverse, but at a cost. Not only are the context sensitive moments with obstacle interaction awkward, but I’ve lept effortlessly (and unintentionally) to my death several times based on the over responsive nature of the ninja run.

Individually, it would be easy to overlook one or the other. In conjunction, the erroneous ways of either system combines to create some frustrating moments in both sight and movement; something you would never associate with a ninja, let alone a cybernetically enhanced one.

MGR Camera
The game has an odd streak of feeling restrained. From lengthier conversations of questionable rhetoric, to the game’s self imposed barriers preventing you from moving forward, the drawn out linearity feels inappropriately slow for such a fast paced game. You can skip codecs calls, and the area restrictions are removed in due time, but for a title that prides itself on being lightning fast, MGR feels like a  light rain as opposed to a full on thunder storm on more than one occasion.

MGR Restrict
Despite some feelings of restraint, the bosses of MGR go all out in creating complete chaos. They represent both Metal Gear’s past of intense personalities, and an action game’s need to make the biggest of baddies stand out as examples of action craftsmanship. Expect some of the most trying battles in these encounters, complete with ridiculous pre-fight banter and cheesy one liner endings. The range of personalities that back these mammoth undertaking, are as engaging  in the arena, as they are outside of it, making for some of the most intense fights Revengeance has to offer.

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The last boss represents a costly mis-step, not only in maintaining the higher mark of boss standards MGR pulls off, but in creating a satisfying game ending. From top to bottom, the fight is a mess. Not only does the encounter confuse on a conceptual level, but the entire fight itself breaks the mold of interesting boss design of the previously fought foes. Both the creative individuality of the other bosses are left behind for a contrived caricature, and the fight also betrays a coherent sense of difficulty.

A shame too, as the momentum following up to the ending is very exciting, with the second to the last boss providing an appropriate reminder of Metal Gear’s core roots in the awesome. The ending after the fact feels equally anti-climactic, and doesn’t match at all the grand urgency the game successfully creates earlier on.

MGR Urgent
Revengeance, even by action game standards, feels lacking in length, and more than too short. Had I not been clued into my own progress towards the games final wrap up, I would have thought for sure the bulk of the main story, represented but one of several other missions. Despite blowing through the title quickly, I was very happy to find myself going through on a higher difficulty with rapid abandon, to try out all my cool new moves and weapons I had acquired, quickly rediscovering my love of the blade.

I believe most action games make their ends meat by offering a confident fighting system you’re more than happy to explore through replayability, a quality Revengeance thankfully does not lack. On top of this, the amount of subtle in-jokes and easter eggs I found through my second go around was pleasing, as well as my stints in the extra mode of VR missions. While I do believe most of the extras will likely only service action vets and high score addicts, Revegeance is as much fun to play the second time as it was the first: a true action game staple.

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The visuals, vivid. The action, absolute. The enemies, engrossing and a blast to destroy, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance nails all of the basic tenants of what makes an adequate action game, with only noticeable failings in area’s where many in the genre put forth no effort whatsoever. While occasionally uninspired in design, and held back by feelings of repetition, the games sense of sword play is some of the best out there. While action genre buffs won’t be blown away by innovation, casuals and core players will find plenty of reason to keep on cutting their way through the frenetic fast paced entertainment on offer.

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Meat Gear Rising: Revegeance takes a stab at creating something different, and does so with a sharp edge.

A 4 out of 5

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Honing the Blade

Hey Gamers.

I have many ideas swirling around in my head, in regards to trying to entertain you, my dears gamers.

It's more entertaining that a Baby Ruth, I swear.

It’s more entertaining that a Baby Ruth, I swear.

While this site’s focus is video games, with the total number of staff member currently at one, I am definitely limited in scope in volume, and variety.

Sometimes, having neither.

Sometimes, having neither.

Despite this, I still have optimism that this site does two things very well:

1. Keep me from endlessly trying to speed run Doom 2 till my eyes fall out.
2. Is about video games.

Not a very lengthy resume, but others before me have have put forth resumes far worse.

 

For Example.

For Example.

What I’m driving at here, is I’m always open to posting experimentation and the like, and trying to stay on track with whats up in the gaming verse. While I don’t think my regular news posts, culture critique, or random rants are going anywhere, I realized a great many of you do enjoy the act of not only playing games, but reading about them.

Imagine that.

Perhaps a bad example.

Perhaps a bad example.

