Tomb Raider Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Tomb Raider RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Shadow of the Tomb Raider Pre-Order Editions Guide https://www.gameskinny.com/asooo/shadow-of-the-tomb-raider-pre-order-editions-guide https://www.gameskinny.com/asooo/shadow-of-the-tomb-raider-pre-order-editions-guide Mon, 27 Aug 2018 11:53:46 -0400 Bryant Pereira

All great things eventually must come to an end -- and the conclusion of the Tomb Raider reboot series signifies that. Preceded by two incredible entries, Shadow of the Tomb Raider marks the end of the reboot trilogy with its debut on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on September 14.

If you're planning on joining Lara's journey to save the world from a Maya apocalypse, it's dangerous to go alone. Use this pre-order guide to overcome the challenges of the deadly jungle and tombs to become the ultimate Tomb Raider.

From pre-order bonuses to special editions, we've got everything covered for you in this guide.

Pre-Order Bonuses

Pre-ordering any physical edition of Shadow of the Tomb Raider from most retailers nabs you a collector's steelbook case with three art cards. All digital versions of the game come with a skills booster pack that enhances skills in all three skill trees. 

You also get access to the game 48 hours early if you pre-order any edition above Standard.

Here are the retailer-exclusive pre-order bonuses. These only apply to all pre-order options except the Standard Edition and its Limited Steelbook variant.

Standard Edition

Price: $59.99
Retailers: Amazon, GameStop, Square Enix Store

For a time, you will be able to pre-order Limited Steelbook variants of the Standard Edition. These are the same as the Standard Edition, just with a Steelbook case.

The Standard Edition of the game can be purchased either physically or digitally for $59.99. It comes with the pre-order bonuses seen above, along with any retailer exclusives when purchasing physically. There are no additional bonuses. The Limited Steelbook is a good choice but is not available for PC.

Digital Deluxe Edition

Price: $69.99
Retailers: Amazon, GameStop, Square Enix Store

The Digital Deluxe version of the game is the lowest tier that gives access to the 48-hour early access. Additionally, this version comes with a digital game soundtrack and an outfit/weapon pack. Each digital outlet comes with a small platform bonus as well such as a theme or avatar outfit.

Croft Steelbook Edition

Price: $89.99
Retailers: Amazon, GameStop, Square Enix Store

For those who are confident they'll be raiding and exploring for a while, the Croft Edition of the game comes with all the standard pre-order bonuses along with the Season Pass ($29.99 value) and three additional weapons/outfits.

Season Pass content will release on a monthly basis starting in October 2018. For seven months, each update will come with a new "Path" -- including a new story, missions, a Challenge tomb, a new weapon, new outfit, and a new skill. Some of the Challenge Tombs will come with new co-op features.

Ultimate Edition

Price: $199.99
Retailers: Square Enix Store

The most dedicated, hardcore Tomb Raider fans may have already nabbed up the limited amount of Ultimate Editions available, but there is a waiting list on the Square Enix Store for $200. If you're lucky enough to get this edition, it will come with a statue of Lara, a climbing ax bottle opener, a flashlight, along with all of the extras from any of the cheaper editions.

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Planning on pre-ordering Shadow of the Tomb Raider? Let us know what you're looking forward to most below along with which version you'll be picking up!

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Go Back to Oldschool: 8 Best Retro Games Currently on Steam https://www.gameskinny.com/jzkk0/go-back-to-oldschool-8-best-retro-games-currently-on-steam https://www.gameskinny.com/jzkk0/go-back-to-oldschool-8-best-retro-games-currently-on-steam Wed, 08 Aug 2018 11:04:49 -0400 Allison M Reilly

[{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/y/s/myst-retro-game-bc666.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/y/s/myst-retro-game-bc666.jpg","type":"slide","id":"186792","description":"
Myst
\n

When I first played Myst, I didn't get very far and didn't fully understand what I was supposed to do. But that didn't mean I didn't understand that Myst is a beloved point-and-click adventure game and is an experience every player should try to have at least once.

\n

Don't expect a lot of hand-holding with this game; the mystery of Myst runs deep, and it's puzzles are some of the best in any game, old or new. 

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Buy Myst on Steam of $5.99.

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---

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This slideshow is clearly not exhaustive, but there's certainly something for everyone, whether you're looking for a little nostalgia or want to play a title you didn't a chance to as a kid.

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Which retro game do you want to play the most? Let us know in the comments!

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/a/l/a/aladdin-video-game-retro-034da.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/a/l/a/aladdin-video-game-retro-034da.jpg","type":"slide","id":"186791","description":"
Disney's Aladdin
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In the movie, Aladdin just wanted to stroll around the block with Abu and his stolen bread. Disney's Aladdin, however, is no stroll. That lava wave can stay underneath the desert where it belongs.

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Video games based off movies usually don't do well, but Aladdin is an excellent game. It's a good 'ole 2D side-scrolling platformer with strong attention-to-detail. It's difficult, but not too difficult.

\n

The game sticks to the plot of the movie but fills in what's missing without twisting the story.

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Buy Disney's Aladdin on Steam for $9.99.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/i/n/s/insaniquarium-retro-cdd27.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/i/n/s/insaniquarium-retro-cdd27.jpg","type":"slide","id":"186790","description":"
Insaniquarium
\n

Insaniquarium may not be the most top-of-mind retro title, but it's a fun, casual title with tons of fish. The game is a combination of puzzles and resource management. Players must manage money and food resources to keep the guppies alive.

\n

Bosses come periodically to eat the guppies, so players must fend off the boss and protect as many fish as possible. If you're looking for a retro title you can play in short bursts, Insaniquarium is it.

\n

Buy Insaniquarium on Steam for $4.99.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/b/u/b/bubsy-two-fur-retro-gaming-91e50.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/b/u/b/bubsy-two-fur-retro-gaming-91e50.jpg","type":"slide","id":"186789","description":"
Bubsy Two-Fur
\n

Bubsy Two-Fur is actually the first two games of the Bubsy series: Bubsy in Claws Encounters with the Furred Kind and Bubsy 2. The games got a lot of hype in the '90s, but the series lay dormant for decades until a new release in 2017.

\n

Many people aren't aware of the bobcat hero, even with the new release, unless you played the games as a child. But there's no better time than today to start familiarizing yourself.

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Buy Bubsy Two-Fur on Steam for $4.99.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/o/l/rollercoaster-tycoon-retro-7b994.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/o/l/rollercoaster-tycoon-retro-7b994.jpg","type":"slide","id":"186788","description":"
RollerCoaster Tycoon 2
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RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 doesn't look like much today, but the game was incredibly fun back in 2002. Sure, it's not the first title in the franchise, but Tycoon 2 isn't too much different from the original RollerCoaster Tycoon.

\n

Yet, considering management and construction simulators are all the rage lately, playing through Tycoon 2 can make it easy to appreciate how far the genre has come in the past 15 years.

\n

And if playing the game on Steam isn't your fancy, know there is an open-source re-implementation of the game called OpenRCT2, which includes multiplayer support, auto-saving, and bug fixes.

\n

Buy RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 on Steam for $9.99.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/e/a/r/earthworm-jim-retro-games-9a7cd.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/e/a/r/earthworm-jim-retro-games-9a7cd.jpg","type":"slide","id":"186787","description":"
Earthworm Jim
\n

This SNES classic is only available on Steam as a bundle with two of its sequels: Earthworm Jim 2 and Earthworm Jim 3D. The original game, Earthworm Jimis a '90s run-and-gun platformer with slapstick humor and creative characters. It's too bad the franchise hasn't seen much attention since, well, the '90s.

\n

Fortunately, three of the four games are live on Steam for new fans and nostalgic gamers alike.

\n

Buy the Earthworm Jim Bundle on Steam for $19.99.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/i/s/rise-nations-retro-01138.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/i/s/rise-nations-retro-01138.jpg","type":"slide","id":"186786","description":"
Rise of Nations
\n

The historical real-time strategy game that's not Age of Empires IIRise of Nations is the superior title, in my opinion. Why? Because Rise of Nations has more variety with air battles, seven ages of progression, and more types of resources to scout and use.

\n

I also appreciate that I can be a nation like the Nubians and rewrite history as I conquer the world in modern tanks. For me, Rise of Nations is much easier to learn than AoE and is a great game for any RTS-noob.

\n

Buy Rise of Nations on Steam for $19.99.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/t/o/m/tomb-raider-retro-49131.jpeg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/t/o/m/tomb-raider-retro-49131.jpeg","type":"slide","id":"186785","description":"
Tomb Raider 
\n

Yes, the original Tomb Raider (and the entire rest of the franchise) is available on Steam right now. There in all its resplendent glory, Tomb Raider comes complete with clunky controls and clunky landscapes.

\n

All of that aside, the original Tomb Raider shines because it's mentally stimulating without being overwhelming. There's space to take the environment in and think about your next steps without having to speed through levels or an ambush of enemies.

\n

The version on Steam is the original MS-DOS version that did not have save crystals, so do not make the same mistakes I made.

\n

Buy Tomb Raider on Steam for $6.99.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/e/t/retro-games-steam-2580c.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/e/t/retro-games-steam-2580c.png","type":"slide","id":"186784","description":"

With brand-new games launching every day, there's no better way to spend your time than to play a game that's 25 years old, am I right?.

\n

Fortunately, you don't have to use an emulator or search eBay for the original cartridge to go "old school" if that's something you're looking for. Plenty of retro games are available on Steam, both in their original form and their slightly-updated versions.

\n

Here are eight retro titles you can get on Steam right now.

"}]]]>
Top 10 Most Badass Video Game Characters of All time https://www.gameskinny.com/4a5w5/top-10-most-badass-video-game-characters-of-all-time https://www.gameskinny.com/4a5w5/top-10-most-badass-video-game-characters-of-all-time Tue, 10 Apr 2018 13:40:44 -0400 Edgar Wulf

[{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/o/r/i/original-905b6.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/o/r/i/original-905b6.jpg","type":"slide","id":"182245","description":"

Vergil

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Devil May Cry 3 (2005)
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Twin brother of the game's main protagonist and a highly skilled swordsman, Vergil's movement of his katana, Yamato, is so fast in Devil May Cry 3 that he can deflect incoming bullets with it and, just like his brother, he possesses the ability to transform into a demon form, further improving his speed and strength. These qualities make Vergil a formidable foe in the numerous encounters against him.

\n

---

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This concludes the list. Do you agree with any of the entries? Who would you add? Let us know in the comments below.

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If you can't get enough of badass video game characters, then check out this follow-up list. And for more fun compilations such as this one, stay tuned to GameSkinny.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/w/a/l/wallhaven-367172-20acf.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/w/a/l/wallhaven-367172-20acf.jpg","type":"slide","id":"182240","description":"

Samus Aran

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Metroid (1986)
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A bounty hunter best known for providing one of the biggest surprises in gaming history, Metroid's Samus traverses a fictional universe, exploring uncharted planets and tracking down space-pirates. She uses a powerful arm-cannon as her primary weapon and can turn herself into a morph-ball to evade incoming attacks or reach otherwise inaccessible locations. Whenever she defeats a particularly powerful foe in combat, she is able to gain its ability or improve an existing one.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/7/7/4/774395-76ea0.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/7/7/4/774395-76ea0.jpg","type":"slide","id":"182238","description":"

Raziel

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Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (1999)
\n

Once a vampire and a lieutenant to the most powerful among them -- Kain -- Soul Reaver's Raziel is sent to his death after being considered too threatening to Kain's position in the hierarchy. Stripped of his flesh and aesthetics, Raziel is resurrected by an old god, and now, in a wraith form, his thirst for blood has been replaced by consumption of souls. He's determined to exact revenge on his former comrades and on Kain himself, claiming their powers as his own.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/t/o/m/tomb-raider-game-wallpapers-underworld-wallpaper-wallbest-6dada.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/t/o/m/tomb-raider-game-wallpapers-underworld-wallpaper-wallbest-6dada.jpg","type":"slide","id":"182246","description":"

Lara Croft

\n
Tomb Raider (1996)
\n

This young lady needs no introduction; Tomb Raider's Lara is one of the most recognizable characters in gaming. Known for her athleticism, smarts, and signature dual pistols, she has been raiding tombs, uncovering long-lost artifacts, and breaking men's hearts for over two decades. She is skilled at translating ancient scripts and activating complex contraptions, and during combat, she relies on dexterity and stealth rather than brute force.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/2/a/b/2ab1f6eb-bb75-4dc2-b6e8-0471e0de3cc7-47b37.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/2/a/b/2ab1f6eb-bb75-4dc2-b6e8-0471e0de3cc7-47b37.jpg","type":"slide","id":"182249","description":"

Kratos

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God of War (2005)
\n

While not exactly the most likable character, God of War's Kratos deserves a spot simply by being a Greek-god-killing machine. His biggest asset is his unquenchable anger, and the many weapons he uses act mostly as stress-balls for him -- something to grip tightly. Should he ever find himself disarmed, he will tear the opponent's head off with his bare hands, which he actually did with Helios'. For Kratos, it was just a normal Monday.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/0/5/3/053374-dead-space-isaac-clarke-videogames-videogames-artwork-6b573.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/0/5/3/053374-dead-space-isaac-clarke-videogames-videogames-artwork-6b573.jpg","type":"slide","id":"182229","description":"

Isaac Clarke

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Dead Space (2008)
\n

Not your typical superhero, Dead Space's Isaac Clarke is an engineer who, along with a small crew, finds himself stranded on a seemingly abandoned starship after following its distress signal. Initially armed with nothing but a plasma cutter and, quite possibly, the coolest-looking suit ever made, he must battle through hordes of Necromorphs and uncover the source of their origin, acquiring military-grade weaponry as he traverses the dismal halls of the ship.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/7/2/7/727772-wwwwallpapersfancom-85c32.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/7/2/7/727772-wwwwallpapersfancom-85c32.jpg","type":"slide","id":"182235","description":"

Ciri

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)
\n

Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon, or simply Ciri, is a carrier of powerful elder blood and, much like the The WItcher 3's protagonist, Geralt, a trained witcher, which makes her a skilled sword fighter. She commands a unique blink ability, which allows her to teleport quickly around enemies and strike from behind. Due to her supernatural abilities, she is being pursued by The Wild Hunt, a group of elves whose intent is to take possession of her powers. Despite the odds, Ciri is able to overcome seemingly insurmountable adversaries, often all on her own.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/f/i/n/final-fantasy-wallpaper-auron-wallpapers-5dee5.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/f/i/n/final-fantasy-wallpaper-auron-wallpapers-5dee5.jpg","type":"slide","id":"182241","description":"

Auron

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Final Fantasy X (2001)
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An experienced warrior and a guardian to summoner Yuna, one of Final Fantasy X's protagonists, and formerly to her father. Auron carries an oversized katana in one hand and only unsheathes his other arm during combat to add more power behind each strike, which makes him command an intimidating presence even against the most formidable foes. The liquid in his flask, which is probably booze (definitely booze), is often used to ignite the katana for certain special attacks.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/a/l/b/albert-wesker-9fc25.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/a/l/b/albert-wesker-9fc25.jpg","type":"slide","id":"182242","description":"

Albert Wesker

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Resident Evil (1996)
\n

Killed by a tyrant whom he himself helped create, Resident Evil's Wesker survives thanks to a prototype virus circulating in his veins. As a result, he becomes the series' super-villain, possessing incredible speed and strength, and an even greater ego, the combination of which, apparently, allows him to catch incoming missiles with his hands. He never misses an opportunity to mock his opponents and is only willing to spend no more than seven minutes of his precious time to deal with them.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/a/d/a/adam-jensen-with-combat-rifle-a0c70.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/a/d/a/adam-jensen-with-combat-rifle-a0c70.jpg","type":"slide","id":"182230","description":"

Adam Jensen

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Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011)
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After being killed by members of a black ops team during an attack on the company he works for, Deus Ex: Human Revolution's Adam Jensen is brought back to life via advanced body augmentations (even though he didn't ask for it). Armed with resolve and powerful new tools at his disposal -- including various vision enhancements and the ability to turn himself invisible or punch people through walls -- he sets out to uncover the truth behind the attack and take revenge on the group that destroyed his life.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/v/i/d/video-game-characters-wallpaper-e54d4.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/v/i/d/video-game-characters-wallpaper-e54d4.jpg","type":"slide","id":"182278","description":"

(this is Part 1 of the compilation; for Part 2 follow this link)

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The world of games is saturated with varied characters. There are brave, cute, intelligent, strong characters, and then there are badasses -- characters who stand out, whether due to their physical or mental attributes, their manner of speech, or their unique appearance. Regardless, they usually don't require the assistance of others to succeed and can conquer hardships all by themselves, should the need arise. This list features 10 of the most suitable characters in the category, and it was assembled based on the following criteria:

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    \n
  • Only one character per franchise
  • \n
  • The character must be playable at any point in the particular series or be part of a playable party
  • \n
\n

Each entry will contain the name of the character, the game they first appeared in and its release year, as well as a brief description. Click through to view the characters in alphabetical, not necessarily numerical, order.

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Disclaimer: The writer's opinions herein are his own and might not coincide with those of the other 7+ billion people living on Earth.

"}]]]>
Feast Your Ears on the Fascinating Audio Commentary in These 11 Games https://www.gameskinny.com/t06i8/feast-your-ears-on-the-fascinating-audio-commentary-in-these-11-games https://www.gameskinny.com/t06i8/feast-your-ears-on-the-fascinating-audio-commentary-in-these-11-games Tue, 21 Nov 2017 13:56:02 -0500 Sergey_3847

[{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/8/9/2/8925e368eeec9315b86d93165a763b45-650-3e492.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/8/9/2/8925e368eeec9315b86d93165a763b45-650-3e492.jpg","type":"slide","id":"174212","description":"

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

\n

Alas, Hideo Kojima, the creator of the famous Metal Gear Solid series, never took to the task of recording a single line of developer commentary on his games. However, the fourth game in the series, Guns of the Patriots, includes such a commentary by Ken Imaizumi, the game's producer, Aki Saito, Konami international product manager, and Sean Eyestone, one of the writers.

\n

This audio commentary is available in the game on Snake's iPod. So if you haven't had the chance to listen to it yet, maybe now's the time.

\n

---

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What's your favorite developer commentary track? Let us know in the comments below!.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/adb4162f1b7ddef3d37effc39e7af946.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/adb4162f1b7ddef3d37effc39e7af946.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"11647","description":"

Grim Fandango Remastered

\n

Tim Schafer is one of the world's most renowned and consistent game designers. His titles have garnered huge fan followings, and his new games are anticipated by millions of gamers everywhere every year.

