Tomb Raider (2013) Articles RSS Feed | Tomb Raider (2013) RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network The 20 Most Hilarious Arby's Video Game References Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:25:43 -0400 Ty Arthur


It's a good bet we'll continue to see new anime and gaming references pop up in the months ahead, as this is an ad strategy that seems to be working, and there are plenty of games and shows they haven't covered yet.


I'm actually surprised we haven't seen a Secret Of Mana post yet, considering how they have been on top of the re-releases of classic games in recent months.


What was your favorite Arby's gaming reference, and what box art creation do you hope to see come up next? Let us know in the comments!




Game: Doom


Is there ANYTHING this crew can't do with those damn boxes?!? It doesn't even look like they had to paint on the red lower sections but just used the colored portions of the sandwich holders to make it fit perfectly. The only way they could have made this better is if it was an ultra-fast moving video with a chainsaw at the end.


Goomba Squad! Moooove out!!!


Series: Super Mario Bros.


Those classic Goombas 'n Boos will always hold a hallowed place in gaming history, even as the series expands out and drastically alters the gameplay with newer iterations like Super Mario Odyssey. That adorable cardboard Goomba has got me thinking a weekend family art project may be in the works!


He's the symbol this town needs


Game: South Park: The Fractured But Whole


I don't think anyone expected the South Park series to hit its stride with an RPG, but what started with Obsidian's Stick Of Truth and continued with Ubisoft's take in The Fractured But Whole may well be the best games in the franchise. The paper cut-out style of the TV series also clearly lends itself well to cardboard box art!


You've come a long way, baby


Series: Fallout


I'm calling it -- fast food sauce packet art is going to become a recognized thing. I mean, if Vincent Castiglia can paint with blood, why not Arby's sauce?


This saucy rendition of the Fallout stat system also just reminded me that I'm 95 hours into Fallout 4 but still haven't actually finished the main storyline after getting side tracked by all the DLC. Nobody ruin the ending for me.


The morning sun has vanquished the horrible night


Series: Castlevania


Considering you can eat burgers, mushrooms, and even whole turkey legs throughout this series, the idea of Simon's Lunch isn't too far fetched. The best part about this whole thing (other than the box whip), is that one genius fan immediately commented with this exchange:


"Fry monster! You don't belong in this world!"

"It was not by my hand I was again made fresh. I was ordered by humans who wish to fillet me tribute!"


How's your grip strength?


Game: Shadow of the Colossus


The wisdom of eating a tower of meat that size is definitely in question, but this is an absolutely perfect mixing of game and fast food imagery to get an idea across. It's clear just from a glance that he's about to fight a colossus, and now I'm kind of wondering if I have what it takes to tackle the meat mountain.


You might call this a post for 90's gamers, but we think of it as millennial fare


Game: Chrono Trigger


Featuring dancing robot Gato from the millennial fair, this Chrono Trigger-based caption was pure genius, and it immediately took me back to Saturday afternoon game sessions from my childhood.


The sad, cash-grab PC port might be garbage, but the original SNES version is still one of the best RPGs of all time, and I'm absolutely about to load up ZSNES and replay it tonight.


Sure, you've seen it before, but now it has Aqua.


Game: Kingdom Hearts 2.8


How can there be so many games in this series, yet none of them have managed to be Kingdom Hearts III yet? This post was kind of torture for the fans who have been patiently waiting for the next real sequel, although it did hilariously spur on a slew of photo responses in which diners set their keys next to a sandwich.


Lunch is Strange


Game: Life Is Strange


How do you say so much with so little? Even without the caption, it would have been clear what was happening here. Although sadly, the reference did leave the post wide open to all sorts of comments about wanting to rewind time back before eating that meal.


Overcome the impossible


Game: Gravity Rush


This Vita title wasn't exactly well known to the masses at large, so it was sort of surprising to see a sideways image of Kat pop up in the Arby's feed, but clearly the fans were happy to see this lesser-known action-adventure title get a little fast food love. If you remember this game and want to see more, be sure to leave a comment!


9929 years in the future …


Game: Nier Automata


This inexplicably awesome (and constantly genre-hopping) game managed to shake up the GOTY expectations early in 2017 with its combination of androids, giant swords, and killer robot enemies.


The swords and drones are spot-on here, although I'm kind of wondering if 2B as a "shake" is supposed to be a reference to her exposed behind throughout the game....


Which is it, wark or kweh?


Series: Final Fantasy


Obviously it's kweh, you uncultured swine! OK, I guess it can be both. Seriously though, that sandwich box chocobo is a thing of beauty. I shudder to think of the amount of work that had to go into crafting this guy, and I'm a little disturbed by the connotation of the chicken sandwiches next to him.... Maybe one day we'll get a saddled Chocobo creation in a Final Fantasy Tactics style?


Understand, understand, the concept of love.


Game: Jet Set Radio Future


Whoa, they are going old school and fairly obscure with this one, as the original game came out in 2000, and Jet Set Radio Future came out in '02. I'm hoping the resurrection of interest in this series from the social media posts might spur on some news soon, as Sega has been showing some proclivity towards resurrecting older IPs.


Beefy AND portable. We dig it.


Console: Switch


Speaking of the Switch, you had to know this one was coming, right? I never would have thought "Nintendo console = roast beef sandwiches," but somehow they made the connection with the beefy/portable comment. Those adorable little Switch Joy-Con buttons are also kind of amazing.


The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace.


Game: Metroid


Another totally classic and retro reference, this one takes us way, waaaaay back to the NES days of the earliest Samus adventures. Not only does this post successfully make me want some curly fries, but now it's got me wondering: When is that Metroid Prime 4 finally going to show up for the Switch?


So glad he crashed the party. 


Game: Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy


For a generation that grew up with Spyro and Crash Bandicoot, news of the remastered N.Sane Trilogy was like a breath of fresh air, and it didn't take long for word to spread on social media. The TNT boxes are fine and all, but it's really the cardboard sleeve gloves that push this one over the top and show off the level of detail.


It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.


Game: The Legend Of Zelda


While Breath of the Wild might be the only thing Zelda fans care about right now, it's the classics that will always be remembered. They didn't even have to make a cardboard sword for the reference to work. Three triangles tells us Triforce, and in this case, a pretty darn tasty one made out of fried potatoes!


As one adventure begins, another waits in the shadows. She's one tough cookie!


Game: Tomb Raider


The cookie causing the eclipse just brings this one together (but who goes to a fast food place for the cookies?). With the pickaxe in hand, this is clearly meant to evoke the newer reboot series that the new movie is based off, rather than original tank top and shorts Lara Croft.


Rally the crew; we're going after the big ones


Game: Monster Hunter World


You ever look at that really artistic spray paint wall graffiti and wonder, "How in the hell did they do that and get such amazing can control?" Yeah, now I'm trying to figure out how someone has such amazing Arby's BBQ sauce packet control to create the Monster Hunter guild symbol! Just one slight twitch of the wrist and this could have been a disaster.


Sneaking into that Mobile Beta


Game: Fortnite


The reigning Battle Royale king Fortnite landing on iOS devices is the current talk of the town (with Android users more than a little jealous), so of course Arby's jumped on that immediately.


This one has it all -- the bush that players love to be while sneaking around the map, and a reference to the difficulty in actually making it into the mobile beta at this point!


You'd usually think of Taco Bell or Mountain Dew as the gaming champs, but a certain roast beef-obsessed fast food chain is creeping up and taking over with a marketing department that clearly loves anime and gaming culture.


Social media marketing is a vital part of any company's advertising strategy, and Arby's made a conscious choice to change tactics away from "buy this meal for this price" posts to much more engaging and organic images that people actually want to share.


Every new post features a hilarious composition of reliable comment types -- a few clueless people trying to puzzle out what that reference means, super fans who are in heaven, a call for the team to get a raise, and backlash from the bored Facebook and Twitter crowds who are upset people are talking about video games for some reason. Every now and again, cheers of joy will erupt in the comments when pop culture references show up that a wider range of people actually understand, such as ClueAliens, or Discworld.


Despite going really obscure with some of the video game references, the Arby's team has created an advertising juggernaut here because they perfectly meet at the intersection of gaming, nerd culture, and crafting fanatics. Some of these posts ahead are truly works of art that clearly took an absurd amount of time to construct out of Arby's boxes, bags, and even sauce packets!


Note: All photo rights belong to Arby's -- we're just appreciating these perfect references. 

10 Gaming Couples We'd Love to See Hook Up Mon, 22 Jan 2018 10:51:27 -0500 bazookajo94


It's been a wild ride. We've gone from couples that are borderline terrifying because of their fandoms to couples that are borderline terrifying because they are literally monsters who kill people. 


But love is love, and the internet is the internet, and you can't stop people from wanting and believing in love -- and then writing about it and drawing pictures for it. 


Maybe, instead of searching through the internet to satisfy your cravings for crossover ships, just stick to Tomodachi Life. At least you can guarantee PG -- and only PG -- things happening on that game. 


Jigglypuff x Kirby


Another cute and wholesome ship, Jigglypuff and Kirby are a pair that I never thought about together until I saw a piece of fanart and cursed myself for not thinking of it sooner. 