In any case, in an effort to continue to expand my own topical horizons, while entertaining at the same time, I bring new focus to ATE. I’ve only done a few scant previews in the past, and really only one official review to speak of. In this regard, I will make a point to pick a new game every week, and give you the low down, from top to bottom. I won’t have this replace other regular content I’ve spoken of, but it will help to create a better dichotomy of content in the long run. I will provide a preview at the beginning of the week, and will provide a review by weeks end, thusly finishing the cycle. I will also provide other first impressions or after thoughts, if the case arises. I know review scores are a hot topic and very contentious point of debate, but I can not ignore their valued reality.

Despite how silly it can all really be.

Despite, in reality, how silly it really is.

So, in following some form of standard procedure, I will rate games on a scale of 1-5. I find, at least in my musings of the subject, it best fits what I wish to say about the games, and how what qualities they have. Obviously, no system is perfect, as even a 5 out of 5, doesn’t understate the cultural significance of the aforementioned experience…but translating dozens of hours of emotional and abstract interactivity into a singular number is an incredibly flawed process to begin with.

Anyways, I wish to start my whole attempt with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, as it’s a title I’ve been meaning to get to for some time. Some of you may remember me having already written a preview for the game, which I will re-post now, out of loyalty to formula. I will than play the game throughout the week, and give you a full report by week’send. I’m hoping this further satiates those who are nice enough to give me the time of day, and helps to push my own gaming goals forward, in seeing the best (and worst) of what this crazy industry has to offer.

Happy Gaming,
Pashford

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Disheveled Beauty

Tomb Raider Review

Tomb Raider as a franchise, has a past as storied as the history Lara uncovers in her own adventures. The series has been through the rough several times over, and the newest addition, simply entitled Tomb Raider, is one more brutal stab at reinvigorating the franchise proper. With survival in focus, and Lara Croft’s newly defined reputation at stake, does this game indeed give way, to the birth of a new survivor?

From the get go, and as you might have picked up from my initial thoughts on Tomb Raider, the game explodes forth with a full on sprint. Lara is thrust directly into nature’s harsh despair, with no choice but to survive.  This constant balancing act of survival, and her resilience in these trying circumstances, will act as the primary focus of the story, and does an admirable job of creating a fetching spectacle.

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The game’s basic premise revolves around surviving in a natural element, and helping Miss Croft discover the mystery of the island her crew had the misfortune of shipwrecking on. I described the entire experience in my preview (for easy digestion) as “Resident Evil 4 meets Snake Eater”. This should give you an idea of the blend of third person action and survival stealth inherent through out the title.

Tomb Raider Stealth

The story lends itself to satisfying simplicity, like much of the experience does. Through desperate scrambles and horrendous encounters, Lara is portrayed as a far more capable female than we are use to in the video game realm. From her earlier moments of escaping capture, involving Lara lighting her self on fire to break free, to her wrestling with a bear trap and murdering a pack of wolves with nothing but a bow and arrow, Lara’s rugged nature is apparent. Crystal Dynamics goes the extra mile in helping to  positively re-define Lara, in all the right ways.

She remains safely distanced from overblown action trope, like so many other protagonists of our day. Her frailty and desperation, through being portrayed as a regular human being, helps to enhance and highlight her moments of triumph.

The fact that Lara can’t just leap buildings in a single bound, or engineer a gigantic mech to down her unruly foes, makes her a more relateable character. This helps to tie the entire experience together, and creates a motivating dynamic in seeing each new desperate situation you and Miss Croft are faced with. I was always on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would become of dear Lara. Her weakness has a passive way of beckoning me: I wish to see her soundly through her adventure, whether I forge through hell or high water to do so.

Tomb Raider Hell

Tomb Raider makes epic the struggle of the simple, with a humble look at Lara‘s success story starting out from scratch. At first, even avoiding a long fall by balancing over a log, and creating a fire for warmth are note worthy endeavors. The story escalates quite a bit, and so does the pacing in helping to create furious action. This is right along side in developing a sense of how kick ass this new Lara really is.

That’s not to say the game surrenders it’s better sense of simplicity to overdone grandeur. Through out the story, events such as downing beasts of the forest, and climbing a radio tower to send an S.O.S feel like massive satisfactions. This is in large part due to the cinematography and ambiance in affect, helping to remind us of an interest in a more basic struggls. This translates as a huge success for Lara, and subsequently, feels like a true triumph in the video game world.