\n

Grim Fandango is definitely one of his finest moments. That's why Sony decided to release a remastered version of the game just a few years ago. It was a great decision to include the developer commentary, too, as it reveals the massive amounts of talent Tim Schafer wields.

\n

Fortunately, the entire commentary has been leaked online, so grab a pack of popcorn and immerse yourself in the world of mesmerizing game development of Grim Fandango.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/1bf53f22b06f1d8d2243b8e5b26fd8dd.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/1bf53f22b06f1d8d2243b8e5b26fd8dd.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"11646","description":"

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut

\n

The Director's Cut of the first Deus Ex introduced a number of revamped gameplay elements, a fantastic series of developer commentaries, and a whole documentary showcasing the behind-the-scenes creation process.

\n

Even if you've never played the game or have no interest in the Deus Ex series but want to know what it takes to develop a modern AAA title, then be sure to check the entire audio commentary section of the game. Be warned, though, it's long. Seven hours long.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/1470bf62141850fb708aab406e612e00.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/1470bf62141850fb708aab406e612e00.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"11642","description":"

Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2

\n

This survival horror franchise from Valve was another massive success for the company. So it's no surprise that the dev team opted to provide audio commentary in the same fashion as both Half-Life 2 and the Portal franchise: as interactive nodes that could be activated by players during the gameplay.

\n

The sequel, which came out only a year later, had the same team record their thoughts on the development process, too, making it one of the most encompassing game design commentaries you will ever hear.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/e229b73427633b86113de39933bebd5b.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/e229b73427633b86113de39933bebd5b.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"11640","description":"

Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour

\n

Here is another cult title from the 90s -- a true blast from the past: the one and only Duke Nukem 3D. The upgraded version of the original title was released just a year ago to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the series.

\n

Allen Blum and Richard Gray, the original designers of the game, return to their progeny and not only deliver additional content to the original game, but also discuss what went into the process of reviving the old files from the ashes.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/73e684a627a75d5b479876590a9a61c8.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/73e684a627a75d5b479876590a9a61c8.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"11639","description":"

Tomb Raider: Anniversary

\n

The very first game that launched the epic Tomb Raider series was released in the mid-90s. Ten years later, Crystal Dynamics released a remastered version of that first game based on the new Legend engine.

\n

Fast forward to the Tomb Raider: Anniversary bundle, and you'll find game developer commentary featuring Jason Botta, the creative director of the remastered version, and Toby Gard, the original game's lead designer. 

\n

They discuss each segment of the game as you play through it, and reveal why certain decisions were made in the process of the creation of those particular levels.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/650e4e9b2569990c9d64861e4bf6c3d4.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/650e4e9b2569990c9d64861e4bf6c3d4.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"11638","description":"

Firewatch

\n

Firewatch offers a developer commentary as a part of its free DLC, which adds an Audio Tour mode to the game. It's designed in such a way that allows players to pick up audio players in the beginning of the prologue, and then pick up audio cassettes that are placed in special spots throughout the game.

\n

Each cassette contains a recording from a Firewatch development member who discusses how that particular part of the game was designed. The best thing about this approach is that the recordings are relatively short and don't distract from the actual gameplay too much.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/9ba0b6685d94b0eac63400c18a07d19b.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/9ba0b6685d94b0eac63400c18a07d19b.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"11637","description":"

Portal & Portal 2

\n

After the smashing success of Half-Life 2, Valve released another title that is considered to be one of the most original game concepts ever devised -- the Portal series.

\n

As usual, Gabe Newell, the founder of Valve, was joined by the development team behind the Portal games and recorded an accompanying audio commentary for the series. In order to access all of the commentary episodes, players must first complete the game. Afterward, the developer commentary mode will be unlocked, offering over a hundred audio segments for your listening pleasure.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/7d48afc345565016508d915419a79886.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/7d48afc345565016508d915419a79886.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"11636","description":"

The Last Of Us Remastered

\n

The Last of Us was a PS3 exclusive and international hit. A year later, it was remastered and ported to the PS4 -- bringing with it developer commentary by Neil Druckmann, creative director, Troy Baker, who plays Joel, and Ashley Johnson, who plays Ellie.

\n

This commentary can be accessed through an in-game menu, which shows all of the game's cutscenes in succession -- with audio commentary on top -- making the experience very similar to watching films with director commentary. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/d2a7ef130bd09d5e35b1e70af8c97014.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/d2a7ef130bd09d5e35b1e70af8c97014.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"11633","description":"

Half-Life 2

\n

Half-Life 3 is undoubtedly the most anticipated sequel to any game ever released. The first two games have set the bar of the quality so high that it will be hard to achieve the same level of intrigue as before.

\n

However, if you want to know how the development of this incredibly popular series began, then be sure to check the developer commentary of Half-Life 2: Episodes 1 & 2.

\n

Unfortunately, the development team didn't record commentary for the first game, but there is more than enough material to study from the two episodes of the sequel. Commentary includes anecdotes and behind the scenes stories from team members such as Gabe Newell, Greg Coomer, Jay Stelly, and many more. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/e4257f866fcd4cdbc8352e18b3b7fec7.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/e4257f866fcd4cdbc8352e18b3b7fec7.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"11632","description":"

BioShock: The Collection

\n

Every fan of the BioShock series simply ought to have BioShock: The Collection. Not only does it inlcude the remastered versions of all three games, but it also adds to the experience an exciting commentary track from Ken Levine, the series' creative director, and Shawn Robertson, the lead artist. 

\n

Interestingly, the commentary for Bioshock: The Collection is part of the franchise's world. Throughout each of the stories, players are able to find collectible items that activate new episodes where the developers discuss the design process behind the series.

\n

The commentary uncovers many previously unknown details about the risks and challenges that the development team had to take in order to deliver one of the most praised video game franchises in history.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/u/n/t/unt-e303b.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/u/n/t/unt-e303b.jpg","type":"slide","id":"173797","description":"

While audio commentary from directors and filmmakers is typical for most Hollywood movies, commentary from video game developers discussing their creative process on a separate audio track attached to your favorite game is relatively new.

\n

It took some years before game developers decided to adopt the same approach as their Hollywood counterparts. The first game that appeared with such developer commentary was 2000's Star Wars: Episode I: Battle for Naboo.

\n

After that first experiment, other developers also wanted to share their experiences with gamers, and many games followed suit. Here you will find 11 of the most inspiring video game developer commentaries that will not only let you see the the machinations behind your favorite games, but also what drives your favorite developer to keep making great games. 

"}]]]>
Why Representation Is Important in Video Games https://www.gameskinny.com/gi2j2/why-representation-is-important-in-video-games https://www.gameskinny.com/gi2j2/why-representation-is-important-in-video-games Fri, 10 Nov 2017 11:58:34 -0500 Sarah Elliman

We live in an incredibly diverse world, where people from different ways of life and culture can meet on a regular basis. The vast majority of people may not have had this much interaction with those of different origins in the past -- certainly not to the scale the modern world can achieve. Considering that video games are now even more popular than other entertainment mediums such as film or TV (four out of five US households own a device used to play video games), having greater diversity and representation of a variety of people is an especially prevalent and pressing issue with respect to video games.

Given the wide range of people that video games are accessible to, the lack of representation of diverse groups of people is shocking. In recent years there have been more females and people of color serving as primary characters in video games, but the statistics are still overwhelmingly negative in terms of diversity. Recent games such as Uncharted: The Lost Legacy feature two female protagonists who are both women of color. Most importantly, these characters break certain tropes and stereotypes, which makes their character development and story even more important.

Diversity and representation aren't simply about throwing women and people of color into video games. You don’t want a female character who is simply a guy coded as a female character; there needs to be a subtlety and skilled writing for these characters.

Women in Video Games

Many of us can see with our own eyes that there aren’t as many female characters in video games as there are men. Forget historical accuracy and those arguments for a second, and focus on the pure statistical representation statistics. There is a roughly even split in the world between men and women, so that should be represented in video games. 

According to a 2007 article from Monica K. Miller and Alicia Summers, "of the 49 games included in the[ir] analysis, 282 male humans and 53 female characters appeared," translating to roughly 5.3 men to every 1 female character. Other research has found large discrepancies between the number of games in which men are playable and those in which females appear as playable characters. The excuses of old (e.g., women simply don't play video games, so it's a male-oriented environment) aren’t viable anymore. In fact, a 2015 study found that women make up 44% of gamers. This is a staggering figure compared to the overall representation of women within video games.

It isn’t simply lack of representation that harms people’s view of the gaming industry but also the many ways in which women are presented in them. A 2009 analysis found that "fifteen percent of (M)ature games also included characters that were coded as being naked," and "of the characters coded as 'naked,' 88% were female." That is an overwhelming figure compared to the presentation of men. 

As a gamer, you may have heard the term the “Lara Phenomenon,” which researchers Jeroen Jansz and Raynel G. Martis coined to describe "the appearance of a tough and competent female character in a dominant position." It is worrisome enough that it was known as a phenomenon to start with, suggesting the lack of female characters who ascribe to this description. However, in recent years, I believe we have moved further away from the two drastic stereotypes of the “Laras" or "damsels in distress." The importance of representation is to present realistic and depth-filled characters that audiences relate to. Although the Lara type is strong and powerful, seeing a depth to a character is much more constructive to a storyline; this is shown in the most recent reboots of the Tomb Raider series.

Overall, the position of women in video games is becoming stronger. To me, it is about what powerful and emotive characters bring to the story. Women in games undeniably tend to be beautiful, and it’s not about changing that perspective but rather adding a new dimension to these characters other than being just eye candy. 

Ethnicities in Video Games 

This is another aspect of video game representation that is seriously undervalued. It can be as ridiculous as the French Arno in Assassin's Creed: Unity having a British voice actor or even different ethnicities or cultures completely missing from games. Once again, we are seeing a slow improvement in this representation, even from the Assassin’s Creed series. Adaptations of Egyptian history and tales tend to be acted by white actors in these scenarios, so it is brilliant to see Assassin's Creed: Origins bringing in accurate depictions of those who live in the region.

However, there are massive disparities when it comes to the white versus ethnic ratio of characters in video games. Karen E. Dill and her colleagues in 2005 shared that within their research, "68% of main characters and 72% of the secondary characters were white.’" This is astounding considering the vast world we live in and the variety of inhabitants in it.

Other studies have shown that black, Asian, and Hispanic characters make up much smaller percentages of character, and considering that these can include secondary characters, it appears that some game developers just be throw in those of different ethnic backgrounds as a token gesture.

 LGBT Representation 

There is a recurring trend in the way those who are gay or transgender are represented in video games, with many shown as villains or something to be disgusted with. In the video below, MatPat of The Game Theorists looks at the disturbing representation of those who belong to the LGBT community in video games. 

There are approximately 8 million people who fall into the LGBT category in the USA alone, but in recent years, a study has shown that only 12 characters were depicted as being LGBT. There are tons of people crying out for this representation that isn’t being given the light of day.

In a 2014 interview, Lucien Soulban, an openly gay lead writer for Ubisoft, stated that it will be quite some time before we see a gay character make a meaningful impact in a video game: “So when are we going to see that gay protagonist in a AAA game? Not for a while, I suspect, because of fears that it’ll impact sales.”

Rhianna Pratchett, the lead writer for the Tomb Raider reboot, appeared slightly optimistic in an interview with Motherboard on the possibility of greater diversity for LGBT characters: “I think folding them in as regular secondary characters who are just part of the fabric of the world will be how things progress,” suggesting she believes that the LGBT community will be represented but at a relatively slow pace. 

The awful truth is that many LGBT characters, even when present in video games, are portrayed in a completely disrespectful light. Even recently, characters such as Trevor in GTA V are expressed as openly gay -- but Trevor’s character is a complete psychopath. This doesn’t provide a rounded view of gay characters, and why is this type of character reserved for the openly gay Trevor? 

In the end, the gaming industry has come a long way, but there is still a long way to go. Gamers want to see themselves in the video games they play and not feel demonized even when they are.

 What are your opinions on representation in video games? Are there any games that you believe represented different types of people well? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

]]>
Top 10 Longest Platformers in Video Game History https://www.gameskinny.com/ccxs6/top-10-longest-platformers-in-video-game-history https://www.gameskinny.com/ccxs6/top-10-longest-platformers-in-video-game-history Tue, 27 Jun 2017 16:59:33 -0400 Adreon Patterson

[{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/u/p/super-mario-bros-6cb4b.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/u/p/super-mario-bros-6cb4b.jpg","type":"slide","id":"162738","description":"

1. Super Mario Bros.

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200.9 hours
\n

Of course, this list would not be complete without side-scrolling pioneer and best-seller, Super Mario Bros. In this OG iteration of the Super Mario series, ordinary plumber Mario goes on a quest to save Princess Toadstool (or Peach) and the Mushroom Kingdom from the clutches of Bowser (or King Koopa). The game's eight worlds allow for endless hours (200 to be exact) of gameplay, and lots frustration for many gamers.

\n

--

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While platformers may seem simple, this list proves that they are not playing around (pun intended). With the endless summer days, any player would be encouraged to test their skills with any one of these thrilling platformers. And when you're finally finished, you can brag about beating one of the longest platformers in video game history.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/u/p/super-maro-galaxy-3c7e2.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/u/p/super-maro-galaxy-3c7e2.png","type":"slide","id":"162739","description":"

2. Super Mario Galaxy 2

\n
102 hours
\n

As the follow-up to 2007's Super Mario Galaxy,  Super Mario Galaxy 2 witnesses Mario again trying to rescue Princess Peach and save the universe from Bowser by recovering Power and Grand Stars. Once more, our hero must explore various galaxies on his out-of-this-world mission. Expanding upon the space hopping original, this sequel can lead to days of endless fun for any gamer -- new and old.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/u/p/supermariogalaxy-3dcac.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/u/p/supermariogalaxy-3dcac.jpg","type":"slide","id":"162740","description":"

3. Super Mario Galaxy

\n
98.9 hours
\n

This 2007 entry into the Super Mario universe shows Mario trying to rescue Princess Peach while saving the universe from persistent enemy Bowser. In Super Mario Galaxy, our hero must explore levels consisting of galaxies filled with minor planets and worlds while dealing with variations in gravity. All this space hopping leads to hours (if not days) of gameplay for any Super Mario head.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/u/p/super-mario-world-75cb3.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/u/p/super-mario-world-75cb3.png","type":"slide","id":"162752","description":"

4. Super Mario World

\n
86.7 hours
\n

Built on side-scrolling of earlier Super Mario games, Super Mario World follows Mario and Luigi as they try to save Dinosaur Land from their ever-present nemesis, Bowser. With the introduction of Yoshi, the brothers travel through seven worlds on their mission leading to hours of play for many Super Mario fans.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/l/e/g/lego-jurassic-world-9449f.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/l/e/g/lego-jurassic-world-9449f.jpg","type":"slide","id":"162742","description":"

5. Lego Jurassic World

\n
51 hours
\n

This entry into the Lego video game series lets players explore all five Jurassic Park films as they solve puzzles with hints and dinosaur trivia by Mr. DNA. Each film's section in Lego Jurassic World boasts five levels apiece as players progress through the game. This all leads to hours of fun for kids and their families.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/h/o/shoot-many-robots-aac61.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/h/o/shoot-many-robots-aac61.jpg","type":"slide","id":"162744","description":"

6. Shoot Many Robots

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44 hours
\n

This 2012 action shooter follows a linear storyline in which the player's character must prepare for robot fights. Killing robots help in collecting nuts and power-ups and boosting experience levels as players advance in the game. All this can lead to nearly two straight days' worth of play for any gamer.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/l/e/g/lego-marvel-super-heroes-e41b2.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/l/e/g/lego-marvel-super-heroes-e41b2.jpg","type":"slide","id":"162745","description":"

7. Lego Marvel Super Heroes

\n
36.9 hours
\n

As an entry in the Lego video game series, Lego Marvel Super Heroes allows players to access over 180 Marvel superheroes and villains in order to defeat the almighty Galactus. With a shift between action-packed sequences and puzzle-solving games, any player can get lost for hours playing this entertaining game. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/t/o/m/tomb-raider-last-revelation-8593f.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/t/o/m/tomb-raider-last-revelation-8593f.jpg","type":"slide","id":"162747","description":"

8. Tomb Raider IV: The Last Revelation

\n
36 hours
\n

The fourth installment in the Tomb Raider series follows heroine Lara Croft as she searches for artifacts associated with the Egyptian god Horus before facing former mentor Werner Von Croy. With its vast linear storyline and side puzzles and games, players can spend endless hours tackling this old-school favorite.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/n/e/w/new-super-mario-bros-wii-28983.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/n/e/w/new-super-mario-bros-wii-28983.png","type":"slide","id":"162748","description":"

9. Super Mario Bros. Wii

\n
31.8 hours
\n

Returning to the side-scrolling of earlier Super Mario games, Super Mario Bros. Wii follows Mario as he once again must rescue Princess Peach from Bowser and his motley family. This is the first game in the series to allow multiplayer gameplay as Mario, Luigi, and Yellow and Blue Toad go through nine worlds with a total of 80 levels to complete their mission.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/u/p/super-mario-world-2548c.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/u/p/super-mario-world-2548c.png","type":"slide","id":"162750","description":"

10. Super Mario 3D World

\n
27.5 hours
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This is the third best-selling game for the Wii U, and acts a sequel to the ever-popular Super Mario 3D Land. Super Mario 3D World follows Mario and friends as they attempt to rescue the Sprixie Kingdom from the wrath of Bowser and his brood.

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With so many levels and multiplayer gameplay, this game can take awhile for any player to finish.

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Any gamer will tell you that their ultimate goal is to beat their current video game obsession. 

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Whether it's defeating the monster or villain, conquering a rival faction or claiming the huge treasure or reward, every player wants that sense of euphoria and satisfaction you get from making all the way to the end. It's what being a gamer is all about.

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Some games are easier to finish than others. Completion can range from hours to weeks as players soldier on and try to beat the game at its own...well, game. Sometimes it can be exhausting, but it's equally rewarding as well. But it's the truly long-fought, battle-wry experiences that every gamer remembers.

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There are lots of games that run 200 hours or more in terms of play time -- especially open-world games where you can easily spend hours upon hours exploring the loads of side quests and wandering from place to place. But today we're shining a spotlight on one corner of the video game world that's hyper-focused on getting to the end of the game, no matter how long it takes to do it. I'm talking about platformers.

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Most platformers tend to take a considerable number of hours to complete. But some go above and beyond to create a truly lengthy (and truly memorable) gameplay experience. But these 10 take it to a whole new level. Why? Because they're the longest platformers in video game history.

