Jak and Daxter: An Uneven Bridge

Crash Bandicoot was an incredible series for Naughty Dog. It was insanely popular and skyrocketed their studio in the industry in terms of status. So, when the PS2 was on the horizon, what else was Naughty Dog going to do but scrap the whole thing and start afresh on a whole new franchise. Many people at the time thought this would be the biggest mistake Naughty Dog would ever make. But it wasn’t. What it was, was Jak and Daxter.

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy was built on a simple ambition – no loading screens. The whole game would be a big open world which can be explored to one’s heart’s content and at no point be broken up with loading screens. Quite an ambitious feat when you consider the hardware they were working with. But, because it was Naughty Dog, they managed to do it.

The game they came up with is about a young lad named Jak – because no one needed a ‘c’ in that name to begin with. Jak is mute, so the person who does all the talking is his buck-toothed friend Daxter. While not following the instructions of Jak’s guardian, Samos, they sneak off to an island and find a big pit full of an ominous liquid substance called dark eco. Daxter promptly falls in and is transformed into an ottsel. If you’re confused, an ottsel is not a real thing. An ottsel is a mix of an otter and a weasel. Predictably frustrated by his condition, the two ask Samos the sage for help. He respectfully informs them that he is unable, and they would have to go to the other sages for advice. Unfortunately, the teleportation rings aren’t working for some unknown reason so they will have to go the other sages on foot. What is even more unfortunate is the fact that the only way to get to the next sage is across a lake of lava. Keira, who’s like the sexy young woman who works for Samos (she’s the love interest), suggests using a sort hoverbike heat resistant thing that she just happens to have. To get it working, however, Jak and Daxter need to find 20 power cells.

That’s the premise which sets up the whole game. And also a description of the main gameplay – collecting. To collect the power cells, you have to complete a series of side quests for the villagers, as well as purchase them with these egg things that are just everywhere, and most of all – platforming. The power cells are basically just lying around the place just waiting for someone to come and get them, and all they need to do is jump around some obstacles for a bit. Once you get the 20 power cells, you get across the lava lake and fight a boss battle, and then some plot happens which means you need to now find another 20 power cells. This is the format of the whole game. To complete the game, I think you need about 80 in all – 100 if you want to 100% the game.

The game is fairly relaxed. It’ll take a long time to finish it because it is a hard game – some of the platforming is only reasonably described as a challenge, to say the least. It seems a good time to talk about eco. Eco is a magical substance which bestows upon a person a mystical property. Green eco heals, blue eco gives speed, red eco gives strength, yellow eco gives the ability to shoot projectiles at people and dark eco hurts you until you die (unless your name is Daxter apparently). Now, this is all fine in Jak 1 because it is very limited and you can only use one kind at a time. The only issue I have is that green eco serves no purpose whatsoever. Jak has a total of three hit points throughout the whole game, and the only way to regain a hit point when one is lost is collecting green eco. The thing is that you need to collect fifty balls of green eco to get one hit point back – which takes a while – and on top of that if you get hit again you’ll lose all the eco you’ve collected. I think I managed to restore a hit point about twice during my time playing the game. So it’s often easier to just die.

That’s not to say that dying matters particularly in Jak 1. It’s an important point to look at the number of checkpoints in each game. In Jak 1, they’re everywhere. You jump to a platform – that’s a checkpoint, you kill an kill an enemy – that’s a checkpoint, you walk a step forward in any direction – that’s a checkpoint. The result of this is that death no longer really matters at all apart from in boss battles. This doesn’t make the game ‘easy’ but it means you don’t ever really have to redo anything when you die – just the thing that killed you. Not that failing a section of the game is always death; a lot of the time it’s because you fell off of a precarious platform and have to go back to the start, or you took too long on a timed segment or missed the target on one of the hoverbike sections. The interesting thing about this format is that it allows you to start again as soon as you realise you failed. How many times have you played a hard game and got into a pattern of pausing and restarting the section at the slightest screw-up? Jak 1 feels like it was built on that mentality. Screwed this bit up? Just go back to the start again. This, for me at least, does so much to avoid making me frustrated at the game, because it always seems fair and every failure feels like my own. It’s just nice to play a game that’s so forgiving is all. It is a game for children after all.

Jak 2: Renegade is a dramatic departure from everything that Jak 1 is. Released only two years later, Jak 2 says goodbye to the child-friendly Disneyland style of Jak 1 for a more mature style and a teenage audience. Set after the events of Jak 1, Jak 2 begins with all the main characters driving into a portal thing and then Jak finding himself alone in a strange place called Haven City (it’s an ironic name because Haven City is actually not very nice at all). He’s tortured by Baron Praxis (the man in charge of the city) for two years until Daxter (who is still an ottsel for reasons which would be spoilers) comes to rescue him. Jak speaks for the first time, “I’m gonna kill Praxis!” Not following the colourful child-friendly fun atmosphere from the first game at all.

The game is in fact so different from the first one that you could say that Naughty Dog basically dumped all they had established with the franchise up to this point in the bin and only carried over some small components. You still have the same base four characters, but Jak 2 adds some more – well over doubling the cast. These characters are conflicted, deep and interesting (most of the time). Yes – Naughty Dog has officially entered its BAFTA-winning story writing phase. The plot is interesting but isn’t exactly going to blow you away or anything, but it did hold my attention and I found it easy to follow. Gameplay is still the focus here.