Bearing in mind, that many other game hero’s climb 10 times higher 5 times faster, helps to put into perspective, the game’s ability to make you appreciate the simple, without sacrificing the complexity of satisfying accomplishment.

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The combination of Lara’s own struggle of self-identity, and the brutal nature of the stand out moments of the title, provide gamers with merits of excellence. One of the more distinguished moments I’ve enjoyed in this current generation of consoles comes from a rather extraordinary instance earlier in the game. Due to spoilers, I will avoid describing the situation in the explicit, but will make mention of the game’s commitment in trying to create a unique character within Lara. Through the intimate lens we’re forced to view the event, and the intense interactivity that follows, I started to forget Lara wasn’t just another video game character, but an actual person. The game’s efforts of exposure on this visceral level of emotion, in dealing with Lara’s pain and agony, individualize Tomb Raider among peers of comparably shallow compromise.

Tomb Raider Death

My original preview for Tomb Raider was entitled Filthy Gorgeous, and the description was apt. Between the eye catching set pieces of the island, to the detailed graphic fidelity of the environments and character models, this game looks beautiful a midst the grit and grime. The real element that ties it all together is the subtle use of atmosphere and sharp audio design. Very often, nothing but the sounds of the wild, and this creepy sense of foreboding accompany you and Lara, and never fail to create haunting suspense.

The game is about survival after all, and the oddities you will observe with both eyes and ears will help to shock, horrify, and wow

From the easy to master controls, to the slick interface involving a largely HUD-less design, the game is never hard to understand or control, offering  you a lot of comfort in moving to and fro. The inventory system is simply mapped to the d-pad, and the contextual interactions with objects and your surroundings are straight and to the point. I never had trouble with any sort of maneuvering, and this helped in creating clean cut control to navigate through the constant desperation.

The formula the single player provides, does well for the most part of mixing up the variety. The exploration elements and tombs feel natural, with the hunting and scavenging feeling like a nice break from the crazier circumstances you’ll find yourself in. The combat is appropriate in giving way to  new game play vectors (like newly acquired gear), and will regularly offer a stealth option for those with a quieter nature.

Tomb Raider Stealth 2

As far as replayability Is concerned, I found an easy time of staying on the beaten path, knowing I had the option of straying off of it. While I will surmise many who play will be easily pushed forward by the story, that doesn’t mean you can’t stop and smell the blood drenched flowers.

The islands imbued sense of history leaves plenty of interesting tid-pits to find, journals to read, and Tombs to Raid, leaving a well rounded but compartmentalized adventure. The ability to fast travel is key in creating a more robust exploration experience, and even lends itself to a Metroid-vania stylization of post-game discoveries. A nice compliment to an overall very engaging experience.

Tomb Raider Explore

Having enjoyed so much of this game, it pains me to go from mentioning the good…to the bad. I usually leave myself room towards the end of my review process in detailing these elements, and the length at which I must discuss them now with Tomb Raider surprises me, very honestly.

As mentioned, the games better half does a fantastic job of portraying dreadful suspense, intense emotion, and crafting an impressive character in Lara. This is all the while, looking fantastic while doing so, and maintaining an equally engaging experience…

…for most of the game

Somewhere towards the end, I felt a sudden shift in priorities in design ethics, and Tomb Raider quickly devolves from indepth  survival thriller,to run of the mill action romp. While this might entice many who would rather shoot their way through detail rather than appreciate it, I feel as if it betrays the basic tenants the game works so hard at creating in the first place.

Where there was once quietly suspenseful intensity, then there was overblown predictable action redundancy. Where I once looked forward to what waited around every corner at adventures beginning,  the ending constantly sought to test my patience.  The thought of me taking one more aggressively blocked step after another towards the bullet riddled inevitable, left me with repetitive dread. The game really takes a 180 from subtlety to the overdone, and in the final stretches of the game, never recovers from this.

Tomb Raider Shooting

This drastic change in pacing is very noticeable, and stands out to me as damn deafening. What’s worse is that the game also ceases to create fluid game cohesion, and degrades into a far glitchier experience as time rolls on.

So while I’m drawn into the intimate sense of who Lara is, and how they portray her earlier on in the game, it’s towards the end when they cease to focus on her as a character, and more as a soldier when the game really starts to falter. I thoroughly enjoyed the pacing when there was a greater emphasis on your survival of the unknown, rather than your fight with the painfully familiar.

In this case,the painfully familiar being an army of never ending henchmen.