Although their relationship seems to stem from the fact that they're both pink and round and adorable, they work as a pair because they're both pink, round, and adorable together. 


And there's nothing wrong with pairing together two cute things. 


Pinky x Boo


The research I did for this article took me to some dark places, showed me some things I've never wanted to see ever in my life, burned frightening images into my brain. 


One of the few bright aspects I found while searching was a brief line that mentioned Boo and Pinky as a couple, and I thought that was the cutest thing I've ever heard. 


Two ghosties with differing agendas in different universes, living their undead lives and haunting their heroes. I'm glad someone out there thought to pair them together, because I think two 8-bit ghosts together is the most adorable thing that can happen in an article like this. 


Nurse Joy x Dr. Mario


You know which Mario doesn't get enough love? Dr. MarioTalk about a fun game with a cute aesthetic and an intense hard mode. Some of the love for this game was renewed when Super Smash Bros brought Dr. Mario into the ring, but what sort of love does Dr. Mario really deserve? 


Though he could be paired with any nurse and people would probably be like, "Oh, cute," Dr. Mario and Nurse Joy make a cute couple. 


They both deserve more than their fandom gives them -- and their stereotypical medical outfits pair well together. 


So please, internet. Give the people what they want. 


Slenderman x Enderman


Yes, you read that right. Slenderman x Enderman. 


I bet you didn't know this was a thing. And why would you even think about it, except for the fact that they both lurk around at night and try to kill you? And their names both end in -man, which I guess just solidifies their love. 


Slenderman and Enderman are a thing, guys. Find the fanfic, look for the fan art, and you will find it because this is a thing. 


And you know what? It's not the worst thing I've ever seen. I can see where people are coming from. So enjoy all you can of these two before the Slenderman movie comes out and some really uncomfortable new ships arise. 


Photo credit: Rosenblade


Wii Fit Trainer x Villager


Super Smash Bros is an amazing game. It satisfies our hunger for crossovers by combining our favorite characters into one game and letting them tear each other apart -- or work together.


It also pairs people together that you would never expect to be together until you hear someone say, "Wouldn't they be cute?" and suddenly that couple is all you can think about. 


That's gotta be the only explanation for the Wii's Wii Fit Trainer being paired with Animal Crossing's Villager. Their popularity is baffling, but spend enough time looking at the fanart, and you start to see what everyone else is seeing: they are kinda cute together...


Photo credit: RZSTUDIO


Nurse x Witch


Who's says monsters can't have love? Any piece of fiction retelling the story of Beauty and the Beast sets out to prove this theory -- and people love it. 


But will people love it as much if a monster is paired with another monster? I like to think so -- and no monsters go better together than a Witch and a Nurse. 


Though most people ship the Nurse from Silent Hill with Pyramid Head (which is also cute -- if you can call couples like that cute), and Left 4 Dead's Witch with the Hunter, putting the two creepy women together just seems like the only natural course of action. 


They're both dreary, creepy, and ready to kill. I am ready for the fan art.


(Seriously, though. Where is it?)


Lara Croft x Nathan Drake


I talk a lot about couples made for each other, but in all honesty, I don't think there's any crossover couple as made for each other as Lara Croft and Nathan Drake are. 


I don't even have to tell you why they would work together because I'm sure that as soon as you saw them staring soulfully into each other's eyes, you were like, "Ah. Yep. I get it." 


Just imagine the temples they could explore. Imagine the shenanigans. Imagine the perils they'll face -- together. I'm dying over here. 


Good thing there's enough fan art and some fanfiction to hold me over until someone makes me a game.


Photo credit: AsunaChou


Jinx x Harley Quinn


With all the hubbub going around about people finally realizing that Joker and Harley's relationship isn't as cute as everyone once thought it to be, it's nice to know that people can escape that Mad Love by shipping Harley with someone else -- like with League of Legends' Jinx. 


Though, with both of their tendencies to blow stuff up and laugh about it, their relationship could be just as dysfunctional as Joker and Harley. 


But they just look so cute together ....


As a side note, some fanfic writers and fan art artists portray Jinx as Joker and Harley's daughter; personally, I prefer the romantic ship. 


Photo credit: Kim Eul bong


Samus x Mega Man


I think we deserve a well-earned palate cleanser after that first ship. Let's reward ourselves with the cuteness that is Samus and Megaman. 


What's not to love? They both shoot guns, they both fight aliens, and they're both heroes worth looking up to. They even have the cute complementary color palette of blue and orange that alludes to them being an "opposites attract" couple, even though I just spent three sentences saying how similar they are. 


If nothing else, Samus x Mega Man fulfill the cutest couple trope of all: height difference.


Photo credit: TeeTurtle


Mario x Sonic


Admittedly, this first pairing is more of a crack pairing than any serious inkling I have to ship these two. But their fanbases are so large -- and terrifying -- that even if I were loath to seriously include them on this list, somewhere out there is someone currently writing the fanfiction and drawing the art (you could not pay me to link to this), and I have no choice but to add them to a crossover coupling list because of their popularity. 


Is it their competitive natures that appeal to people? Their similar "Jack of All Trades" stats in their sports games? Perhaps it's the contrast of the red and the blue. 


I don't know. I don't care. Perhaps in a PG universe, I could see the appeal -- alas, as long as rule 34 exists in the universe, I will never do an image search for Mario and Sonic ever again. 


You remember when you first bought Tomodachi Life and, after you made everyone in the room and your secret crush, you started thinking, "Wouldn't it be great if my avatar hooked up with my fictional love, lol?"


So you make a few of your fictional crushes, and you wait for them to notice you -- but instead, they notice someone else, and you're like, "No! That's not who you're supposed to be with!" -- and now Mario is married to Zelda, and Link is watching Samus, and Peach is starting a family with your cousin Joe, and you're starting to think that this isn't too bad ....


Okay, so maybe this is more of a personal problem. But there is something unbelievably fun about romantically pairing off characters that could never meet in their respective universes. 


It's up to you to decide if these 10 crossover couples are more of a crack pairing, a match made in heaven, or a match made in the ninth circle of hell. 


Photo credit: Avalon- 23

Steam Summer Sale 2017 -- The Best Games Under $5 Mon, 26 Jun 2017 18:37:09 -0400 Adreon Patterson


Batman: Arkham Asylum Game of the Year Edition 


Regular Price: $19.99
2017 Summer Sale Price: 4.99
Buy it on Steam


As the OG of the Batman Arkham series, Batman: Arkham Asylum follows Batman as he must fight his way past nefarious foes in order to stop the Joker from once again trying to destroy Gotham City. It would be unjust for any gamer to sleep on this hallmark game with its detailed world design, revolutionary combat system, compelling storyline, and stellar graphics.




All of these games are just a sampling of what the Steam 2017 Summer Sale has to offer. Make sure to check out our other Steam Summer Sale articles for even more savings on great games. 


Shadowrun Returns


Regular Price: $14.99
2017 Summer Sale Price: 1.49
Buy it on Steam


This PC version of the tabletop game allows players to join any five races and six classes as they hunt down the Emerald City Ripper in this gritty, futuristic CRPG. Despite a sparse saving system, Shadowrun Returns showcases smooth character development, excellent combat scenes, and highly interactive gameplay in a cyberpunk, turn-based atmosphere. 


Mass Effect 2


Regular Price: $19.99
2017 Summer Sale Price: 4.99
Buy it on Steam


Bioware's follow-up to the highly successful Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2 once again puts players into the space boots of the stoic Commander Shepard as he must assemble a diverse team in order to stop an alien species known as the Collectors. The spectacular melting pot of diverse characters, stellar interactive storytelling, excellent voice acting, stunning visuals, and improved gameplay will hook any gamer interested in science fiction RPGs.




Regular Price: $19.99
2017 Summer Sale Price: 2.99
Buy it on Steam


In Outlast, a first-person survival horror game predicated on stealth and strategy, players become investigative journalist Miles Upshur as he maneuvers his way through the dilapidated Mount Massive Asylum. The top-notch horror elements and thrilling gameplay would be great for any gamer to experience, especially horror fans and fans of SOMA, Amnesia, and early Resident Evil titles.




Regular Price: $19.99
2017 Summer Sale Price: 2.99
Buy it on Steam


This indie sci-fi action game lets players become the famous singer Red as she battles the robotic force of The Process, all while keeping the sword-like Transistor from those who would seek to acquire it. Players are thrust into a futuristic city where they battle enemies, solve puzzles, learn new skills (or Functions), and journey through a story rich with RPG undertones. Any gamer will fall in love with the effervescent visuals, stellar combat system, and lush soundtrack.


Borderlands 2


Regular Price: $19.99
2017 Summer Sale Price: 4.99
Buy it on Steam


In the sequel to 2009's Borderlands, players (as four new characters) once again must complete missions while acquiring loot on the planet of Pandora. This FPS is worth any gamer's time (especially fans of the first-person shooter genre) as it manages to build upon the original's strongest points -- humor and role-playing systems -- while adding a sense of world structure that fleshes out the Borderlands mythos. 


