Tomb Raider Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Tomb Raider RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network 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.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Review: Should You Play It? Fri, 10 Feb 2017 08:00:01 -0500 JazmanGames

When the 2013 Tomb Raider was released I was sceptical, I bought it as I am long time Tomb Raider fan, but I found it to be too different to what I’m used to in a Tomb Raider game -- I was comparing it a lot to Uncharted. I couldn’t get into the story and it didn’t get my attention from the start. I stopped playing it and picked it up a year later and finished it off, it was a great story in the end but I found Rise of The Tomb Raider to be far better. I thought the writing and storytelling was a big improvement.

Rise Of the Tomb Raider

The story

Lara is following in the footsteps of her father in search of the Divine Source, an artefact that holds the key to immortality -- much like Nathan Drake's quest to find the Tree of Life in Uncharted 2. Lara is not the only one looking for this artefact however, as she has to deal with Trinity, a military group who want the Divine Source for their own gains. In this aspect, I do feel that there are similarities to Uncharted 2, the treasure hunter searching for the ancient artefact, a hostile military group also searching for it, and eventually stumbling on to an ancient lost city guarded by powerful undead citizens.

This is where the similarities end though as Rise of The Tomb Raider brings in its own unique story, new characters as well as old, and really builds on them with more detail. We see Lara having to fight her own conflicts, knowing that if she finds the Divine source it would prove her father right, completing the work he died for and restoring the Croft name. The other side of the conflict is Lara wanting to help the tribe who are protecting the Divine Source from being wiped out by Trinity, and stopping it from falling into their hands.

How does it play?

Crystal Dynamics have taken the gameplay mechanics from the 2013 Tomb Raider and improved upon them for Rise of The Tomb Raider. The control layout did take a little bit of getting used to, because they have ever so slightly changed it this time, but it is a more sensible layout. The controls are thankfully smooth and responsive.

Other than that Rise of The Tomb Raider plays the same way as the previous one but things have been expanded upon. There are more challenges to complete, and more places to explore, they have added more optional tombs. Some Tombs you cannot enter until you have progressed and unlocked a certain piece of equipment or skill, which means you’re forced to revisit the area later -- it's not a bad thing.

Optional tombs have also been improved upon, most are now challenging puzzles that you must complete to get to the end, and they provide a welcoming distraction from the main story while making the game feel like Tomb Raider again. (That was my main issue with the 2013 Tomb Raider, it didn’t really feel like a Tomb Raider game to me.)

The reward for completing tombs is usually an advanced ancient skill to help you in combat, hunting, and crafting. For example being able to highlight and target the hearts of animals you are hunting, rather than something like a weapon part in the previous game.

Optional side missions have also been included, these earn you extra rewards and experience, and some of these missions help your standing with the locals and even help with the end game as well.

Hunting and crafting is also still in the game, and again this has been improved upon, especially the crafting. You can now craft most needed items on the fly, and some unlockable abilities allow finding crafting components to be easier.

Lara can also be customised with outfits that you can unlock as your progress and complete various objectives.

Onto the graphics...

This game is stunning right from the start. Crystal Dynamics have created a very believable world that looks beautiful. From the Syrian desert, to the snowy mountains, through the geothermal valleys; Rise of The Tomb Raider pushes the limits.

I remember the start of the game, walking on the snowy peaks knee deep in snow, while creating a path in the snow and the wind is blowing, setting a great atmosphere.

Character models have been improved upon since the 2013 Tomb Raider too, and Lara’s character model has changed in appearance as well; looking more realistic. Cutscenes look amazing, and when combined with an excellent soundtrack, realistic sound effects, amazing performance, and motion capture by the actors it really completes the experience.

On the PC version DirectX 12 support was added to the game. It's is supposed to further improve the games looks (by making the game more optimised due to how DX12 works) and performance, however on my setup I found DX12 to be unstable and often caused my game to crash. This eventually got to the point where it became game breaking and I have had to switch it off.

DLCs have since arrived

We also see the addition of two addition story DLCs, Blood Ties and Baba Yaga: The Temple of The Witch.

In Blood Ties, you explore a neglected Croft Manor, with the death of her father and her mother missing Lara must find a way to prove that she is the rightful heir to the Croft estate, or risk losing it all to her Uncle and being evicted. This DLC as entirely narrative driven and has no combat or action in it, it is also quite short but gives a lot of insight into Lara’s past, her parents relationship, and how she came to be on her quest for immortality. There are also a few nods to the classic Tomb Raiders, especially Tomb Raider II, which fans of the classics will notice if they look hard enough.

In Baba Yaga: The Temple of The Witch Lara decides to investigate an old Soviet mining facility and comes across a woman who is searching for her missing grandfather. Lara agrees to help her locate him and enters the Wicked Vale, a location where the Soviet Military were trying to create a biological weapon. Upon entry Lara is exposed to pollen that causes hallucinations. It is this very pollen that the Soviets were trying to turn into a biological weapon.

We also see Lara deal with her fathers death and are given more insight into her relationship with him. There are additional puzzles to complete with a paranormal twist, a house on chicken legs and a finale boss fight with Baba Yaga which provides a very good ending to this DLC, with some small rewards for completing it.

So, should you play it?

Rise of The Tomb Raider has lots of Replay value thanks to a great story, excellent graphics and gameplay mechanics, as well as plenty of places to explore beyond the main story. There's more, with extra story DLC, recently added zombie survival mode, endurance and co-op endurance mode as well as score attack multiplayer. All of this means Rise of The Tomb Raider gives you plenty to do, and is well worth your time and money. 

If like me you didn't feel that the Tomb Raider reboot was good enough, I would strongly recommend giving this one a chance.

Tomb Raider 2013 Now On Linux - But is it too late? Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:19:31 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

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

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

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

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

linux windows

Free Linux may be part of the issue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks Steam Spy for helping with this.

Stressed office lady image source, SavaHapp.

More Go spin-off games could be on the way from Square Enix as domain names registered Tue, 29 Mar 2016 11:05:04 -0400 Scott Simpson

Domain names registered on CSC Domain Tools, which has been used by Square Enix in the past, suggests the company is looking to expand its catalogue of Go mobile games.

A cunning sleuth over on the NeoGAF forums uncovered domains for Just Cause Go, Deus Ex Go, Life Is Strange Go, Thief Go and Tomb Raider Go, suggesting these franchises could be getting their very own mobile spin-offs. Then again, considering these domains were all registered in bulk, it could simply be a case of brand protection.

Square Enix has already released two Go mobile games, based off of already established video game titles, in the form of Hitman Go and Lara Croft Go. Both games were very well received, winning several mobile game awards and even more nominations between them. With that in mind it's not hard to see why the company might be looking to expand on this success.

Final Rise of the Tomb Raider DLC detailed Wed, 23 Mar 2016 17:52:04 -0400 Bradalay

The latest downloadable content pack for Rise of the Tomb Raider has been revealed by Microsoft, and is set to release March 29th.

Cold Darkness Awakened is a horror inspired adventure, set in a decommissioned Cold War base. Lara will once again face the villainous group known as Trinity, but this time with a twist -- a Siberian illness is afoot, turning the soldiers into bloodthirsty killers. 

Xbox Wire revealed the content pack release date, providing a brief synopsis alongside it.

A decommissioned Cold War research base has been breached, unleashing a deadly affliction from its Siberian slumber. As the illness seeps into the wilderness surrounding the base, Trinity soldiers transform into bloodthirsty killers who thrive on carnage. To prevent the affliction from spreading, Lara must rely on her wits, physical agility, and crafting abilities to overcome this new enemy and shut down the decommissioned base.

Cold Darkness Awakened will be final downloadable content pack for Rise of the Tomb Raider, following the releases of the Yaga Baba: The Temple of the Witch and Endurance Mode DLC packs. 

Rise of the Tomb Raider released November 2015 exclusively on Xbox consoles to critical acclaim. A desktop version soon followed in January, with a PlayStation 4 release planned for later this year. GameSkinny gave the title a nine out of ten, calling it "essential"

Just Cause 3 ancient tomb locations guide for Tomb Raider achievement Tue, 01 Dec 2015 17:19:47 -0500 Ty Arthur

The third installment in the open-world Just Cause series lets you wreak unimaginable havoc across an absolutely massive game world separated into three main regions, each of which has multiple islands to explore. Whether you're parachuting, helicoptering, or launching yourself off stunt jumps in regular old sports cars, you'll find all sorts of interesting locations -- including a set of ancient tombs.

If you grab a helicopter and fly (or use the wingsuit or parachute) around the Insula Striate area, you can find quite a few of these on your own just by looking down, as each tomb is covered in a circular pattern of distinctive blue flowers.

After finding a tomb, simply walk up to the door on the side and press Triangle on the PS4 or Y on the Xbox One to “pay your respects.” If you pay your respects to the dead at all 23 ancient tomb locations you'll both nab the appropriately titled Tomb Raider achievement and unlock a new weapon that will be available through rebel drops.

Below you can find the locations of every tomb, or if you are looking for guides to specific Just Cause 3 challenges be sure to head over here instead.

Ancient Tomb #1

Province: Costa Sud

Coordinates: N 40 – 46.453 E 5 – 46.689

This first tomb is located on the far eastern end of the island (and the northeastern tip of the province) on the top of a hill just to the south of a large, open bay.

Tomb 1

Ancient Tomb #2

Province: Prospere

Coordinates: N 40 44.602 E 5 40.034

Near the south-to-southwest corner of Prospere (almost all the way into the neighboring province to the south), this one is a little harder to land, as there's not a ton of room. Be careful not to slide off the side if you are parachuting or landing a helicopter on the small hillside just to the side of the main road below.