"}]]]>
Crazy Video Game Cameos -- Game Characters Edition https://www.gameskinny.com/ay7p0/crazy-video-game-cameos-game-characters-edition https://www.gameskinny.com/ay7p0/crazy-video-game-cameos-game-characters-edition Fri, 07 Apr 2017 20:00:02 -0400 Ricardo melfi

Whenever you're playing a game and you see a character inside from a different game, it really gets your juices flowing. After noticing how many celebrity cameos have been seen in games over the last 20+ years, we noticed that there are even more cameos from other video game characters. Cue the second part of our issue.

Welcome back to the second part of Crazy Video Game Cameos. Earlier, we covered movies and celebrities which appeared in a multitude of video games. In this issue, we will be taking a look at all the video game characters that have appeared in other video games!

Duke Nukem - Blood & Bulletstorm: Full Clip

The Duke, and his developers 3D Realms, have pulled no punches when they decide to make fun of other video games, so it's only fitting that the Duke cops some insults of his own. Play long enough into 90's shooter, Blood, and you'll find a secret entrance. Continue down this path and there's poor, old Duke. Hanging upside down and horribly mutilated but it's him, no doubt. Hit him enough times and your character will steal Duke's line, "Shake it baby!"

For another (current), weird cameo, the Duke is appearing as a playable character in cult classic, Bulletstorm: Full Clip. Check out the trailer below!

Mega Man- Dead Rising Series

Capcom love to throw characters from other universes in their games. Evident throughout all the Dead Rising games, every protagonist can eventually find Mega Man's outfit and become the titular hero himself. Sure, it may just be a costume that you put on but we still get to act like Mega Man, arm rockets and all. Poor guy... it seems he always finds himself in apocalyptic situations. I'm pretty sure you can find a Blanka outfit too (from the Street Fighter series).

Creepers - Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2 is a great game full of inside jokes and some very crude humor. With the success and popularity of Minecraft (even so many years later), the developers must have thought, "Ah, f**k it. Let's throw a creeper in as a bad guy." Either that or they were running out of enemy creation ideas. While making your way through some of the mines in this game, you will eventually come across a few block built, familiar characters. A nice little touch. A least they didn't throw griefers in there...

Jill Valentine & Nemesis- Under the Skin

Body snatching sim, Under the Skin, is a novel little piece to play. Similar to Destroy All Humans, this game has you playing as a blue little alien sent to cause as much chaos on earth as possible. At a certain level, you'll notice that it is called Raccoon City. Well, you get to play as Jill and the Nemesis in this level, set with locales from the first two Resident Evil games. Suffice to say, this was enough to get me to play the game.

Claire, Leon & Zombie Cop- Trick N' Snowboarder

Yes, another game that sees cameos from one of the biggest franchise of video game history. Look, it was the 90's and Resident Evil was a global smash, with everyone talking about Raccoon City and the T-Virus. It only makes sense that not so great games tried to pick up on their success, by including certain characters as unlockable players. Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy reporting for snowboarding duty, dude. The developers even threw a zombie cop from Resident Evil 2 in there, just for good measure.

Doom Marine - Duke Nukem 3D

One of those moments in a Duke Nukem game where 3D Realms just couldn't help themselves. With Doom being much more successful than Duke Nukem 3D, they decided to take a jab at the shooter that started all shooters. Get far enough into Duke Nukem 3D and you'll come across a hell-like portal, complete with inverted crosses. At the base of this portal, you'll find the torso of a mauled Doom marine. Guess he didn't have the guts...

Chun Li - Breath of Fire

Timeless RPG, Breath of Fire, by Capcom threw in yet another one of their famous characters somewhere they don't belong. During one of your quests, you meet a master who talks about an amazing fighter. Someone who can kick at the speed of light. Sound familiar? If you thought of Street Fighter alumni, Chun-Li then you'd be correct. Sure, you can't play as her and it's only a 10 to 20 second cameo but it still counts!

Lara Croft & TMNT - Shadow Warrior

Doom and Duke Nukem rip-off, Shadow Warrior, is your average cult classic, FPS. Run around, kill some monsters, blow s**t up. Pretty simple, until you come across a cameo from Tomb Raider's very own, Lara Croft. The protagonist actually mentions that, "She won't be raiding anymore tombs." Nice touch but continue further on into the game and you can find another cameo from 90's sensations, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Dead, but still a cameo.

Spider-Man - Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

The Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series has always had fun with including random cameos in their games but none stands out more than the web-slinging, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Neversoft could have just used a normal character dressed as the titular hero but I love them for going the extra mile. Definitely the best skater in the game, Spider-Man web slings, flips, and does whatever a spider can while racking up hundreds of thousands of points. I might jump back on after writing this article...

Donkey Kong - Wii Punch Out!

 In the Wii remake to Super Nintendo's, Super Punch Out!, there's a new boss character that you have to take on and boy, is he one of the most difficult! In Wii Super Punch Out!, you don't have to take on Mike Tyson anymore. Now you have to take on a 900 pound gorilla with boxing gloves. Don't be fooled as Donkey Kong is the hardest character to fight in the game. Good luck, it was nice knowing you...

Wesker, West, Marcus & Dom - Lost Planet 2

Mega cameos are starring in Capcom's sci-fi, 3rd person action-shooter, Lost Planet 2. An average game when it was released and unfortunately lost the test of time, this entry had a few cool cameos as unlockable players. Up to four different universe characters appeared to play with, being Marcus Fenix and Dom Santiago from the Gears of War series, Albert Wesker from the Resident Evil series, and Frank West from the Dead Rising series. The game didn't change much but being one of these bad-asses sure made me think so.

Scorpion, Reptile, Sub-Zero & Raiden - NBA Jam

Not content with throwing in one of the most powerful, political couples of the time (Bill and Hillary Clinton), Midway decided that they wanted to see what b-ball skills some of the Mortal Kombat roster has. Including Raiden, Reptile, Sub-Zero and Scorpion into the fold made for some pretty awesome basketball games. The only problem was arguing with your friends over who would play as Team Netherealm.

Tanner - GTA III

One of the biggest franchises of the time, Grand Theft Auto, decides to take the mickey out of another large franchise of the time. Everyone remembers Driver,  one of the best driving games to ever come out on the original PlayStation. Well so do the developers at Rockstar, when one of your missions has you dealing with a detective who 'runs funny' and also drives a muscle car. Now they don't ever say his name but the running funny and muscle car part? Definitely a rip on Tanner and his later installments when he has the ability to get out of his cars.

Heihachi & Xiaoyu - Smash Court Tennis Pro Tournament 2

Heihachi has appeared numerous times in a number of different games but who knew the billionaire CEO could use a racket? It seems that when he isn't planning on killing his son and ruling the world in Tekken, he's working on his serves. First time cameo for Ling however, which makes me wonder why they included her and not, say, Kazuya or Jin? The Mishimas could put their rivalry to the side for a few doubles games...

Solid Snake - Evolution Skateboarding

One of the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater imitation rip-offs, Evolution Skateboarding was pretty much a simple, skateboarding game. Complete with challenges, time limits, decent graphics, and an amalgam of different tricks to pull off, this game wasn't so bad when you got into it. Unfortunately, the THPS franchise completely overshadowed any skateboarding game that tried to release. One way to put your game on the map is to include a cameo as a playable character. None other than 90's stealth-hero, Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid.

Samus & Link - Super Mario RPG

In the 90's, RPG attempt at putting Mario in a genre he definitely didn't belong, Super Mario RPG was a surprisingly great game. Taking on RPG roots, a level-up system, and turn-based battles, this game happened to also include some cameos from other Nintendo icons. In one part of the tavern/inn, Link can be found sleeping in one of the beds. Approach him to try and talk and he will just sing one of the iconic Legend of Zelda songs. Samus from Metroid is also sleeping in a bed but this time it's in the Royal Mushroom Castle, where she lets you know that she is "Resting for Mother Brain." We'll just leave you both there until your game time comes around.

Altair Ibn-La'AHad - The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

You wouldn't expect to see it in a serious RPG like The Witcher 2, but it does give you a small hint in the game's title Assassins of Kings. Approaching one of the destroyed barns in one of the towns will have you come across a broken hale bay cart. You even notice a dead person in a white, hooded outfit, so you move in for a closer look. At this point, it's 100% clear who the developers are trying to mock. It seems Altair (from Assassin's Creed) was attempting to assassinate one of the kings in the game but failed to land one of his famous eagle drops correctly. Oh yeah, you know he's dead.

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Proving that video games and cameos are a fantastic mix, even when it doesn't make sense at all, cameos are the stuff of much conversation. I hope you enjoyed and probably even learned about some cameos you didn't know where there. Thanks for reading our latest listicle!

So what did you think? Did I miss any major video game character cameos you think should have been included? Don't forget to leave a comment below!

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3 Things “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” Should Do https://www.gameskinny.com/pvl9z/3-things-shadow-of-the-tomb-raider-should-do https://www.gameskinny.com/pvl9z/3-things-shadow-of-the-tomb-raider-should-do Wed, 22 Mar 2017 08:00:02 -0400 J.Lucas

I shouldn't need to tell you how big and important the Tomb Raider franchise is for gaming. Since its inception all the way back in 1996 (which, today, seems like ancient history in video game terms) it has created the action-adventure game genre as we know it today, it proved that you don't need to hide a female protagonist inside a suit of armor to make her a star, and has spawned a multimedia franchise containing 11 main games, numerous mobile and handheld spin-offs, two full-length movies starring the biggest female actress at the time (with another Tomb Raider film coming), thousands of pages worth of comic books, an animated series, and even a slot machine.

There is at least one game, possibly two, coming as well. One presumably in development by Crystal Dynamics, and another certainly in development by Eidos Montreal titled Shadow of the Tomb Raider. And no, despite the name and some early prototype images floating around, it's probably not going to feature Lara fighting Colossi.

tomb raider, prototype

Now, as much as I enjoyed the previous two games in the reboot, 2013's Tomb Raider and 2015's Rise of the Tomb Raider, I couldn't help but feel like they were missing something. I grew up in a different era, with the first Crystal Dynamics reboot trilogy (Legend, Anniversary and Underworld), and while I did really enjoy the newest reboots, they were missing things that they could've benefited from. So despite the fact that Shadow of the Tomb Raider is probably already in full development, let's give the good people over at Eidos a couple of pointers about what they could add -- at least to improve the experience even further, and create the definitive Tomb Raider title!

1. A More Fun-Loving, Confident Lara

lara croft, tomb raider

By far the biggest problem of the reboot games is that Lara seems kind of passive in them -- she's not doing much in them, she has things happen to her. Which was fine in the first game, which cast her in the role of a shipwrecked college student who had to survive by any means necessary, but starting from Rise we were supposed to start seeing glimpses of the Lara we all know and love... and we didn't.

Once again, despite the fact that this time she's actively hunting for something, she finds herself in a situation beyond her control, forced to survive in the Siberian wilderness. Disempowering Lara in such a way might make for a fun gameplay experience built around resource management and scouting, but it also takes away a good chunk of what makes her interesting. She's not some passive victim that has unfortunate accidents happen to her, she's Lara 'Friggin'' Croft, she gets herself into danger on purpose all the time for the thrill of it! It's important to establish Lara as someone who is perfectly capable of escaping from a dangerous situation if she wants to, but why would she ever want to? Where's the fun in that?

In addition to that point, it wouldn't hurt if she's a bit more likeable, personality-wise. Because, let's face it, reboot Lara is pretty plain, and sometimes even comes off as a bitch -- like when she called her stepmother a c**t. Lara Croft isn't supposed to lose her cool like that, not unless something extremely serious has happened. Lara is someone who always had a witty remark in store, someone who genuinely enjoys every single thing about her life, who takes a moment to take in the sights, who isn't afraid to banter with her villains when appropriate because that's all part of the fun. Treasure hunting is a game for her, it's a sport. She's the best there is at it, she knows it, and she loves it. Lara needs that confidence back, alongside her sense of humor.

 2. More Varied Locations

lara croft, tomb raider, underworld

A staple of the Tomb Raider franchise since its inception have been the varied locations that Lara travels to throughout her adventures. The very first game took her to the Himalayas, Greece, Egypt and even Atlantis. Legend took her to four different continents, there's hardly a place that our favorite raider of tombs hasn't visited in her pursuit of shiny trinkets from the past! As such, it's kind of disappointing that the rebooted franchise have decided to mostly keep her confined to only a single location.

It made sense in the 2013 game, as its whole premise was that Lara was stranded on an island she couldn't escape from, but Rise of the Tomb Raider, despite having a great opening in Syria, stuck Lara in a Siberian installation for the rest of the game. Meanwhile, the Uncharted series -- Tomb Raider's direct competition which have been very clearly inspired by their rival -- have continued to send their protagonist Nathan Drake across the globe right up until his adventure ended in 2016's Uncharted 4: A Thief's End.

tomb raider, lara croft, tomb, sphynx

So, how do you reconcile the more open-ended level design of the rebooted games with my idea? One option would be to do what Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain did and just give Lara a central hub (such as Croft Manor) that she can use to freely travel to one of several large locations in the world. For example, imagine being in Ghana, you retrieve some kind of artifact from a tomb there, do a couple of side quests and gather supplies, then call a helicopter, go back to Croft Manor for a change of equipment and clothes and fly over to Afghanistan to continue your adventure.

This also fits in with the 'Lara isn't FORCED to do this, she's doing it because she wants to' philosophy I outlined earlier, and adds a very convenient fast travel function to replace the nonsensical one from the previous game where you mysteriously teleport between fireplaces. Another option would be to do something akin to Dark Souls where the whole world is interconnected, but still divided into zones which are very distinct in appearance. However, I'm not sure how realistic that would be in practice, and it also defies the idea of Lara travelling the world.

3. A Supporting Cast

lara croft, tomb raider, Zip, Alister

The best, or depending on who you ask, worst thing that Tomb Raider: Legend added to the formula was that it made Lara a team player. Instead of working alone, she'd now hired a team of experts, namely the hacking genius Zip and the historian Alister (alongside her butler Winston, who makes a return from earlier games after narrowly avoiding a horrible, icy death -- don't try to deny it, you know what you did). Aside from that, she also had numerous contacts across the globe, such as the engineer Anaya, and by Tomb Raider: Underworld she'd also made frienemies with the mystically powered Amanda.

This gave Lara a supporting cast, people to work off. Some people loved the banter between Lara, Zip and Alister during missions (I know I did), others thought it detracted from the experience. Both opinions are valid, but in any case, it's better to have a cast of characters you can get attached to than simply having Lara by herself, in silence, forever.

The rebooted games tried to do that, with the implication being that the survivors from the first game would go on to have their own adventures together, but the only one who joins Lara in Rise of the Tomb Raider is Jonah -- the rest disappear between games (including Sam, Lara's best friend who was a HUGE driving force behind her motivations in the first game), and unless you've read the comics, you'd have no idea what even happened to them. Hell, even Jonah is barely in Rise, for the most part he's merely a damsel in distress for Lara to save and take care of rather than an actual character that she can work off. He's a plot device.

tomb raider, jonah

If we're to move forward, we need an established cast. Again, look at the Uncharted franchise, which by the first game had established that Nathan Drake worked alongside Sully and Elena and then followed through on that in the second game, further expanding the cast in the second, third, and fourth games by adding Chloe, Charlie, and Sam, respectively. Only, Rise of the Tomb Raider added no one, and even Jonah isn't all that interesting or compelling -- the most interesting and compelling characters from the reboot died either in the 2013 game or shortly after it. I'm not saying that Lara absolutely needs to have a voice in her ear 24/7, but an established cast of partners is basically a necessity for these types of games. We need people we can care for... especially since, right now, we don't exactly care about this version of Lara all that much.

These Changes Will Make A Great Game Better

Look, I'm not saying that if Shadow of the Tomb Raider does none of those things then it's going to be a bad game. Rise of the Tomb Raider had a boring Lara, was constrained to one location and only featured one returning character, and yet it was still a really great game -- and a worthy successor of the 2013 reboot.

However, right now Eidos Montreal have an opportunity to not only follow the formula that Crystal Dynamics established four years ago, but to improve upon it, to enhance the Tomb Raider experience. They can add things which have worked in the series before, but have been lacking recently, to create a game that's different than the one before it. Whether or not they do any of that, well, only time will tell, but one can only hope.

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The 16 Best Fan-Made Short Films Based on Video Games https://www.gameskinny.com/ntdj1/the-16-best-fan-made-short-films-based-on-video-games https://www.gameskinny.com/ntdj1/the-16-best-fan-made-short-films-based-on-video-games Mon, 20 Mar 2017 08:00:01 -0400 Sergey_3847

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Hell of a DayZ
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People that play DayZ know that the worst enemies in the game are not zombies roaming the wastelands, but the humans, or simply other players. This is also the main plot point of the short film based on DayZ that tells a story of two companions.

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The film clearly shows what usually happens in the world devoid of any honor and conscience, which is probably the best lesson one can get.

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On that note, let's wait and see what else 2017 will bring in terms of video game fan-films, so expect another selection later this year.

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The Legend of Zelda: Link's Shadow
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Here’s another dark re-telling of the familiar story. This time Link meets his dark twin -- the Link’s shadow. The film’s got a few bloody scenes and the whole theme suggests that the bright world of Zelda is not that bright after all.

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It was made by the same team that shot Shadow of Mordor, so there is a certain style to their work -- lots of action in a fantasy-based world. We hope they do more of this stuff in the future ‘cause it does look great.

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Metroid: The Sky Calls
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The Sky Calls is the true successor of such great sci-fi films like Alien and Space Odyssey. It has that undeniable aesthetics of the grim, open space that is as dangerous as it can get.

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There is a lot of CGI in the film, but it’s done very well, and the special saturation effect that resembles the Kodak film strip used in the 70s and 80s makes everything look extra cool.

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If you are a fan of oldschool sci-fi movies, then definitely watch Metroid: The Sky Calls.

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Sonic the Hedgehog
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Instead of letting a real actor play the part of Sonic, the creators of this fan film decided to go with a full animated character, and probably for the best. The animation looks neat and it blends naturally into the live setting of planet Mobius.

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The film doesn’t try to take a Sonic into some new direction, but shows it the way this character is meant to be -- fast and funny, if even silly at times. However, the danger is real and the stakes are high, so there is more to the story than it seems at first.

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Super Mario: Underworld
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Super Mario in a horror movie? How is this possible? Well, Nukazooka made it possible! It’s a tale with morale that warns all the young kids about the dangers of missing a jump in Super Mario Bros. game, because if that happens, then Mario will go to the most terrifying place -- the Nintendo underworld.