Life is Strange Complete Season (Episodes 1-5)


Regular Price: $19.99
2017 Summer Sale Price: 4.99
Buy it on Steam


As an episodic adventure, Life is Strange showcases twelfth-grade photography student Max Caufield's strange ability to rewind time and how it influences the butterfly effect of her universe. Following the episodic drama format, gamers are swept up in some truly great character development, tackling of taboo issues, and novel gameplay mechanics.


Tomb Raider


Regular Price: $19.99
2017 Summer Sale Price: 4.99
Buy it on Steam


This retelling of Lara Croft's origin story follows the iconic heroine as she helps herself and her friends escape the island of Yamatai while being hunted down by a strange cult. Despite some qualms about the multiplayer mode and sometimes disconnected narrative, gamers should still enjoy this game with its splendid graphics, excellent third-person gameplay, and amazing character development -- especially for Croft. This action-adventure title from Square Enix reinvented the Tomb Raider brand and has overwhelmingly positive Steam reviews for its hard work. 




This War of Mine


Regular Price: $19.99
2017 Summer Sale Price: 3.99
Buy it on Steam


This war survival game based on the Siege of Sarajevo deals with civilians surviving a post-war society through everyday decision-making. The player must keep various characters' health, hunger, and mood levels stable while gathering tools and materials for survival. Every decision can make or break survival -- and some of the decisions with which players are faced range from difficult to excruciating.  


Metro 2033 Redux


Regular Price: $19.99
2017 Summer Sale Price: 4.99
Buy it on Steam


Set in post-nuclear war Moscow, Metro 2033 Redux deals with survivors living underground, having to kill human and mutant enemies in order to get ammunition and other resources -- as well as survive. This game can be endless fun; with an enthralling plot, realistic, detailed environments, and graphic horror elements, this is an FPS that has seen a cult following develop around it -- and for good reason.


Garry's Mod


Regular Price: $9.99
2017 Summer Sale Price: 4.99
Buy it on Steam


A devil-may-care sandbox game, Garry's Mod allows players to manipulate ragdoll physics and props during gameplay. With its bizarre nature, user content is able to flood the game with the Physics Gun (manipulating ragdolls), the Tool Gun (creating buttons and controllable props), and the Havok Physics Engine (creating contraptions with props). Its openness allows players to roam free without any constraints. Garry's Mod is a zany sandbox creation game that focuses on creativity and mental agility. 


Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor


Regular Price: $19.99
2017 Summer Sale Price: 3.99
Buy it on Steam


Taking place between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor follows the combined body and soul of dead ranger Talion and Elf Lord Celebrimbor as they take revenge on Sauron for the death of their loved ones. This Tolkein-based, Peter Jackson-influenced action-adventure game boasts stellar combat scenes, great lore, an expansive open world, and the Nemesis System, which allows non-playable characters to uniquely react to the protagonist accordingly through each playthrough.


Endless Space: Collection


Regular Price: $19.99
2017 Summer Sale Price: 4.99
Buy it on Steam


Endless Space is a turn-based, 4X sci-fi adventure game allows players to choose or build a civilization and expand their empire to conquer the galaxy through a series of victories. This edition collects both the Endless Space base game and the DLC, Disharmony, providing players a great user interface and great accessibility for endless replay.


After what's seemed like an eternity, summer has finally arrived. Sunny beaches. Scorching, hot weather. Family vacations. Weird tan lines. 


But there is another image that's conjured when talking about summer -- the Steam Summer Sale. Summer truly doesn't begin until the gaming community can buy some amazing games and other items on the cheap. 


The true pull for the sale is the incredible discounts gamers can get on some of their favorite games. There are individual games, expansion packs, DLCs, bundles. Any and everything a gamer could want or need is available with discounts of up to 80%.


This is not only a big deal for the gaming community but for the online community as a whole. Articles, blurbs, and blog posts from indie sites to major players are written up days before the sale. Just like offline life, the internet goes crazy over discounts.


Let's take a look at some of the best games under $5 for Steam's 2017 Summer Sale.

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.

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?

5 Things That Made The Tomb Raider Reboot Great Sat, 07 Jan 2017 10:00:01 -0500 Rob Kershaw

Like most gamers I know, I have a backlog of unplayed titles. A lot of it is garbage in my Steam library, which I've picked up from sales and piled into the list, like a digital zookeeper mucking out an elephant house. Some of it is made up of stuff that I look at occasionally, think of installing and then realize it probably isn't worth the effort.

Then there are games like Tomb Raider.

I know, I'm late to the party. How I managed to overlook this gem, I'm unsure. It's not like I didn't purchase it. The GOTY edition has sat patiently in shrinkwrap on my Xbox 360 shelf for more than two years, just waiting to catch my attention. It never did. Fast forward to a living room containing a shiny new PS4 Pro, and a copy is thrust into my hands from a good friend. "You need to play this," he said.

I did. It was brilliant. Here's why.

1. The Controls

You can make a game as flashy as you like, as beautiful as you want and as epic as your imagination can handle. But if it handles like a Dodge Nitro on a road made of treacle, you've already lost. It's the introduction to the game's world, a player's first experience of its agency. How a game actually plays is going to be one of the overriding things you take away from it. 

In this respect, Tomb Raider absolutely nailed it. Everything felt intuitive, right from the start, and it didn't let up. Running, leaping, climbing, sliding -- it was like I had muscle memory without putting the effort in. Then came the kicker -- switching weapons by actually saying their name. Going back to the Uncharted series after this will be pretty tough.

2. The Combat 

I may be in the minority here, but I'm not overly enamored by Naughty Dog's gunplay. Both The Last of Us and Uncharted were great games, but for me, that was in spite of the combat, not because of it. Crystal Dynamics took the building blocks of Nathan Drake's world and added a smoother, leaner experience. Gunfights felt genuinely exciting and natural, unlike certain Uncharted encounters, which felt like whack-a-mole sequences you had to endure.

Even the hand-to-hand was above average -- remarkable for this genre, and spoiled only slightly by a hyperactive camera. The environments were littered with opportunities to blow up oil drums or bounce grenades from. The bow was truly wonderful to use in stealth and felt satisfying to boot. The rest of your arsenal was small, but each handled magnificently and exactly as you'd expect. It was, like the controls, intuitive.

3. The Progression

It's not an RPG, but that didn't stop Tomb Raider from throwing a few light elements into the mix to keep things interesting. Salvage is the game's currency, which is used solely to upgrade your gear. Each piece is delivered to you in good time once you've become comfortable with the preceding weapon. But things ramp up in the latter third of the game, when you can start spending your salvage on all kinds of crazy add-ons.

The great thing about the upgrades is that they feel like natural enhancements to what came before. As you explore, you'll also come across pieces of weaponry that Lara can combine to improve her kit. Normal arrows are replaced by fire arrows, followed by napalm arrows, and then explosive arrows. Gun upgrades are handled in a similar way, and if you can skip over the fact that perfectly working shotgun parts can be found in abandoned temples that haven't seen a human for a thousand years, there are plenty of options to enjoy.

Lara also improves her own skill-set through the game, by collecting experience points that can be spent on abilities. Do you want to become a close-combat specialist with brutal finishing moves or hone your ranged attacks? There are plenty of choices, and this flexibility also adds to the game's replay value. You're unlikely to unlock every weapon option or skill on your first playthrough, and thanks to an abundance of side missions, there are plenty of reasons for the OCD gamer to return and collect every last trinket. I'm not usually a fan of this kind of Assassin's Creed-style busywork in games, but if it's done right (see also: Dragon Age: Inquisition), it's almost compulsive. 

4. The Story

What is an action-adventure without a compelling narrative? Tomb Raider stands out from its predecessors by giving the player a genuine reason for Lara traversing uncharted lands. Better still, they give her an evolution of sorts, letting you see her morph from a frightened young woman on an exploratory trip into a weapon-wielding bad-ass by the time the credits roll. The leap was a little sudden, but it was necessitated by the gameplay and didn't jar as much as I'd expected. The reason for staying on the island, the tasks you had to accomplish, and the overarching plot all made sense.

Well, perhaps not the supernatural QTE-heavy finale, which wasn't totally explained in a satisfactory way, but I forgave it nevertheless. In this case, the journey is probably more important than the destination.

The collectibles also feed into the story, bombarding you with missives from cultists, journals from WWII-era soldiers, and private diaries from your crew. The tale isn't complex, but it's told well. 

5. The Characters

Coming into Tomb Raider blindly, I wasn't ready for such a wide cast of characters. Nor was I expecting them to be as well-developed as they were. The crew of the Endurance is an appealing bunch: a gruff northern English captain, a Scottish hard-man, a Polynesian who believes in the paranormal, a fame-hunting archaeologist, a plucky best friend... each of them have their part to play in the story.

The moments that stood out to me the most were those of self-sacrifice, since the game expertly established through video clips that the ship's inhabitants were a tight-knit bunch, making losses even more painful. Uncharted may have set the scene, but I much preferred Roth as a supporting character to Sully. Nathan's companions felt a little like window dressing at times. In Tomb Raider, everyone was important; everyone had a job to do.  