Gone is collecting. There is only one mission in the game which involves collecting anything at all (as far as I remember) and that is only to send the message that collecting is dead and Naughty Dog killed it. So, considering that Jak 1 was all collecting, what is the gameplay for Jak 2? Shooting! Violence! Platforming! (They kept that part in) Jak 2 gives you four weapons to use – a shotgun, a rifle, a mini-gun and a rocket launcher. Using these weapons, Jak must fight off hoards of creatures called metalheads (I have no idea why they have this name – nothing about them is metal) as he completes missions for the resistance who are trying to take back the city from Barron Praxis and liberate the people while also discovering Jak’s origins and uncovering the secrets of the ancient precursor civilisation. It’s cool.

Or it would be cool if it weren’t for what Naughty Dog did with the checkpoints. Where Jak 1 had a checkpoint for every step you take (and every move you make), Jak 2 goes for the polar opposite. One single checkpoint at the start of every mission. One! You have to complete every mission without dying at any point because if you die you start the whole mission again. The game does not give you enough hp, you can only heal up with health packs which are found sparingly throughout a level, and you can never level up your hp – what you have at the start is what you have at the end. Combine this with the instakill sections of quite challenging platforming coupled with the sometimes endless waves of enemies and not enough ammo for all your guns and, well, it takes a certain amount of monk-like patience to complete every one of the “65 stunning missions”.

Sometimes it’s not even dying that causes you to fail. There are a number of escort missions where your companion doesn’t even have a weapon in most cases so they die very quickly because you’re having a hard enough time keep Jak alive let alone whoever you’re supposed to be protecting. You can also fail these missions if you walk just slightly too far away from your companion. One mission involved platforming while escorting a man and protecting him from random enemies. I kept falling off of the platforms, which wouldn’t actually kill me but I had no way of getting back up without failing the mission so my only option was to restart the mission from the pause menu. This frustrated me many times and prompted me to have a civilised ‘discussion’ with my controller where I introduced it to the floor – on several occasions.

There are loads of examples I could give of what I would (in polite company) refer to as “quite unfair” missions. The racing missions are a little bit annoying but manageable. The street race mission, however, is completely ridiculous. In typical video game style, Jak must settle an argument by winning a street race with this random person. The problem is that there is no obvious path to take in order to win the race – so you have to just keep failing and eventually you’ll learn the route because it will be engraved into your memory. That’s okay, I’m not complaining about that. What I am complaining about is the wriggly twists and turns you have to execute perfectly on this quite long course. If you crash at any point – it’s over; you’ll not be able to catch up. If you don’t travel at the speed of light, however, you might avoid crashing but you won’t win the race. The incredible precision you have to perform with a PS2 controller combined with the difficulty of trying to remember what the course is going to require you to do after the next turn just makes this mission the worst. THE WORST I TELL YOU.

Missions like these normally frustrate the hell out of you until you manage to get past them using ninja gaming skills at which point you feel amazing and nothing can stop you – you’re Superman with the wind at his back, but when over half the missions in the whole game are like this it makes you question whether it’s even worth you’re time anymore; you complete a mission that you struggled with and then you just know you’re probably going to struggle just as much with the next one. That being said, finally finishing the game felt pretty incredible but I can’t decide whether that was because I was just glad I no longer had any obligation to keep playing that game or if I just genuinely was enjoying myself and not knowing it. I think I’m happy that I played the whole game and looking back at it I did enjoy the world that Naughty Dog had created. But if the game were a little easier I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

Jak 3 is almost exactly the same as Jak 2 – but with a few important differences. The world is even bigger and now featuring a quite large desert area which is used for driving around in – yes Jak has cars now! Just what we all wanted. I’ll get to vehicle combat later. Where Jak 2 had a mere 4 weapons, Jak 3 has 12! It’s not that hard to keep track of them all because it is the same 4 from Jak 2, but now each has 3 versions which alter the weapon’s behaviour. Also, the only gun you’ll ever need is the second tier rifle; it shoots bullets which bounce off of all the surfaces of the room until they hit someone. Goodbye aiming. Now when you enter a room with a load of enemies in it, just spin around in circles while shooting until everything in the room is dead. It is actually that easy most of the time (until you run out of ammo).

Aiming is now also improved. Where Jak 2 had sort-of half auto-aim, requiring you to slighting move towards to the enemy, which ultimately just means you’ll slowly nudge around the area in an annoying way, Jak 3 has much more controlling auto aim which is actually usable.

Jak 3 also keeps up with the trends with the option to invert the x-value of the camera control stick. This was something more and more games were doing at the time. Previously, third-person games camera system had the player push the analogue stick in the direction they want the camera to rotate around the camera. In practice, it feels more like you have to push in the opposite direction you want to look. Games started defaulting to the, what we now call, modern camera control system. I am very pleased they did.

The most important change to talk about is the checkpointing. Jak 3 features many checkpoints throughout missions rather than just one at the start. This makes the game so much more enjoyable to play and I was so pleasantly surprised whenever I died in a mission, dreading having to do the mission from the start again, only to discover that the mission had a checkpoint so I only had to do the final third of the mission. It just makes the gameplay so much better. You no longer need to train in the art of patience from ancient monks in a mountain temple in order to complete the game. That’s not to say that the game is ‘easy’, however. The checkpoints feel like a compromise between Jak 1 and 2. Not quite everywhere, but also not nowhere. For many, this is the right balance.