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Anyhow, it’s a really cool concept, it is actually so good that could spawn an entire fan-made video game, but we all know too well that Nintendo will never allow that... but we can always dream, right?

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Portal: No Escape
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No Escape simply cannot show all the aspects of the original game from Valve, but it does tell a short story from a life of a female prisoner who finds the miraculous handheld portal device.

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It is a very well made short movie, which isn’t surprising, since the creator of the film is Dan Trachtenberg -- the same guy who directed 10 Cloverfield Lane from last year. If you want to see how he came up with his own style of filmmaking, then definitely check out his Portal film.

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Tomb Raider: Croft
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The story of Lara Croft is not only one of the longest-running video game series, but also a movie franchise that spawned two features with Angelina Jolie in the main role and the upcoming reboot with Alicia Vikander.

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Although not a massive undertaking as the above-mentioned Hollywood blockbusters, this fan film is nothing short of amazing. It was inspired by the game that was released in 2013 and incorporates all the stylistic features of it, such as the new look of the main heroine, grim atmosphere, bow and arrows as the main weapon, etc.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/2343850d0e4c6af0447b0255c9e9e62a.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/2343850d0e4c6af0447b0255c9e9e62a.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"10564","description":"
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
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Human Revolution is not a usual fan-made short film -- it’s got a relatively huge budget, it took two years to film... and it looks impressive. The slick design of the game is preserved to a T and the action sequences are perfectly choreographed.

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The actor who plays Adam Jensen, the main protagonist, also served as the editor, writer, and director of the film -- his name is Moe Charif. He is currently working on his full feature film “Exile” that should be out sometime this year.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/adc5de0375351757c061525cfba19fe9.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/adc5de0375351757c061525cfba19fe9.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"10563","description":"
The Splinter Cell
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Ubisoft has two tactical shooters that should make their way into the big cinema sooner or later -- Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon. None of them have been actually seriously considered yet, but this fan film made by Atomic Productions is simply staggering.

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The cinematography in the film is mind-blowing and at times even trumps those big Hollywood flicks.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/dc9e07613b82b978356c3722cc592142.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/dc9e07613b82b978356c3722cc592142.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"10561","description":"
BioShock: The Brothers Rapture
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BioShock series is a perfect candidate for being turned into a few high-budget Hollywood blockbusters with some nice plot. At one point such a movie was greenlit, but due to financial problems and artistic differences it was put on a halt indefinitely.

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Fortunately, there are some really cool short films based on the iconic game. One of them is The Brothers Rapture created by film students from Canada. It tells the story of two brothers who work in the Rapture City and how their experiments lead to some horrific results.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/dd99b67697f1c1189cec32c267dee514.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/dd99b67697f1c1189cec32c267dee514.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"10560","description":"
The Last of Us: No Escape
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Pocketsquare has made two short films based on The Last of Us thus far, and it looks like it’s not their last one, especially with the announcement of the sequel to TLOU video game.

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The 13-minute long film captures the atmosphere of the game incredibly well. Some of the scenes are gripping and convey a true sense of despair. The sound design plays a huge role in it, and it is clear how much attention the creators paid to the ambience -- these people know what they do.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/31c65b6687504d6d207333332aad2bad.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/31c65b6687504d6d207333332aad2bad.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"10559","description":"
Fallout: Nuka Break
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The original short film based on Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas became so popular that the team behind the project decided to turn it into a full-fledged web-series. The first season got huge online very quickly and the Kickstarter campaign was launched to finance Season 2.

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Not only fans were amazed by the quality of the original film and the series, but the representatives of Bethesda themselves gave them two thumbs-up. Later on the Nuka Breaker weapon has been released through a DLC, which was a direct homage to this fan-film.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/a9aec8aae923f1e8e87a6c0035d9a53f.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/a9aec8aae923f1e8e87a6c0035d9a53f.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"10558","description":"
Red Dead Redemption: Seth's Gold
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Seth’s Gold is a true fan-film made with the money gathered on IndieGoGo from 87 backers that managed to bring in over 8,000 Euro. Although it is based on the RDR video game, the shooting style was inspired by the old westerns, such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West.

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The people behind the film are two young Spanish filmmakers -- Guillermo de Oliveira and Javier Esteban. They have a few other cool shorts on their YouTube channel, so check them out.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/2ed4c54d0f6d1470eac64d8198c694a4.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/2ed4c54d0f6d1470eac64d8198c694a4.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"10557","description":"
Watch Dogs
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Ubisoft has in plans of releasing a feature film based on Watch Dogs, but after the flop of the Assassin’s Creed movie, we should all expect more delays and rewrites. There is hope if the production team tries to really ground everything down, instead of imitating the unrealistic approach that works only in video games.

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The good example is the short film presented here that received tons of positive reviews from the community. It was created by Infectious Designer right after the release of the first game, which even spawned several sequels.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/854b7ed1f2babb33b0cd6de5baf62292.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/854b7ed1f2babb33b0cd6de5baf62292.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"10556","description":"
Shadow Of Mordor
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This little movie was made in 2014 by Sam and Niko from Corridor Digital with financial support of Warner Bros. Games. The film shows an episode from the story of ranger Talion, who is being chased by a bunch of orcs.

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It features high standards of production, including top-notch make-up, excellent acting, fighting choreography, and some very well-done CGI. The only drawback is the main character’s synthetic wig that looks really cheap, but other than that it’s totally worth a watch.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/46a0f0bb87cae12742fefbf807305067.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/46a0f0bb87cae12742fefbf807305067.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"10555","description":"
Grand Theft Auto: RISE
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There isn’t much story wise in RISE, but the chase scene that takes the two thirds of the film is more than impressive. Gevorg Karensky, the writer and director, created a style that combines both live and video game footage.

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The film was so well accepted by the community that it was immediately snatched for the Cannes Film Festival in 2012. Sam Gibs from Gizmodo UK said the following about GTA: RISE:

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"It blows every other fan-made project I've ever laid eyes on completely out of the water."

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"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/u/n/t/untitled-8c2e4.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/u/n/t/untitled-8c2e4.jpg","type":"slide","id":"153005","description":"

In the last 20 years dozens of Hollywood filmmakers tried to make movies based on video games that would be well-received by the audiences. Unfortunately, only a couple have managed to bring something decent to the world cinemas -- there is a feeling that movies based on video games are cursed.

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The very first game character that was brought to life on a blue screen was Super Mario in 1993. The latest one was Assassin’s Creed, which failed both domestically and globally. On the other hand, there is an entire community of amateur filmmakers that make their own short films of video games -- and it is way more successful than you may think.

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This selection offers some of the best examples made in the last five years, including fan-made films based on GTA, Watch Dogs, Fallout, The Legend of Zelda, and many, many others. You can watch them all right here without the need to visit the cinemas.

"}]]]>
Tomb Raider - Learning From the Rise of a Survivor https://www.gameskinny.com/iy29b/tomb-raider-learning-from-the-rise-of-a-survivor https://www.gameskinny.com/iy29b/tomb-raider-learning-from-the-rise-of-a-survivor Tue, 21 Mar 2017 12:00:01 -0400 Caio Sampaio

In 1996, Eidos Interactive released Tomb Raider, a game that tells the story of Lara Croft, a British archaeologist seeking to uncover the secrets of ancient treasures. Both the series and its protagonist reached a status of icons of pop culture, but after two decades of existence, the developers of the franchise decided to take it to a new direction.

On March 5th, 2013, Eidos released a reboot -- Tomb Raider (2013). In this game, players have the opportunity to witness the events which transformed an average girl into the most renowned explorer of the video game industry.

The experience begins with Lara in an expedition to find the lost kingdom of Yamatai. To reach the destination, her ship attempts to cross the Dragon's Triangle, in Japan. It all goes wrong when a storm hits the vessel, causing it to sink. Separated from her crew, Lara awakens inside a cave, from which she must escape. Upon finding her way out, she must track down any survivors of the incident.

The game aims to humanize Lara Croft, unlike previous titles that portrayed her as a heroine wearing shorts and dual-wielding pistols, who behaved as a moving tank, blasting her way through any foes who dared to stay in her path. The intention of Tomb Raider (2013) is to tell the story of an average girl overcoming adversity and trying to survive. By doing so, it received praise from fans and critics.

Scoring 86/100 on Metacritic (PC version) the game excelled on many fronts, including level design, gameplay mechanics and narrative, to new a few. However, there are some aspects of this production that could have been better and while the experience of being in the shoes of the most famous female archaeologist is enjoyable, there are some flaws in this game that cannot be ignored.

With this said, there are many positive attributes in Tomb Raider (2013), but this article will address the points that the developers could have altered in the game to craft a more compelling experience. It is crucial to learn from the past, so we may design the experiences of the future and the next topics will detail some of the lessons we can take from the mistakes of Tomb Raider (2013).

Disclaimer: This article is spoiler-free.

Two Different Laras:

Right from the beginning, the game communicates to the players that Lara Croft is not a heroine, just a mere ordinary person. The narrative emphasizes this through the many times when she displays weakness in the first minutes of the experience.

During the opening scene, she needs the help of someone else to escape from drowning and when jumping over a ledge, she fails to hold the hand of a member from her crew and falls into the ocean.

These moments suggest that, just as anyone in real life, Lara Croft needs other people and is not immune to mistakes. Unlike many protagonists in this industry, she is not perfect. She is a person. This is what the introduction tells.

The prime example of the first five minutes of the story conveying Lara as a human being occurs when a piece of metal perforates her stomach and she screams in agony. When was the last time you heard a protagonist in a action game almost beg for mercy after suffering physical harm?

The game starts with players creating empathy for Lara and the narrative throughout the game continues to reinforce the notion that the protagonist is an average person, mostly through voice acting and body language. She clearly is not conformable with the situation and players can sense her fear.

The game had all the pieces it needed to create a character with whom the audience could relate to, but then the problems started. Tomb Raider (2013) displays two different Laras. The one just described, who appears during cutscenes, and the other Lara, who shows up while in gameplay.

As players control her, the game loses the emotional appeal built by the narrative. In the first enemy encounters of the story, players face few enemies and can eliminate them using either stealth or mayhem as modus operandi.

The furtive approach works best with the narrative, as it emphasizes the point the story establishes of Lara not being a superhero. Given the context, it makes sense that she would try to stay undetected.

However, even the chaotic method is still believable. In the beginning of the game, players only face one or two foes at a time. Getting the drop on them at the right time seems as a viable approach.

However, towards the second half of the story, the game continues to deploy an increasing amount of enemies in the player's path. Most of the times, stealth is not even an option. The only approach the game provides is to murder dozens of enemies.

This dehumanizes Lara. By this point, players lose the empathy with the protagonist, as the argument the game presents of her being a simple human being no longer holds true. In this industry, there is a term for this -- "Ludonarrative dissonance."

This occurs when the message the plot delivers contradicts what the player does in the game. In the case of Tomb Raider (2013), the narrative sells the story of a person overcoming adversity and learning how to survive, but the gameplay shows her defeating in combat even the most skilled of the guards (above).

Gameplay and narrative must reinforce one another, as opposed to conflicting, otherwise it will compromise the character development and the empathy the audience feels towards a protagonist. In this game, there is a contradiction and this diminishes the emotional aspect of the experience.

It is worthy noting; however, that the reason why the developers at Eidos started to make players face more enemies as the game progresses is comprehensible. Their goal was to maintain the interest of the player, by increasing the challenges Lara must overcome.

While their approach has a justification, it was not the best they could have chosen. Many games rely on merely adding more enemies in its levels to keep the player engaged after hours into the experience, but there is another method developers could have used to keep difficulty increasing. One that would make the narrative and the gameplay work in tandem.

Smarter and Better:

In 2008, Valve released Left 4 Dead, a game where players need to survive the zombie apocalypse. This title contains an interesting feature -- Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment (DDA) (or the Director AI).

This is a system that adjusts automatically the Artificial Intelligence (AI) of enemies in combat, in order to keep the experience interesting for both experienced and novice players.

The use of this technique dates back to the first Crash Bandicoot game in 1996, but the concept continued to evolve since then and one game released close to Tomb Raider (2013) shows how it could have used this technology.

In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (2015), players must infiltrate military camps and bases. They can chose either stealth or mayhem to accomplish their missions and players will rarely find enemies by the dozens. 

Instead, the foes adapt to the behavior of players. For instance, if the user decides to eliminate targets delivering head-shots with a sniper rifle, soon the enemies will start to wear helmets, forcing players to look for a different strategy. 

By investing in the technology of adaptive AI, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain forces players to constantly improve their skills, but not by placing more enemies in the map, as Tomb Raider (2013) and many other games have done. Instead, this title focus on quality, not in quantity. 

Tomb Raider (2013) could have used a similar approach, by making players face fewer enemies at once, but the AI could learn how to counter the techniques of the player, thus becoming smarter as the game progresses.

This approach to increase the challenge of the experience would have helped to emphasize the weaknesses of Lara in Tomb Raider (2013), thus supporting the message the narrative of the game sends of her being a girl trying to survive.

Regardless of choosing stealth of mayhem, players would need to constantly reevaluate their approaches, in order to catch enemies off-guard and eliminate them.

This method would make the narrative and the gameplay complement each other, as opposed to displaying an average girl in the previous and a murder machine in the latter.

However, making this change would have direct impact in the dynamics of the game, especially in the design of the maps, which mappers developed with a large number of enemies in mind. This brings us to the next topic.

A Whole New World: 

In certain segments of Tomb Raider (2013); however, it makes sense for Lara to encounter several enemies, ultimately leading to their death. The picture above displays an example. This map takes place in a shantytown.

This is where the enemies live; therefore, it is reasonable for it to be crowded with hostiles. So, how could developers have reduced the number of enemies, without making a large area look empty? To discover how, let us look at a picture from real life.

This photo is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the city where I was born and currently live. In it, there appears a shantytown, or "favela", as these locations are colloquially known in the country. 

In this image, we see a street surrounded by improvised domiciles. If developers had adapted this location to Tomb Raider (2013), it would have created a close quarters situation, in which it would make sense for players to encounter few enemies at a time, without making the area appear barren.

It is also worthy noting that, as buildings would constrain the field of view of players, this would also add tension to the gameplay, opposing the arena-style map that developers implemented in the game.

Furthermore, the many windows of the houses could act as hiding spots for enemies to use strategically, ensuring that the game keeps hard, despite the low number of foes, thus supporting the addition of the DDA technology.

This approach would emphasize the survival aspect of the experience and would support the narrative in its claim of Lara being a girl learning how to survive, as she would need to outsmart the opposition, rather than emerging victorious after a bloodbath with dozens of armed guards.

There is; however, another reason for developers to make the shantytown a large open space. It helps to communicate to players the size of the environment, but another action third person game gives a solution to show players how large the area is, even in close quarters.

In the seventh chapter of Max Payne 3 (2012), players guide the protagonist through a favela in the Brazilian city of São Paulo, navigating through tight streets.

The objective of this mission is to reach the top of the slum and upon completing this task, the developers of the game designed a segment that allows players to see the favela from the top and get a grasp of its magnitude (above).

The developers of Tomb Raider (2013) could have used the same approach of turning the shantytown into a sequence of tight streets, in order to allow Lara to use tactics to either defeat or avoid the foes and present players with a view from above of the area they have just been, in order to communicate its size.

The paragraphs above describe the example of a large area that could have been smaller, in order to keep the gameplay from conflicting with the message the narrative sends.

This argument, however, is not to be mistaken for an urge to make the game more linear. There are portions of the world of Tomb Raider (2013), in which the mixture of a large environment and many enemies does make sense.

In forests, for instance, despite the possibility of encountering many foes at once, the level design grants to players hiding spots, thus allowing them to use the environment to their favor and get an upper hand on enemies.

However, the level design of certain locations, including the shantytown, do not allow this to happen, as the game leaves players with no other options other than engaging in combat with dozens of armed guards. These are the areas that needed to change.

There is, however, another factor in the level design that contributes to the dissonance in the ludonarrative of Tomb Raider (2013), which the next topic covers in detail.

Climbing to the Top:

In Tomb Raider (2013), players need to climb mountains and houses to progress through the map and reach their destinations. Many games use climbing as a means of locomotion, Uncharted (2007), Dying Light (2013), The Last Guardian (2016), to name a few.

Game developers implement these sections in their games for two reasons. 

1 - It gives to players the opportunity to recover after a battle and relax from the tension of combat. If the game features endless waves of enemies, players will become overwhelmed. As the designer of the Civilization franchise, Sid Meier, claims:

"A game is a set of interesting choices."

Even in a title as linear as Call of Duty, players choose all the time. They need to pick the best weapon, determine which opponent to attack first, judge whether they should "run and gun" through the enemy line or take cover. To name a few of the options players must consider.

In combat, players make choices all the time and the excess of fighting will lead players to "decision fatigue," which is what happens once they play for too long, make too many decisions and become mentally tired.

This ultimately leads to "decision avoidance," which occurs when an exhausted mind ceases to make decisions altogether. In gaming, this is the moment when players stop playing.

The climbing sections exist in video games, in order to make sure the player has time to rest from the decisions made in the previous fight, thus prolonging play time.

2 - Despite the developer's desire to alleviate tension after a fight, the game still needs to let players perform an action. If all the players need to do is walking towards their objective, then the game risks becoming monotonous.

Climbing segments exist, in order to keep the player engaged in an activity that is less intense than combat, but not easy enough for the audience to find boredom.

While the climbing mechanics work well in Tomb Raider (2013), it raises the same problem the combat of this game does -- it contradicts the story. While the narrative tells to players the story of an ordinary girl, gameplay depicts her doing moves that not even the most experienced climber would perform.

This is not to say; however, that climbing should not exist in this game. Despite not being realistic, it creates moments of awe and adds a new dimension to the world of Tomb Raider (2013), as players need to move upward, instead of exclusively forward.

In video game development, designers need to make the game mechanics convenient. In real life, the climbing Lara does in some parts could take hours, but no player would want to see that in a game. With this in mind, developers give to the main character superhuman strength and agility.

However; the movements need to look natural, otherwise they will be visually jarring for the audience, unless there is a justification in the story for that, as in the inFamous franchise, where players control a superhero; lifting the disbelief of the players.

In games involving mundane human beings, it is important for the developers to find a balance between realism and functionality and  in Tomb Raider (2013), they were close to discovering an equilibrium. It only lacked one element.

The developers, could have implemented a method to humanize Lara as she climbs the mountains of Yamatai. To achieve this, they could have taken inspiration from a game released eight years before Tomb Raider (2013) hit the store shelves.