Tomb Raider Army

While I enjoyed the intimate moments of triumphant, defying gravity for a high climb S.O.S, and fighting tooth and nail against the primal, Tomb Raider’s ending portions left me scratching my head out of boredom. The Shanty Town, from first glimpse, added a bit of flair to the ever changing moments of survival. The beginning of the town represents Lara’s first use of her Fire Arrows, and the introduction stands loud and proud. I even enjoyed the rushing chase of men as I weaved and darted my way through the decrepit shacks, breaking through barriers, and snaking into doorways to elude capture.

A perfect blend of aggressive pacifism and forceful stealth, Lara at her best.

The Shanty Town, however, ended up being an early sign of doom for things to come. While the locale is book ended on both sides by worthwhile game scenarios, it was in Shanty Town I first ran into a number of unfortunate and repeated hiccups. From weapons going wonky, to Lara’s character model defying reality, and re-spawn closets with soldiers of no variety. I was kind of thrown off by this unpolished sense of error, in what had been a completely smooth game experience, always offering solid structure, and endless surprise.

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Further, the longer I stayed in Shanty Town, the more I was disinterested in it’s approach of testing Lara. The more naturalistic elements slowly faded away from existence, and I was faced with nothing but the focused exhaustion with wave after wave of similarly looking baddies. This lazy use of enemy encounter always helps to pad an experience for time, but shatter the immersion of satisfaction.

When I have no other option but to fire away, and endlessly so, I start to wonder if the designers ran out of interesting scenarios. Lara had already been proven as a successful stealth saboteur, and unrelenting survivor. I question, why then at that moment (and many others in the games finale), was Lara faced with this misplaced call of duty, and the inability to refuse what ends up being a focus on  gun porn?

Tomb Raider Army 2

The stand out moments of the title focus more on feelings outside the norm of what video games so often portray. One of the reasons I like Tomb Raider so much, is the game’s flirtatious sense of emotion. Where shooters may just want explosive, Tomb Raider will seek to startle. Where other action games may only want to make your blood pump with adrenaline, TR looks to unsettle you with fear. Not to say TR doesn’t have excellent moments of white knuckle action glory, but the places the title goes up and beyond exist in the gruesome. The campaign has moments I found delightful from a sheer sense of surprise, and not their forceful nature into already exhausted game design territory. They help frame Lara’s desperate nature, and give way to pure blooded, full bodied suspense, something a great deal of the end of the game completely fails to do.

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I wish Tomb Raider had remained a little more grounded, at least in how they dealt with Lara’s feats. While I don’t mind the larger jumps of fantastic the story takes later on, the way they make her deal with it becomes slightly too outlandish. One of the bigger moments in crossing the boundaries of disbelief, exists in one of the last encounters of the game. One scene in particular has her fighting off a literal army of savages on their home territory. I know the game was in “climax mode” and trying to impress, but it felt completely out of place and estranged from her character.

Lara waging an all out war with adversaries, whom on an individual basis, were veterans of combat, let alone en masse attacking, was too unbelievable. If we were to take even my play through as the standard example of the narrative we’re left with something of a crude farce at the end of a serious drama.

Let me frame it for you a little differently.

Lara, having not slept in days, and only having recently come to terms with murder in self-defense, somehow took out an entire platoon of elite warriors on their home turf, armed with nothing but a couple of pistol bullets and a pick axe.

No, fucking, way.

Overall, the ending feels very anti-climactic, and doesn’t at all match the bravado of the rest of the adventure. Somehow, the whole reality that exists in creating Lara as a believable and well rounded character dissipates to very minimal degrees in the finale. She doesn’t entirely lose her impressive ruggedness, but much of it is lost in misguided translation during the ending sequence.

She falls further into the pitfall of what I was hoping the game would avoid, which involved a completely misused villain,  an all too familiar character arc, and a final battle that’s been done to death. My initial hope was something far more sinister in nature, with Lara finding herself at the very end of her rope, her character faced with utter terror.

They ended up taking her in the opposite direction, arming her with luck and invincibility, instead of willpower and spirit.

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There is also, the matter of multiplayer to mention…

I’m always immediately worried when I can’t find a single multiplayer game in a newer release, and Tomb Raider started me out on it’s competitive dealings with feelings of foreboding. After a lot of trial and error…and waiting, lots of waiting, I was left dumb founded. Once I found myself actually in a multiplayer game, I was struck by what an awkward mess the whole thing ended up being.