 Tomb 2

Ancient Tomb #3

Province: Val De Mar

Coordinates: N 40 46.793 E 5 40.778

This one has plenty of wide open space, so feel free to bring your helicopter down to the tomb located on the western side of the province in between the two large bodies of water.

Tomb 3

Ancient Tomb #4

Province: Val De Mar

Coordinates: N 40 47.105 E 5 41.191

Slightly to the northeast of the previous tomb, this one is just north of the third body of water in Val De Mar. The tomb is located on the edge of a cliff and is flanked by a heavily wooded area on all sides, so wingsuit or parachute is the way to go here -- unless you want to land your chopper a good ways away and hike over.

Tomb 4

Ancient Tomb #5

Province: Litore Torto

Coordinates: N 40 50.463 E 5 45.111

The fifth tomb is in a really awkward position on a large sloping hill on the northwest end of Litore Torto, so a helicopter is really a no-go here.

Tomb 5

Ancient Tomb #6

Province: Litore Torto

Coordinates: N 40 46.911 E 5 45.680

Not far off from some ruins, this tomb is at the very southern-central end of Litore Torto, just before it switches over to Umbra province and is located slightly to the west of the road.

Tomb 6

Ancient Tomb #7

Province: Libeccio

Coordinates: N 40 46.370 E 5 36.948

In the northern-central area of Libeccio (straight up from the finger of water that juts into the province), this tomb is located on a plateau ringed by trees on all sides, making flight of any kind the best way to arrive.

 Tomb 7

Ancient Tomb #8

Province: Libeccio

Coordinates: N 40 45.897 E 5 32.755

All the way on the far western side of Libeccio before hitting the ocean, this tomb is found on the top of a grassy hill overlooking the water.

Tomb 8

Ancient Tomb #9

Province: Libeccio

Coordinates: N 40 45.976 E 5 33.677

The ninth tomb is a little hidden because it's underneath a canopy of trees in a mountainous area, so you'll have to parachute down and find it on foot to the east of the previous tomb.

Tomb 9

Ancient Tomb #10

Province: Grande Pastura

Coordinates: N 40 50.677 E 5 41.788

While there are trees here making helicopter landing difficult, there's a nice open field just to the side if you fly a little further past the coordinates in the north-central area of Grande Pastura (just north of the road). There's still a ways to go to discover them all. But on the plus side, we're now in the double digits of tomb raiding!

Tomb 10

Ancient Tomb #11

Province: Grande Pastura

Coordinates: N 40 51.536 E 5 44.608

On another hill looking out towards the water, this tomb is found at the very northeastern corner of Grande Pastura before the land meets the ocean. This one is distinctive for having both white and yellow flowers in addition to the typical blue.

Tomb 11

Ancient Tomb #12

Province: Grande Pastura

Coordinates: N 40 49.943 E 5 41.844

This province has more than its fair share of ancient tombs! Tomb #12 is found in the middle of Grande Pastura in a clearing surrounded by trees.

Tomb 12

Ancient Tomb #13

Province: Grande Pastura

Coordinates: N 40 49.652 E 5 43.932

On the side of a cliff just below some ruins, the 13th ancient tomb (and final one found in Grande Pastura) is located to the southeast of the previous tomb location.

Tomb 13

Ancient Tomb #14

Province: Maestrale

Coordinates: N 40 47.192 E 5 39.018

Again found on a cliff near some ruins, this one is hard to get at from below and is easier to approach from above using a parachute.

Tomb 14

Ancient Tomb #15

Province: Maestrale

Coordinates: N 40 47.132 E 5 38.056

This tomb is located near the southeastern quadrant of the province, just a bit to the west of the previous tomb.

Tomb 15

Ancient Tomb #16

Province: Maestrale

Coordinates: N 40 47.182 E 5 36.893

You should be able to see a large ruined structure partially covered by trees as you approach this tomb even further west from the previous Maestrale location.

Tomb 16

Ancient Tomb #17

Province: Maestrale

Coordinates: N 40 48.526 E 5 36.044

A gorgeous view awaits you when find this tomb in the north-central area of Maestrale, located to the south of the ocean.

Tomb 17

Ancient Tomb #18

Province: Maestrale

Coordinates: N 40 48.782 E 5 35.442

Located along the top of a rocky ridgeline, Just Cause 3's 18th ancient tomb is to the northwest of the previous tomb.

Tomb 18

Ancient Tomb #19

Province: Maestrale

Coordinates: N 40 48.815 E 5 34.563

A little more difficult to locate than the others, this tomb is under heavy tree cover and can't be seen from above. You can find this one by heading north of Maestrale's lake and finding the wooded area just to the northeast of Rocca Blau's province border.

Tomb 19

Ancient Tomb #20

Province: Maestrale

Coordinates: N 40 49.473 E 5 34.271

Looking out over of the ocean, ancient tomb #20 is found in the far north end of Maestrale province.

Tomb 20

Ancient Tomb #21

Province: Maestrale

Coordinates: N 40 49.070 E 5 33.095

Found on a ridge up above the road that is accessible with your grappling hook, this tomb is to the west of the previous tomb and to the southeast of the large docks on the map.

Tomb 21

Ancient Tomb #22

Province: Maestrale

Coordinates: N 40 47.718 E 5 35.088

Slightly hidden by tree cover, the 22nd ancient tomb is actually just off the dirt road near a small bridge to the south of Maestrale's major lake and to the east of the Rocca Blau border.

Tomb 22

Ancient Tomb #23

Province: Maestrale

Coordinates: N 40 45.740 E 5 38.740

It's been an epic and lengthy journey across Insula Striata, but we're finally at the 23rd ancient tomb, netting you the Tomb Raider achievement! The final tomb is on a tree-covered ridgeline at the very south end of Maestrale and to the west of Prospere.

Tomb 23

Rise of the Tomb Raider Review: A Reflection of America's Religion Battle Fri, 13 Nov 2015 05:50:54 -0500 Matt_Paprocki

By chance, Rise of the Tomb Raider released alongside a public scuffle over Starbucks' holiday coffee cups - Starbucks' 2015 edition is solid red. No snowflakes, no snowman, no green. Just red. Conservative Christians believe Starbucks is destroying Christmas; the cups are equal to the derogatory X-Mas. Rise of the Tomb Raider happens to make metaphorical sense of the scenario: Its villains are the vocal Christians who feel Christmas has been belittled by a red beverage container. Heroes are other pacifist Christians who are sensible about their beliefs.

Out of 2015's low profit margin blockbusters, none are showcasing bravery in their content like Crystal Dynamic's follow-up to their 2013 reboot. This was a development studio who blew out their welcome on chunky 32-bit space games and a talking gecko pre-Geico. Now they're churning through compelling theological debates, in sync with real world social drama.

Rise of a Theological Battleground

Rise of the Tomb Raider, on the surface, appears to examine religious devotion like a dire History Channel special, say Bible Secrets Revealed - exploitative Saturday afternoon cable filler. Direct connections to the Christian faith are downplayed by Tomb Raider. The name is not spoken. That hurts. However, the aesthetics won't lie. Religious tomes textured in gold. Images of a white, bearded prophet and his dozen followers tiled into ancient stone. Stained glass crosses. Halos. Execution, resurrection; it's as if a Sunday mass has been installed in an adventure game.

Mysticism, miracles, faith; there is little here which ignores Christianity's backbone. It's fair criticism to believe the avoidance is fear over upsetting a target audience or becoming the red cup. It's hypocritical. The industry has few qualms with mowing down Middle Eastern Muslims within a slew of contemporary war dramas. All of the picturesque realism surrounding Lara Croft battles itself without the religious authenticity.

All of the picturesque realism surrounding Lara Croft battles itself without the religious authenticity.

Then again, maybe direct causal links would act as a distraction from what Tomb Raider is doing. It's not a slam against faith. Rise's scarred villain Konstantin has gone insane with belief. To doubt his allegiance to the unnamed prophet is worthy of death, a plot waiting soak up sales from the increasingly atheist/agnostic 20-something demographic. A majority of video games would leave it this simple.

But there is a balance, other believers living off the land in seclusion, wanting to be left alone. They pray, they live without intruding on anyone's life. Anti-Starbucks Christians (but not anti-Starbucks Christians) bring their vehicles to erode the landscape with missile strikes, disrupting a reasonable, unobtrusive, and devoted lifestyle. That's the powerful framework, a religion imploding because progressive society challenges centuries-old systems. Some adapt, others use metaphorical firearms to keep the old guard.

Reflection of Our Times

If there exists a single mainstream video game (and it is certainly alone as a console exclusive) which acts as a reflection of modern society, it is Rise of the Tomb Raider. While not an encompassing portrait, the exaggerated narrative is an unforgiving interpenetration of media flare ups over Kentucky license clerks, school prayer, and what some view as religious persecution. Konstatin has no greater purpose other than enacting what he sees as God's will – he's the Westboro Baptist Church of the scenario. It's a loaded sentiment and displayed without sensitivity toward prejudiced conservatism.

Heroine Lara Croft rallies to aid the peaceful believers, crossing a sublime (even subtle) open world which make sense of the genre's typical nonsense. By pure will, Rise is more than its allegory. The game stumbles – Lara cannot pick up dropped guns until they're “officially” acquired; people leave an inordinate amount of voice recorders lying about – but is brightly willing to acknowledge itself as a video game in other functions. Adding ammunition capacity to a rifle with deer skin is an uneventful mechanic. These do not impact a carefully guarded narrative. In comparison, disallowing gun pick up is an error which breaches logic.

Lara handles the loss of life unfazed; she's used to stabbing and shooting people.

There is also a lingering issue of violence. Like Rise's predecessor, the finale is a slew of disconnected gunplay scenarios. It's far too loud. To credit, Rise handles the slow influx of action set pieces with a matured eye for pacing, only succumbing to a helicopter battle as closure. Lara handles the loss of life unfazed; she's used to stabbing and shooting people now. When questioned, she replies, “I kill to survive,” a phony bit of exposition. Staying at Croft Manor in Surrey, England would save thousands of people. She apologizes for what she has wrought on a small village, a disingenuous gesture.