Yet it's Camilla Luddington voicing Lara Croft who deserves the most plaudits. She imbues the titular heroine with every conceivable emotion, and you're dragged through the wringer as Lara's journey progresses. Her campfire journals allow for poignant reflection, and her loyalty to her friends - especially Sam - is never in question. When she finally reaches the end of her tether and decides to let loose with her arsenal whilst screaming "All right, you bastards!", it's a fist-pumping moment. 

Moreover, and most importantly, Lara finally moved beyond her top-heavy hypersexualised iterations of previous games and became the strong female heroine that the videogame community -- still rife with misogyny -- needed her to be. Crystal Dynamics were rightly applauded for Lara's reinvention, and the slew of awards they picked up were fully justified. 


I've deliberately avoided talking in detail about the previous versions of Tomb Raider in this piece. Whilst many are obviously now dated, I found the ones I did play to be poor from a story perspective, average in execution and generally a case of the character being more important than the product. For me, this was the Lara Croft that I'd always envisioned, a fully rounded character in a superbly realized world. The true embodiment of a wonderful reboot. Now, onto the sequel...

What are your thoughts on the Tomb Raider reboot? Let me know in the comments below! 

Are HD Remakes Worth It? Wed, 04 Jan 2017 07:00:01 -0500 DannyPTP

Over the past few years, there has been a major number of HD remasters of games, such as Skyrim, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, and more. Many have argued that these are pointless as you can already get the original game for cheaper, while others have said that they are worth buying due to the amount of content that is presented in the HD version, such as expansion packs or additional missions for example, which normally served as DLC in the vanilla games.

It's understandable why some people can be hesitant towards buying a remaster of a game. It's more expensive, there's nothing new added to the game to make it worth buying, it's taking the game and giving it a somewhat new coat of paint to make it look good along with other games available on the system, while not adding anything new to give a breath of fresh air to the game itself.

HD remasters began to appear mostly during the seventh generation of consoles (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii) with titles such as Jak And Daxter Collection, The Sly Trilogy, and Prince Of Persia Trilogy, since then, it seems there's no stopping the onslaught of HD remasters welcoming themselves into the current generation and onto future console generations we have yet to witness.

But is it really worth it for you to spend money on a slightly prettier version of the game you already own? I say YES.

An HD remaster is a perfect way to introduce someone to a series you yourself have enjoyed in the past, especially if the remaster itself is a trilogy (Such as Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection) as well as give yourself the chance to try out a series yourself that you may have missed the first time around.

Perhaps you've sold a game from your PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 collection, but want to sink your teeth into it again, chances are it has been made available on PlayStation 4/Xbox One.

And whilst not many remastered games have any additional content, there are a few games out there that have heaps of content to keep you occupied well after you've finished the main story. Square Enix released Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 which housed the Final Mix versions of Kingdom Hearts (1.5) Kingdom Hearts II and Birth By Sleep (2.5) on PlayStation 3 in 2013 and 2014 respectively. The games will be released again on PlayStation 4 in March of this year, giving gamers yet another chance to experience the series before the release of Kingdom Hearts III.

Each of these games was at first released in Japan only, and offered additional challenges and bosses for players to try. With updated visuals and music made for the remasters, it was an absolute delight to be able to enjoy these additions that Western fans had been asking for at last.


Now, of course, no remaster is perfect, you'll most likely come across bugs that were present in the original game and may also have bugs of their own (looking at you, Silent Hill HD Collection) you should at least give a remaster a chance before you decide to cast it aside, in favor of the original.

What do you think? Should remasters continue to be made or should developers leave their games alone? Let the comments roll!

How to make a Tomb Raider reboot movie that would actually be good Wed, 23 Mar 2016 11:57:38 -0400 Justin McGovney

You can already feel the shivers can you? Another movie based on a video game? Do we all really want another disaster on our hands?!

Movies based on video games have had a rough past in the history of cinema. With the most recent video game movie critical flop, Hitman: Agent 47, many movie-goers feel assured that making a really good movie off a video game is near impossible. And with a slate of four major video-game movies being released this year (Ratchet and Clank, The Angry Birds Movie, Warcraft, and Assassin's Creed), one would probably be apprehensive at the thought of seeing one of these movies, based on past game-to-film adaptation attempts.

It's almost like audiences are conditioned to be afraid to go and see a movie based off a video game. However, movie studios still feel that there is a market for these kind of movies. They wouldn't keep releasing movies based off video games then, would they?

I, personally, still have a little bit of faith that there actually can be a good video game movie. And I think that the best shot of doing this is by making a movie based off of Tomb Raider

No, not that one! Forget that one!

Well, actually, the previous Tomb Raider movies can serve to influence a new movie based upon the rebooted series.

So what would this movie look like? What can make it good? Here is my view on how Hollywood can successfully create a new Tomb Raider movie based on the rebooted games.

1. Look to the Past

If you are reading this article, chances are that you have possibly seen the original Tomb Raider movies: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003). If you haven't, I'll give you a quick rundown.

The original Tomb Raider movies, honestly, were not really "Tomb Raider" movies at all. They were, instead, a vehicle to propel actress Angelina Jolie to being a A-list star. So when watching these movies, you will get the vibe that this isn't Lara Croft on the screen, but rather Angelina Jolie in tight clothing shooting guns around with reckless abandon (and barely able to hold her English accent together.) And there is not that much "tomb raiding" going on either. There is no sense of adventure, discovery, or intelligence to them.

Instead of having a fun adventure film where Lara Croft begins to unveil the truth behind the most well-known myths and legends, the original Tomb Raider movies were mostly action-packed shooters made to make Angelina Jolie a top actress in Hollywood and to heighten her sex appeal. Not that this is a bad thing -- but they just weren't really Tomb Raider movies. I had always seen Lara Croft, and the Tomb Raider games in general, as being similar to Indiana Jones. The movies failed to portray this in every way possible. 

The opening scene accurately depicts what the two movies are all about in a nutshell:

This scene is so ridiculous that it honestly makes me laugh out loud. They think that THIS is what people want from a Tomb Raider movie? It's even more of a bummer when you find out that this scene takes place at Lara's mansion and not in a tomb! A movie called Lara Croft: Tomb Raider tricks you from the start like this? Oh boy.

Overall, these movies aren't bad. They are probably one of the better video game movies out there, and that's not saying much. While there are some good aspects, such as having fluid action (though it eventually enters into "so bad, it's good" territory) and having some pretty darn good lighting, these movies feel like assembly-line productions to hit the marks on the profit margin. Again, there's nothing necessarily wrong with that. But when you are trying to make a quality film and try to make it live up to the Tomb Raider name, almost none of things done in the previous two movies will accomplish that. That is, unless Paramount was not trying to do that from the beginning.

2. Use What Makes the Reboot Game Series Good

While this may seem obvious, after showing you what the original movies did, I think that this is the most important point to make. What exactly what makes the new games good? What pros can a new Tomb Raider movie emulate in order to be as good as the game? 

1. Forgoing the "iconic" look.

This might be a controversial pro but, in my opinion, one thing that hampered the original movies was that they wanted someone that matched the "iconic" look of Lara Croft. That's one reason why they contracted Angelina Jolie. These new games make Lara Croft more of an individual with a real personality, making her seem like a human being rather than a model based on sex appeal. This, to me, is a positive for the new games.

2. Staying away from the Croft mansion.

The mansion was a heavily used location for the movies, possibly to make production costs cheaper. But you can't raid tombs when you are stuck at home! Tell me, would you rather see 45 minutes of screen time in this environment:

Or this one?:

I know what I want to see if I want to see tomb raiding!

3. Reduced emphasis on the relationship of Lara Croft and her father.

The movies really hammered this theme to death. Not too surprising, since Lara's father was played by Angelina Jolie's real father, Jon Voight. That also served to bolster Voight's star power, rather than show their relationship before his death and his continuing influence on Lara's life.

The reboot game series, while giving importance to Lara's relationship to her father, focused on Lara discovering the reality of the world around her, more than just finding out the truth about legends. Lara begins to understand the cruelty and greed of people in the world, thus forcing her to adapt to the harsh realities of the natural world and the human world. 

4. Getting rid of Lara's Bruce Wayne-like ability to acquire high-tech weaponry.

While not a real issue in the games, this was an outright mistake in the movies. When Lara is prepared with all the right equipment and weaponry from the get-go, how does tomb raiding become adventurous? It reduces the tension of the action scenes. The games made action meaningful and tense by forcing Lara to improvise and use her own survival skills. And this was done perfectly in the rebooted game series. It feels real -- unlike being prepared for anything and everything, even giant moving monster statues.

If a new Tomb Raider movie followed these four major points, it would blow away the original movies. It will be more authentic to its source material, rather than an assembly-line produced hashing of it.

The new games provide an excellent base for what the the new movies could look like and should look like. And, seeing Indiana Jones returning to popularity in the last decade, making a movie based on the rebooted Tomb Raider game series could be a gold mine. As long as the producers don't mess it up or deviate way too far from the source, then they already have a solid movie.

Agree or disagree? Love or hate this opinion? Leave a comment below and start the discussion!

We put 15 of the most iconic game characters through that dumb What-Dog site. You're welcome. Fri, 12 Feb 2016 09:56:48 -0500 Ty Arthur

The Internet just discovered a whole new way to waste time with Microsoft's What-Dog site, which lets you determine what kind of dog any given person would be just by uploading a photo.