In Shadow of the Colossus (2004), players must climb gigantic creatures, in order to defeat them. Taking down a colossus is a task that seems impossible to achieve, but the developers found a simple way to humanize the main character.

As players climb their way up the creatures, they must pay attention to their stamina. If it runs out, players will no longer be able to climb and will drop from the position they are climbing. They will only be able to proceed after resting.

In order to make Lara Croft in Tomb Raider (2013) seem more human while climbing, the designers of this title could have implemented stamina as a game mechanic for players to manage. If it runs out, Lara would fall to her death.

Video game mechanics strive to find the balance between verisimilitude and functionality. Adding stamina while climbing would make Lara feel more real, whilst maintaining the thrill of climbing mountains in the game, thus potentially finding a balance between realism and fun.

Despite the aptitude Lara shows for overcoming the obstacles nature imposes, her journey through the island is not always smooth. Accidents do happen and these instances help players to empathize for the protagonist, but only until a certain point. This is the problem addressed in the next topic.

Miracles (Should) Only Happen Once:

In Tomb Raider (2013), players perform stunts that can go wrong, sending Lara to slide down a mountain or fall down a cliff. This is a technique employed by the designers, in order to make the protagonist seem human. Everyone makes mistakes, after all.

In the initial stages of the game, this was a powerful technique to make players empathize with Lara, as they become concerned for her well-being once she starts falling or rolling towards her possible "death".

The narrative splits this type of scene into two categories. One in which players need to control Lara and lead her to safety as she either rolls or slides downhill and one where players simply watch the action unfold. This article will discuss the previous in the next topic and will address the latter now.

The problem is that these action scenes when all goes wrong and yet Lara still manages to escape without player input happen too often in the narrative and players are aware of this.

The human mind seeks patterns everywhere and it does the same whilst people play a video game, through the concept known as "pattern recognition". The authors Michael Eysenck and Mark Keane explain in their book Cognitive Psychology: A Student's Handbook.

"Pattern recognition describes a cognitive process that matches information from a stimulus with information retrieved from memory."

In the context of Tomb Raider (2013), the game creates the pattern of these scenes always resulting in a Lara surviving. As a consequence, players cease to care for her safety.

Instead of being concerned, the audience will simply think "oh well, there she goes again", waiting for the scene to end so they can continue playing, because based on past experiences, they already know how the sequence will end.

This is not to say; however, that this type of scene has no place in Tomb Raider (2013). The problem was not found in the scenes themselves, but on how often they happened, to the point of becoming predictable. Just as any other thing in this world, if it is found in abundance, it will lose its value.

In order to make players feel a greater attachment with Lara, there could be less action scenes where all goes wrong, because players detect the pattern of Lara always escaping, thus losing the emotional appeal of these sequences.

The Lack of Real Danger:

In a game where players experience a shipwreck, escape various stunts and need to take down an army of enemy soldiers, it may seem absurd to claim that there is a lack of danger, but there is, in some sections of the experience.

The picture above depicts a fine example of these portions of Tomb Raider (2013). In it, Lara needs to climb to the tallest part of the map -- a radio tower. She uses a ladder, but it soon collapses and she must grasp to what is left of it, to make her way upward.

While this scene provides players with dazzling images, it fails to illustrate the danger of the situation. No matter what happens, Lara cannot die. All the player needs to do is press the button configured as "up" in the keyboard, or controller, and the game does the rest. There is no real danger or sense of emergency.

Before addressing how to fix this issue, let us take a look at another game in which players need to overcome a dire situation, in order to reach an objective.

Released in 2004 by Valve, critics claim that Half-Life 2 is one of the best games ever made, as its 96/100 score on Metacritic indicates. The reasons for this are plenty, but one of them is how naturally the game creates tension. One example is the bridge level halfway through the experience.

In this chapter, players need to cross a bridge from underneath it, but the catwalk normally used for this purpose has collapsed. The only alternative left for the players is to cross to the other side by walking on the structural support of the bridge.

There are no invisible walls. As players walk and jump in this section, they need to keep track of their steps. A single bad move will send the protagonist falling into the river below, ultimately killing him.

Half-Life 2 excelled where Tomb Raider failed. In the previous there is a real sense of danger and players must put their skills to the test in order to survive, while in the latter there is no risk, as players just need to keep pressing a button and watch the scene unfold.

The radio tower segment shows an example of a moment in Tomb Raider (2013) that could have had greater tension. However, to be fair with the game, there are other segments where players do need to use their skills to escape from a bad situation.The image below shows the gruesome death players face upon failure.

Considering that in some actions scenes, player can indeed meet their demise, they could have used the same approach in the radio tower sequence and in other portions of the game where no actual danger exists.

The radio tower scene offered a marvelous sight and if the developers had combined it with a great challenge for players to overcome, it could have been one of the most memorable moments in gaming.

By not adding any real danger or difficulty, developers at Eidos lost an opportunity to create a moment that could linger forever in the minds of those who played Tomb Raider (2013).

Taking Care of Lara:

Tomb Raider (2013) features regenerative health, a common aspect of modern gaming. Some players argue that allowing the main character to heal automatically is not realistic. While this is true, there is a reason why regenerative health exists.

Imagine that two people are playing a game that does not feature regenerative health. Both approach an area filled with hostiles. One player has 1% of life remaining, whereas the other still has 100%.

While extreme, this situation can occur. With this said, the level designers must craft a combat that is possible for both players to win. This is a problematic situation, because the game may become too easy for the player with 100% of health.

In order to avoid this problem, regenerative health was created, because with this feature, the designers know exactly how much health a player will have upon entering an area and can design the combat therein specifically for that amount of life, thus optimizing the experience to the player.

However, managing a health bar and chasing health packs still has a place in video games. They are often used in the survival genre to emphasize the element of surviving in an uncharted environment.

With this said, Tomb Raider (2013) could have been developed with a traditional health system instead of a regenerative one, in order to emphasize the survival aspect of the production, but the developers could have gone even further and get inspiration from another title.

In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2004), players control the legendary soldier code named "Naked Snake" infiltrating a Soviet forest during Cold War. In order to communicate the element of survival through the mechanics of the game, the developers innovated in regards to the health system.

As players progress through the story, they will take damage sooner or later. When this happens, the main character suffers injuries, which may include, burns, broken bones and open wounds, depending on the type of hit the player takes.

In order to heal, players must gather supplies, ranging from antiseptics, stitches, bandages and more, in order to treat the injuries. This makes the player feel a closer attachment to the main character, as they must actively take care of him, in order to sustain his health.

Moreover, this system also makes the character more human, as it shows the fragility of the body of Naked Snake. If Tomb Raider (2013) had adopted a similar system, it would have enhanced the survival aspect of the experience, while allowing players to foster a greater connection with Lara Croft.

The topics above regard how changes to the dynamics of the game could have improved the element of survival in Tomb Raider and the emotional appeal of the experience, through the character development of the protagonist.

The next and final topic; however, will address the rest of the cast of this game.

As Large as an Ocean, As Deep as a Puddle:

Tomb Raider (2013) features a large cast, with the eight survivors of the Endurance ship, including Lara. However, as players do not see most of the crew throughout the game, they do not have a chance to bond with them, thus diminishing the emotional impact of the experience.

This occurs, because Tomb Raider (2013) prioritizes quantity over quality and it follows a common trope of video games -- having a large cast that provides little to no assistance to the player, hence leaving the question of why these characters are part of the story in the first place.

It would be preferable to have a smaller group, or even a single sidekick, to act as Lara's backup in certain occasions. Think of your favorite non-playable character (NPC). Odds are you depended on he/she to complete the goal of the game.

In Half-Life 2 (2004), Alyx Vance saves the life of the protagonist in certain occasions and they fight alongside each other. In The Last of Us (2013), the ultimate goal is to guard the life of Ellie. In Mass Effect (2007), the audience commands the squad-mates, in order to succeed in battle. In all these games, players depend on NPCs.

Creating a relationship of dependence between the protagonist and an NPC is one of the most effective methods to make players become concerned over the well-being of a character, thus adding emotional depth to the experience.

One of the finest examples of this technique in practice is the game that preceded The Last Guardian (2016) and Shadow of the Colossus (2004) -- Ico (2001).

This title compelled the game designer Scott Rogers to develop a concept for video game storytelling, one that he calls "The Yorda Effect". He discusses it in his book Level Up! The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Design:

"Named after the non-player character from Ico, Yorda is a young girl that Ico has to protect from enemies and help transverse the environment as the pair attempts to escape a mysterious castle. Yorda is portrayed as a (mostly) helpless character, and her survival is critical to the player's success. If Yorda dies, so do you. This co-dependency between characters creates a protective relationship, in which the player comes to genuinely care about the welfare of the NPC."

The lack of the Yorda Effect summarizes the problem with the cast of Tomb Raider (2013). Lara goes onto a lone adventure as the other characters remain nowhere to be seen during most of the game.

In certain occasions, characters die and their deaths confirm the little personal attachment players have with them. The loss of a member of the crew is meaningless, as they never impacted the game in the first place. Once they are gone, all remains as it always was.

As Scott Rogers concludes in his book Level Up! The Ultimate Guide for Game Design: 

"Death should mean something to the player, especially when it isn't the main character dying."

In order to increase the personal attachment of the player with the NPCs, the developers could have given to each one a way of cooperating with Lara. For instance, during the night sections of the game, a character located on a higher spot could tell Lara the position of the enemies, thus facilitating stealth. If this NPC dies, the furtive approach becomes harder and the player will miss the character.

This approach would create the interdependence Scott Rogers details in his book and would develop a more emotionally appealing cast, as they would play a bigger role in the success of Lara and impact directly how players experience the game.

This is not to say; however, that the NPCs must work as hard as Lara does. The playable character is the star of the story, after all, but that does not mean that NPCs must leave all the work to the player either. Developers must find the ideal balance between these two situations, in order to create a cooperation that will evoke strong emotional bonds.

The Yorda effect is a technique game designers should seek more often, in order to create titles that are more mature and create more intense feelings. Unfortunately, in most games, NPCs merely hand quests and remain unseen for most of the story, leaving a lot of potential to build meaningful relationships untapped.

Conclusion  - Something to Fight For:

This article does not intend to diminish Tomb Raider (2013) by any means. The game deserved its 86/100 score on Metacritic, but nothing is perfect. There always is room for improvement.

Through these topics, this article detailed how the ludonarrative dissonance is detrimental to the experience of the player, and discussed how to alter the dynamics of the game. This is all to build a gameplay that matches the proposition of the narrative -- of Lara being an average girl overcoming adversity and learning how to survive.

We also now understand how the health mechanics of the game could have been redesigned, in order to place more emphasis on survival. On top of that, how to make players feel connected to the NPCs to create a more emotional experience.

With all this being said, while Tomb  Raider (2013) deserves the praise it received, there are some areas of the game that could have been better, but as game development needs to follow a strict budget and schedule, perhaps the developers had ideas similar, or even better, than the ones presented in this article, but lacked the money and the time to execute them.

The intention of this essay is to find elements of this title that could have been better. You may or may not agree with the observations presented herein, but we cannot simply state that a game is good and move on.

There are design decisions we have come to accept in gaming as "just the way games are," including the succession of improbable stunts and the mass murder of enemies, but we cannot accept this.

Relying on the status quo is a dangerous thing to do. If we never challenge the ideas presented in games, new concepts will not rise and the future of the medium will become stagnant. We can build the posterity of gaming through discussions, which will inspire ideas that will drive the industry forward.

I want to help build this future. What about you?

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5 More Games that Should Be Backwards Compatible on Xbox One https://www.gameskinny.com/7ucy3/5-more-games-that-should-be-backwards-compatible-on-xbox-one https://www.gameskinny.com/7ucy3/5-more-games-that-should-be-backwards-compatible-on-xbox-one Fri, 28 Apr 2017 08:00:01 -0400 Joseph Ocasio

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Some honorable mentions go to Saints Row 2 and 3, for embracing the silliness that GTA left behind in GTA 3, The Final Fantasy XIII Trilogy, as they were the first and only major FF titles on last gen systems, and Far Cry 2, so it can let both old and new fans (myself included) experience the most overlooked Far Cry game that many have either never played or have completely forgotten about.

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Were there any games that I missed? Leave any game you want to see be made Back Compat in the comments below. With so many great games, I'm sure to have forgotten a few.

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The Tomb Raider Trilogy

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Before Lara Croft became the brooding protagonist we know today -- and was stranded on an island and forced to fight the harsh winter of Siberia and nefarious goons that seemed to fall right out of a Nathan Drake story -- she was just a charming archaeologist searching for treasure for the thrill of it all. She wasn't some covert commando or herbalist who knew how to heal herself with plants. She was all brain and unremitting brawn. She could run up to a guy, jump off him, and put some lead in his face with her iconic twin pistols without a single misstep.

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With Tomb Raider's popularity at an all-time high, it would make perfect sense to let younger generations re-experience some of the classic games in the franchise. For example, Tomb Raider: Legend successfully rebooted the series after the disastrous Angel of Darkness; Anniversary is a high-def remake of the original game from 1996; and Underworld ties up all the lose ends from Legends, refining the elements that made past games so great.

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These games were a great mix of smart puzzle solving and great action sequences. Sure, the combat isn't nearly as refined as recent games, but Tomb Raider wasn't all about combat. It was all about using your brain to solve solid puzzles. Some might not like that, but there's a reason that formula stuck around for years before it was rebooted. So let's dial the angst back and let us relive the version of Lara Croft who had a sense of humor.

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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

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In an age where hack-and-slash style action games like Devil May Cry, God of War and Ninja Gaiden have all but been forgotten, the industry needs more games that require quick, twitch-like reflexes and fast-paced action. Metal Gear Rising was easily one of the best of this now near-dead genre.

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Its entertaining story, fast-paced action, great boss battles and driving heavy metal music made for a fantastic treat for fans of the genre. What's more, Raiden's second time as a lead protagonist (redeeming himself after his iconic bait and switch with Solid Snake in MGS 2) made for a surprisingly deep story that delves into themes of power, strength, and weakness. Ultimately, it's a story just as rich and interesting as any other game in the series... and you get to fight a robot dog that becomes your BFF, so that's rad.

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On top of all that, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a game that manages to balance its interesting themes with copious, over-the-top 90s anime violence. In an age where the only "hack-and-slash games" simply seem to ape the Dynasty Warriors style -- or make themselves in the mold of more difficult games about tedious tactics and slowly waiting to attack your cheap opponent (cough... Dark Souls... cough), we need more games like Revengence to make a come back.

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Batman: Arkham Origins

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Before Rocksteady sent their Batman off with a bang in Batman: Arkham Knight, WB Montreal was tasked to make a game to keep the Arkham franchise on its bi-yearly release schedule. The result was an underrated prequel to the franchise, titled Batman: Arkham Origins.

Focused on the Caped Crusader's early years, this title is all about a young and slightly inexperienced Batman coming to grips with his responsibilities as Gotham's savior, learning to trust others, and meeting his arch-enemy, The Joker, for the first time.

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Arkham Origins has some of the best Batman and Joker moments in the series (aided by the excellent voice over work of Roger Craig Smith and Troy Baker). On top of that, it also has the same excellent combat and stealth sequences from earlier games in the series, and it also has some of the best boss battles of any game in the franchise.

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It's not perfect, of course. There are plenty of technical issues that were never fixed by the developer (because clearly DLC is more important than the actual game it's for), and it doesn't push the series forward in any monumental ways, but it's still an exceptional game that fans of Batman should give a shot.

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Sonic Generations

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With Sonic Forces coming out this year, it would be a smart move by Microsoft to bring the lightning-fast hedgehog to the Xbox One. Considered to be on the very first 'good' Sonic game for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 -- and one of the best 3D iterations of the franchise, having Sonic Generations on the Xbox One would be fantastic. 

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SEGA was finally able to pull off a winner with Sonic Generations, a game that effortlessly switched between the classic 2D gameplay of old and the more race-like, 3D levels of Sonic Colors and Sonic Unleashed.

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The game's classic Sonic levels reminded us what made us love the little hedgehog in the first place, especially with its excellent speed and platforming. But on the flip side, Generations' modern Sonic managed to redeem himself by re-creating tons of the classic levels in 3D -- and astonishingly, managed not to control like garbage.

The game's exhilarating speed, coupled with its simple control scheme and great level design help Sonic Generations channel the very best of classic Sonic.

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Even if Sonic Forces turns out to be bad, the Xbox One should at least have one game where fans enjoy a Sonic game one last time... because it will be light years better than Sonic Boom.

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The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Trilogy

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This more mostly has to do with the later issues, since you can get a remastered version of Modern Warfare, with Infinite Warfare. While the original MW changed the multiplayer landscape, Modern Warfare 2 and Modern Warfare 3 refined the elements that made Call of Duty a household name. Modern Warfare 2's online play is often considered the pinnacle of the series. Everything from its perks to its kill streak abilities has been refined to a tee. Its story may have been hard to follow, but its campaign was filled with dozens of over-the-top sequences and tight gunplay.

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MW3, Meanwhile, still has its charm. With its equally enjoyable campaign that does a decent job of wrapping up the trilogy and its expert multiplayer that's just as enjoyable as past games, MW3 shouldn't be missed out and worth a second look.

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Last year, I made a list of games that should be backwards compatible for the Xbox One. To my surprise, most of the games that were listed eventually became backwards compatible, like GTA IV, Mass Effect 2 and 3, and most of the Call of Duty games. And while games like Dead Rising 1 and 2 have been remastered for both PS4 and Xbox One, Backwards Compatibility is still the best way to revisit games on modern consoles -- and a much better alternative than what Sony is currently offering.

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With so many games in the Xbox 360 library, I yet again decided to limit myself to only five games, with the occasional bundling here and there. With that said, let's take a look at what other games should be backwards compatible on the Xbox One.

"}]]]>
Bayonetta: The Greatest Female Role-Model in Video Games https://www.gameskinny.com/6twt7/bayonetta-the-greatest-female-role-model-in-video-games https://www.gameskinny.com/6twt7/bayonetta-the-greatest-female-role-model-in-video-games Mon, 09 Jan 2017 07:00:02 -0500 Unclepulky

Bayonetta was originally released for the Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2009. Following its moderate commercial success, the game received a cult following and in 2014, a sequel on the Wii U. This game stars the titular Bayonetta, an Umbran Witch who uses her magical hair, gun-heels and a variety of other weapons to slaughter angels and occasionally save the world.

Now, upon reading the title of this article, you may have wondered how Bayonetta could possibly be a positive role-model. After all, the common consensus is that she's a sexist character. Evidence for this claim includes the game's camera frequently focusing in on her butt, breasts or crotch, and the fact that she takes her clothes off while she fights.