Quirks aside, Rise of the Tomb Raider can join a list of essential contemporary and fashionable video games. It's a stand out which includes bountiful “content,” dodging the misguided attraction to superficial busywork available in other games. The only signs of age will be technical.

Properly Defining Buzzwords

Games too often falsely call themselves cinematic... It's an act, a marketable front. Not so with Rise.

Rise is flushed with production values which work beyond thematic scoring and attractive eye candy meant for trailers. Rise is overflowing with purposeful voice, focused on developing characters as much as its theme. Games too often falsely call themselves cinematic while missing critical intangibles. It's an act, a marketable front.

Not so with Rise. Tension is genuine, eliciting panic from Lara when near drowning or losing grip while clinging to ice walls. Lara shows growth as well, now determined and sure of herself as opposed to distraught. There is proper establishment of place, time, and story composition, infinitely more cinematic than camera angles. People, places, things; they're stocked with identity and introduced with a proper sense of narrative spacing.

While Rise of the Tomb Raider is a piece of dedicated fantasy, relive Lara's trek sometime in the future and it will be likely to decode 2015's social circumstances. It's the same as superhero cinema stirs in domestic spying and government overreach parables between laser beams. Important entertainment landmarks are capable of keeping their value.

The Marvel Universe cycle is one. Video games have Rise of the Tomb Raider. The upheaval over gay marriage rights. Concerns over church and state. Inflammatory clickbait headlines which incite a typing war across social media. That stupid, stupid coffee cup. Those are all embedded into and indirectly part of Rise of the Tomb Raider. Better still, common sense prevails. Hopefully Rise is predicative too and coffee cups of the future are only used to serve drinks.

US GOP debate has lowest viewership yet... possibly because of Fallout 4? Wed, 11 Nov 2015 10:03:20 -0500 David Fisher

The Republican party had their presidential debate yesterday, and it had some of the lowest ratings in this election campaign so far. According to New York Daily News the debate only pulled in 13.5 million views - this compared to 25 million and 23 million for the first two GOP debates. That's almost half of the viewership! But who is to blame?

As we all know, yesterday was a pretty hot day for video game releases. Coming to our TV screens and PC monitors yesterday were big name titles like Rise of the Tomb Raider, Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void, and the crowd favorite Fallout 4 all simultaneously released on November 10th.

While it may seem unlikely that 10 million gamers decided not to watch the GOP debate, we have to remember that video game players - particularly the age of majority ones - are pretty active in politics. In fact, we're typically the first ones to cry out injustices when they're carried out.

So maybe - just maybe - the American political debate that was held on the same day Fallout 4 was released might have had a little bit of sway in that number. I mean, the game's pretty darn great despite its glitches, and it's not that hard to speculate that more than a few gamers have been glued to their screens since release. I know I have.

Of course, this isn't the only possible explanation; maybe Americans are just running out of steam already in this election cycle.

What do you guys think? Have you been following the presidential campaigns? Did Fallout 4, Legacy of the Void, or Tomb Raider stop you from watching this debate? Do you have a completely different theory for why there were less viewers? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Rise of the Tomb Raider launch trailer released Fri, 30 Oct 2015 06:27:29 -0400 astik_anand

A launch trailer for upcoming action-adventure game, Rise of the Tomb Raider was released today by Microsoft. The 3-minute long trailer explains the basis of the new plot and shows off a number of massive in-game set pieces.

The video is backed by an original song- 'I Shall Rise' by Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O, who got academy award nomination for 'Moon Song' from Spike Jonze's Her

'I Shall Rise' is available now across almost all digital music services, including iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon. It's the first song O has ever written for a video game.

Most part of the trailer video is taken from the gameplay itself. Featuring the beautiful shots from the game, great background score, and somewhat new story, the video is a treat.

The Rise of the Tomb Raider is set to release on November 10 across Xbox One and Xbox 360. The PC and PlayStation 4 versions, however, are coming out later in 2016. This release date is the same as that of Fallout 4. Microsoft recently stated that the company is not worried about the same day release.

Read this great article on Lara in the upcoming game by Gabriella Graham here

What do you think about the trailer? Leave your comments below.

Rise of the Tomb Raider paints a multifaceted and compelling Lara Croft Mon, 19 Oct 2015 17:40:53 -0400 Gabriella Graham

Rise of the Tomb Raider marks the next stage of development for Lara Croft on her path to become the "Tomb Raider" in the second installment of the franchise's reboot. The Crystal Dynamics team shared much of what went into making a realistic Lara, determined to the point of obsession and violent in her pursuit of truth. The game reflects Lara's stunningly human growth through two veins that the development team fought to flawlessly merge together: the psychologically deep, compelling writing and the modern technology that goes along with the game's graphics.

Answering life's questions

Rise of the Tomb Raider continues the Lara Croft origin story that 2013's reboot began. The game sets out with a number of goals, all centered around the archaeological heroine and how she comes to be the uniquely crafted Tomb Raider many of us know and love. Game director Brian Horton explained that the game takes a woman moving almost recklessly toward her destiny and explores who she is and why. For the development team, a reboot meant a complete redesign of the character from the ground up. Lara comes to fans freshly realized with an intense exploration of her psyche.

All ends justify these means. Everything included in the game exists specifically as a compliment to the narrative. Michael Brinker, senior game designer at Crystal Dynamics, told Finder that the game revolves around the exploration of character backgrounds. If the history behind Lara Croft falls under the dark and twisted category, then so be it. So long as every piece is true to her, it's true to the game.

Rise of the Tomb Raider's development team tackles Lara's coping mechanisms.

Lara's frame of mind undergoes a serious transformation between Yamatai and her encounters with Trinity, our new antagonists, in Rise of the Tomb Raider. As I said before, her determination verges on obsession. Lara puts her own life at risk to follow leads in pursuit of the truth. She has something to prove to the world and to herself.

The trailer released during E3 2014 shows the heroine fidgeting in a doctor's office. Rather than being stressed by the stories she has to relate, there's a sense of unease with a world that doesn't believe her experiences were real. Horton elaborates on the significance of the trailer repeatedly contrasting her therapy with danger-riddled scenes of her journey:

"Traditional therapy isn't what Lara needs at this point; what she needs is a way to reconcile the pain that she has suffered and also the draw that she has, this compulsion to discover more of these things now that she's just glimpsed them on Yamatai."

A return to normalcy is no longer an option for Lara. She "outcasted herself from society", committing all of her being to the compulsion to continue seeking meaning in a world filled with true myths. The reconciliation of her pain comes at the price of another journey. She must "leave conventional life behind" and discover answers on her own in a manner more selfish than altruistic. This results in Lara consciously throwing herself directly in harm's way.

Lord Croft unlocks the deepest understanding of his daughter.

Our beloved Tomb Raider stands before us both stronger and emotionally bruised, driven to recklessness as she grapples with the legacy of the insurmountable passion her father left behind. Rise of the Tomb Raider looks at Lara's childhood and deteriorated relationship with her father as she herself pursues pieces of the research Lord Croft left behind. Lord Croft sparked Lara's scholarly adoration, but she lost him to his pursuit of relics, ruins, and myths. Her discoveries in the previous game leave her with a sense of guilt, now understanding her father's work but having spent years avoiding comparisons to "that kind of Croft."

Growth begets aggression.

The game trailers revealed during and since the E3 conference presented fans with a taste of the Lara Croft they'd play in the newest game. Her confidence has skyrocketed since the previous title, but Lara has also become more aggressive and daring.

Rihanna Prachett, Rise of the Tomb Raider's writer, told GameSpot, that Lara's ability to survive has much to do with this change. The experiences our protagonist faced at Yamatai introduced terrible violence to her life. Now, Lara stands "mentally prepared to fight fire with fire." Prachett connects this to her evolving sense of self:

"And although she’s not 100 percent comfortable with this, she’s starting to come to the conclusion that for whatever reason, she’s someone that can do this."

In some cases, that means swallowing down morales regarding animal cruelty to strap live munitions to chickens. GameStop's pre-order of the game grants exclusive rights to this feature, but its very existence demonstrates the change in Lara's mindset. Her willingness to "fight fire with fire" extends to literal explosions. There's no coming back from blowing up; her enemies are conclusively taken down. Arguable hilarity of this ability aside, it also demonstrates her ingenuity, a sure extension of the confidence and drive she's coming to terms with.

No nuance left behind

Principal Artist Kam Yu weighed in on the importance of the game's graphics and functions in reflecting Lara's change and growth. Lara's development stemmed from her environment in a physical sense as much as an emotional one. Developers pushed the physicality of the world in Rise of the Tomb Raider to ground the heroine. Blood and injuries appear in time as consequence to in-game events, snow gathers on her shoulders and in her hair, and her gestures demonstrate nervousness in tight spots. The character acknowledges damage to her body and even becomes woozy with a blurred and shaky screen image when she's seriously hurt. Lara lives in every moment in order to feel alive to the player, actively engaging in her environment.

Yu emphasizes the importance of Lara being a real person, and the new technology that's yielded in pursuit of this goal. Facial blend shapes were utilized in the game's development to bring more than one hundred blend shapes from Camilla Luddington's performance to Lara's appearance. Crystal Dynamics sought to capture every last nuance for the truest realism in Lara Croft we've ever seen.

The Crystal Dynamics team has taken a hard look into the heart and mind of an iconic character for an experience fans aren't likely to forget. The adventure hits stores November 10th for Xbox One and Xbox 360. The PC and Playstation releases will follow in 2016.

Anticipating the official game release? Eager to meet this new Lara Croft? Curb your enthusiasm by discussing to your heart's content down below.