You should have guessed by now we already tried this out with every video game hero and villain we could think of, and it is eerie how spot-on some of these are.

The face recognition sadly isn't perfect, and I was pretty disappointed it couldn't find anything for either Mario (and yeah, I tried the live action version) or Leisure Suit Larry, but then again perhaps that's for the best...

"Soap" Mactavish

Would you send your Labrador Retriever to plant some claymores by the door?


I'm never going to look at that beautiful mane of silver hair the same way again...


Do you think she'd agree with the assessment?


I can't stop laughing at this one!


If only it had said "loves his family."

Lara Croft

The many, many, many mercenaries I killed in the Tomb Raider reboot would likely agree!


I'm now going to always see Link with a dumb grin and his tongue hanging out, but "surprisingly strong body for its size" is so accurate!

Marcus Fenix

Yep, I can see it. He doesn't take kindly to orders either.

The Arbiter

Well, they nailed the neck and body type!


Somehow I feel like this describes Max from Life Is Strange a lot more than Kefka!


Who's a cute little Scorpion? Yes you are, yes you are!

Solid Snake

I lost it entirely at "intense stares."

Tiny Tina

Definitely vocal, energetic, and eager to prey on small animals... or bandits, whatevs.


That description is amazingly accurate for the character, even if the image doesn't quite match.

Captain Price

Could you ask for a better jogging partner through a snowy base in Siberia or a dusty airplane graveyard?

Let us know what hilarious combinations you come up with you give What-Dog a try!

Senior Art Director of Tomb Raider leaves to work on Call of Duty Mon, 18 Jan 2016 07:23:52 -0500 Kaj_5807

Crystal Dynamics announced that Brian Horton, former Senior Art Director of the 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider and Game Director of its sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider, would be leaving the company. Horton has stated that he and his family will be moving to southern California to look for "new adventures," but didn't give any information other than that, not even if he's still going to work in the game industry.

There were speculations that he would be moving to a different company, since there's quite a bit of game developers in the area: Naughty Dog, Blizzard, Infinity Ward, and Riot Games. Today, Horton's Twitter bio has been changed and mentions that he is now a Studio Art Director for Infinity Ward, the developers behind Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2 and a couple of other entries in the franchise including Call of Duty: Ghosts, the studio's latest release.

While Horton may have revealed his new position at Infinity Ward, the studio has yet to make an official announcement regarding his employment. There's also no mention with regards to what game Horton will be working on, but looking at the studio's legacy and 3-year release cycle (the last being 2013), it's highly probable that Horton will be working on a Call of Duty title. 

Horton has also expressed his sadness in leaving Crystal Dynamics and that it's been an honor to work with them, stating that he's looking forward to playing future Tomb Raider titles as a fan. 

Six ways gamers can help end sexism in gaming communities Mon, 14 Dec 2015 18:53:35 -0500 Ty Arthur

There was a time (and in the grand scheme of things, really not that long ago) that gaming was considered something for children to enjoy. A generation of kids grew up with early consoles and the industry grew up with it, expanding outwards in terms of both the types of genres available and the maturity of the stories being told.

While the stigma of video games being a kid's activity has largely faded away, we're now overcoming the next social hurdle: the idea that games are made by and played by men alone. There's no question that the number of female gamers has skyrocketed, and they aren't just playing Candy Crush Saga or Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. Turns out there are just as many ladies who dig dialog-heavy RPGs or fast-paced shooters as dudes.

With that realization has come some serious unpleasantness in the online arena, especially as more women are actually entering the industry – both as developers and journalists – rather than just playing games. Throw in a push for more women to be portrayed as heroic protagonists and not mere for eye candy, too. Unsurprisingly, there's been some seriously sexist backlash from those who don't want to see the industry change.

Of course, the big name that immediately comes to mind on that front is the infamous GamerGate controversy.  Although it might not be entirely fair, GamerGate is now synonymous with sexism. (Be sure to check out our look at the situation here that covers both sides for a more balanced view.)

Rightly or wrongly, GG is now the poster child for bad behavior in gaming

The vitriol towards women in gaming brought about by GamerGate has made it clear we do actually have a sexism issue in our overall community that's not going away on its own. This whole debacle has also brought issues of how women are portrayed in games back to the forefront and made the problem ripe for addressing. 

What can we – both male and female gamers – do to combat sexism in our community and make gaming more inclusive of all people?

Call It Out

It seems obvious, but this is huge. Social media has made it so that everyone has a voice and a gigantic platform available 24/7, 365. Every last thought that enters a person's head can now be broadcast to the world immediately, and obviously that leads to some truly awful things being shared on gaming websites or Facebook profiles.

That's why sexist comments need to be called out and not allowed to slide. When people know from experience that they won't get a storm of “likes” after dropping some flippant sexist comment, and will instead get a wall of disagreement from friends and foes alike, they'll think twice about doing it again the next time.

Especially in the online world where people can easily throw out a death threat or a Hitler comparison on their phones and then move on with their days, gamers need to learn how to behave like civil adults and lead by example. There are legitimate instances where both men and women in the industry have done things worthy of being called out and condemned, but you destroy your own argument and credibility the second you type a word like “slut” or “ugly.”

Immediately attacking a person's gender or physical appearance because they did something you don't like is insanely counterproductive, and we can and must be better than that.

Let's go ahead and avoid this sort of thing, shall we?

Strive For Balance

That last point seemed obvious, but somehow gets ignored. This next point sadly isn't as obvious, but absolutely should be: sometimes the anti-sexism, pro-feminism crowd is just as obnoxious as the worst that GamerGate has to offer. An upleasant side effect of the instant communication and constant audience provided by the Internet is that people frequently don't bother to consider an argument from the other point of view before responding.

While the name was perhaps an unfortunate choice since it gives the appearance of supporting one gender over another, the fact of the matter is that true “feminism” is actually striving for equality between the two groups. Unfortunately, there are cases were it goes too far into the opposite direction. Misogynistic groups around the world were practically giddy with glee when that insane article about how all intercourse is always rape went viral last year. This imbalance also happens in the gaming world as well.

In the absolute mess that discussions about the place of women and minorities play in gaming, there has to be a balance. Rightly or wrongly, going overboard and calling out sexism where none exists (or it exists to such a small degree that its essentially irrelevant) just gives the GamerGaters the ammunition they need and makes them feel justified in their actions.

Insisting that ALL games must feature a strong female main character, or that NO games should be allowed to feature risque outfits, is just as sexist as insisting that no games feature a strong female main character. A balance exists somewhere out there where male and female characters are written because they work in the story, and not because someone is either filling a gender quota or lazily falling back on old gender stereotypes of what's always been done before.

Sadly, it does get this ludicrous...

Accept Differences

Here's a myth that might actually be leading to more inequality in the gaming community: ending sexism and achieving equality doesn't mean everyone's going to get along. Nor should anyone be required to skip through a field of tulips with people they legitimately disagree with on any issue.

We are all allowed to disagree, but the way we go about it absolutely has to change if we want to end the toxic environment many gaming communities have become. For instance, I think Vanille from Final Fantasy 13 is legitimately one of the worst characters to ever grace any video game of all time, and that doesn't make me sexist. You know what I DON'T do, though? I don't graphically threaten to rape people who disagree with my assessment, and my arguments for why I don't like Vanille absolutely don't boil down to: “she has a vagina and is a major character.”

On the flip side of that, you don't get a gold star for being a male gamer who doesn't send rape threats to female gamers (that should be the baseline norm, not the top grade to strive for). Female gamers also can't expect all male gamers to agree with them or never call them out if they do something lame. Two people who support gender equality are allowed to disagree, and neither should consider the other some kind of traitor to the cause because their views don't fully lineup on all other issues, or even the ways in which sexism should be confronted.

Vote With Your Wallet

It's another obvious example, but sometimes the fact that gaming is a business industry really gets overlooked. If nobody buys the next installment of Grand Theft Auto, you better believe Rockstar is going to notice that and make some drastic changes. This is especially true of those publishers who insist on getting out a new iteration of any given AAA franchise like clockwork once a year. The bottom line is all those companies care about, and if you hurt that, they will be forced to change.

At the same time, a balance needs to be sought out here (see the aforementioned section). There's a difference between outrageous events happening for the sake of humor and an actual derogatory take on one gender in general. Where the line gets drawn between what's hilariously offensive and what's just offensive is up to each individual gamer to decide.

For instance, is Dragon's Crown sexist because the sorceress character looks like this, or is it poking fun at a specific art style and going outrageous for attention? It's also worth noting that the men in the game bulge in a very specific, hyper-sexualized way, and that brings up the question of whether balancing out the gender distribution would actually end the debate.

For instance, many feel that Grand Theft Auto has a very sexist tone with its all-male main characters who go to strip clubs and can beat prostitutes to death. Would it really be such a big deal if the next GTA had a crime-loving leading lady who enjoys literally beating down the competition and then makes it rain at the local Chippendales? Even though I'm not particularly interested in seeing a dude in a thong waving his backside in my face, I'd still play that game (although I probably wouldn't spend nearly as much time in the strip club as I did with GTA 5).