Bayonetta is most definitely a sexual character, but is she really sexist?

No. Not at all.

Bayonetta is a character who is in complete control of her sexuality. She flaunts it, she uses it and she is completely comfortable with it.

The creator of Bayonetta's design was Mari Shimazaki. She didn't draw her the way she did so she could be ogled by horny teenage boys, but rather, she designed her in way that she'd be empowering to women

In the politically correct world we live in, people could stand to be a bit more like Bayonetta, and be OK with who they are.

In the book, The Ways of Seeing, by John Berger, he says this:

"To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others, and yet not recognized for oneself. A naked body has to be seen as an object in order to become a nude. Nakedness reveals itself. Nudity is placed on display. To be naked is to be without disguise."

Bayonetta fights like a dancer. Dancing is a form of self-expression. And taking off her clothes is part of that self-expression.

Continuing on from that, Bayonetta is just a very confident character all around. She knows she isn't perfect, but she doesn't care. She loves who she is, and doesn't care what anyone thinks of her. It's a good message for those who suffer from low self-esteem, who are trying to get comfortable in their own skin.

Other traits which Bayonetta possesses are her fun loving attitude, her snarky mouth, and between both games, it’s clear that she has a great deal of compassion towards kids, and her Umbran sister, Jeanne, showing that she’s far from being your stereotypical ice queen.

Of course, like all great characters, she has weaknesses. Not so much in Bayonetta 1 in which I can only really remember one or two moments where she showed any real weakness, but more so in Bayonetta 2.

Here, with her memory fully restored, Bayonetta clearly has some parental issues. And how could you not when your mom was killed in circumstances caused by your dad. Only for you to get to see your mom again and then WATCH her die again. Then befriend a past version of your dad, and then have to say goodbye to your dad as he sacrifices his free will to an evil god, resulting in all of this happening in the first place.

Uhhhh...

I never said that these games made much sense. I'm just saying that Bayonetta clearly wishes she could have her family back.

Bayonetta is also a very intelligent character. There are a few brief moments where she displays her intuition, and Shimazaki gave her glasses specifically to emphasize her brain power. Funnily enough, everyone in the game ended up getting eye wear of some kind because the higher ups at Sega didn’t like the glasses.

Now this next point is entirely hypothetical, but maybe she has something more than just a friendship with Jeanne, showing people that it’s okay to be any sexual orientation. For me, that’s just the vibe I got off of them based on their interactions with each other.

However, throw in the fact that they’re living together and the fact that in the page “Taboo” we see a picture of Jeanne, and how it talks about a loved one being taken away, and my theory has more credence. Plus, Jeanne is a school teacher, and it makes sense that as she is as an intellectual person, she’d be attracted to a smart woman like Bayonetta.

In 1987, Film Studies and Women’s Studies Prof. Jackie Stacey published an article entitled “Desperately Seeking Difference: Desire Between Women in Narrative Cinema." A major point made in this article is that the homosexual pleasures of viewers are generally ignored. If I’m right, and Bayonetta is bi- or pan sexual, than her detractors should remember she can be found sexy by both men and women.

Above all else though, possibly the most important lesson Bayonetta teaches girls and women alike is that you don’t have to sacrifice your femininity to be strong. She provides a nice balance of the two extremes that gives us a happy medium. Bayonetta is very much a girly girl, but at the same time, she can beat up you, as well as everyone and everything around her. Anyone, regardless of  personality, can be strong.

Now, let's talk about what usually makes a good role model. Generally, people consider a role model to be someone whom others aspire to be like. This means, above being talented, attractive, or intelligent, the most important thing about being a role model is to be an admirable person in some way. You can be successful beyond belief, but still be an awful human being.

That's not to say those other traits aren't just as germane to this topic. A role model should bring something to the table to be admired, whether it's their intelligence, their body of work, their personality, how they approach life or for some, even their looks. However, it should be noted that you can admire someone who did things in their life that you don’t agree with if what you admire is their work or other actions rather than the actions that can be viewed as reprehensible.

Also, kids aren't the only ones who have role models. Everyone has someone whom they look up to, whether or not it’s a good idea to do so.

Among the best real life female role models are people like Rachel Carson, a renowned environmentalist, Madeleine L'engle, an excellent author and Gail Simone, possibly the most influential woman in the comic book industry.

These women are great because they embody the traits we mentioned before. However, you have to remember that even today, we live in a society that isn’t always the most friendly to females, so for female role models, it’s important that they show woman to be proud of who they are, and to excel at whatever they want.

At this point, I hope that at the very least, the majority of those reading this have come around to see that Bayonetta is far from just being eye candy, and is, in fact, an excellent person to emulate.

However, the question still remains: Is she the best female role-model in video games?

Personally, I'd say yes.

To justify this opinion, I'll compare her to the two figures most usually regarded as gaming's greatest heroines... and explain why Bayonetta is a better role-model in every way.

Samus Aran and Lara Croft are known by many as two of gaming's premiere leading ladies. However, more often than not, these characters fall into a trap very common in fiction.

Often, writers try so hard to make their female characters powerful that they forget to make them, well, characters. They have no weaknesses, no flaws, no struggles; all of the essential things to make a three dimensional character. I like to call these characters “strong independent women.”

Both Lara and Samus are hailed as icons to look up to, but in reality there's isn’t much to them. Lara is a smart and sassy treasure hunter but outside of several moments in the first attempt at a series reboot, she doesn’t show a lot of character.

Samus is a stoic bounty hunter who does show a lot through her body language and her actions, but unlike Lara, isn’t given as many opportunities to express herself because she needs to be “strong” for the audience. There's nothing to them other than them being strong, and you shouldn't be looking up to someone for just that reason.

There is an exception for each of them though. The 2013 Tomb Raider reboot and Metroid: Other M gave Lara and Samus more personality than we'd ever seen either of them with. Ignoring the obvious difference in overall quality between the games, it's fascinating to me that these portrayals have come under fire for having weak protagonists, just because the developers had the audacity to make them human for once.

Samus and Lara Croft are not good characters, and it's clear that the people don't want them to be good characters. Players just want them to be a method of enacting their power fantasies.

In contrast to them, Bayonetta, as I've established, is filled with personality, and traits worth emulating. Plus, for those of you who do think that strength alone is worth admiring, Bayonetta is quite possibly the physically strongest woman in any video game.

So yes, Bayonetta, is the best female role-model in video games.

NOTE: This article was written in collaboration with Red Angel.

]]>
1995-2016: Top 5 Conferences in the History of E3 https://www.gameskinny.com/tt26c/1995-2016-top-5-conferences-in-the-history-of-e3 https://www.gameskinny.com/tt26c/1995-2016-top-5-conferences-in-the-history-of-e3 Fri, 17 Jun 2016 05:34:49 -0400 Phil Fry

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E3 2016: Present Day Hype 
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E3 2016 has come a long way since the '96 conference of the N64.

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This year's conference is on this list for several different reasons. Admittedly, I may be letting all of the hype influence this listing -- but thus far, this year's conference has been full of exciting developments and showcases. 

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One of the dominant features that has many gamers talking is Nintendo's latest Zelda game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the WildThe gameplay footage that we have seen so far illustrates that the game is taking a turn away from the conventional aspects of the series and placing more emphasis on exploration and player choice akin to the original NES game. Link is able to jump on command, mountains can be scaled, and environments manipulated. 

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Furthermore, the vastness of the new Hyrule has been said to be far more expansive than any previous iteration of the series, and as a long-time Zelda fan, I am hyped to play this game. The first 20 minutes of gameplay shown left me impressed and much more excited than I honestly expected to be.

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But Zelda alone is not the only hype-worthy game from this year's conference. Bethesda's Dishonored 2, which involves Emily Kaldwin as a playable character, promises to further develop the story of the Empire of the Islands. Bethesda also showcased their reboots of Prey and Quake -- and announced an HD remake of their popular Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim, which is also allowing console users access to mods for the first time. 

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Double Fine's Psychonauts VR gameplay was shown utilizing PlayStation's VR,  BioWare's Mass Effect Andromeda made an appearance, Gears of War 4, We Happy Fewand Microsoft's new project Scorpio are just touching the surface of the kinds of announcements we've seen so far, making this year's conference one of the most noteworthy in recent history. 

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Which conferences do you remember the most? What announcements left you in awe? What are some of your favorite E3 moments of all time? 

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E3 2013: Long Awaited Sequels 
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E3 2013 was a conference in which many gamers saw sequels that had been, and in some cases are still, long-awaited. Perhaps one of the biggest sequels announced was Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts 3. The series had not seen a true sequel since Kingdom Hearts 2 back in 2005, 8 years prior to the 2013 conference. Countless fans rejoiced at the announcement. 

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Despite the Kingdom Hearts series containing numerous handheld games that enriched the game's story and characters, and HD remakes, many gamers had been anxious for a Kingdom Hearts 3 for the entirety of a console generation. 

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[image via My Nintendo News]

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Nintendo gave the announcement date ofPikmin 3, another sequel that was long-awaited for a whole console generation. 

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DICE's reboot of Star Wars: Battlefront was first shown, another highly anticipated sequel, after the popular two games from two generations ago were left in limbo. 

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Other notable sequels of this E3 conference included: Final Fantasy XV, The Witcher 3, and Dark Souls II. 

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[E306 - Halo 3 trailer from The Microsoft Briefing]

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E3 2006: A New Generation 
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The 2006 conference is on this list for several different reasons. Primarily, it was the conference in which the first line-up of memorable last generation console games were shown and discussed. 

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Microsoft had a particularly notable conference due to Halo 3, which was highly anticipated at the time and saw gameplay innovations like Forge mode, and the ability to save gameplay footage in Theater mode. During the game's first 24 hours of being released, more than one million players were on the game with Xbox Live. Halo 3's multiplayer was finely tuned, and the game holds a special place in my memories because of the individuals I met playing the game and the community experience that revolved around it.  

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Microsoft also showed a trailer for Lionhead's Fable 2, another anticipated sequel -- the first Fable being a notable RPG for its utilization of player choice in the story. 

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Nintendo's conference set a release date for the innovative Wii, with fantastic games like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and Super Mario Galaxy. At the 2004 conference, many remember the first unveil of Twilight Princess, with Shigeru Miyamoto coming on-stage wielding Master Sword and Hylian Shield to the rallying cries of fans. This Zelda game featured innovative motion controls, arguably some of the best boss fights in Zelda history, and a darker story in nature the series hadn't seen since Majora's Mask. 

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Apart from Zelda, Super Mario Galaxy featured a new take on 3D platformers, allowing Mario to traverse planet-like platforms through space in full rotation. The game also featured a fully-orchestrated soundtrack that's almost reminiscent of Studio Ghibili style sounds. 

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E3 2001: Developments in Competitive Gaming 
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At the E3 conference of 2001, Nintendo's GameCube first made its appearance, Microsoft's initial Xbox game line-up was unveiled, and Sega's Dreamcast made its last appearance. 

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Nintendo's games included titles like: Super Smash Bros Melee, Super Mario Sunshine, Pikmin, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, and Luigi's Mansion. 

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Melee alone sparked the formation of competitive Smash Bros communities across the United States and Japan. The fighting game scene centered on Melee saw a history of technique developments like Wave Dashing, Dash Dancing, and the overall development of character play-styles. Player names like Mew2King, Mango, Leffen and Armada were (and are) widely known names in the Smash Bros community for their high level of play. To this day, Melee remains a highly competitive game that is featured in MLG events such as Anaheim. 

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Another major event of the 2001 conference was the Microsoft conference that featured the first installment of the critically acclaimed Halo franchise.

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[via Halo Nation]

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The FPS Halo: Combat Evolved, which gave rise to the machinima style series Red vs Blue, was innovative in the development for split-screen and multiplayer experiences, and went on to release incredibly popular sequels like Halo 2 and 3Halo 2 would be the primary feature of MLG's Pro Series in 2006, which was the first televised video game console league. 

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[Nintendo 64 U.S. Unveiling @ E3 '96 in Los Angeles, California]

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E3 1996: 3D Interactive Environments 
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At the second ever E3 conference, there were several revolutionary developments showcased. Starting with what is arguably the most prominent of the conference, Nintendo's 64-bit and first 3D console, the N64, made its premier appearance at the '96 E3. The game shown alongside it was the widely-known Super Mario 64. The game's innovative interactive 3D environment, the N64's analog control stick, and the ability to change camera angles in-game, surely blew the minds of many gamers of the day.

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For myself and gamers of my generation, the N64 was the first console we owned (I still own mine), and became the console of our childhoods. The N64 went on to see games like Super Smash Bros, Star Fox 64, Kirby 64: the Crystal Shards, Pokemon Snap, and countless other titles that defined a new generation of gaming -- and that's not even mentioning all of the classic Rare games on the console as well. 

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Besides Nintendo, this 1996 conference saw the reveal of Square's (Now Square Enix) Final Fantasy VII, which won countless gaming awards in 1997, and has gone on to be considered one of the greatest games ever made. 

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[via Wikipedia]

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Other games featured at the second conference included Naughty Dog's Crash Bandicoot, Blizzard's StarCraft, Tomb Raider, and Capcom's Resident Evil. Pretty big year.

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E3 2016 is finally coming to an end. With each day of the conference new and exciting games were unveiled -- and the hype is real, especially after Nintendo's gameplay footage reveal of the highly-anticipated Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I know that I have been thoroughly impressed with the footage I've seen of the game, and I think it's safe to say that many longtime Zelda fans and gamers are very interested in playing the game. 

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Since E3's beginning in 1995, there have been conferences in which certain games have received similar levels of hype. And in this article, we are going to look at 5 of the best E3 conferences based on the games or consoles that were revealed during that year, and often times the historical developments of gaming these specific games contributed towards. 

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This list was difficult to make, particularly because at each conference there is typically at least a few major games announced, and what I may consider a substantial reveal may not be what someone else considers significant. But in the history of E3, these are my top 5 conferences. This list is not ordered in terms of one conference holding more significance than another, but instead goes from earliest to latest conference year. 

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[image via Gaming World United]

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Common RPG game logic and the game design behind them https://www.gameskinny.com/v2d4v/common-rpg-game-logic-and-the-game-design-behind-them https://www.gameskinny.com/v2d4v/common-rpg-game-logic-and-the-game-design-behind-them Tue, 10 May 2016 08:20:54 -0400 StratGamer48

The game logic meme has always been popular on the internet since video games violate most of laws of physics. In game, they may seem normal, but in reality it can be most bizarre. Still, they are the result of game development and players call them "game logic". 

Health

Health system related Skyrim game logic meme 

In RPGs like Maple Story, Skyrim, Runescape, GTA V... you name it, the health regeneration system is definitely different from reality. When the player is heavily wounded and only has 1 hitpoint left, it means the player is dying. While that happens, the player can just eat a big meal and be fully recovered! At the same time, players still can fight, run, eat/drink (heal) like they are totally healthy. In game design, the hero may need an extra hitpoint to finish their level and move on with the healing mechanic. 

In reality, the player could be bleed to death, become infected in wounded areas, faint, or suffer fatigue during bloody fights in RPGs. Eating food would not help at survival at all! But then, do players really want to play a game in which:

  • Healing in fight is not an option?
  • Equipment is damageable? 
  • Blood loss, fatigue, and infection are health factors which need to be considered?
  • When wounded, it takes months to recover or you possibly never fully recover? 

Do these options (especially number four) sound less fun to you? "Ain't nobody got time for that!" How many players are willing to watch their character recover from their last fight? These are the reasons why the game can go faster from point to point.

There are RPGs like Mount and Blade that have options for players to turn on realistic modifications like fatigue, blood loss and heavy wounds that can affect ability if the player doesn't treat them within five days. Players usually only faint in battles rather than dying. A player also can recover their health by resting in a city for a day. These options can make the game more challenging without slowing down the process too much.

Sexualized Female Armor 

This has always been a hot topic for RPG games. Why does female armor cover so much less than male armor but have the same stats? Does the metal on female armor have a higher density than male armor, or do the game developers just want to see the female characters' cosplay? One of the factors that contributed to this phenomenon is the players' preference. Game developers try to offer gamers better gaming experiences and this can be one of the ways they retain players. When there is a large "demand" for these features, there will be more "supply" for it. Some players do prefer this despite it being inaccurate on many levels.

Of course, female armor in history looks nothing like the picture above, though there are some historically realistic style RPG games that don't have "sexualized female armor".

Screenshot of Mount and Blade: Warband's female unit, camp defender

Medieval painting of Juan de Arc in her armor

Resizable Armor 

In many RPG games, monsters with higher levels drop better armor. However, some giant sized monsters drop human size armor. They are not human armor but armors made for giants! How is this possible? Well, if the armor is unwearable, no player would even bother to fight them and this makes them pointless in the game--especially if they are unrelated to quests. Only the promise of risk and reward can attract players to fight them.

runescape image from imagechef.comRunescape player fighting General Graardor and its Bando armor is equipabble by a human-size player 

Weight

This applies to games with weight mechanics. In the Legend of Zelda Series, there is equipment that can add weight to Link. In Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Link can barely walk while holding the weapon "Ball and Chain," but can run like normal when he puts it in backpack with other items. In FPS games like the Call of Duty series, players run faster while holding a knife with a heavy rifle in their backpack versus carrying the heavy rifle and keeping the knife in the backpack. In game design, the purpose of this was to balance the weapons. The game would be a lot less fun without it.

Iron Boots is a design for players to walk under water by adding weight, but the effect can be taken away by changing shoes.

Advance technology found in Ancient Tombs

In RPGs that require you to enter an ancient tomb, players can find items that don't belong to that age, even if they're the first one to enter the tomb in centuries! For example, In Tomb Raider, a player can find modern weapons within ancient tombs. Here's a list of items players can get within the tombs. Perhaps one of the tomb builders is a time traveler and willing to aid grave diggers to survive in the tomb? In game design, they are there to help a player to pass levels. 

In Tomb Raider, a player can find items to upgrade their modern weapons.

There are definitely more game logic fails such as "puzzles that haven't been solved for ages" in truth being simple tile puzzles that can be solved within minutes. However, the player demographic is not made up of sophisticated detectives.  After all, game logic draws a thick line between reality and the fictional world for the benefit of the player. As realistic as games may feel today, game logic keeps games from fully mimicking reality. 

What are some of your favorite game logic discrepancies? Share in the comments below. 