[Interview] Christopher Lee Buckner talks about Dark Storm Ascension Thu, 10 Sep 2015 20:28:39 -0400 mrivera269

Earlier last month I covered a Kickstarter game by the name of Dark Storm: Ascension. The game was heavily inspired by Metal Gear Solid and promised a strong female protagonist by the name of Amber Kingsley. Unfortunately, the game was not funded and fell short of their $50,000 goal. But that did not keep the developers down at Fenrir Studios. With the help of an unknown publisher and the release of Dark Storm VR Missions on Steam, Dark Storm Ascension is development is still pushing on. I caught up with lead game designer/ lead writer Christopher Lee Buckner to talk about Dark Storm: Ascension.

Gameskinny:  In your last Kickstarter update, you mentioned a major publisher standing by your development. What publisher is this? Also, will they be supporting you financially to help the game see its completion?

Christopher Lee Buckner: I can’t talk about that right now because no paperwork has been signed. Needless to say, we were very happy that they took an interest in us, and it was something we never saw coming. During our Kickstarter we featured Dark Storm at Casual Connect in San Francisco, where the representative from (publisher X) showed up just to see us after another individual, who played our game was so impressed by what we’ve done with no money, and a staff of volunteer developers that, he made a phone call that very day on our behalf. Hopefully, we’ll have more information soon – but the wheels do turn pretty slowly.  

Gameskinny: Dark Storm: Ascension is heavily inspired by Metal Gear Solid, in what ways will the game differ and/or improve from the Metal Gear Franchise?

Christopher Lee Buckner: That is always a difficult question to answer. I don’t want to say we are going so far from Metal Gear Solid that no one will notice that we take a lot of inspiration from it, but we aren’t a MGS clone either. We do draw a lot of influence from other games as well: Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Half-Life series, and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, to name a few. It seems every player has their own take on what our game reminds them of. Nevertheless, there are some things we want to expand on, or improve from MGS such as a strong story, but not one that is so confusing, or a futuristic sci-fi setting, but not one that can be a little too much on the weird side. Ultimately, I’ll just have to say, wait and see what we do and judge for yourself.  

GameskinnyHave you played Metal Gear Solid V? If so, has the newest edition to the series add any new inspiration you would possibly add to Dark Storm?

Christopher Lee Buckner: Speaking only for myself, no I haven’t played MSGV, or do I plan on playing it anytime soon. I do like the series, but it isn’t among my favorite as I’m more looking forward to Star Wars: Battlefront and Fallout 4. Nevertheless, there are some MSG nuts that lead this project and they even had a work stoppage for a couple days so they and a few others could spend a solid 48 hours just checking the game out. So far, MSGV has some amazing AI from what I’ve been told, and it is the AI that we are mostly looking at when it comes to adjusting what we have planned for Dark Storm: Ascension. 

Gameskinny: One of your game features is “True First-Person”, can you elaborate on what this means? How would it differ from other first person games?

Christopher Lee Buckner: It is basically something that helps the player feel like they are the character without being confined to a particular camera setting like most FPS’ have. The player can freely look around without having their weapon be the center of the player’s view, as a small example. Games like Mirror’s Edge do a pretty good job of making you feel like you are the character, and we hope to do something very much similar to that experience with Dark Storm: Ascension

Gameskinny: Your Kickstarter advertised the game to be on Steam and Xbox One, is this still true for the platforms the game will be released on? Also are there any plans to release the game to PlayStation 4?

Christopher Lee Buckner: Currently, Dark Storm: VR Missions is on Steam Early Access. The VR Missions were Greenlight in 7 days by Valve just last month, and being an Early Access helps us get some money to fund Dark Storm: Ascension. So far the response has been quite positive, we are happy to say. As for the Xbox One, we do plan to release Dark Storm: Ascension on the console, and would like to also release on PS4 soon after if possible. For right now, Steam (PC) and Xbox One are our primary focus. 

Gameskinny: Are there any plans for Multiplayer in this game? Or will it be strictly single player?

Christopher Lee Buckner: Easily the most asked question fans have wanted to know from us. Sadly, it is a profound yes and no. Yes, we do hope to include a standalone Co-op game sometime after we finish production on Dark Storm: Ascension. But no, we aren’t planning any competitive multiplayer for the game. Creating a competitive multiplayer brings with it a mess of complications that we really don’t want to deal with. Furthermore, the story is our primary focus for the series and we would not want to fall down the Call of Duty or Halo rabbit hole of dividing fans between multiplayer and story content. 

Gameskinny: Amber Kingsley seems like a strong female lead. How would you stack her up against other female protagonists such as Lara Croft or Jill Valentine?

Christopher Lee Buckner: Both are fantastic characters, with Lara Croft is my favorite female protagonist ever (video games and comics). Speaking just for myself, I joined Fenrir Studios because of Amber. I love that our game will feature three strong female leads, heroes and villain, and for my own personal writing style I tend to focus on capable female characters quite often, which was partly why I was asked to join the team. Time will tell if Amber can measure up to Lara Croft or Jill Valentine, but I do feel the audience will agree with me that Amber is a very human character. 

Gameskinny: Are there still plans to be able to play as She-Wolf?

Christopher Lee Buckner: We really hope so. She was supposed to have her own storyline for an expansion if we reached a certain amount of money during our Kickstarter. For now, since the Kickstarter failed, we have to focus on what is most important, and that is the primary single player game for Dark Storm: Ascension. If the game is successful, we do hope to do a She-Wolf storyline within the Ascension timeframe, but we’ll have to see what happens in the long run. 

Gameskinny: Is there an estimated release date for the game? 

Christopher Lee Buckner: We are hoping, as long as everything stays on schedule, releasing the game sometime in 2017, depending on if we get funding or not.  

GameskinnyLastly, tell readers why you believe they should be paying attention to Dark Storm: Ascension. Why should they be excited?

Christopher Lee Buckner: We at Fenrir Studios strives to bring an AAA level of quality to indie gaming. Dark Storm: Ascension is ambitious, perhaps more so than a lot of indie games you see released. We already have a strong story, amazing characters, and a wonderful concept that has managed to turn some heads, both among gamers and the media. If we stay on course, hopefully very soon, players will start to see Dark Storm come to life, and from that, the work will speak for itself. 

Dark Storm: Ascension is ambitious and promising. Fenrir Studios hopes to bring a game with a strong story and dominant female protagonist. If you want to learn more or help support developement on Dark Storm: Ascension you can visit their website here. Stay tuned for more coverage on Dark Storm: Ascension

Girls with Guns: Top 10 video game women with serious firepower Thu, 27 Aug 2015 09:38:22 -0400 David Fisher


That's all folks!


This is the end of my Top 10 Girls with Guns list. It's great to know that there's such a diverse set of women in video games that are able to stand among the guys in the big-leagues in terms of firepower, but I'm sure everyone can think of their own favorite gun-gals.


This is where I turn it to you! What other gun-totting girls in gaming can you come up with? Where would you place them on the list? Do you disagree with any of my claims or placements? Leave your opinions and ideas in the comments section below!


#1 Samus Aran - Metroid


Some of you might be unimpressed by the Metroid protagonist taking the #1 spot, but hear me out because Samus Aran just might be the most dangerous gun-girl on this list. In fact, her abilities not only rival, but surpass Bayonetta's in combat, and here's why.


Unlike Bayonetta, Samus's weaponry has no drawbacks. Should Bayonetta die, her soul is forfeit. While this doesn't matter too much, there is one thing that does: Samus's suit never tries to kill her. In Bayonetta 2, Bayonetta's own demon summoning tries to kill her. Had Jeanne not stepped in the way, Bayonetta would be having a nice date with the devil as her soul gets eaten by demons. Samus? No such problem.


Okay, so maybe that's not fair, but lets look at their weapons. Samus has Power Bombs and the Hyper Beam. Both weapons are capable of penetrating walls, armor, and killing just about everything except for Samus. Even if we take the Hyper Beam out of the equation, Samus's Ice-Plasma-Wave-Long Beam of doom is enough to take out Bayonetta's demons. How do we know this? Because both demons and angels in Bayonetta bleed, and if there's anything that Metroid fans know it's that if it bleeds, Samus can kill it.


If that's not enough of a hard sell for the toughest critics, consider this: Samus has a tendency to not destroy temples or cities. No... Samus destroys planets. Over her career Samus has completely destroyed several planets, namely: Zebes, SR-388, and Phaaze. She also technically destroys Dark Aether if you want to count that too.


Tack on Samus's numerous suit upgrades, energy tanks, and weapons and you have one of the most over-powered heroines in the history of gaming. With such a track record, Samus Aran gets the honor of the #1 spot on this list.


#2 Cereza/Bayonetta - Bayonetta


This sultry, sexy, and over-the-top gun-slinging babe is perhaps one of the most controversially discussed females in gaming. Why? Because even feminists can't seem to decide if she's a derogatory or empowering character.


While I'll leave that debate to someone else, I will say that Bayonetta certainly earns a #2 spot on this list. Having saved the world from apocalyptic destruction on more than one account, our little "Cherry" is one of the most lethal women in this list. With the powers of Hell at her disposal, Bayonetta has taken on - not one - but two gods, multiple archangels, several archdemons, and Rodin (basically Satan himself) in her short career.


Bayonetta's arsenal is nothing to scoff at either. If you thought dual-wielding guns was impressive, Bayonetta quad-wields a series of swords, pistols, flamethrowers, and rocket launchers. On top of that she has the ability to summon archdemons at will. While she is technically the hero of her series, she tends to be just as destructive as her opponents. Bayonetta has destroyed planes, airfields, skyscrapers, towns, cities, and more without much effort at all.


But there's always a bigger fish. That leaves us with the #1 gun-gal on our list...