This wasn’t an isolated experience, mind you. My connections were regularly terrible, and the  matches ranged from complete quagmires of teleporting players, to barely managing a mediocre mayhem of an early stage beta build, accidentally released to the public. Players would zoom, as if human blurs, in every which way possible in the worst examples, making any aiming or precision weaponry useless by design. Everyone playing must have been as painfully aware of this as I was, with the only weapon seeing use with any regularity being the automatic rifles.

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The multiplayer reminds you of how bad the single player could have turned out, being filled to the brim with the hollow desolation of the competitive arenas, devoid of any impressive visuals or eye candy to speak of. All strategies and cunning were removed in the translation, with the varied themes of stealth from the single player left behind almost entirely. Leveling up lacked any sense of satisfaction, and even winning matches felt like a sigh of relief from the monotony, rather than a motivating boost to see what the next match held.

All in all, the multiplayer seemed like a bad excuse at over reaching demographic, and further devalues the experience rather than adds to it.

This isn’t too uncommon, as multiplayer modes in other wise single player games have this forced feeling of tacked on, much like we find with Tomb Raider. I came for the grand adventure, and wasn’t really looking for a romp with some strangers in the mud. The replayability exists for anyone who is in absolute love with the game, but with so many more refined and highly popular examples of death match out there, one has to question who this mode is really aimed at, especially considering it’s below average quality.

What worries me even further, is that the mulitplayer experience may not have been planned from the get go, or not necessarily implemented as a “want”, acting out as more of a “need”. This goes back to what a game “MUST have”, despite the historical contrary. The game’s mishandled ending, and rougher around the edges single player, could have been marvelously honed and polished with the same amount of development time it must have taken to force a sub par extra mode into the equation. If Crystal Dynamics hadn’t had to focus on this tacked on feeling of marketing hype in a mulitplayer sense, Tomb Raider might have been a top tier treat from start to finish, rather than begin with a bang, and end with a whimper.

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As just one more conceptual aside, seeing one of the enemy character models in the multiplayer lobby, just standing there in the rain, kind of made me realize how devaluing a multiplayer experience can be.

Sure, Tomb Raider‘s multiplayer isn’t completely devoid of fun, but this odd sense of embarrassment and exposure washed over me. Seeing what once represented a domineering figure in the single player, so exposed and lifeless in the multiplayer mode, made me cringe a little. This was a man who made me fear for my life in the campaign, representing the wild and unknown. He now stood there, lifeless and unanimated, being used as some pointless avatar in some virtual dick war. This all reinforced my realization of where the game might have gone wrong, with an out of touch focus negatively affecting a worthwhile game.

An odd realization, to be sure.

TOmb Raider Multi

I’m still astonished that the game, in some way, seemed to get “sick of itself”. The formula the game laid out worked so well, why the experience betrayed this sense of success and conformed to loud explosions is beyond me. I will stand by the sentiment that the over all feeling of the single player has moments of brilliance, and fierce satisfaction, but wilts and withers towards the end with repetitive and all too familiar shoot outs.

While the adventure may disrupt my own sense of appreciation, in dealing with some major design concepts, one thing the title never compromises on is Lara’s character. She is portrayed throughout, as a strong willed, sensible woman who just won’t stay down and die. Tomb Raider, and with thankful awareness, owes much of the experiences appeal to Lara Croft’s reinvention, providing a refreshing take on not only an excellent action character, but a great female role model in video games. While I’ve made prior note of her being an icon, that is from an unavoidable observation and not personal belief. I always had trouble getting behind the over the top sex appeal Miss Croft represented, and saw her more as this bizarre fantasy than an actual character. I find new Lara far more attractive, because of the content to her character, and not the looks concealing them.

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I said it best in my preview:

“(Lara’s) contextualized nature of the struggling is a drastic and powerful divide from her once familiarly unstoppable avatar, instantly endearing her to me as a character. Lara is a surrealistic kind of bad ass in this reboot, as opposed to someone who exists only in the hyper fictionalized, making Nathan Drake look like Bugs Bunny in comparison.”

While the end of the game tried to dismantle this sentiment, it did not destroy it.

Tomb Raider, while certainly flawed, is not without merit. The troubles that exist on the island do no contradict the intense elements within, and engaged me time after time with unrelenting extremes.

In closing, I still stand impressed, and impart the words of wisdom that Lara’s resilience is well worth experiencing, even if it means enduring through her  adventures more troubling rough spots to do so.

Tomb Raider Lara Pain

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