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Friday, April 14, 2006

Traveling with Lara Again for the First Time


so i started my new tomb raiding adventures with Lara last night. went through the first level which is pretty much the OPM demo level. i skated through that, got all of the secret treasure. it was rockin'. i couldn't stop there. rolled through the 2nd level and even the third. Bolivia, Peru, Japan. Now, we're back in Peru i think. i picked up the strategy guide much to my babe's dismay and now i know where all of the secret treasure is. this game is really really good. it is very polished.

the controls are smooth. i can't get over how much the controls are better than the old block-based CORE engine. i used to think, "i don't know why everyone hates the tombraider games controls." i mean i liked playing TR1 and TR2. i tried TR3 but didn't get that into it with all of the dark cityscapes. but i had a blast with the first two and enjoyed the controls, so i thought. then i tried to play Angel of Darkness. OMG! i couldn't play past the second level. and that was apparently 1 level more than anyone else was willing to play. i am a trooper. i thought maybe if i buy it again, and get far enough, the game will get better and i'll get into my tombraider groove as it were. nope. it sucks.

but Tombraider Legend is a whole different story. all of the cut-scenes are in-engine and are mostly seamless with the gameplay. they have these super-action sequences where you have to react during cut-scenes to survive dangerous obstacles or perform timed manuvuers. all in all, there is nothing i don't like. load times are quick and infrequent. menu system is tight. you can save at any time and checkpoints are auto-matic and frequent. there are traps and puzzles and boobie traps but they are all well thought out and none seem forced or contrived. they blend into the expansive environments and flow with the progress of a tomb. and Lara.... a sight to behold. i should be including a pic from the game. i think the virtual Lara may even be better than the new spokesmodel/figurehead shown here. when she gets wet (easy fellas), her clothes get darker as if she's soaked, and there are water droplets falling from her arms and legs. better yet, her skin shimmers reflectively like wet skin. it is nothing short of freaking wicked to behold. and this is on the ps2. not the much vaunted xbox360 or even PC. i think everything is much more polished then
even what was in the demo. the water seems more fluid and the environments more lush. but it's odd/nice. crystal dynamics knew what they were doing. they kept a lot of the old familiar touches from the original series. dramatic swandives: check. elegant handstands: check. double pistol sommersault combat: check. then they infused gameplay mechanics from the most popular and innovative games from the last couple or 3 years, God of War, Prince of Persia, etc. now we have a good tomb raider. an excellent tomb raider. and it's not next-gen. it, like GOW doesn't need to be "next-gen." it's just good solid gameplay all around and that stands on it's on. it may be on xbox360, but it wasn't made for it. they just have a few more bezel shaders and whistles. tell that to the guy whose green box just overheated and went casters up halfway through Peru. on the ps2, the only green screen of death is the exotic stone slab trap door that just trapped you in subbasement 25 of a ruin in South America. raid on, Lara!

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