Vehicle driving features heavily throughout the game. Many missions involve Jak driving through the desert to do various odd jobs that don’t seem to be that important when compared to the world ending peril that Jak is also supposed to be single-handedly preventing but whatever I’ll go and heard a bunch of leapers into a pen for you ‘cos that’s important as well I suppose. For some reason, there are a bunch of randy buggers driving cars of their own who seem to have nothing better to do than literally drive directly in front of you while blasting machine gun turrets in an attempt to destroy your whole self. To avoid this you must shoot forward while swerving out of the way of any other vehicles you may encounter. The thing about swerving in this game is that the vehicle physics just loves flipping you over and sending you on a car rolling journey which will see you rolling down the entire face of the hill as the game tries to flip you over back onto your wheels which causes the car to just flip back over again until you are on flat ground – of which there is not an abundance. This can cause some frustration when you are doing a timed driving mission and you fail just because someone dodgemed into you. The driving missions in this game are easily the worst thing about it.

You know what’s better than platforming? Platforming in a car. Did I say better? My mistake. Having to platform while travelling at characteristically PS2 fixed, very fast vehicle speed is less than ideal. Jak 3 features a temple area in the map which you must go to on the regular and can only be reached using the jump car. The jump car has a button that propels the car in an upwards direction entirely to powerfully. Using this, Jak can leap over large gaps. If you’re a bit careful, you can quite easily get to the temple. Getting back from the temple is a nightmare. I’m not sure why, but leaving is just so much harder. If you fall off of the platforms (which is quite easy) the game puts you back to the temple. It doesn’t even feel like this is supposed to be part of the game, it just feels like a mistake. It’s not fun, it just stops you from getting to where you need to go. It normally would take me quite a few minutes to free myself from this section of the map. Until I discovered that you can just shoot your car and cause it to explode. It turns out that if you do that the game just takes you back to the desert city. I discovered this the final time I needed to leave the temple island. Because I am a very rational person, I got very annoyed by this.

Naughty Dog used this game as an opportunity to expand its trademarked BAFTA-winning story writing and it really comes through in this one. The story in Jak 3 is actually pretty good and features one of the best plot twists I’ve seen in a game. That being said it’s still pretty clear that for Naughty Dog, the gameplay still takes priority – which is a good thing; all I’m saying is that sometimes a character will ask Jak to do something that makes no sense at all but will lead to a standard type of video game quest, which is most of the time quite fun.

Since we’re talking about Naughty Dog and I’m a nerd, we can’t not mention how impressive it is what Naughty Dog can do with that PlayStation 2 hardware. Jak 3 is the first game that actually made me realise how impressive the game looked that the time. Not only has Naughty Dog build this quite impressively large world with absolutely no loading screens (pretty much), it can also have an amazing number of things going on on screen at a time. In Jak 3, large sections of Haven City have become a war zone, and Jak needs to fly over it to get to places. The war is played out in front of your eyes as the streets are filled with enemy AI and friendly AI characters dynamically fighting with each other – in impressive numbers (for the PS2). Everywhere you look you can see different battles playing out with different groups of people and different stories going on. The animation and graphical quality Naughty Dog has achieved is also just so spectacular – especially when you compare the game to others released for the PS2 at the same time. In my head, I was picturing how not good looking Beyond Good and Evil looks in comparison, and how small the world is before you need to go through a loading screen.

I find the Jak and Daxter series quite interesting because it connects the Crash Bandicoot Naughty Dog to the Uncharted Naughty Dog, but the transition is not linear. Jak 1 is like Crash Bandicoot with an open world and a bit more focus on storytelling. Jak 3 is like Uncharted but cartoony and less grounded in reality. But Jak 2 and Jak 3 are essentially the same game in lots of ways. You could say that the Jak series is a kind of uneven bridge that has a big gap after one-quarter of the way through it. The leap taken here was startling – almost like a whole new franchise entirely. So what happened there? The answer is simple – GTA 3. GTA 3 came out and had an effect on every game around it. Loads of games at the time tried to emulate it in some way, and Jak 2 was one of those games. I think that Naughty Dog also wanted more of a focus on storytelling anyway, but GTA 3 definitely inspired the move to a more mature, darker tone. Also the open world city and shooting and all that stuff. Naughty Dog does a good job of taking that stuff and making it feel a bit more unique to Jak 2 and it doesn’t just feel like a GTA clone. Jak 2 is more ‘inspired’ by GTA 3.

That being said, I would say that I am one of those who thinks that the series definitely suffered some losses in the transition. There seems to be some debate about which game is the best. Most people go for the third one, and I can see why – it’s like Jak 2 but more balanced and less of a pain to complete. Some think Jak 2 is the best because they like the challenge of it and, arguably, the story is the best in Jak 2 according to some people. I think Jak 1 is the best. Neither of the other games in the series held the same charm and attitude I enjoyed so much while playing the first game. Yeah, it’s a game primarily designed for children, but I that doesn’t mean that adults can’t enjoy it as well. It’s just a nice game to play and I have the fondest memories of it after completing it.

Overall this series took me ages to complete, made me very angry and I constantly complained to my friends about it during my time with it. So, yeah, I enjoyed them – a lot. I would even recommend them to my friends. The trilogy was recently released on PS4 in a kind-HD remastered format. I got Jak 1 for free with another game. It’s like playing the game on PS2 but in 1080p and with a DualShock 4. They haven’t changed the button prompts so the game will ask you to press the non-existent start button on occasion, but this can be achieved by pressing the right side of the touchpad. I didn’t know that there even were PS2 games that can be emulated on the PS4, so that’s cool. The list is quite short though and doesn’t have many classics I’d like to play, like the Simpsons Hit and Run. If you’re in the market for a series of classic adventure games that are also pretty old at the same time, this is a great series to go for, and probably best experienced on the PS4 because of the HD and the non-inverted camera controls.

I apologise for the length of this and also the fact that it is twelve days late. I had a lot to say and not enough time to say it in. So I’m sorry I care about quality.