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Tomb Raider 2013 Now On Linux - But is it too late? https://www.gameskinny.com/88csy/tomb-raider-2013-now-on-linux-but-is-it-too-late https://www.gameskinny.com/88csy/tomb-raider-2013-now-on-linux-but-is-it-too-late Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:19:31 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

The 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider was critically very well received with an average of 86/100 over all platforms on Metacritic. After being available on Xbox 360, PC, and PS3, a Definitive Edition released in 2014 for PS4 and Xbox One, but now Tomb Raider is now available to buy on Linux. Yes, it is still the 2013 reboot. Rise of the Tomb Raider is still on Windows only for now.

It's been 3 years since the initial release, is it too late?

Linux never gets enough love when it comes to game support. It always gets left in the dust, but is this changing? Has SteamOS pushed developers to support the platform more?

In a fun twist of fate, the install rate for Linux actually dropped for end users when SteamOS released at the end of 2013--which doesn't bode very well for the OS. Luckily, no one is losing any money as Linux is free.

linux windows

Free Linux may be part of the issue

I mean we all like free things, who doesn't? However, the biggest part of Linux is the customisability and options it gives you. The breadth of version options and the installation process can be just a little bit overwhelming for people who know less about computers, while the ease of installation of the likes of Windows and OS X is a safer option. OS X only really has one version option, the newest, and Windows now only has two with Windows 10 -- Do you want Home, or Pro? Both are 32-bit and 64-bit anyway (hint, always go Pro). Having given SteamOS a go, I can say Linux is now super easy to install if everything goes smoothly. If it doesn't go smoothly, or if you have a weird setup like me, it's still not easy.

Most people are like this when installing Linux, no matter your experience.

Engines are supporting the OS more, but in-house engines still falter

Another 'small' issue is that even with SteamOS here, and with more games supporting Linux, due to the user base dropping it's not always cost effective to support it. Modern engines, like UE4 and Unity, make it easier than ever to develop for Windows, OS X, and Linux at the same time. However, with the games which are ported over later, very often it's 6 months or more until they make it on to anything other than Windows. In Tomb Raider's case it was a good 3 years, and it took almost 9 months for Tomb Raider to be ported to OS X which has a similar problem.

This isn't the death of the OS for gaming, but it's also never too late

Like with almost all headings which have a question, the answer is no. It's not too late for Tomb Raider to support the OS, but it is strange that Rise of the Tomb Raider hasn't received the Linux port treatment at the same time, with the engines being very similar. Maybe in the next month or so it will be?

I've always said that as soon as Linux has the same -- or almost the same -- game support as Windows, I would instantly move over to it. I'm still waiting for that day, but who is going to make it happen first? It will be Linux with a Win32/UWA emulator or developers with their games supporting Linux out of the box. It looks like engine creators are starting to take up the mantle, but will developers who use their own in-house engines follow suit?

Thanks Steam Spy for helping with this.

Stressed office lady image source, SavaHapp.

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Top 10 video game books https://www.gameskinny.com/ov6s3/top-10-video-game-books https://www.gameskinny.com/ov6s3/top-10-video-game-books Tue, 12 Jan 2016 05:49:08 -0500 Zack Thompson

Have you ever finished a game and thought, "wow! I want to know more about this world!" Or have you just wanted to know more about your favorite Hero's adventures? Luckily many Video Games have expanded their universes and lore with books, and out of the many, many that are out I've tried to devour as many as I can. Out of all the ones I've ever read I do have my favorites. This is my totally opinionated top 10 list of Video Game books that I'd recommend anyone.

10. Tomb Raider: The Lost Cult

 

The Lost Cult is the second Tomb Raider Novel  by E.E. Knight released in 2004. We join the busty heroine Laura Croft as she tries to retrieve a lost Iraqi artifact from a group of Peruvian gangsters in order to clear herself of the Von Troy murder. Though this seems like a lame way to get Laura's new adventure rolling it's a fun read, if only for the same reasons you'd go to a popcorn movie, nothing revolutionary is done with the character but it holds certain nostalgia value.

9. Mortal Kombat

Written in 1995, this prequel book expands the stories of the not yet well known characters, offering some interesting early takes of some of your favorites.

8. Alan Wake

A book based on a game about an author who might be going insane, what’s a better idea than that? The plot itself matches the game, although some details differ from the actual game. Still, if you were a fan of the game and want a novelization of it or, didn’t want to bother with the game but are curious about story, you’re going to win either way.

7. Dragon Age: Asunder

A Dragon Age book that takes place after DA2 and delves deeper into the repercussions of the Kirkwall incident. If you love the DA universe and want to delve deeper into the tension between the Mages and Templars defiantly give this one a look. 

6. Dead Space: Martyr

I love horror books. I love horror video games, so of course I'm going to love a horror book about a horror video game! Acting as a prequel to the Dead Space games, it gives a deep history of the founding on Unitology and the founding of The Marker.

5. Resident Evil: City of the Dead

Again my love of horror comes through with this third book into the Resident Evil universe. This book follows Claire, Leon, Jill, and Chris as they save survivors and get out of Raccoon City. This book takes place during RE 2 but their are some noticeable differences in the story.

4. Halo: The Cole Protocol

The Cole Protocol is the 6th Halo book and one of the best ones. It can’t actually be tied to any sort of timeline within the game's events, but really fleshes out more of the universe.

3. Homefront: The Voice of Freedom

Even though I'm 1 of 12 people who liked this game and the book won’t win any literary awards, this prequel to the game sets the scene and is crammed full of action sequences and a plot that hits very close to home for a lot of Americans. The constant threat of terrorism is really brought home in this book. If you haven’t played the game then this is a great introduction to the world and will help you connect with the in-game characters.

2. Mass Effect: Revelation

The first book in the Mass Effect universe, Revelation sheds some light on the history of David Anderson and Saren, as well as Anderson’s connection with Kahlee Sanders (a side character in Mass Effect 3).  It also details how Saren discovered the Reapers and the reason for Anderson's distrust of him.

1. The Witcher: Time Of Contempt

I kind of cheated with this one since this is a book that inspired the games, but it's my list and I can bend the rules as I see fit. The first few of these books act as short stories, prequels to the games. But the third book in the series is where author Andrzej Sapkowski really starts exploring Geralt as a character more. I recommend reading the other books but this one is by far my favorite of the series so far.

Any books I missed? do you have any recommendations? let me know in the comments below!

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The Games that made us Love and Hate sequels in 2015 https://www.gameskinny.com/a1quh/the-games-that-made-us-love-and-hate-sequels-in-2015 https://www.gameskinny.com/a1quh/the-games-that-made-us-love-and-hate-sequels-in-2015 Sun, 13 Dec 2015 14:34:27 -0500 The Soapbox Lord

Ah sequels! Sequels make the world of gaming go 'round. As with every year, 2015 saw a glut of sequels released onto the gaming public. As with any sequel release, some were good; some were not so good; and some could go both ways depending on your feelings. Without further ado, let’s hop to it!  

This list will be separated into three categories: Love, Hate, and Love/Hate. 

Love and hugs!

Xenoblade Chronicles X

Xenoblade Chronicles was a Japan-exclusive Wii game that was brought stateside in 2010 with the successful Operation Rainfall, along with The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower. Unfortunately, Xenoblade Chronicles was a Gamestop exclusive and quickly became elusive, and the price skyrocketed. Even now, a used copy of the game can go for $65 or more.

Thankfully, the stand-alone sequel Xenoblade Chronicles X has allowed Wii U players to get their JRPG on! Chronicles has received great reviews and has garnered praise for its visuals, scope, and scale of the world compared to the player. The game has received some criticism for its no-nonsense approach to combat and difficulty. This is a game that does not want to hold your hand. EVER. Players have appreciated the game allowing them to suss out the game’s depth without being told how. There’s plenty of JRPG action here for players to enjoy! 

The Witcher 3

The Witcher series has garnered praise for its more mature approach to narrative and world building, delivering games aimed squarely at an older audience. The Witcher 3 is no exception. The game has some fantastic supporting characters. Some are so well-written; they even threaten to steal the spotlight from the main character Geralt. (I’m looking at you Bloody Baron.)

Besides great characters, the game features an interesting combat system. It may not be as in-depth as previous games, but it remains entertaining throughout, especially when Geralt performs a slick finishing move.

Glorious.

The world is gorgeous and full of eye-popping color to behold. Fantastic mythical creatures and wildlife such as griffins, cockatrices, and more litter the landscape for you to slay, claim trophies, and obtain bounties for eliminating.

The urgency portrayed in the narrative doesn’t always match up with the design, and the plot can swerve a bit too far into “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” (i.e. GTA) territory. Regardless, the game manages to remain entertaining, for what I have managed to play anyway. The game is filled to the brim with content, and a large world filled with locations to explore and monsters conquer.   

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

The development of MGS5 has been a tumultuous one to say the least. With rumors swirling of Konami’s employee treatment, Konami removing Hideo Kojima's name from the box and displays, and (worst and most petty) Konami banning Kojima from attending the recent The Game Awards to accept any awards for the game he developed. Konami is the worst and seemingly filled with petulant and petty executives who behave in a manner similar to schoolyard children.

Thankfully, the game seems to have emerged from this hell intact (mostly) and serves as a fine swansong for the long-running franchise, until Konami releases the inevitable cash-ins later or a damn pachinko machine…

The game is set in a huge open-world playground full of distractions for players. There’s a base you can manage and abduct enemy soldiers to staff. There are companions to find to assist you in missions. There’s also the story to play and see what happens to all your favorite characters. You know, if you play Metal Gear games for their story, because no one does that right? Despite Konami inserting microtransactions and the realization some story content was cut from the final release, the game managed to be a success and has continued to enthrall players months after release. 

Just Cause 3

Just Cause 2 was a massive world full of government propaganda to destroy, military bases to capture, and a dictatorship to overthrow. All in a day’s work for a hard-working agent! The game was all about pulling off the most ridiculous stunts you could manage and blowing up everything in sight. You know, a playable dumb/awesome action movie!

Just Cause 3 has delivered more of the same with some tweaks and additions. Rico now has a FLIPPING WINGSUIT along with his magic grappling hook. The hook has some added functionality, and the way it interacts with various objects has been changed. It’s more of what you loved from Just Cause 2 with more content and improvements. What’s not to love? 

Halo 5: Guardians

343 Industries is hard at work on their trilogy in the massively successful Halo franchise and Halo 4 was a solid entry with some issues. The Master Chief Collection has had some problems with the multiplayer not being functional for some players. Needless to say, there was some reason to be skeptical of Halo 5: Guardians before release. However, it seems 343 has managed to mostly pull this one off.

While some reviewers have cited the story as being weak, the rest of the game seems to be solid. The multiplayer has been claimed by some as being as return to the heyday of Halo 2’s landmark multiplayer. The vertical combat and emphasis on mobility shakes up the standard shooty-shooty bang-bang action of the Halo series. The additions of Warzone and Breakout are some great additions to the multiplayer. Competitive Arena adds a multiplayer component focused on twitch gaming reminiscent of the fantastic SWAT mode in prior games. While the game is not perfect and the lack of split-screen is a true shame, Halo 5 seems to be a solid entry in a long-running series that wasn’t afraid to shake things up and try new ideas. 

Feel the Hate!

Lego Jurassic World

While Lego Dimensions seems to have been a solid way for LEGO to enter the ever-malicious “toys to life” genre, a bane to parents everywhere, Lego Jurassic World is another tired entry in the normal LEGO series. At this point, the main LEGO games are tired and extremely repetitive. On top of that, it’s an unnecessary licensed movie tie-in to boot.

Honestly, there’s not much more to say about this one. It’s another LEGO game that didn’t add much to the series or do much of anything really. It did add some annoying Compsognathus enemies that proved to be frustrating. This one should have never left the park. 

Star Wars Battlefront

Technically, Star Wars Battlefront is a reboot of the franchise that saw two successful entries fans continue to play to this day. Free Radical had developed the previous entries and was hard at work on the third. Unfortunately, the game was canceled, and Free Radical went into administration while seeking for investors for the company. Instead of the near-completed Battlefront 3 being finished, the game was scrapped, and development was started again at DICE Studios, known for the Battlefield series.

Star Wars Battlefront released on November of 2015. It’s clear the game needed more time in the incubator before hatching. The game released onto the public feeling unfinished and shallower then my daughter’s kiddie pool. The emphasis on multiplayer-only in an AAA title is fine if the lack of campaign is made up for with other content. Unfortunately, DICE didn’t get that memo and has delivered a lackluster experience in all regards. On top of a shallow $60 package, EA has been pushing a $50 season pass. You know, the price of a game itself. To add insult to injury, the DLC in the season pass is filled with content that has no excuse for not being included in the main game. Seriously EA? Characters, game modes, in-game items, and emotes are being held behind a pay-wall in a game with a severe dearth of content.

The Force is not strong with this one. 

Love/Hate Relationship

These are games that have not had a strong response one way or the other. Depending on whom you ask, the feelings on the following games are quite varied, thus, a love/hate relationship.  

Fallout 4

Before you go to the comments to tell me how wrong I am for including this here, hear me out. Fallout 3 was a major departure from the original Fallout games, and many concessions were made to translate the games into what Bethesda envisioned. The game was met with critical success and sold like crazy. The follow-up Fallout: New Vegas was more in line with the original games having a stronger emphasis on RPG elements, narrative, writing, and a more interesting world to explore. Unfortunately, the game was riddled with bugs at launch and suffered as a result.

Bethesda seemed content to ignore all of the strides Fallout: New Vegas made towards making a more interesting RPG experience and instead revert to Fallout 3’s missteps with some minor changes. Fallout 4 has the trademark “meh, it’s there” narrative with no investment from the writers or much payoff for players. The streamlined conversation system is a disappointment that can thankfully be rectified by mods. As with every Bethesda game, the major selling point of Fallout 4 is to drop players in a large world for them to roam and explore. The combat system remains largely unchanged with real-time combat ineffective at times and V.A.T.S. being the way to go. There is an addition of building settlements, but not much else has really changed since Fallout 3, for better or worse.

Since it is a Bethesda game, Fallout 4 shipped with a litany or bugs. Some are game-breaking; some are more innocuous and annoying. Destructoid’s Chris Carter sums it up quite nicely: “A lot of the franchise's signature problems have carried over directly into Fallout 4, but all of its charms have come along for the ride as well. It manages to do a whole lot right, but the story drags at times, and glitches...glitches never change.” 

Rise of the Tomb Raider

The follow-up to Crystal Dynamic's 2013 reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a perfect game for the tired, "if you liked the first one, you'll like this one" trope. Really though, this descriptor fits the game perfectly. Rise of the Tomb Raider has made some minor changes and added some more content, but it feels like the same game. 

One of the biggest changes in the game is the addition of open-worldish, hub-like areas overflowing with secrets and things to discover. Unlike 2013's Tomb Raider, Rise of the Tomb Raider actually has tombs for player to explore too. Go figure! Aside from some minor additions of crafting, the hub areas, and more tombs, not much has changed since Tomb Raider. If you were one of those people who didn't care for Tomb Raider, then there's not much here to change your mind. 

Come on Crystal Dynamics. Let's drop this silly "Laura is so serious and gritty RAWR" act and get back to Tomb Raider basics: dinosaurs!

Batman: Arkham Knight

Rocksteady has done what no other development team has managed to do: they made good, no, great, Batman games. While not as good as Arkham Asylum, City was a solid entry in the Arkham series. Arkham Knight is the send-off for Rocksteady’s series, and honestly, the Bat could have done with a better sendoff.

While the game itself seems to be good, player enjoyment seems to vary and many reviews reflect this difference of opinion. What lands this game in this category is the abysmal PC port. To say the port launched in an atrocious state is a complete understatement. The game launched in June in a near-broken state. The port was so awful, Warner Bros. actually pulled it from Steam shortly after release, and the game was added back to the digital storefront in a playable state four months after release. What made this situation even worse is Warner Bros. had shipped another poor PC port earlier this year with Mortal Kombat X. This is completely inexcusable for any game’s launch, especially for a major AAA title. Hopefully other developers take note from this PC port. Or not… 

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3

Treyarch has shown they aren’t afraid to shake things up with the standard Call of Duty formula. Black Ops 3 is the most ambitious CoD title to date. The campaign has seen a major redesign and emphasis on different tactics from previous games. While the narrative is weak, the campaign has some strong points and memorable moments.

The multiplayer has seen some shaking up with new modes, and elements of free-running and parkour have been added. The zombie mode is bigger than ever before with an interesting and unique setting, Lovecraft noir? Count me in! Dead Ops Arcade has also returned and is also bigger than before.

The reason it’s in this category is that the PC port was deemed fit to ship in a state similar to the recent Batman: Arkham Knight. In other words, completely unacceptable (NSFW link). However, the game has seen furious patching since release and is in a more acceptable state at this point.

What pushes this into a “Love” for me is the addition of Ron Perlman and Jeff Goldblum as playable characters in the Zombies mode. Who doesn’t want some of that?!

There were more sequels released this year such as Rainbow Six Siege, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Blood Bowl II, Tales of Zestria, and Disgaea 5. However, the entries on this list were the ones that stood out to me the most. Of course you completely agree with everything with I said here, but on the off-chance you didn’t, sound off in the comments below.

Which sequels did you love, hate, or just feel “meh” about this year?

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Rise of the Tomb Raider: Viewer Interactive Twitch Gameplay https://www.gameskinny.com/bc4u0/rise-of-the-tomb-raider-viewer-interactive-twitch-gameplay https://www.gameskinny.com/bc4u0/rise-of-the-tomb-raider-viewer-interactive-twitch-gameplay Tue, 10 Nov 2015 15:28:53 -0500 Andrea Koenig

Those familiar with games like Choice Chamber will already be familiar of the idea of the power of being a Twitch audience. Viewers vote by submitting their choice in chat, and these votes are picked up in-game to change the game completely and determine the gamer's fate. Destroy them or help them, it's up to you.

Now, Rise of the Tomb Raider has joined the cluster, but is one of the first, if not the first major title known to be able to do this via Twitch broadcasts. Xbox One and Crystal Dynamics have teamed up to add two different interactive features to this new release:

  • Expedition Mode - This game mode allows viewers to vote between two different "Expedition Cards" and change the game to be more difficult, easier, or entertaining and humorous.


  • Viewer Reward System - If the broadcasters and viewers are both using the Xbox One Twitch App, then gifts such as in-game credits will be redeemable after the gamer completes events such as side missions, achievements, or challenges. You can redeem gifts via Rise of the Tomb Raider's in-game marketplace within 30 days to receive them. There is no gift limit per viewing session. 

Rise of the Tomb Raider is also available on Xbox 360, PS4, and PC, but there are no announcements of interactive compatibility on these systems yet. Get the latest adventure today, November 10 on Xbox to be a part of these interactive features.