One day the tables will be turned, Trevor...

Stop Asking For Nudes

No, seriously -- stop. There's enough pornography on the Internet that a single person couldn't possibly watch it all in 10 lifetimes. There are easily hundreds of thousands of people across the globe who actively want you to see them naked. So cut it out with sharing or asking for links to nudes of the handful of people who DON'T want you to see them naked. This phenomena is most prevalent in the movie and music industries (remember that dust up with the Jennifer Lawrence nude photos hitting the web?), but unfortunately it's arrived in gaming as well.

Back when we covered the controversy over Cynthia Bunnay's behavior while working with (and after being fired from) eSports team MVG, there were those that chose to focus on Bunnay's physical attributes rather than the unethical behavior she engaged in. In this case, things got taken to the next level when nude photos were actually stolen and leaked online.

One of the earliest comments on that original story right here at GameSkinny was someone asking where to find these photos, and another user promptly came up to explain where they are located. Much like with calling out sexist comments, here is an excellent opportunity for gamers to do the right thing and let other members of the community know that revenge porn isn't acceptable. We'll probably never kill the practice entirely, but we can make it a much less prevalent.

Killing the market for leaked nude photos that people don't want seen makes it a less attractive option next time around if everyone calls it out. Don't just avoid looking at them – let the people discussing looking at them know that revenge porn is a despicable practice that has no place in gaming.

Make Your Voice Heard

Even more than any other major entertainment industry – movies, music, literature, etc. - gaming offers a way for the average fan to actually get involved in the creation of new content and have it be covered on wide scale. Indie games, even in very niche genres, frequently overtake their bigger name counterparts in terms of news coverage and positive reviews.

So it has to be said - don't like the way women are portrayed in games? Make one of your own and show the world what you can do! Kickstarter, Early Access, Steam Greenlight, RPGMaker: there are more options than ever for Joe or Jane Doe to fund and make a game and have it be taken seriously.

Gamers don't have to wait for the AAA developers to figure this out: we can revolutionize the industry without them, and they can catch up to us.

What do you think about the state of gender equality in gaming, and how do you feel we can more effectively combat sexism in the industry? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!

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.


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?

Top 5 Female Characters in Gaming Tue, 21 Jun 2016 05:23:16 -0400 Dennis Adame


There you have it! My top 5 female characters in gaming. There are so many great female characters and not all of them could make if on this list. I'm sure in the coming years of gaming we will be graced with many more great female characters.


What are your top 5 female characters in gaming? Let me know in the comments!


Image source

1. Clementine 
The Walking Dead Season One and Two

Clementine is the best female character in gaming by a long shot. She has such a hard life. yet she stays so strong and never gives up hope. She has seen her friends, parents, Lee, and many others die right in front of her. But Clementine stays strong through everything she has seen and she always stays positive.


The girl has a way about her that just makes gamers care about her instantly. She conveys so much emotion through her dialog and her actions that she can even bring you to tears (especially at the end of the first game). Clementine is only a little girl but through the events of the game she has to grow up quick.


Depending on what the player chooses to do throughout the game her personality will change. She can be both very nice and trusting, or she can be unfriendly, not trust anyone, and send people away. It’s her ability to make people care so much about her that makes her the best character in gaming.


Image Source

Honorable Mentions
  • Chell - Portal 1/2
  • \n
  • Rochell - Left 4 Dead 2
  • \n
  • Clover - Payday 2
  • \n
  • Little Sisters - BioShock 1/2
  • \n

Image Source


2. Lara Croft

Tomb Raider

Lara is on this list not only because she is such a strong character, but also because of how important she is to gaming. Lara and the Tomb Raider series have had a huge impact on the gaming industry. Lara is such a strong character -- and she will not let anything get in between her and her treasure, including dinosaurs.


In the newest Tomb Raider, Laura is speared by rebar within the first ten minutes of the game, and yet she still fights on. She later uses an arrow to cauterize the wound, something a lot of people would have trouble doing. She is one of the biggest characters known in all of gaming and her games are loved by many.


She does not let anything stop her, and it’s her will and determination that make her such a strong character in gaming.


Image Source


3. Elizabeth

BioShock Infinite

Elizabeth is one of the best AI characters in gaming. Every time Booker is low on ammo, meds, or dies in battle, she is there to help. She has the ability to open rifts to different time lines, which really comes in handy. She also is a strong character and can at times be Booker's rock throughout the game. They have an instant connection because they are father and daughter, even if they don’t know it.


Elizabeth is also very smart and she knows a lot about the world. She possesses many skills Booker does not. And she knows so much because she's spent most of her life locked in a library. She makes an escort mission, often hated by gamers, a fun and great gameplay experience.


It is because of the great AI programming, her knowledge of the world, and the important skills she possesses that she is one of the best females in gaming.


Image Source


4. Anya Stroud 

Gears of War 1/2/3

Anya Stroud is such an important character in Gears of War, but she doesn’t get the credit she deserves. Anya is the eyes and ears of Delta Squad in the first two games. She tells you where to go, what to do, and how to do it. She then joins the squad in Gears of War 3 and she helps take down the locust. Anya becomes very important to Marcus after the death of Dom ¾ of the way through the game.


She helps Marcus carry on after the death of his best friend and she helps him and the rest of Delta Squad fight through to the end. She shows Marcus how to turn his sadness at the loss of a friend into a reason to fight even harder against the locust.


Image Source


5. Cortana

Halo 1/2/3/4/5?

Cortana -- she has changed so much over all the Halo games. Master Chief would not be where he is without her. She helps Chief figure out everything that he needs to do. She is his brains and the force that drives him, and she helps him make the right choices.


Cortana pushes Chief to be the best that he can be, and when he doubts himself she tells him that he is doing the right thing . When she “dies” in Halo 4, it tears Chief apart because she was such a big part of him and his life; even if she is just AI.


Image Source


One of the most important parts of any great game is the lead character. The lead has to be interesting enough for gamers to enjoy them, but not so different that they can't be related to. Players want someone that they can see parts of themselves in -- someone who has seen hardship, someone who is realistic, someone who has good and bad days. Not a perfect person that never does anything wrong and is always praised for everything they do. 


More and more games that come out now have female characters as their relatable leads, and some of those women are amazing. These characters show that they can be just as strong (if not stronger than) male characters, and they can kick your butt.


Here are the top 5 female characters in gaming. There are so many great women we could put on here, but not all of them can make it. Is your favorite leading lady on the list? Read on and find out. 


Image Source

PAX 2015: Top 10 cosplays Sat, 19 Sep 2015 09:22:49 -0400 shox_reboot


Well, that's all for my picks. Did I miss any that stood out to you? If I did, don't hesitate to share! 

Lara Croft (Tomb Raider) 

And lastly, Lara Croft.


She may look a bit battered right now, but you're probably going to find a bullet lodged in your head if you make the wrong move.

Tracer, Widowmaker and Reaper (Overwatch)

Overwatch looks great, doesn't it? Hurry up Blizzard, you've already got some gorgeous cosplays!



Rengar (League of Legends)

Rengar has spotted Teemo. 



Diana (League of Legends)

Lunar Goddess Diana. How does she get her hair like that...?


This is going to bother me for a while.



 Raiden (Metal Gear Rising)

You have to appreciate the amount of detail put into Raiden here. The visor in particular is close to perfect. 


Yeah...I know it's Raiden's old model (as seen in Metal Gear Solid 4) instead of the new one. But the classics are always the best. 



Gordon (Half Life 2) 

There should be no explanation as to why this is one of the best cosplays out there. 


The resemblance is uncanny. Gordon? Is that you?! 



 Lord Shaxx/Vex Hobgoblin (Destiny) 

They're a long way away from the Tower and the Vault of Glass. But hey, at least they dropped by! 






Nothing says Deadpool more than wearing the skin of a Pikachu he'd just killed. 


"It doesn't?"
"What?! Of course it does you $%@$"
"Deadpool, go away."




Credit: MrRepzion







Nightmare (Soul Caliber)

Next up we have Nightmare from the Soul Caliber series. 


The amount of detail put into the Soul Edge (Nightmare's signature sword) alone does this character justice.



Ciri and Yennefer (Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt)

Starting off our list are two ladies from what is probably the best RPG of 2015.


The costumes are perfect, and they nail the characters right down to a T. Only thing missing in this picture is Geralt himself. We'd like to see the whole cast! 




Credit: Eve Beaureguard as Yennefer. Unfortunately, I do not know who did Ciri, so leave a shout out below if you do!


Cosplays are fun. 


People put in a whole lot of work to portray their favorite characters, and it's only fair we take a few seconds to admire them. So I thought I'd share some of the ones that stood out to me from PAX! 


If I don't mention cosplay credit, it's because I do not know who these people are and was unable to figure it out with the magic of reverse image searching. If you do who these wonderful cosplayers are, please let us know their names! 