The Turing Test

A little while ago, it was my 20th birthday. “Huzzah!” came my cry as my teenage years had come to an end and I entered the void of the time between being a teenager and a proper adult, with a job and a place to live that isn’t my parent’s house. One of my many birthday gifts was a game called The Turing Test. I’d asked for this because it was intriguing; I’d seen a part of the game being played on a YouTube channel, and I became very interested in it, both for the  gameplay and the discussion the game creates.

The game is a puzzle game, and clearly takes many themes directly from Portal – you’re solving puzzle rooms to get through a sci-fi facility while being talked to by a sentient robot, who turns out to be a little sinister – very Portal. The difference here is the far more serious tone that game takes, it’s a lot darker and brings up quite complicated ethical and philosophical issues, that really get you thinking while solving these puzzles. The game gets you thinking by presenting you with a well-balanced argument about AI and how you prove something has intelligence. It even goes into arguments about what intelligence even is and how you can define and measure it. By the end of the game, I had a lot to think about, which lead me to do a bit of reading on my own on the subject, but it also helps that one of my modules in University is all about AI, so I’ve been learning from that. The game is good, and I’d recommend playing it, but I don’t really have much to say on the subject. The ending is very good and left me very conflicted about who’s side I was on, the robot’s or the humans’.

But that’s not what I came here to write about, I want to write about the Turing test, as in the actual Turing test. Most people know about the original idea of the Turing test – a person sits at a computer terminal and has two conversations, one with a computer and one with another human. If the person is unable to reliably tell which is which just based on the conversation they had, the computer has passed the Turing test. For a lot of people, this is not a very convincing test, and most would argue that it is possible to program any computer specifically to pass the Turing test, without needing it to be intelligent at all. The  main argument for this comes from John Searle in a book he wrote called Minds, Brains, and Programs. The argument is called The Chinese Room. It argues that a computer can be programmed to fake the ability to have a conversation with someone using a rulebook telling it how to reply to every possible input to look convincing as a sentient being, when in fact, it’s just faking, this is basically how things like Cleverbot work. Some people have taken this argument to mean that it is completely impossible for a computer to be truly intelligent, as a computer is unable to understand the meaning of the replies it is giving and is simply pretending to be clever (like a lot of us d0).

Think of it this way: a computer knows the definition of house and it knows the definition of home but does it understand the true meaning of either word. To a human, we understand what it truly is to make a house a home™, but does a computer which is basing its understanding on:

  1. a building for human habitation, especially one that consists of a ground floor and one or more upper storeys.
    “a house of Cotswold stone”
  2. a building in which people meet for a particular activity.
    “a house of prayer”


  1. the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.
    “the floods forced many people to flee their homes”
  2. an institution for people needing professional care or supervision.
    “an old people’s home”

Both definitions are taken directly from Google, which is probably where an AI would get its knowledge from (No intelligent being would dare touch Bing). I know which house is my home – it’s not the house I live in permanently, it’s the house I grew up in rather than the house I live in when it’s term time at my University.

But, when one looks at the other side of this philosophical coin, one can see the other argument. Taking a quote directly from the Turing test game, this argument can be summarised quite neatly:

If someone copied, exactly, the brain of a duck into a digital form that could be run by a computer, and put it into a perfect robot copy of a duck, would onlookers not say, “that is a duck”. After all, if it quacks like a duck, swims like a duck and does everything a duck would typically do, would you not simply say “That is a duck!”.

I’m not sure I would make any comment about a duck if I saw one, but it does raise an interesting point: if a computer could mimic intelligence perfectly, why does that not mean it is intelligent? In the Chinese room example – sure, the person in the room doesn’t understand Chinese, but the whole system does understand Chinese, or at least appears to. This is the main argument against the Chinese room experiment, and I think that it is a very interesting one.

Humans have been known to think very highly of themselves, so when it comes to the idea that a computer could become intelligent, we tend to get a bit snooty about the attempts to make a computer intelligent, dismissing them as ‘faking’ or ‘cheating’, but I think that before we can understand how a computer can be intelligent, we need to know how a human can be intelligent, and even the simple question of “what even is intelligence? How do we measure it? Where does it come from?”

In my AI lectures, students have been asked “What is you favourite colour?” to which they reply blue, red or some other colour. Is that an intelligent answer? I walk to University every day, is that an intelligent act? Does someone have to be intelligent to walk from A to B? Or do they just do it, especially when they have walked this route before? What is it to be intelligent? What do we do that is classed as intelligent?

Sorry to end this on a list of questions, but I simply don’t have a solid answer to any of this. If you want to know more, there was a really cool program on Channel 4 a couple of days ago (that was definitely not an hour long advert for Humans season 2) which explored some of these questions, it was called How to Build a Human. Watch it, it was very cool. I won’t watch Humans, though. Maybe someone can tell me if it’s worth watching, and then I probably still won’t; I have a vendetta against Channel 4 at the moment.

My Day at EGX 2016

Every year, I go to EGX. It’s a tradition that’s last about four years now. It started when I found out about it from a friend and learned that it was about a thirty-minute journey from my house in London. It’s moved to Birmingham now, which means my pleasant thirty-minute journey has changed to a stressful three-and-a-half hour journey – and all because Earl’s Court is gone (also, you could argue that the NEC is a more appropriate location for a UK convention as it is located more centrally in the country – but on the downside, it means you have to go into Birmingham). I usually go with my brother, but this year he couldn’t come for a plethora of reasons, so I spent the day on my own. So, with no one else to share my experience this year with, I thought I’d just write about it.


Oh, the things you see.