#3 Commander Shepard - Mass Effect


Commander Shepard is perhaps one of the most powerful - and empowering - females on this list. Not only can she look as realistic, unrealistic, beautiful or... homely... as you want. She can also be as flirtatious or as dangerous as you want. But we're not here for her social life. Instead, we're here for the weapons of mass effect (get it?) that are at Shepard's disposal.


In example, Shepard is capable of using a number of weapons types ranging from space pistols, to shotguns, assault rifles, and snipers. However, it's Mass Effect 2 in particular that Shepard carries around the most heat. Weapons like the M-920 Cain nuclear launcher or the M-490 Blackstorm are literally weapons of mass destruction. This puts her above Nova Terra since she can pretty much launch a miniature nuclear bomb at any time.


While this is great and all, Shepard herself is not exclusively a woman, nor is she a character of her own. Since players have to decide what kind of woman (or man) Shepard is, she gets placed at #3 on this list.


But hey, for any fanboys or girls she certainly earns my #1 spot as the most fun at parties though, especially when Wrex and Grunt are around.



#4 November "Nova" Terra -Heroes of the Storm


Another member of the Blizzard's universes, November "Nova" Terra is among the most lethal. Imagine this: your job as a government assassin is not only to take out notorious criminals like the terrorist "Jim Raynor", but also to take out the unruly Protoss, and colossal enemies like the Zerg Ultralisk. Sounds like a difficult job, right? Not for Nova.


 As a Ghost operative, the Dominion Army is Nova's weapon. Her ability to call down nuclear missiles, Battlecruiser Yamato Cannons, and siege tank strikes puts her authority and destructive capabilities well beyond those of her predecessor, Sarah Kerrigan (when she was still a ghost that is). She also has the benefit of having a permanent cloaking generator, something that is only granted to the highest-ranking Ghost operatives.


That not enough to convince you? Well how about this: she is the only Terran Ghost known to mind control her opponents. That means no one is safe from her reign of terror.


With this stellar set of abilities, Nova Terra gets a well-deserved #4 slot on this list. Now if only she could get her own game...


#5 Sgt. Bama "the Hammer" - Heroes of the Storm


What do you do when you are pulled into an otherworldly arena, and forced to do battle against demons, angels, aliens, and magical creatures? If you're Sgt. Bama "the Hammer" Kowalski, blow them to hell with your Crucio-Class Siege Tank, that's what!


While Sgt. Hammer isn't exactly the most impressive gal on our list in terms of enemies killed, she does sport some impressive firepower and destructive capabilities. Just about everyone and everything that gets in the way of her siege tank is dead. This is without mentioning her arsenal including: spider mines, arclite siege cannons, her blunt force gun, and good ol' napalm strikes.


As a result, Sgt. Hammer climbs the ranks and demolishes the previous gun-girls with a #5 standing.


#6 Lara Croft - Tomb Raider


Lara Croft is by no means superhuman. In fact, Lara is just another explorer in search of treasure and other ancient goodies. However, she often finds herself in situations that are supernatural in nature. In the Tomb Raider series, Lara is known to face off with a number of of mythological creatures such as minotaurs, Japanese oni, Egyptian gods and more! Even when she's not fighting other-worldly creatures, Lara has a habit of running into one too many Tyrannosaurus Rex.


Since she also has a bad habit of destroying more tombs than she raids, Lara earns her spot at #6.


#7 Jill Valentine - Resident Evil


Jill Valentine is a force to be reckoned with. A survivor of the S.T.A.R.S. Mansion Incident, Jill has been known to tango with the dangerous T-Type Nemesis bio-organic weapon developed by Umbrella Corps. She has also been known to use just about any weapon from a lowly Beretta pistol to rocket launchers and flamethrowers depending on the situation. Her abilities in combat were only increased as a result of the P30 device attached to her chest in Resident Evil 5.


Jill is certainly one of the more dangerous ladies on our list - both as a life-saving ally, and a life-threatening enemy. However, she is not one of the most destructive. Her abilities for survival and combat earn Jill Valentine the #7 spot on our list.


#8 Alyx Vance - Half-Life 2


Alyx is perhaps the first crush of many young gamers. Appearing in Half-Life 2 (and the subsequent episodes), Alyx has fought against the alien Combine in an effort to save humanity. Mixing it up with a skill-set that includes: CQC, pistol and shotgun use, coming back from the dead, and causing dimensional tears alongside Gordon Freeman, Alyx is a force to be reckoned with.


Among Alyx's kill-count are a number of headcrab zombies, antlion guardians, and presumably larger Combine war machines. Paired up with her personal pet-project (I'm really sorry for the puns today, guys), she is the ultimate survivor in the Half-Life universe. Her intelligence, reputation, and general bad-assery earn Alyx Vance the spot of #8 on this list.


#9 Claire "Lightning" Farron - Final Fantasy XIII


While Lightning is known for taking down enemies that are larger than her on a daily basis, her skill-set is one of the least explosive in the Final Fantasy franchise. In fact, her exclusive skill - Army of One - is basically nothing more than her slashing and shooting an opponent multiple times despite it sounding like a much more impressive ability.


What's worse is that she is almost always accompanied by a team, and among those team members is Vanille, a spell caster whose basic abilities can at times be more destructive and visually impressive. However, for her ability to fight much larger enemies on a consistent basis (and her gunblade technically being a gun) Lightning earns the #9 spot on this list.


#10 Ellie - The Last of Us


Ellie is the female lead in the PlayStation exclusive title The Last of Us. In her battle for survival, Ellie has used a variety of weapons to defeat hordes of fungal-infected zombies. Among her arsenal is a pistol that never runs out of bullets (gameplay mechanic, I know), molotovs, hunting rifles, shotguns, and more. To top it all off? She's only 14 years old!


While this is impressive and all, Ellie only makes this list because she is able to fend off adult-sized humanoid enemies. Having never even fought the larger bloater zombies by herself, Ellie earns herself the spot of #10 on our list.


Honorable Mention: Chell - Portal


Portal's Chell is quite the intelligent little devil. Navigating through GladOS's puzzles, confronting GladOS with nothing more than the Portal Gun, and destroying Aperture Labs - only to do it all again in Portal 2! If that's not enough of a resume for this gun-toting lady in heels (excuse me... Long-Fall boots) then maybe the fact that she's got the guts to leave Aperture into the open world of the Post-Half-Life series will sell you on that. Remember, she did wake up hundreds - if not thousands - of years after the first game according to this timeline.


While Chell is by far one of the more interesting characters on this list, her Portal Gun barely qualifies under our "firearm" criteria. However, her clever use of GladOS's own rocket launcher and turrets to destroy the evil computer mastermind gives her just enough destructive tendencies to earn her an honorable mention on this list.


The realm of video games is perhaps one of the best places to find women of all shapes and sizes. One of those shapes and sizes just so happens to involve destroying just about everything that gets their way with serious firepower. There's just something about these gun-toting gals that draw in male and female audiences alike, whether it's the sex-appeal or in some cases a female power-fantasy (something that is severely lacking in the market).


Today we'll be looking at the 10 most powerful girls with guns in the video game universe. To fit the criteria the character must rely on these firearms for the greater portion of combat, and destroy at least one enemy that is twice their size.


With the criteria in check, let's take a look at the Top 10 Video Game Women with Serious Firepower!

The 16 biggest AAA releases still to come in 2015 Sat, 08 Aug 2015 15:39:18 -0400 Daniel R. Miller



Release Date: 12/8/2015
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4

Just to be clear, Hitman is not a reboot.  It is simply going to return to its roots, and the title is a representation of that ideal.


The original games were built around the idea of a sandbox assassination, delivering multiple methods for the player to complete their contracts in a large space.  Absolution streamlined these idea to make the series more appealing on a commercial level, but IO Interactive is doing away with that completely to give fans, both new and old, the real Hitman experience.


So there you have it. Which release are you most excited for? Let us know in the comments!


Xenoblade Chronicles X

Release Date: 12/4/2015
Platforms: Wii U

The original Xenoblade Chronicles almost didn't make it to the United States.  If it weren't for the fan campaign, Operation Rainfall, we wouldn't be anticipating the arrival of its spirtual successor, Xenoblade Chronicles X.


Although it is not a direct sequel, X does evolve the core Xenoblade experience by adding even more futuristic elements, presenting a world that is far more advanced technologically. Players will also have the ability to pilot a mech across the game's open world. The game also promises to be a less linear experience than its predecessor, letting players customize their own character's appearance and class.


Just Cause 3

Release Date: 12/1/2015
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC

The open-world action movie that is the Just Cause series is going next-gen this December.  If you're looking for emotionally gripping narratives here, you've come to the wrong place - unless a tinge of anger followed up by a massively chained set of explosions really tugs at your heart strings.


Just Cause is and always has been about creatively insane stunts, corny dialogue, and destroying anything and everything, just because you can (as the name implies).  And now with even more processing power to work with, Just Cause 3 is sure to be the craziest game in the series yet.


Star Wars: Battlefront

Release Date: 11/17/2015
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Personally, I think Battlefront is the most intriguing AAA game left on the 2015 game calendar.  As a life long Star Wars fan that poured countless hours into the original games, I'm excited to see how DICE adapts their design philosophies to the Star Wars brand.


I have my doubts about a consistent 60 FPS during online multiplayer matches, but battles look like they are going to be as layered and dynamic as any of the original games.  The lack of space combat is a bit of a bummer, but isn't that what sequels are for?


Fallout 4

Release Date: 11/10/2015
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4

If there's any upcoming release that can force its way into the Game of the Year conversation, it's Fallout 4.  The track record is there to prove it.  Bethesda has taken home the Golden Joystick in 2006, 2009, and 2012 for Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Skyrim, respectively.  