Rise of the Tomb Raider's Collector's Edition Thu, 27 Aug 2015 15:30:01 -0400 Anthony Jondreau

In 2013, Square Enix released the Xbox exclusive Tomb Raider, which helped rebirth the franchise while providing an answer to the PlayStation exclusive Uncharted series by Naughy Dog. Riding that momentum, Square Enix plans to release Rise of the Tomb Raider in November, while also giving aficionados a chance at some cool extra collectibles.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Collector’s Edition (for $150) will include the following items:

  1. 12-inch Laura Croft statue: This foot-tall statue shows Laura exploring a tomb, complete with a torch, her pickaxe, and a longbow strapped around her shoulder. It’s the signature Croft look (see top image).
  2. Replica in-game journal: When real life takes you away from the game, stay in touch by reading this journal, where you can catch up on all the lore you'd otherwise have to read in-game.
  3. Jade necklace: This is a replica of the necklace Laura wears in the game. It’s actually kind of cool.
  4. Metal Collector’s Case: Because if you’re going to invest this heavily in the game, you’d better be sure you’re keeping it safe.

Rise of the Tomb Raider comes out on November 10th, as does the collector’s edition. There’s no word yet on if the collector’s edition will come in a crate that you’ll have to pry open with a crowbar.

Xbox Live Gold September game lineup; Tomb Raider and Crysis 3 among the four games Tue, 25 Aug 2015 17:45:23 -0400 Courtney Gamache

Right after Sony announced their PS Plus September game lineup, Microsoft kicked into gear with their September lineup reveal, which includes some well-known games. 

Remember, these free games only come with Xbox Live Gold subscriptions, just as PS Plus is also a paid membership with Sony.

Four games for September

Included in the September Xbox Live Gold lineup are some games that are not only popular, but have been invested in by Microsoft. 

  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition via Xbox One - Lara is back again in an updated version of the 2013 Tomb Raider game, which includes all DLCs and upgraded graphics for the Xbox One and PS4. 
  • Deer God via Xbox One - Platforming game with 3D pixelated art that gives the user a philosophical experience with challenging religions. 
  • Battlestations Pacific via Xbox 360 (September 1st-15th) - Military World War II tactics action game using submarines. 
  • Crysis 3 via Xbox 360 (September 15th-30th) - A futuristic first person shooter game set in an apocalyptic New York. 

One thing to note is that the Xbox 360 Live Gold games will only be available for two weeks at a time while Xbox One games are available all month, at the same time. In a goal to make Xbox Live Gold a more harmonious experience, Microsoft announced that upcoming Xbox 360 games included in the lineups will have backwards compatibility on the Xbox One.

If you're looking for Sony's PS Plus membership lineup for September 2015 you can find it here

Are there some games you wish would come up in the Xbox Live Gold lineup? 

7 badass video game ladies you probably had (or still have) a crush on Wed, 19 Aug 2015 09:41:12 -0400 shox_reboot


Bonus: Braum


This is Braum.


Look at those muscles. 


Those tattoos. 


And that glorious mustache. 


How can you not feel all warm and fuzzy inside?!


Alright, so this is a list of reasons why I'm single. I know I missed out on a lot of dames that are universally approved as 'waifu' material. Who's your personal video game crush? It'd make me feel less sad knowing I'm not the only one with a list like this. 


The Doll




The Doll from Bloodborne. 


She's the hunter's only light in the nightmare he or she suffers from, she makes you stronger, she tells you that she loves you, and last but not least...


She claps when you cheer. 


Why wouldn't I fall for her as so many other hunters have? 




I won't lie. Tharja from The Fire Emblem creeps me out sometimes.


She's scary in her whole stalker-ish kinda way, but she grew on me. Hell, I found myself thinking her rather unhealthy obsession with the avatar (you) rather cute. 


Plus there's the added bonus she actually has a crush on you as well for a change. Hallelujah! 


Claire (Lightning) Farron


I never understood the hate for Final Fantasy XIII and it's sequel. Maybe it's because it was the first ever final fantasy game I ever played. 


But I digress. Lightning is yet another woman I've developed a small obsession with. Yeah, she doesn't have too much going on apart from being a generic super-cool badass of a character but isn't that enough?


Sylvanas Windrunner


So I tend to fall for the ones that would most likely end up killing me. Not so different from real life.


Alright, so I know there's a slight problem with her being....erm...kinda dead.


Her story is a tragic one. But hey, I sympathize with her. What other choice did she have for doing what she did and doing what she continues to do? Plus she's drop dead (ha!) gorgeous.


She's the reason I've sworn myself to the Horde (Undead Rogues ftw). If she ever abandons them and goes on to become a neutral party, I better have the option to go with her.  




Lara Croft


I loved the Tomb Raider reboot for one thing and one thing alone; Lara Croft's makeover. 


Playing through the game, it's inevitable you begin to watch out for her. She's just so darn innocent (and pretty, by gosh she's pretty) that you can't help but cringe whenever you mess up and see her die a horrible death. 


And there's that sense of satisfaction as you watch her slow transformation into the badass we know Lara Croft to be.




When Cortana sacrificed herself for Master Chief, that moment is high up there along with a few other games which managed to hit me right where it hurts.


Halo 4 felt more like a tragic love story than anything. Anyone who played the previous installments of this franchise knows that you as Master Chief and Cortana have a sort of friendship that seemed to only develop with each sequel.


Halo 4 was what really fleshed Cortana out as a character for me. Playing through this game eventually made me stop caring about the grand scheme of things in the Halo universe and more about just saving Cortana, exactly what Master Chief was/is doing. Even if she's just a 'synthetic intelligence'. 


Here's hoping Halo 5: Guardians sees her returning. I'm with ya all the way Chief, let's get Cortana back! 




Pretty much everyone has played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by now...unless you absolutely hate RPG's for some reason (you're weird).


It was a cool gimmick being able to marry certain NPCs in game but this vampiress refuses you no matter how many times you ask her, even getting annoyed with you for doing so!  


It's like Bethesda added this woman as a prank. She's probably the prettiest lady in this game (Aela coming in a close second), spouts off a bunch of unique lines, is actually useful as a companion, bonds with you (a lot) while doing her quest line (one whole expansion worth)...


And then cruelly denies you when you ask for her hand in marriage saying something about temples scaring her and whatnot. 


I only cried for two minutes before Fus-Ro-Dah'ing her off a cliff. 


PS - I know you can use mods to get her to marry you. But c'mon...that's like, cheating. 


Don't lie to yourself. We've all been there. 


Games are far more complicated than what they used to be. They've become something more than what we just do for entertainment. We're watching stories, interactive stories unfold with ourselves being the main character more often than not. 


So, it's not that uncommon that we just might become a bit more attached than normal with some of the badass, attractive characters we interact with in-game. 


Right, now that my excuses are established and out the way, let's get on with it!


There will be (very) minor spoilers regarding certain characters. I'll try to gloss over most, but you have been warned! 

Zero to Heroine: Strong Female Characters (Sharpshooters Edition) Sun, 12 Jul 2015 08:30:02 -0400 KungFro



Horizon Zero Dawn

So Horizon Zero Dawn was only just announced at E3 2015, but the game's reveal trailer has already established her as a beastly bowhunter. She's shown as agile and resilient during combat, but also humble in victory. All else that is known about her bowmanship is that involves high-tech arrows of varied effects – and she clearly comes prepared for anything.


Despite what little we've seen of her, Aloy has earned her spot on this list. The girl's got some serious skill with a bow, and her demeanor is neither frail nor caustic. I'm excited to see what she has to offer when the game is released.


And that's it! Are there any sharpshooting gals you would've hoped to see here? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below!


Lara Croft

Tomb Raider series

There was no way I could have written this article without Ms. Croft making an appearance. Her adventurousness is near unparalleled, and she keeps on trekking despite always ending up in the worst of predicaments. Her love of books is also a fantastic trait that isn't shared by many fictional characters.


Whether she's toting a gun or a bow, Lara boasts ridiculously accurate aim. Her survival skills have always been on point. No wolf, avalanche, or madman has ever stopped her – and save points ensure that even if they do, they don't. She's by far one of the gaming's most loved heroines, and one of mine as well.



Bayonetta series

Beauty, brutality, and bullets; Bayonetta is no joke. Her skills include wielding four guns simultaneously, wearing her hair as clothing, summoning demons, and slaughtering angels. Whether or not she's doing any of those things, she's most likely still being hyper-sexualized to no end.


Despite the ease with which Bayonetta can be reduced to fan service, she's undoubtedly a strong female. Her nonchalance when faced with powerful enemies displays confidence. Her attachment to Cereza, her younger self, reveals her motherly side. Her commitment to saving her friends demonstrates her dependability. She's not just lust with legs.


Joanna Dark

Perfect Dark series

A late bloomer due to being born with life-threatening medical issues, Joanna didn't have the greatest childhood. Her calling came at around the age of seven, when her bounty hunter father taught her how to manage firearms. The two later took on a dangerous contract, which ultimately became hers alone – RIP Jack Dark.


Joanna's no slouch in gunplay, but it was her flair for the theatrical that really won me over. Her father's death was a post-surrender execution, which upset her enough to set his killer aflame. Hell hath no fury like a pyro scorned.


Jill Valentine

Resident Evil series

Our zombie-slaying heroine since day one, Jill has set a high bar for female characters in horror games. Skilled in combat and bomb disposal, Jill has always been an asset in S.T.A.R.S.'s fight against bioterrorism. 