I love the experience of going to EGX; I feel suddenly I’m with a whole massive room full of thousands of other people who are a bit like me in at least some small way, of all different ages and backgrounds. I like listening to conversations and finding that people are talking about the Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Dishonoured or loads of other games, they may even be talking about being excited to meet the Yogscast, or Syndicate (I have no idea why you’d want to meet him after recent events). To put it simply, EGX is one of the only places where that small part of my life feels less alone; it reminds me that there are other people – real people, in front of my face – who also spend a few hours every night watching the same YouTube videos that I’m watching, it reminds me that there are other people obsessing over their PC builds and other people who play far too much Skyrim to be healthy. It reminds me that I am part of a community – that’s why I go to EGX every year, and that’s why I still went when they moved the event to Birmingham – that’s right, it’s so good, I’ll brave having to be in Birmingham for eight whole hours.

This year, I planned to go to EGX as soon as tickets were available. I didn’t spend really any time at all thinking about what I’d being doing about the time EGX was on – I just assumed I could fit my life around EGX. I bought tickets for the Friday, and then as soon as I could, I booked tickets for the train. If I’d known about a show on that night by the YouTube group Hat Films, I’d have gone to that, but it was too late; my ticket home was booked.


This is a very cinematic queue shot.


After I’d travelled the three hours to get to the NEC, I started on the labyrinth that is the epic twenty-minute journey between the train station and the halls where EGX was being held. If you’ve not been to the NEC via train, you should know that the train station, the airport and the NEC are all one building. It’s bloody massive in there. I spent the time walking along and finding my way. For most of the walk, there aren’t any signs pointing you to EGX, but that’s fine – just follow the gamers. How can you tell who are gamers and who aren’t? Strangely enough, that doesn’t prove much of a challenge. The NEC is so massive, that at any one time, multiple exhibitions are going on. When I was getting close to the hall I needed to go to, I, surrounded by some other gamers heading to EGX, approached a man who clearly worked for the NEC – based on his uniform, who stood next to a signpost which pointed off in two opposite directions – one pointing to the cycling convention to the right, and the other to EGX on the left. The man took one look at us and must have thought, “are these people into cycling or gaming?”, clearly, the answer was obvious to him as he called to us, “The entrance to EGX is in hall 8.” If I were a lesser man I’d have been offended that when he looked at my toned, athletic body he didn’t instantly assume I was after the cycling show.

I’ll give this to the NEC, there is a hell of a lot less queueing to get in than when the show was at Earl’s Court. You walk in, show someone your ticket and they give you a wristband and when the event opens, they just let everyone walk in and try to spot anyone who hasn’t got a wristband. When event goers walked in this year, they were given the gift of Tornado energy drink. I never go understand this connection between energy drinks and gaming, but I will admit that Tornado is the only energy drink I’ve ever had which I can bare the taste of – believe it or not, I actually drank the whole thing. If I were to start drinking energy drinks, I’d drink Tornado (can I have ad money now, Tornado?).

When I do get into EGX, I like to spend an hour walking around and seeing what’s on offer; eight hours go by quickly when at EGX, so you need to prioritise and find out what you want to invest your precious time onto looking at. It would be great if you could have a go on all the AAA titles, but in my experience, you’ll probably have trouble squeezing more that two into your visit, especially if you want to do anything other than playing the AAA titles.


Not sure I do want to have a go on that to be honest.


This year, the over 18 area was almost completely not worth going in at all as far as I’m concerned; unless you really want to spend three hours queueing to get a go on Titanfall 2, Gears of War or Battlefield One – not very worthwhile if you ask me. The only redeeming feature of the area was the small stand set up to promote South Park: The Fractured But Whole. I’d have had a go on it if it weren’t for the Nosulous Rift you had to wear while playing. If you’ve not played The Stick of Truth (the first South Park game), you should know that one of the main game mechanics in that game is the ability to produce flatulence at will. This is a feature that has been carried on to the new game, and, to promote this new game, the developers built this device which, when one produces flatulence in game, squirts a rather nasty smell into one’s nose, for immersion purposes, and to add to that, one’s face is broadcast to a large screen above one, so all may observe one’s reaction for general amusement. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that, and in any case, I will buy the game when it comes out; I really liked the Stick of Truth.


Another cinematic queue shot.


Moving on to the regular area, I noticed one game I was vaguely interested in, and that was Dishonoured 2. I only played a couple of hours of Dishonored 1, and I can’t actually remember why that was. I’ve seen a full playthrough on YouTube, however, so I do know what happens and how the game is played. I entered the queue, thinking that it wouldn’t take very long; the queue as far as I could see only went around the corner of the booth – I thought it’d take 30 minutes at most. When, after about 25 minutes, I finally got around the corner, I saw the endless zig-zagging maze of tenser barriers that was the rest of the queue. By that point, however, I felt that I’d been in the queue so long, it’d be a sign of weakness to leave then. It took a further hour in the queue to get in.

Why the people who’d set up the event didn’t allow us to use keyboard and mouse will forever haunt my wonderings. The game was being demoed on PC, yet they only allowed me to have an Xbox One controller, which meant I had a tough time getting through the whole level in the half an hour I had, simply because I am terrible at first-person games when using a controller; I only ever use keyboard and mouse. I was just about to get the final part of the level when someone tapped me on the shoulder and told me my time was up.

If you’d like my thoughts concerning Dishonoured 2, here they are put simply: it’s pretty much the same as Dishonoured 1 except with some new features, like being able to play as Emily, a skill tree system and new abilities. Do I think that’s a bad thing? No. Dishonoured 1 was a good game, and I think the attitude of taking a good game and adding new features to it is a good one. I don’t mean Call of Duty or FIFA style, where the game isn’t really changed at all, only graphical changes and maybe a new gun or football team (and this year, managers!), I mean new game mechanics and improvements to old ones to make the game more enjoyable. It’s why I liked Rise of the Tomb Raider – it’s pretty close to the previous game, but with new features and improvements to old ones. I like that system of making sequels. I will probably get Dishonoured 2 on November the eleventh, the day it comes out.