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Gamer Gift Guide: Custom Handmade Merchandise https://www.gameskinny.com/ekl8p/gamer-gift-guide-custom-handmade-merchandise https://www.gameskinny.com/ekl8p/gamer-gift-guide-custom-handmade-merchandise Wed, 11 Nov 2015 03:17:33 -0500 Gabriella Graham

[{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/9/0/4/9045be8b86e723c9df9fac19e4010476.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/9/0/4/tiny_9045be8b86e723c9df9fac19e4010476.jpg","type":"slide","id":"91292","description":"

Dresses, Cosplay Outfits, and Accessories

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Where to Buy: Darling Army from darling-army.goodsie.com

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Price: $10 for bows; $70 and $80 for hooded caplets; Dresses, skirts, pinafores, and kimonos range from $65 to $165

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Bonus: Custom orders available.

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Bonus #2: Gift certificates available.

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Our last entry admittedly appeals very strongly to one gender - sorry about that! Darling Army advertises itself as a cosplay pinafore and kimono hot spot, but the shop features plenty of dresses and skirts the gamer girl can wear any day. Accessories add on to to the extensive list with bows and adorable hooded caplets. Female renditions of male characters fill the store as an added bonus to the frustrated cosplayer.

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The beauty of this gift transfers easily to Darling Army gift certificates, allowing your gift to cover some of the costs while letting your gamer fill in their order. You can even recommend a few of the shop's gamer items to show off your incredible gift giving expertise.

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This shop's themes include:

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    \n
  • Legend of Zelda
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  • Kingdom Hearts
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  • Fallout
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  • Metroid
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  • Assassin's Creed
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  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
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  • Pokemon
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  • Mario
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  • Minecraft
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  • Half-Life
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Do you know of any handmade gifts or shops that didn't make this list? Let me know in the comments!

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/b/a/a/baa0991c02cde31755643ef136684b41.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/b/a/a/tiny_baa0991c02cde31755643ef136684b41.jpg","type":"slide","id":"91289","description":"

Box Shelves and Wall Organizers

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Honorable Mention: SpeakGeek on Etsy

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Store Rating: 5/5 stars (70 reviews)

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Price: $39 - $89 (Add $5 if you'd like to personalize the item!)

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Bonus: The store donates a percentage of all sales to Joyce Meyer's Hand of Hope.

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Bonus #2: Custom orders are available!

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The SpeakGeek shop on Etsy presents the hand-painted, three compartment solution to a gamer's organizational woes. Box shelves and jewelery hangers/wall organizers come in a wide range of colors and themes to compliment any room, making this gift practical, thoughtful, and downright awesome. Themes include:

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    \n
  • Pac-Man
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  • Mario
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  • World of Warcraft
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  • Halo
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  • Mass Effect
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  • Assassin's Creed
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  • Legend of Zelda
  • \n
"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/1/5/0/15010d93dd50eabed32cd4f84e068307.png","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/1/5/0/tiny_15010d93dd50eabed32cd4f84e068307.png","type":"slide","id":"91288","description":"

Hand-made Plushies

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Where to Buy: Animinis on Etsy and Animinis.com

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Store Rating: 5/5 stars (9 reviews)

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Price: Base price is $35. (For commissions, price could rise depending on amount of detail and materials.)

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Bonus: Custom orders available!

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While Pizzaro sells embroidered patches and stickers in her Animinis shop, her real specialty lies in handmade felt dolls. No contorted faces, mismatched eyes, or oddly misshapen bodies here. Animinis takes all the horror of mass-produced dolls and gives customers a real treat to add to any fandom collection. The shop adds new themes all the time, but currently it's already featured:

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    \n
  • Fallout
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  • Fire Emblem
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  • Professor Layton 
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  • Legend of Zelda
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  • Pokemon
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"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/b/8/f/b8f5064b2a4da9e437782c361f786475.png","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/b/8/f/tiny_b8f5064b2a4da9e437782c361f786475.png","type":"slide","id":"91285","description":"

Glassware

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Where to Buy: NexusGlass on Etsy

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Store Rating: 5/5 stars (937 reviews)

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Price: Ranges from $22.50 to $32.50

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Bonus: Items can be personalized with up to 20 characters at no additional cost. (Longer names cost extra.)

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Bonus #2: Custom orders available.

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Bonus #3: Multi-order discounts and combined shipping also available.

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The NexusGlass shop on Etsy offers hand stenciled designs on restaurant-grade glasses. The glass is all freezer and dishwasher safe to boot, thanks to the shop's stenciling process. This negates all the disappointment of cheaply made glasses whose designs rub right off and face destruction in any dishwasher. In addition to glass mugs, the shop offers:

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    \n
  • shot glasses (singles and sets)
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  • flasks
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  • growlers
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  • champagne flutes
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  • pint glasses (singles and sets)
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Video game themes include:

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  • World of Warcraft
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  • Legend of Zelda
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  • Tetris
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  • Resident Evil
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"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/6/f/b/6fbfa3265320138813c8142be9c810dd.png","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/6/f/b/tiny_6fbfa3265320138813c8142be9c810dd.png","type":"slide","id":"91145","description":"

Throw Pillows

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Where to Buy: JHTY, Choco-Minto, Alice X. Zhang, and Randy C on Society6

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Store Rating: N/A

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Price: Ranges from $20 to $39, depending on cover, case + pillow combo, size of the cover, and indoor or outdoor style

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Bonus: If you see a design you like, there's a good chance the shop offers it printed on a large variety of other mediums, such as mugs and iPad cases.

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This gift combines style and practicality. Everybody needs pillows. I've included four shops for this slide to offer a taste of the variety out there while making your gift shopping just a touch easier.

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  1. JHTY offers a faceless style of heroes from Legend of Zelda, Mega Man, Pokemon, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, and Sword Art Online.
  2. \n
  3. Choco-Minto presents a unique chibi style of art with themes that include: Mass EffectDragon Age, Splatoon, and Bioshock.
  4. \n
  5. Alice X. Zhang sells a gritty, dark design with Last of Us and Tomb Raider options.
  6. \n
  7. Randy C's shop only features Pokemon themed pillows, but every print pictures your favorite Pokemon wearing a costume for their final evolution with tons of different options from multiple generations to choose from.
  8. \n
"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/d/1/b/d1bb5e73efa3ed6527780b2228347911.png","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/d/1/b/tiny_d1bb5e73efa3ed6527780b2228347911.png","type":"slide","id":"91290","description":"

Bags, Wallets, and 3DS Cases: Part 1

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Where to Buy: BlueRobotto on Etsy and BlueRobotto.com

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Store Rating: 5/5 stars (324 reviews)

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Price: $13 for wallets, $17 for 3DS cases, and $45 to $50 for bags

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Bonus: This same shop offers Legend of Zelda, Animal Crossing, and Pokemon pin and brooch sets that range from $5 to $18. You can dress up old bags if your gamer doesn't need a new one!

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From messenger bags to duffels to lunchboxes to 3DS cases, Doug Berdu's BlueRobotto shop has everything your gamer needs, no matter their gender or age. Themes include:

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  • Pokemon
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  • Legend of Zelda
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  • Animal Crossing
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  • Video game controllers
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  • Splatoon
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Added Suggestion: Here you could combine the patch gift idea with a new bag to give a gamer something that plays off multiple interests while demonstrating your wonderfully thoughtful capabilities.

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Bags, Wallets, and 3DS Cases: Part 2

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Honorable Mention: SpeakGeek on Etsy

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Cost: $25 and $32 for Wii U gamepad covers, $32 and $34 for 3DS XL covers

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This shop comes up again later, but I thought it was worth a mention in this category as well. SpeakGeek offers very console-specific bags or covers for the Nintendo fan. Themes include:

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    \n
  • Pikmin
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  • Animal Crossing
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  • Legend of Zelda
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  • Mario
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  • Pokemon
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"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/4/1/4/414b7b6b8b3ffc73e2bd53d8f01fedc2.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/4/1/4/tiny_414b7b6b8b3ffc73e2bd53d8f01fedc2.jpg","type":"slide","id":"91112","description":"

Artistic Prints: Part 3

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Where to Buy: Jessica Smith on Society6

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Store Rating: N/A

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Price: Ranges from $15 to $20 for prints, $32 to $37 for framed prints, and $85 to $150 for canvas prints

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Jessica Smith sells gorgeous prints on Society6, featuring a Legend of Zelda theme for gamers. The theme draws from all different installments in the franchise with a wide array of color schemes and locations featured. Her pieces can be ordered with frames if you'd like your gift pre-prepared for hanging or as canvas prints for an extra touch of originality.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/0/3/a/03abab697627f9f53e6d522a99be8430.png","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/0/3/a/tiny_03abab697627f9f53e6d522a99be8430.png","type":"slide","id":"91127","description":"

Artistic Prints: Part 1

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Where to Buy: Kayadesign on Etsy

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Store Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (98 reviews)

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Price: $7

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This item touches on a bit of home decor. Add a nice frame and you've got yourself a downright classy gift. I've collected a few options to start your hunt for the perfect print.

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First in this category is Kayadesign on Etsy. This shop offers newspaper prints, setting beloved characters in front of vintage dictionary backdrops. The game section of her shop offers a large variety of themes including:

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    \n
  • Kingdom Hearts
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  • Final Fantasy
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  • Metroid
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  • Legend of Zelda
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  • Mega Man
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  • Star Fox
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  • Persona
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  • Mario
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  • Catherine
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  • Punch-Out!!
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Artistic Prints: Part 2

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Where to Buy: Loft817 on Etsy

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Cost: Ranges from $8.50 to $26

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Bonus: Currently features a buy 2, get 1 free deal!

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Using a similar dictionary theme and adding pop art to his gallery, Kris Keefer, owner of Etsy's Loft817 shop, adds some extra variety to the list. In addition to Final Fantasy, Mario, and Legend of Zelda, Keefer's shop also boasts Pokemon and Planet Terror prints. His own game section features some pop art pieces that can be purchased in different sizes and without the dictionary print background, though these options cost more ($20 to $26, depending.)

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/9/f/b/9fb25b0475a273cdc6ac77352f97159e.png","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/9/f/b/tiny_9fb25b0475a273cdc6ac77352f97159e.png","type":"slide","id":"91284","description":"

Patches and Stickers: Part 1

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Where to Buy: FandomCSN on Etsy

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Store Rating: 5/5 stars (17 reviews)

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Price: $5.99 for single patches, $8.99 to $19.99 for patch sets

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Bonus: This shop also features gaming belt buckles for $10.99.

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Patches and stickers make for great stocking stuffers or a little something extra to slip in with a gamer's Christmas card. They don't have to be hole-in-the-jeans exclusive either. These dress up a gamer's luggage, backpack, or purse, as well as their work or school lanyards and hats. The many uses for these small items make them a great and versatile gift for the gamer(s) in your life.

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Micah Thomas, owner of the FandomCSN shop on Etsy, offers embroidered patches in two sections of his shop. Descriptions under each patch explain exactly how to apply the patches as well. His video game themes include:

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    \n
  • Fallout
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  • Resident Evil
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  • Halo
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  • Call of Duty
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  • Metal Gear Solid
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  • Legend of Zelda
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  • Mario
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  • Angry Birds
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Patches and Stickers: Part 2

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Where to Buy: Animinis on Etsy and Animinis.com

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Cost: $4 to $8 for patches, $3 to $12 for stickers

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Jessica Pizarro, owner of the Animinis shop on Etsy, offers a wide selection of Monster Hunter patches in addition to two World of Warcraft patches and a bonus Five Nights at Freddy's "Let's Eat!!!" patch for the die-hard fan. These embroidered pieces come with sew-on or iron-on options to suit the individual gamer's needs.

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Animinis ups the stocking-stuffer game with stickers celebrating some of gamers' favorite YouTubers. Pizarro sells handmade Game Grump and Markiplier sticker sets, as well as offering individual options.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/b/3/8/b38718673d75539acc9c8381e23ca8d7.png","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/b/3/8/tiny_b38718673d75539acc9c8381e23ca8d7.png","type":"slide","id":"91388","description":"

Let's be real: finding the perfect gift for the gamer(s) in your life can be a struggle and a half, especially when they've gone out and bought most of the games on their wishlist themselves. Even when this isn't the case, it isn't as if we have every gamer's library tucked away in our memory somewhere. The solution to this problem? Build off the gamer's favorites by adding merchandise to their collection.

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I'm going to take this solution one step further. Mass produced video game merchandise tends to run on the shoddy side of things, not to mention the hit your wallet will take with big brand names standing behind every product. Purchasing custom-made products negates this, supports artists, guarantees hand-made quality with a bit of research, and adds a touch of original thoughtfulness to your gift giving venture. Luckily, as far as research goes, I've done that work for you.

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Here's a gift guide to custom merchandise every gamer can enjoy, roughly arranged from least to most expensive.

"}]]]>
10 Things you probably didn't know about the Tomb Raider franchise https://www.gameskinny.com/x3u5l/10-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-the-tomb-raider-franchise https://www.gameskinny.com/x3u5l/10-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-the-tomb-raider-franchise Wed, 28 Oct 2015 10:14:21 -0400 Gabriella Graham

We, the gaming community, constantly witness the rise and fall of franchises. Modern technology freely roams - and sometimes rules - that playing field. 

New consoles pop onto the holiday scene with promises of expanding features and bright neon signs proclaim "INNOVATION" as the entire industry continuously pushes into unexplored territory to keep consumers captivated. All success stories start somewhere, though, and that somewhere doesn't have to be 2015. Take Tomb Raider, for example.

The series continues on nineteen years after originally launching in 1996. But what inspired the franchise in the first place? I dug back through the years to find where Lara Croft began, uncovering the game's origin story and some whimsically fun facts. 

1. The first Tomb Raider game took three years to develop.

Development began in 1993 with a team of the best six people Core Design had to offer. That's right, I said six people. If you're a particularly enthusiastic fan of Lara's, you can thank Toby Gard for personally developing her character.

2. Lara Croft underwent a sex change.

I'll risk stating the obvious to point out that Indiana Jones largely inspired Lara's character. The intention wasn't always to present a female counterpart to the blockbuster hero. Gard noted co-developers kicking butt and taking names as female fighters in the game Virtua Fighter, influencing his decision to transform their hero into a heroine.

3. Lara was initially on a different end of the all-to-serious side of the personality spectrum.

The Core Design team envisioned a cold-blooded, militaristic anti-hero named Laura Cruz. Cruz was South African instead of British. The Lara we know resulted from the decision to instead emphasis her traits as a "proper English lady," as this image better suited the character that became warmer throughout her development, This allowed developers to demonstrate that Lara's personality went beyond the bare bones of her immediate actions in the game.

4. Lara's new name came from a phone book.

When the team changed the heroine's personality, they also decided to drop "Laura Cruz" altogether. The name came from picking the closest match to the original name in a phone book with the additional intent to keep a strong sense of a Western impact. Altogether these changes came from an attempt to make Lara feel more familiar to American consumers. 

5. Prince of Persia influenced gameplay, but puzzles ultimately won out.

Prince of Persia's timed jumps and interspersed combat translated into Tomb Raider's gameplay. Originally, Lara was meant to emulate the action archetype of her time with a more combat-reliant system. Shortly after her femininity was confirmed, the team decided to veer away from common practice and implement more puzzles and stealth into their groundbreaking phenomena. 

Shh, she's concentrating.

6. Lara's feminine exaggerations were the result of a glitch.

Lara sports an intimidating bosom, but not intentionally. While toying with character dimensions, Toby Gard slipped with his mouse and increased the area of Lara's rack by 150%. The rest of the all-male crew asked Gard to let the accident stay, saying: "Gard's accidental 'one-fifty' design made picking out a marketing strategy remarkably easy." And so the sex symbol aspect of Lara "evolved." At least she wasn't stuck playing hostage, right?

They're just so heavy this way.

7. Lara's appearance was inspired by Pop star Neneh Cherry and Tank Girl.

Gard initially sought to dispel the image of dangerous women in games adorning only thigh-high boots and thongs. His model for Lara consisted of a combination of British pop sensation Neneh Cherry and comic book character Tank Girl. Gard sought not a sexual object, but "an inaccessible, gun-toting" lady. (Let the record show that Gard most certainly did not use the word "lady." For shame, Gard.)

Above: the stunning Neneh Cherry, in case anyone was curious.

Below: the oh-so-charming Tank Girl.

8. Tomb Raider was released on Sega Saturn in 1996.

Playstation hosted many of the 90's Tomb Raider releases, but the very first installment launched on Sega Saturn. Sony jumped on the success and continuing potential of the series, obtaining and exclusivity deal for the following two games. Many credit this move and the Tomb Raider series as causes for Playstation's success, allowing it to gain a proper foothold while competing with Nintendo 64.

9. The original game sold more than 7 million copies worldwide.

Core Design's expectations for the game were blown clear out of the water in breathtaking Lara Croft fashion. More than 7 million copies of Tomb Raider were sold worldwide. It became a model and template for 3D and third-person games after as other developers took the hint and began moving away from 2D platform and limited perspectives.

10. Lara's instant success led her down a path of celebrity endorsement and away from Gard.

Lara broke a traditional, male-dominated mold. Her popularity exceeded the wildest dreams - and, as it turns out, nightmares - of her original development team. Lara Croft's character wound up on the cover of Time and Newsweek.

Gard couldn't stand his "tough-as-nails, aristocratic heroine" posing in skimpy bikinis and promoting energy drinks. He stepped away disheartened, leaving Core Design in 1997 to pursue his own company. Fortunately, this was not a permanent goodbye for the developer.

Beyond the bare roots: Summarizing the first installment's follow-ups

Tomb Raider's sequel followed one short year later with a bustling development team to challenge the sales records of its predecessor. Lara appeared in SEAT and Lucozade commercials, not to mention her role as an unofficial mascot for U2, a pop-rock band. 

The franchise seemed destined to experience short-comings with a push for a new game every year by Eidos. Years of intoxicating success fell victim to a system in which critics noted a lack of change or growth. A buggy PlayStation 2 release of Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness in 2003 officially ended the Core Design team. Eidos handed the series over to Crystal Dynamics. 

Adventures with the dazzling and dangerous Lara Croft continued under the direction of Crystal Dynamics, bringing success back to the franchise. Sales rarely marked successive installments overnight, but caught up to Eidos goal over time. The reboot of 2013 hallmarked exciting possibilities for the series' future for fans, promising no end in sight for the franchise.

We mustn't forget the history of the series, no matter what the future may hold. Lara wouldn't stand for it, for starters, and it's always a fun time to remind ourselves where the characters and games we love most began. But maybe I'm just a sucker for reminiscing.

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