As is the nature of the Resident Evil games, Jill is no stranger to gunplay, able to repeatedly fire high-powered guns one-handed. Her physical strength is immense, as she can do a muscle up with ease. But she's also agile and acrobatic. To top it all off, she's an amazing friend, proven when she tackled Wesker out of a window to save Chris Redfield.


I've never been the biggest fan of shooters, mostly because I take way too much time to line up a shot. Why not snipe? Because I'm way too jittery to stay put for more than ten seconds. I need action. I need blood.


In lieu of my inability to properly man a gun, I'd like to show a little respect for the women that can. Here are five strong, independent leading ladies who don't need no scope.

Tempered Expectations: Why You Shouldn't Be Excited for the Final Fantasy VII Remake Fri, 03 Jul 2015 19:15:00 -0400 The Soapbox Lord

This year’s E3 certainly delivered some surprises didn’t it? We received a release date for The Last Guardian, pulling the highly anticipated project out of the vaporware realm. Yu Suzuki announced a Kickstarter for Shenmue III, another highly anticipated and oft-discussed game, (Sony’s involvement and the issue of funding is a topic to broach another time.) But Square Enix brought down the house with their short trailer announcing the beloved Final Fantasy VII will finally be receiving the HD/ remaster treatment fans have been clamoring to see happen. The only way we could have been more surprised is If Valve had announced Half-Life 3.

It will never happen.

To say the gaming community is abuzz with the announcement of a FFVII remake is akin to saying Batman: Arkham Knight on PC is buggy: a complete understatement. Fans are eagerly devouring every new piece of information to trickle from Square Enix about this game. We have seen countless articles about the subject, debates, conjecture, and more following the announcement and will continue to see these on the way to the game’s release. However, now that the dust has settled from the initial announcement, there are some things we need to discuss regarding this release, and some reasons as to why you should temper your expectations for the final release.  

We Haven't Seen a Thing

Honestly, this applies to any game announcement, not just the Final Fantasy remake. Until you actually get to see the game in action, expectations should be kept in check. Nowadays publishers are throwing games out to be pre-ordered before we have seen trailers, screenshots, or anything else for that matter (Evolve anyone?). Even when we do get to see the game in action, the final product can end up drastically different than what we were shown (Watch Dogs). While this rule applies to every game announcement, I am stressing its importance here because…

Changes are Being Made

With most re-releases in HD, the game is simply a prettier version than the original with most of the gameplay and mechanics left untouched or improved for the better (like the Monkey Island remakes). However, Square Enix is not content with just cosmetic changes for this Final Fantasy VII remake. There will apparently be quite a few changes made to the game in several places.

When the director Tetsuya Nomura was asked about gameplay changes he stated, “I can’t share details, but we’re changing it to a more realistic system.” This could be any number of things so we will have to wait to see some gameplay to understand what “realistic” entails.  However it seems the team isn’t content with just releasing the game with improved graphics, which seemed to be the simple desire of many fans. The team, or at least Nomura, wants to exceed the original. In the same interview Nomura went on to say, “Final Fantasy VII is special, and we can’t ‘exceed’ the game by simply making the graphics nicer. That’s not a thing to be excited about. Precisely because it’s a full remake, I want to challenge what’s fun and what’s possible now.”

Players have longed for the idea of Final Fantasy VII playable in HD ever since games have been receiving the re-release treatment. However, most of the comments I have seen from players concerning a HD version of the game would simply be content with a graphically enhanced version of Final Fantasy VII. While some of the mechanics and design may be dated, they are part of the game’s identity; they are integral to the entire experience.

When Nintendo released Ocarina of Time HD and The Wind Waker HD, they didn’t make a major overhaul to the mechanics or the gameplay. If they had, the games would not be the same. They made some slight changes which most people seemed to agree benefitted the games, but at their core, the games were still the same. I’m not saying Final Fantasy VII should not have some updates to the mechanics and gameplay. I imagine there are some ways those could be improved without compromising the identity of the game, but the comments from Tetsuya Nomura are worrisome. Like all games from our younger years though, it is important to remember…

It Won’t Be the Same As You Remember

Any time we fondly remember a game from our past, we tend to don our rose-tinted shades and overlook the problems the game may have had. Granted, this re-release will have issues of its own it will be bringing to the table, but some issues will have been carried over from the original. Nostalgia is what allows us to blindly overlook many flaws from the things we enjoyed in our youth. Revisiting many of these things as an adult usually results in us saying, “I don’t remember this at all!” or “I thought this game was better than this.”

Nostalgia has already changed many players’ memories about the game. It is undoubtedly a classic, but is it truly as good as you remember? The game holds a special place for many because it was the first entry of the series in the 3D realm and because for many players, it was the first game to kill a major, notable character (I guess people hadn't read Game of Thrones back then). This overwhelming sense of nostalgia is what has prompted a remake of this title over the many other Final Fantasy titles. Time will tell if the game is truly as good as you remember. However, there is one final reason why you should temper your expectations or just not be excited at all, and it is undoubtedly the most significant reasons out of all of these listed.

Square Enix is NOT Square

When Final Fantasy VII was released back in 1997, it was developed by Square. Square is a completely different entity than the entity now known as Square Enix. Squenix has seen it shares of success and great releases. Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Odin Sphere, and The World Ends with You are all titles we have had the privilege of playing thanks to Square Enix. However, the company has made some major missteps in the past five years alone. So let’s look at some of these mistakes.

This is the same company who released Final Fantasy XIV: a game that was met with such a negative reaction upon release; it was hastily announced a new development team would take over the game in an attempt to fix all of the issues with the title. While the new team has done a terrific job in restoring a dreadful game, one has to wonder why the game was launched in such a poor state with so many issues.

Let’s also not forget Square Enix is responsible for the entire Final Fantasy XIII legacy. FFXIII was extremely linear compared to past games with the game’s initial twenty or so hours being a tutorial. I have so issues with a linear title, but to constrain players with a tutorial that takes almost an entire day of play to complete?

While the game was largely well-received as whole, Squenix went on to release two direct sequels to the title that no one seemed to want. On top of diminishing returns for each sequel, Lighting Returns has yet to crack one million sales worldwide, the sequels also added gratuitous amounts of DLC , going so far as to have story content locked behind a DLC pay wall for Final Fantasy XIII-2

At the same time, both Hitman: Absolution sold 3.6 million copies and Sleeping Dogs sold 1.75 million copies back in 2013 and were considered “failures.” The Tomb Raider reboot was also considered an initial failure but has since gone on to sell at least 8.5 million copies and is now considered profitable. Final Fantasy XIII-2 has shipped around 3.1 million copies, but it is not considered a failure? It took Lightning Returns failing to sell even one million copies for Square Enix to finally get the message and move on to other games.

Remember, this is what failure looks like. 

Let’s also not forget Final Fantasy All the Bravest. This is a game that received unanimously negative feedback for its ridiculous amount of microtransactions and the way it treats players and the Final Fantasy legacy. While we are on the topic of mobile blunders, let’s take a look at the Final Fantasy VI release for mobile devices.

Instead of simply porting the excellent version the Gameboy Advance received some time ago, Squenix thought it appropriate to replace all of the wonder sprites and redo the visuals in the style of a horrible Flash game. Seriously, this thing is more hideous than the possessed Regan MacNeil.

The original.

Just no...

If Square Enix can’t respect Final Fantasy VI, regarded by many to be the pinnacle of the series, why on earth do we think they will respect Final Fantasy VII?

At the end of the day, we can only wait to see what Square Enix is doing with their Final Fantasy VII remake. While I am far from the only one who is dubious as to what they will release, I do hope more people will temper their expectations of what is to come. Final Fantasy VII is a legendary game, and it deserves the best treatment available. However with Square Enix’s behavior and decisions, I wonder it the game will get the treatment it deserves.

Now prepare for Save Aerith DLC. 


Rise of the Tomb Raider E3 Primer Trailer Unleashed Mon, 01 Jun 2015 12:47:07 -0400 Ryan Martinez

When it was first announced that the sequel to the Tomb Raider reboot series, Rise of the Tomb Raider, was going to be an Xbox One exclusive... fans were understandably upset. The first title of the series had been open to all platforms and now players who wanted to continue the story would have to do so on a console they may not have.

The first title of the series had been open to all platforms and now players who wanted to continue the story would have to do so on a console they may not have. Now that fan outrage from the announcement has settled, Microsoft is ready to kick off their promotions for Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Surprisingly, they set that hype train into motion today with an E3 primer trailer to give fans a taste of what they can expect from this years Xbox conference. A CGI trailer titled "Aim Higher" showcases a bit of the phenomenal voice acting that fans can expect from Rise of the Tomb Raider. Aim Higher also hints at where the story of Crystal Dynamics Tomb Raider reboot making the young Lara Croft stronger than ever after the events of the first game.

Lara seems to be looking back on great adventurers of the past, like Amelia Earhart, in her own search for something greater than herself in life. Suggesting the future tomb raider is having a bit of an identity crisis after her last harrowing adventure. Nothing is certain at the moment, but Aim Higher should help tide fans over until they hear more about Rise of the Tomb Raider at the E3 Xbox conference on June 15.