I’m trying to point out that there are a lot of queues.


After doing that, I decided then was my time to go and meet the Yogscast. I’ve been a fan of that lot for quite a long time now I think about it, but I’ve only ever met HAT Films at a convention before. The experience of actually meeting these people who you’ve been watching videos and live streams of nearly every day for the past 5 years is a slightly bizarre one, to say the least. You think you know these people, because you do to an extent – you know some random things about their lives from the stories they’ve told, on the way over on the train I was listening to the Triforce podcast where Lewis was talking about weird things that have happened to him at conventions, and previously he’d been talking about dealing with his landlord and giving away details about the flat he was living in, but when you’re standing in front of him and actually talking to him, you suddenly realise that you don’t actually know this person, and he doesn’t know you at all.


Actaully a very nice T-shirt.


In spite of that, Lewis actually was excellent at making conversation with the people who came up to meet him. He asked me a couple of questions and was very confident. He somehow made it very easy to talk to him, which is a real talent. We didn’t talk long, however, as there was a big queue behind me. I moved through Duncan, Kim and Turps, none of whom I talked to at all really other than saying hello and asking each other how the other was. I’m used to this; I am pretty awful at conversations, especially if I’m expected to lead it, and also it should be said that they were all about to have a break, so they were looking a bit worn out.

The other half of the Yogscast that was there was on the other side and required a different queue. This side had only just started so the energy with all of them was much higher and they seemed more enthusiastic. I met Hannah, who was very friendly and eager to talk, Caffcast, who was equally talkative, Vadact, who I’d never heard of and didn’t really say anything to me and of course, HAT films. Trott laughed at his own signature because he felt it wasn’t as good as anyone else’s, Ross was cheerful and friendly, and I actually had a 30-second conversation with Smith about Dishonoured. All in all, meeting the Yogscast was a very worthwhile thing to do.


Thanks, Sony, the backlight really makes taking a picture easy (Not! Lol!).


After that I had lunch and decided to have a bit more of a look around the place for my next adventure. I saw the new PS4, which is indeed smaller, and I saw the PS4 Pro, which I think looks a bit weird to be brutally honest, but whatever. I then had a look at all the different PC stands like Scan who were trying to flog their very fancy looking PCs for a lot more money than I’d ever pay for anything ever. I was slightly gratified that most PCs they were showing off had the same keyboard and mouse combo that I use, I suppose Corsair was sponsoring them.

I then moved on to have a look at the Retro Arcade, featuring genuine retro things, like ZX Spectrums, Commodore 64s and a BBC Micro, what I have one of. They also had a couple of Xbox 360s and PS3s. It’s too soon; I’m not ready to accept it. I spent quite a long time here, looking at all the different old gaming machines, like an original asteroids machine which I played quite a lot of.

By the time I’d torn myself way, there were only about 40 minutes left of the convention, and that’s when I found, tucked away in the corner, Horizon Zero Dawn. I really wanted to have a go on that, but I was too late; they’d accepted their final group of people. I’ve really wanted just to know what that game is and if I should get excited about it. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to wait until the game has more information made public, or when it is reviewed – what a struggle life is.

It then wasn’t long before the event was closed, and I was heading home. I’d had a pretty great day out, even though I didn’t feel I’d achieved very much, but you could say that is what makes a day great. I’m for sure going back next year, and probably every year – it’s not something I’d miss, unless they moved it to Swindon or somewhere.

This post ended up a lot longer than I thought it’d be. This is why people have editors, I suppose, but because I don’t, you’ll have to manage for now – poor you.

Enderal – Just Fantastic

EDIT (28/09/16) – You may want to disregard my comments regarding the loading times, as it turns out it was an issue with my motherboard. I got suspicious when every one of my games started to have an eternity for a loading time. Blame me; I should have investigated further rather than blindly assume. I’ll try not to make that mistake again.

So, with the Elder Scrolls VI not coming to us until the year one million and a half, I suppose we’ll all have to compromise. And compromise we shall, with the new, highly anticipated mod from Sure AI, Enderal. Sure AI was behind such mods as Cube Experimental – for Fallout 3, Nehrim – for Oblivion, and now Enderal – for Skyrim. But what is Enderal? Enderal is a “total conversion mod for Skyrim” which literally changes everything about the game – the world, the story, the quests, the character system, levelling, skills, graphics, the UI – in short, it’s basically a whole new game using Skyrim’s engine. It’s incredible what this small team of twelve people, with no budget, have managed to achieve – they’ve created a game with “at least 30 hours of gameplay”, a massive, beautiful world to explore, and an epic story line. But is it actually good, and does my title allow for any kind of suspense? Let’s find out.

The Map of Enderal.

Enderal  is fantastic – it’s even beyond fantastic – it’s bloody impressive and I think I love it. I’m saying this although I haven’t had too much of a chance to actually play that much of it, but the amount I have played has really impressed me. Starting with the world, it’s actually quite large and very pretty – even without ENB enabled (you can’t use ENB with Enderal) – and a lot of fun to explore. I can see myself getting lost in the world in the same way I often get lost in Skyrim’s, the world is full of rolling hills and expansive countryside which gives you a real sense of being in the open world and being able to explore anywhere you like. To put it neatly, the world is pretty great, and on par with the beauty of Skyrim’s.