The competition is fierce this year, but no game will offer its players a bigger playground with as much freedom as Fallout 4 will.  No matter who wins, one thing is for sure: the people who have won the most this year is the gamers.


Rise of the Tomb Raider 

Release Date: 11/10/2015
Platforms: Xbox One

Even though it's just a timed exclusive (and most games are nowadays anyway), Xbox One gamers will have a pretty solid head start on Rise of the Tomb Raider when it hits Microsoft's current gen console this November.  Rise of the Tomb Raider is the follow up to 2013's Tomb Raider, a massively successful reboot of the classic '90's and early 2000's franchise.


With Tomb Raider's popularity officially revitalized, there are (unsurprisingly) already talks of a third game, so it's safe to say that Lara Croft is going to be relevant for a long time to come.


Call of Duty: Black Ops III

Release Date: 11/6/2015
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Wondering whether there will be another Call of Duty game is like wondering if the Earth is still rotating around the sun.  If it isn't, something is horribly wrong.  The most profitable first-person shooter franchise of all time has another game coming out this year, and for the first time ever, it's Sony, not Microsoft, that has scored the timed exclusivity deal on the game's DLC. 


Black Ops III continues to push the franchise into the future and will build on the freedom of movement mechanics introduced in last year's entry, Advanced Warfare.  Look for a lot of gamers to decry yet another cash cow release, then turn around and buy the game Day 1.


Halo 5: Guardians

Release Date: 10/27/2015
Platforms: Xbox One

Easily the Xbox One's most anticipated exclusive, Halo 5: Guardians is the latest entry in the legendary first-person shooter franchise and the first to take advantage of next-gen technology.


Guardians will also predominantly feature a protagonist who is not Master Chief.  Players will also be taking the role of Locke, another Spartan soldier whose mission it is to search for the Master Chief. 


The campaign mode will feature a larger emphasis on co-op gameplay, as the game will have squads of Spartans following the player character around, making it conducive for people to drop in and drop out at their leisure.


Assassin's Creed: Syndicate

Release Date: 10/23/2015
Platforms: PS4, PC, Xbox One

It wouldn't be a fourth quarter release without another Assassin's Creed title.  Syndicate is the latest in a long (looong) line of annual historical assassination romps, and this time players will explore London in 1868 during the Industrial Revolution.


Ubisoft is hopeful that Syndicate will help the series move past last year's troubled release, Assassin's Creed Unity, and will attempt to bring more sense and context to the story as it pertains to the modern world.


Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege

Release Date: 10/13/2015
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4

Rainbow Six: Siege is a tactical multiplayer shooter that offers multi-faceted environments with intense close-quarters action that demands its players consider every step before taking them.  The result is a controlled chaos that's addictive to watch and a bit intimidating to play (in a good way).


Environments are both destructible and reinforceable, which helps to promote replayability by adding an element of unpredictability to each match.  Siege looks like it has all the makings of a popular eSport, so expect this game to be relevant for a while.


Rock Band 4

Release Date: 10/6/2015
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4

It's been about five years since the last entry of Rock Band hit store shelves.  Co-op music games pretty much fell off the face of the planet soon afterwards, so it's refreshing to see not only the franchise, but the genre make a long-awaited return.


Rock Band 4 will be compatible with over 2,000 tracks from the previous games and runs at a crisp 1080p, 60 FPS.  It's worth noting that the developers elected to drop the keyboard peripheral, but they maintain that the game will still utilize the guitar, bass, drums and vocals.


Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5

Release Date: 9/29/2015
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360

The Warehouse level in the original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater back in 1999 is the stuff of gaming legends.  The series has had quite an extended hiatus, with the last official entry dating all the way back to 2002. So the pressure is on developer Robomodo to re-create the magic of the original games for a whole new generation of gamers.


Robomodo did release an HD remake of the original game back in 2012 to incredibly mixed results, so there is some legitimate concern to whether or not they can pull this off.


Super Mario Maker

Release Date: 9/11/2015
Platforms: Wii U

Super Mario Maker aims to give Nintendo users the largest community-driven content marketplace on the Wii U.  The game lets players take classic Mario levels and scenarios and turn them all on their heads by throwing all manner of enemies, traps, and power-ups together to create all kinds of chaos.  However, players can only upload their creations after they beat it themselves - so nobody can complain that a level is impossible to beat.


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Release Date: 9/1/2015
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox 360, PS3

Hideo Kojima's swan song with Konami is almost upon us.  The legendary game designer has been declaring the end of his time with the series since Sons of Liberty, but unfortunately Konami has seen to it that this time it's for real. 


After getting a taste of what to expect from the game last year with Ground Zereos, the experience will be evolving even more into what is undoubtedly the most open-ended Metal Gear game to date.


Players will have no limits in how they go about playing The Phantom Pain.  Campaign missions can be accomplished in multiple ways, or even dynamically aborted if you feel like going off the beaten path to explore the wilds of Afghanistan.  All the while, you will be building up and defending your heavily customizable fortress, Mother Base, from enemy players online. 


Mad Max

Release Date: 9/1/2015
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4

Mad Max: Fury Road is arguably the best movie to release this year, and now Avalanche Studios is capitalizing on the brand's revitalized popularity with a new open-world action game simply titled Mad Max.  


The game features a heavy emphasis on vehicle combat and customization, and it takes inspiration from the Batman Arkham series in its close quarters combat system.  Players will be able to upgrade Max in a variety of ways, from unlocking offensive and defensive buffs to being able to disarm and use enemy weapons to their own advantage.


The world itself is massive, and rewards players for taking the time to explore by offering up tidbits of information as to what an area was like before the apocalypse, creating a sense of character within each region.


Until Dawn

Release Date: 8/25/2015
Platforms: PS4

Until Dawn is an interactive narrative that likens itself to a horror film and comes from developer Supermassive Games. It stars Hayden Panettiere as one of eight playable characters whose fate will be in the hands of the player.  The game is built in the same vein as Telltale's The Walking Dead and Heavy Rain, with branching choices that will dictate the end of the story.   


Until Dawn tells the story of a group of friends that take a trip to a secluded cabin in the mountains.  As it turns out, there is a serial killer on the loose and the group has to survive the night by any means possible.  


In Until Dawn, every character can live or die, but no matter how the story plays out, you cannot lose even if everyone dies.  Every playthrough is meant to be unique to every player, so in that sense, the game can be infinitely replayable.


2015 has seen its share of game releases that made even the most patient and frugal gamers ignore their instincts and splurge on Day 1.  Bloodborne, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Batman: Arkham Knight have already released to great acclaim, and have all either been on par with or outscored last year's Game of the Year, Dragon Age: Inquisition.  What's exciting about this is that the best game of 2015 might not even be out yet. To keep things concise, this list will only consist of brand new games with confirmed release dates - so remasters, ports and games with placeholder release dates will not be included. Here are the big AAA game releases officially due this year.

Favorite Gaming Moments: Tomb Raider (PlayStation) Sat, 08 Aug 2015 02:30:01 -0400 katlaborde

When the original Tomb Raider debuted in 1996, the game immediately garnered acclaim along with heavy media attention towards the game's protagonist, Lara Croft. I remember going to the book store, seeing Lara's picture on the front of all the popular gaming magazines. With over 7.5 million copies sold worldwide and critical acclaim, Tomb Raider paved the way for adventure games and brought us a legendary gaming icon.

Tomb Raider was actually one of the few games, the other two being Resident Evil and Final Fantasy VII, which brought me back into gaming. My brother rented Tomb Raider from Hollywood Video and I spent the next few hours playing it. I loved it so much, that he bought a used copy from Game Spot for me. Unfortunately, the copy was damaged as the bar would always get stuck right between Lara's legs on the loading screen for one of the Peru levels. However, since my brother is awesome, it was returned to Game Spot for a new copy, allowing me to finish Lara's first adventure.

Opening Cinematic

Technically, the scene I'm referring to isn't the game's actual opening, but rather the opening scene to the Peru levels. Lara and her associate, an unnamed local guide, trek up a mountain towards a Peruvian tomb. Lara repels up the side of the mountain, hitting a button allowing the door to open. Suddenly, wolves emerge from the within the temple, killing Lara's poor guide. Like a boss, Lara cuts her rope letting herself fall all while shooting at wolves with her dual pistols.


So the graphics are really rough compared to today's standards and Lara slaughtering the wolves might be considered unethical, but this was the first display of female badassdom in gaming for myself. Even though her outfit in the scene is totally illogical for the environment, Lara takes charge instead of having to be rescued by a man.  It's female empowerment at its finest if you don't take the outfit into consideration. Plus the wolves totally killed that guy! They deserved it, right? Right?!

Bear attack!

Don't worry. It only takes 500 shots to kill.

During the second Peru level,  Lara discovers a giant pool in the middle of a huge room. As the player approaches the pool, they get one huge, furry surprise in the form of a massive bear! You don't even hear the bear coming, it usually gets one good bite into Lara before you notice it. The bear is freakin' ninja! Every time I entered this area,  I tried to mentally prepare myself for the bear attack. It never worked. The bear always managed to sneak up on me as I flipped around the room trying to get away from it.  On top of that, the bear takes about 500 shots with the pistol to kill. It is frustrating, but frightening, and one of my favorite moments from the game.

Lara versus T-Rex (seriously.)

Someone should get that bridge fixed.

Still in Peru, Lara discovers a jungle area nestled away in the tomb. As if this isn't weird enough, Lara gets attacked by raptors shortly after entering the jungle. After dispersing of the raptors (they had their chance to live!), Lara heads deeper into the jungle where several loud rumbles are head. Then, emerging from the darkness in front of her, a large shape appears revealing itself to be a charging T-Rex! Lara must dip into a small alcove underneath a waterfall to evade its attack and pummel it with bullets. All logic aside, the addition of the T-Rex is pretty awesome. Hearing the sound of its menacing footsteps as it emerges from the unusually completely black background is weirdly exciting. Even better, Lara gets to add it to her animal hit list.