And then there are the cities. There is only one city, Ark, which sits roughly in the centre of Enderal, but I can tell you, Sure AI have addressed the many voices crying out for better cities in Skyrim. Many people, including me, were unsatisfied with the cities in Skyrim; they’re all very small and aren’t very complicated. Ark, on the other hand, is pretty damn large and pretty damn complicated – it involves five quarters (yes, I know, I was confused as well), a whole “under city” below ground and a large palace type place, where clever people live.

Pretty massive if you ask me.

It’s worth pointing out the Ark is, in fact, the only city in Enderal, but I don’t think I need another one – I can accept that with the smallish total size of Enderal that they’d only have one city. There are towns, however, about 4 or 5 of them, all of them quite big and are laid out in ways which feel unique to each place.

I will just quickly jump to Bethesda’s defence before you started thinking that Bethesda should have done the same thing with their many resources and infinite time, by saying this: the reason the cities aren’t unimaginably huge in Skyrim is because, A, Skyrim is not the kind of place to have humongous cities and vast towns; they’re a simple people up there and aren’t into that sort of thing, and B, the world designers were probably trying to keep the world feeling concise and neat, because I will admit that the vast size of Ark and the towns can feel a bit messy, and a little bit empty. The engine is not capable of having a crazy amount of NPCs hanging about and doing their thing – it was never built for that. It’s weird, then, that Ark is so large yet there simply aren’t very many people about – it’s quite like Aberystwyth in that way. I’m not the only one to think this.

Returning to things about the world I do like, I like seeing adventures hanging about the place. In Skyrim, it seemed that you were the single adventurer in the whole world and you never saw anyone else doing anything of the sort. In Enderal, I saw several people kitted out in gear for adventuring about the place, which is a nice touch. And speaking of characters, there are some. People seem much more alive and real than in Skyrim; people speak more casually and say things that, you know, a real person might say to another real person – the writing and voice acting is superb.


The Hero menu, where you can see your character and stuff.


It’s pretty clear to me that Sure AI share the opinion of many about what some refer to as “the dumbing down of The Elder Scrolls”, because they’ve made this game a lot more Morrowind-ey, by removing the ‘learn by doing’ system of Skyrim (which I think is actually very innovative and a great way to do character progression but whatever I suppose), and replacing it with a more traditional, “here are some skill points where ‘d ya wanna put ’em?” system, they’ve also completely removed the fast traveling system (which, again, fast traveling I think makes the game a lot more accessible and if you don’t want to use fast travel then just don’t but whatever), and replaced that with a more traditional, “just walk for hours on end” type system. Okay, I’m exaggerating, there are these things called “teleport scrolls” which you can use to get to places, but there is a limited supply and you have to use the right one to get to the place you need to go. Also, in Ark, you can interact with sign posts to move around the city a bit quicker than by walking. I wish you could, like in the Witcher 3, use sign posts to fast travel to any other sign post in the game; I don’t feel like Ark is so big that I need to fast travel around it, but I suppose that’s to cut down on the number of loading screens you’ll have to endure.


You’ll see this a lot, for a very long time, and you’ll go mad looking at it.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but my God! What is going on with the loading in this game? I have had serious problems with actually getting this game to load at all past the main menu. Just this morning I had problems getting the main menu to load at all – I eventually gave up. I’ve done some research to suggest that this is a common issue for many people, some saying that for them loading times are on average between 5-10 minutes, and that’s for every loading screen – not just the first one. I count that as unplayable. I can’t wait that long for the game to load, I simply can’t – show me anyone who can. I’ve more than a couple of times gotten out of my chair and leant over my window sill to contemplate life while the game loads the next area – I’ve come to some interesting conclusions in that time, but perhaps I’ll discuss this another time. You know how bad the loading time is? It’s worse than GTA V. Not even joking.


This game is too cool for horses, apparently.

I should reiterate if I have not mentioned already, that I haven’t played a huge amount of this game, so how I should feel entitled to review it is anyone’s guess, but I’ll discuss the parts I have played. The game starts off with some very intense/creepy/disturbing gameplay, and then you end up on a ship with a friend. Through the dialogue, you discover that you and he are stowaways aboard this vessel. Anyway, plot, plot, plot, and you have a creepy vision and end up on a beach.

Before we continue I would just like to mention a few things. Firstly, damn these guys are good at the cinematic stuff, and second, I found the character creation to be a bit lacklustre; at the start, you are introduced to your father, who is most definitely a human man, which means you are forced into being half human. You can’t even be fully human – you have to be half human and half something else. The variety of something else includes four options: something that looks like an orc and an elf, something that looks like and elf and an orc, something a bit orkcey/elfey and something this is, I suppose, kind of a cross between an elf and perhaps some sort of orc. They each look slightly different from each other and they have different stats tied to them, but in terms of looks, you’re stuck with one. Although it should be said that the inclusion of ApachiiSkyHair was very much appreciated.


My character, Amber Stottlesworth.


What then follows carries the title we all fear, the tutorial, and it’s a long one. It is actually quite an interesting tutorial that sets up the story, the information about nearly all the gameplay and sets you up with the basic equipment you need to do your thing, before dumping you in the world. It involves crawling through a cave, killing some things and then wandering in the wilderness for quite a while, which is a good way of letting you appreciate the beauty of the world, but it is quite a lot of wandering at the start, a time when a game needs to hook the player and keep them going until they stop resisting and follow willingly.