The Midas touch

All that glitters...

When Lara travels to Greece, she finds herself facing an unusual puzzle. She must take three lead bars, obtained throughout the level, and turn them into gold. How would someone do that? Well, fortunately, a statue of King Midas' hand allows just that to happen. But what if we put a small medical pack on his hand, maybe one of Lara's guns, or LARA HERSELF?! Because the developers are awesome, Lara can actually be turned to gold! I found this very amusing the first time until I figured out I did not save beforehand. I guess it can be classified as a sort of "Easter egg". Regardless, it is probably my favorite death in a video game ever.

Lara's doppelgänger

Kind of looks like a sexy ET.

Heading through Atlantis, Lara encounters a weird creature which mimics her every move. At first, its presence is jarring due to its freakish appearance. However, it is actually a unique puzzle. Lara must get rid of the doppelgänger by moving around the room in a way to where the doppelgänger will fall into a pit of lava. Once accomplished, Lara is free to move forward through the level. I alway thought this part was strange. The doppelgänger looks nothing like Lara, unless she was turned inside out maybe. Gross.

Do you have any favorite moments from Tomb Raider? If so, please share in the comments below!

Rise Of The Tomb Raider will release on PS4 and PC in 2016 Tue, 04 Aug 2015 20:03:31 -0400 Jason Green

At first it looked like the chances of seeing Rise of the Tomb Raider on another console other than Xbox One was slim. But now, word from Square Enix states otherwise. The company said that Lara Croft's next adventure will be on PS4 and PC in 2016. 

Rise of the Tomb Raider will be a timed exclusive with Microsoft and will stay on Xbox for a solid year before transitioning over to PlayStation; which, puts it in a release window for Holiday 2016. The PC version will be released early next year.

This is the sequel to the 2013 reboot Tomb Raider, which sought to breathe new life into the stale but loved franchise. This time it followed the trend of being dark and gritty. Even though Square Enix stated the sales weren't what they wanted at first, it was well reviewed and managed to eventually turn a profit.

Lara's latest adventure will to continue the more serious tone of Tomb Raider and explore more of why Lara does what she does and the hardship of being a thrill seeker.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is due out November 10th, 2015 on Xbox One, early 2016 on PC and the end of 2016 on PS4.   

Rise of The Tomb Raider shouldn't share risky release date with Fallout 4 Mon, 15 Jun 2015 10:43:37 -0400 Curtis Dillon

Rise of The Tomb Raider's release date has been announced. The follow-up to the 2013 reboot will release on November 10th....the same day as Fallout 4. Bold move.

Rise of The Tomb Raider is the highly anticipated sequel to Tomb Raider, developed by Crystal Dynamics. This game takes Lara to central Russia in search of the lost city of Kitezh. The environment is harsh and cold, with snow and icicles everywhere, not to mention avalanches, and survival will be a key factor in the game. Check out the E3 gameplay reveal below.

The timed-exclusive on Xbox One has been rumored to release in the fall for a long time now, and Microsoft continually reiterated a "Holiday 2015" release window, but the decision to release on November 10th seems like a very foolish one.

"Highly anticipated" is a term that doesn't even encapsulate the excitement and anticipation surrounding Fallout 4.

The follow-up to mega-hit Fallout 3, which released in 2008, has been rumored and theorised about for almost 8 years. It's hard to recall any other game in which anticipation was so high. With that in mind, if your game is not called Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, Halo, or Star Wars, you should probably steer clear of Fallout 4's release date.

Fallout 3 managed to sell over 5 million copies in its first week on the market in 2008, which is incredible for a game that is not a known entity. Sure it was the 3rd Fallout game but the first two titles in the series were PC games, the 2nd of which came in 1998. So Fallout 3 released in 2008 and few knew what the heck it was, and yet it sold an amazing amount. It sold more than the reboot of Tomb Raider, which is a very famous franchise and launched on consoles with a much higher user base.

Fast forward 7 years and Fallout is a cultural phenomenon and beloved by almost every gamer. Fallout 4 will outsell everything else this fall. Pre-order numbers will sky-rocket in the coming weeks, especially following the incredible E3 demo for the game, which included the reveal of the ultimate collector's edition that includes a frickin' Pip-Boy!

Other games releasing in November 2015 include Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Star Wars: Battlefront, XCOM 2, and a few others. Call of Duty and Star Wars are also two mega franchises that will sell regardless. So with those two series', and the return of Fallout, where does Rise of The Tomb Raider fit into all of this?

Honestly, it's hard to imagine any scenario in which Tomb Raider fares well.

The 2013 reboot released in March 2013, up against very little, and the sales figures were considered a disappointment. Now the sequel is releasing solely on Xbox One and Xbox 360, no PS3 or PS4, which immediately cuts into a large chunk of the gaming audience. Then you add in the other games being released around it and things don't look great for Lara. And that's not even taking into account that many Xbox gamers will already have shelled out their money on Halo 5 just 2 weeks previously.

Right now I think the best option for Crystal Dynamics and Rise of The Tomb Raider is to delay the game. Pushing the game into 2016 is the best way for Microsoft and Crystal Dynamics to ensure that the game gets room to breathe and reaches an audience that isn't overwhelmed. Uncharted 4, Quantum Break, The Division, and several other games have already been delayed into early 2016 and that seems like a great decision right about now.

When releasing a huge AAA game that you hope to sell millions of copies, the last thing you should do is release it in the most incredible month gaming has seen in years and allow it to be lost in the shuffle.

For the sake of Rise of The Tomb Raider, Microsoft needs to delay the release.

Which Game Will Be Delayed Next? Sun, 31 May 2015 07:51:55 -0400 Curtis Dillon

Delays, delays, delays. 2014 was a tumultuous, albeit transitional, year for the PS4 and Xbox One. The first full year for new consoles is never pretty, but 2014 was particularly frustrating at times. Numerous games were delayed, and plenty should have been - we're looking at you, Assassin's Creed: Unity.

Delays aren't bad. Premature reveals are.

It's important to note that a game delay is never a bad thing. It's better that games take all the time they need to be good. The problem is that games are being revealed far too early, and so unnecessary time constraints are put on the developer. We've seen this happen to the some of the biggest franchises, from Watch Dogs to The Last of Us.

Sony learned the hard way that revealing a game too early is counter-productive (i.e. The Last Guardian and Drive Club), so it's been playing its cards very close to the chest this time around. We know very little, or nothing, about the games being made by Sony's first-party developers, and I don't expect we will know anything until the games are well and truly ready.

Too much time means too much hype.

Microsoft has had issues in this department as well. Although never officially slapping a release date on it, most gamers expected Quantum Break to be released this year, and now that it isn't the case. Quantum Break was revealed 2 years ago at the Xbox One reveal event, and it won't come out for another year.

Such ridiculous periods of time lead to over-hyping a game and expectations that are too high. But to Microsoft's credit, it never gave a release date for the game. With such early reveals, publishers are setting the odds against their game before it ever comes out.

What's taking so long?

There are many reasons why a game might be delayed. And as I said earlier, delays are never a bad thing. Uncharted 4 was revealed in November 2013, and was supposed to be released this holiday season. But it was delayed to 2016. Another case of a 3-year gap between announcement and release.

However, Uncharted 4 was revealed to give the PS4 a much-needed boost in the exclusive games department. It was a way of letting loyal fans know that the big hitters were coming. The delay was also genuine: Naughty Dog is the top developer in the industry right now and anything less than their best quality would be a disappointment. They themselves have said that the 3-week delay of The Last of Us was the difference between a great game and a masterpiece. So I believe them when they say the delay is for quality purposes.

The opposite of this is Batman: Arkham Knight. The conclusion to the Arkham trilogy was revealed in March 2014, and Rocksteady said it would be released in late 2014. Two weeks later, the game was delayed to 2015. June 2015. 8 MONTHS! This is the definition of a disingenuous delay.

Rocksteady knew that this game could never be ready in 2014, but they revealed it anyway in an attempt to take mindshare away from the supposedly not-good-enough Arkham Origins. Delays like this, when developers use upcoming games as distractions or hair to ramp up pre-orders, just feel dirty.

The Legend of Zelda for Wii U....or NX?

The most recent delay is The Legend of Zelda Wii U. There was quite a lot of speculation about this game, but Nintendo continually reiterated that it was coming this year. Couple that with the fact that Nintendo rarely delays games, and this one came as a bit of a surprise. (That being said, the only delays that would genuinely shock me now are Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed and Fifa.) 

The Legend of Zelda on Wii U has been pushed to an unannounced date in 2016. What's more troubling about this delay is the boycott of E3. It's bad enough that the game was delayed after numerous denials from Nintendo, but the fact that it won't be at E3 is a real knock to the fans.

The delay of Zelda and the announcement of Nintendo's next console, codenamed NX, has a lot of fans wondering if the next Zelda will even be available on a Wii U. There was a similar case with The Twilight Princess, which came out on Gamecube, then Wii the following year. Maybe Nintendo pull a u-turn and show some Zelda at E3!

Which Game Will Be Next?

Needless to say there is no way of knowing for sure, but there are telltale signs. The primary sign is radio silence or lack of footage. But that isn't always the case. Uncharted 4 had a huge 15-minute demo in December and was looking good, but here we are. And the same can be said for Zelda. But with all that in mind, the first choice that springs to mind is...Rise of the Tomb Raider.

The timed Xbox One exclusive is scheduled for a holiday 2015 release, Xbox's answer to Uncharted. Even though the game was fully revealed in June 2014, we've heard very little about it ever since. The reveal featured a cinematic trailer. Since then we've had no gameplay footage and only a handful of screenshots. This seems weird, considering it's Microsoft's big fall game. We're around 7 months from release, and there's been relatively nothing from Square Enix.

In comparison, the 2012 Tomb Raider reboot had gameplay trailers a full year before release. Add in the confusion around the exclusivity between Square and Microsoft, and this game needs some light shed on it. Hopefully I'm wrong, because what details have been revealed make Rise of the Tomb Raider one of the most exciting games for this year. Regardless we will know by E3 in June whether or not this one is truly coming in the fall.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is my number one choice for next big delay, but there will most likely be more. No Man's Sky is so incredibly ambitious that I wouldn't be surprised by another delay. The game is supposed to release this year, but that's pretty vague.

Then there's Until Dawn, Fable Legends, Persona 5, The Division, Rainbow Six: Siege, Scalebound, and Star Wars: Battlefront. There's a chance that any of these games could be delayed. There's been little to no information on Rainbow Six since its reveal at last year's E3.  

Those are just a few of the games that may follow Uncharted 4 and Zelda and be delayed into 2016. Which games do you think might be delayed? Let us know in the comments!

Reboots Should Exist (but Need to Be Done Better) Wed, 06 May 2015 06:53:51 -0400 Elijah Beahm

It's only a few weeks since EA unveiled the first few details about their Star Wars: Battlefront reboot, and like many fans, I was more than a bit on edge about the changes. I mean, no space combat, Instant Action playlists, or Galactic Conquest mode? It sounds almost unrecognizable beyond being set in the Star Wars universe. Even now, I won't deny my skepticism, but that's tempered by something I've realized over the past few years.

Reboots and reimaginings are not inherently bad, but they need to be better.

Why do I say this? Because I've seen plenty of great new twists on established franchises get thrown to the curb just for being different. Syndicate, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, Lost Planet 3, DmC: Devil May Cry, and more all either got ignored or shunned by their respective fanbases. It didn't matter if they were true tributes to the source material, compelling in their own regard, or just solid experiences. "It's not X game" in the fanbase's eyes; it is 'bad'. Because a developer giving a title a new spin is somehow terrible?

I often hear the argument that the "name" matters more than the quality of the game itself. Sales figures agree with this to some extent -- otherwise some games like Star Wars: Masters of the Teras Kasi would never have left the store shelves. Yet, no one had trouble admitting Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness was terrible, and it still carried the Tomb Raider name. Really, when you think about it, should we put so much weight in a name alone?

Realistically, a name only means it is associated with a franchise. For example -- there's an Uncharted trading card game on PS Vita. Uncharted is traditionally a linear third-person shooter with a heavy emphasis on set pieces, so the connection is tenuous at best. Yet, people enjoyed it, because it still generally fit under the theme of "risking it all" for "treasure." Why is this a one-off case?

For example, Syndicate might be a first person shooter this time around, but it is layered in references and tonally consistent to that of the original game. The co-op, in particular, takes heavy reference, and the levels and upgrade system are designed around ideas from past series entries. The only difference was that instead of being an isometric shooter, it was first person and had a heavier action focus.

The new title wasn't Syndicate: Farm SimulatorIt is as much tied to the original game as Syndicate Wars is. It would actually be less genuine to the franchise if it had been a turn-based game, or a puzzle game.

Contrary to popular belief, some genres have improved since the '90s.

Where DICE's Battlefront Fits in

So, with all that said in mind: should I really be so hard on Star Wars: Battlefront? And before you say "yes, because EA!", just stop and think about if any other publisher was handling this. Like, what if 2K was handling this? There'd still be a season pass, platform exclusive DLC, and more. The game would still be in the hands of a new team with a new idea of what it means to be a Battlefront game. The EA argument only goes so far as the comments section; let it stay there and focus on the real problem.

That problem being, we are dealing with a dev team who have a fundamentally different perspective on what makes a fun shooter than Pandemic did in the early 2000s. These are people who are used to and in favor of modern trends. That doesn't necessarily mean they're going to ruin Star Wars: Battlefront, but we all knew that it was extremely unlikely it would just be a straight sequel. A straight sequel would have been Free Radical's Battlefront III, and we all know how that went.

What we should be concerned about is not simply if it "counts as a Battlefront game," but whether or not it is a damn good game on its own merits. If DICE produces a solid Star Wars shooter that I can spend hundreds of hours in, then I won't care if it is different. I have GameRanger and my copy of Battlefront II if I need an old school Battlefront game.

Now, this isn't to say everything is sunshine and roses; being hesitant over reboots is perfectly understandable. For every DmC: Devil May Cry, there is a Bionic Commando. For every Lost Planet 3, a THIEF. There are even the most truly unnecessary of reboots and reimaginings, like Bomberman: Act Zero. We've seen how truly bad a rebooted franchise can be, and we can do better.

We've seen how truly bad a rebooted franchise can be, and we can do better.

Not everything needs to be rebooted.

When considering a game from a reboot perspective, we must consider what it is doing with the IP. As I said, Syndicate is directly tied into elements of the original game. By contrast, 2013's Tomb Raider dropped almost all the puzzle focus of Crystal Dynamic's Tomb Raider trilogy and instead turned it into a survival-shooter.

Combat in the past Tomb Raider games was the least notable element, outside of iconic boss battles. It was something included to break up the pacing, not built as an integral part of the franchise. Instead of being built for solving elaborate puzzles and navigating traps, the game focused on intense brawls and grinding for experience points. These changes led to a divisive stance on the game.

Tomb Raider isn't the only reboot to have mis-targetted its audience to confusing results. Resident Evil 6 was effectively a soft reboot, and while action fans enjoyed it, survival horror fans generally decried the game. If a reboot or reimagining abandons what is at the core of a game, then it goes from simply being a reboot and is, at best, a spin-off title. Then we go back to the naming problem because you then say "why not make it a new IP?" Except, there's a very simple reason:

Gamers are far more likely to buy a game based on its IP than most other reasons.

With only so much time to play and only so much money to spend, most gamers will be dubious and remain hesitant about going outside their normal franchises.

You can drag a horse to water, but that doesn't mean he will drink. Even if he is starving, and the water will quench his thirst for the rest of his life with its magical properties. He'd much rather drink from Battlefield 3's moldy, discolored water simply because he's familiar with it. This is what publishers have to work with, and yet you still wonder why Battlefield: Hardline exists.

At the end of the day, it is not simply publishers and developers influencing how reboots are handled. You, the gamer out there actively making purchases and decisions, impact that. And you know what, if you enjoy a reboot, reimagining, or spin-off of a favorite franchise, then that is fine. You just can't then call bull**** on a publisher for rebooting another one of their long dormant franchises that you may or may not have liked in the past.

This is what publishers have to work with, and yet you still wonder why Battlefield: Hardline exists.

The fact a reboot is being made at all means that either someone has a really compelling idea, or the publisher is struggling to make as much income as possible and is trying to get its money's worth out of IPs. Because, at the end of the day, this is a business for the publisher, regardless of if they are Valve or EA. Your personal feelings on how they handle things only go so far with where their monetary investments are concerned.

Star Wars: Battlefront needs to be judged as a standalone title. That is how DICE is developing it, and that is how we should treat it. If it is a terrible game on its own merits, then whether or not it is a true follow up doesn't really matter. Whether it's EA's meddling, DICE's ideas not holding up, or something else, it needs to be judged on its own.

The same goes for if it is an amazingly good game. Regardless of IP, it will be a good game as a reboot. Batman Begins was a great film, regardless of if you liked Batman or not -- and the same principle should remain true for games as well.

So let's look at games for what they are, not what we wanted them to be our the hype or our rose-tinted memories tell us. They're games, good and bad alike, and it's our choice to play them.

Lara Croft: Relic Run Coming Soon to iOS And Android Mon, 13 Apr 2015 18:50:31 -0400 Charly Mottet

Lara Croft has been around for a long time, now, and we haven't gotten bored of her yet. The Tomb Raider is getting her own kind of runner: Lara Croft: Relic Run.

The game, developed by Simutronics alongside Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics, was released Monday, April 13th in the Netherlands. Dutch players are encouraged to give their feedback in order to allow the company to fix any bugs before the game's global release. 

Lara Croft: Relic Run is not going to be like any old "adventure runner" game, though. Gamers will be able to perform acrobatic feats, use vehicles, engage in combats and even fight boss battles. You know what this means? That's right, an epic boss fight with the infamous T-Rex is just waiting to be had. 


 Not Lara's first run on smartphones

The announcement of the free-to-play wasn't too surprising, though, because the editor had already trademarked the game through the OHIM (Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market). Other Lara Croft games, like Tomb Raider 1 and 2 for iOS, as well as Lara Croft: Reflexions and others, have already been released on mobile platforms, so this isn't the first time the little Tomb Raider that could is making an appearance on smartphones. 

Lara Croft: Relic Run will be released on Android and iOS in the months to come, as well as on Windows Phone

[Photo credit: Square Enix]

Square Enix Release Tomb Raider For Android Wed, 01 Apr 2015 19:12:48 -0400 Ryan Mayle

You would think it being April 1st that this type of news would be a joke, but it most definitely is not. Today Square Enix brings the 1996 classic Tomb Raider to the Google Play store. In its own right, you would think that this was a joke as it seems like such an obscure game with the type of graphics that mobile phones bring to the table. However, the most unrealistic part about this is that the game is only 99¢. Why is this shocking? Well, most games that Square Enix brings to the Android table usually launch with an outrageous price such as $15-$20.

The game features everything that was available in the original and two additional chapters in the 1998 re-release, but with touch controls this time around. The game also says that it supports controllers, but the store description says that it supports the MOGA Ace Power and the Logitech PowerShell. The issue is that these are both controllers built for iPhones not Android. As to whether or not the game really has controller support for Android is uncertain, but for 99¢ it could still be a playable game with only on-screen controls.

Check it out on Google Play