Speaking of quite a lot of wandering, I want to discuss this issue of fast travelling. It’s not in Enderal, so you need to do a lot of walking to places, and probably getting ambushed on the way. In the world of this game, there is a thing called the “Red Fever” which basically means everyone in the wilderness hates you and wants to kill you. I’m not a fan of this, It’s not a good way of encouraging exploration when you’re worried that if you step your foot out the front door, a crazy loon will start gnawing it off. Makes a man want to just fast travel everywhere. I had a nasty surprise when I discovered that fast travelling wasn’t in the game. I had just run for miles as every creature and person in the world was trying to hack me to bits for whatever reason, so I could talk to a nice old man about something I wasn’t paying attention to because it wasn’t super interesting. After the conversation finished it told me I had to go back to the person I’d been sent by, which meant going all the way back the way I came. Needless to say, discovering that fast travel isn’t a thing upset me slightly, but luckily I know the following three commands to type into the console: “tcai”, “tcl”, “tgm”. With my new abilities of an infinite sprint, flying and being ignored by people who had wanted to kill me a minute before hand, I flew through the terrain to my destination. Cheating, I know, but I didn’t have the mental stamina to fight my way all the way back.


What I value is KNAWLEDGE!


Getting back to the point, while playing I noticed something I liked: Sure AI clearly have played Skyrim quite a lot because they’ve added some pretty cool features. For instance, if you have a follower who walks too far away from you or gets lost somehow (which happens all the time in Skyrim), the games puts a marker above their head. It’s simple, but it made finding my follower a lot easier than it would have been without it.

Another little nice feature was the way they’ve done dialogues. Some ideas have been borrowed from the Witcher, including how the dialogue options point out which options will move the conversation on, and which will just give you more information. It makes sure you don’t say something that you can’t unsay which might cause issues later. The other thing is the knowledge system. The knowledge system is one which tells you that this option will give you information  about the world. The interesting thing about is that it’s set up in a ‘collect them all’ type of system. This is good because I’d have never asked about these things otherwise, and I actually learned quite a lot about the world of Enderal this way. Now I’m looking for them and actively wanting to know these juicy, interesting facts.


Looks… familiar…


The whole theme of this game is a bit weird and conflicting; it looks like Skyrim, but it’s all a bit darker and more brutal. While playing Skyrim I never, for instance, come across a corpse hanging from a tree or had characters effin’ and jeffin’ all over the place. I quite like it, but I also don’t. It’s like a halfway point between the themes of the Witcher and Skyrim – I find that bizarre, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it with many hours of playing.

After all that you might be wondering why it is that I said that I loved this game/mod. Well, it’s more Skyrim, innit. Between thirty and  a hundred hours of it. I’ll take it. I’ll take it and run with it. It gives me something to do with myself until Skyrim Special Edition comes to us in October. To sum up, play this mod if you have Skyrim; you’ll probably enjoy it. If the loading screens don’t bore you to death, that is.



Tomb Raider (2013) Is a Really Good Game

I was going to write this post a few weeks ago, but I got ill for a bit. Then I forgot about it. It’s a bit of a shame because I had replayed the game only a few days before so it was all really fresh in my mind. Now it is only a slightly vague memory. Oh well. On with the show!

Okay, unpopular opinion time: I really, enormously and with a full heart, love the 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider – and when I type ‘love’ I am not exaggerating. I think it is one of the best games I have ever played. Now – before you lube up your maces and WD-40 you rusty pitchforks ready to track me down using Google Maps – you should know two things; my blog is hosted in America which is not where I live and don’t judge me until you have read this review.

What's she looking at?
What’s she looking at?

Okay, firstly let’s talk about the obvious thing that everyone complains about a lot. I wanna start this review by explaining the bad things about this game and telling you why you should get over them and play this game. Actual puzzles. Anyone who has played one of the original Tomb Raider games will know that they had no shortage of puzzles in them. Mostly athletic type things which involve jumping around, landing on buttons, weighing things down and stuff like that. They were often not super complicated, just hard to perform. It’s the kind of thing you have to have the patience of a monk to handle. I never didn’t like them, I just didn’t often have time for them and after a while would resort to the internet to get things moving again. In the 2013 version of Tomb Raider, there is a distinct lack of these puzzles in the main campaign. I think off the top of my head there are about two or three.

There are other puzzles, but they are all optional ones which you have to seek out and solve to get something (It was never particularly clear on what I was getting out of solving them other than a sense of satisfaction). The puzzles in the main campaign are not too difficult to work out, and they don’t take too long either. They are easy once you know what you are doing. The optional puzzles are different. Most of them are kinda challenging to work out what to do, and I would have completely given up on a couple of them if it weren’t for the obviously-Arkham-inspired survivor vision (or whatever it’s called) which, at the tap of a button, marks your objective and makes anything you can interact with glow a bright yellow. Some would argue that this makes it to easy. That’s a fair opinion, and I have a solution for you: don’t use it unless you are completely and hopelessly stuck, and let the stupid people use the easy option.

The other problem with the puzzles is – as all the good ones are optional – it’s often a puzzle to find them. When you are kinda near an entrance to a puzzle room the game will notify you with a sound effect and a popup. It doesn’t actually tell you where it is, and survivor vision doesn’t highlight it for you (unless it does and I never tried that). Worse, some puzzles you can’t enter until you get an upgrade. This means you have to remember where it was (it doesn’t mark it on the map (unless it does and I never tried that)) and come back for it later. This puzzle thing isn’t the end of the world and certainly doesn’t ruin the game for me – it just would be nice if in the next game more of the puzzles are in the campaign or just easy to find.

Well - you screwed this one up, Lara
Well – you screwed this one up, Lara

So – if the puzzles are lacking in a Tomb Raider game, what’s left? Well, I’ll tell you: lots of mind-bending and exciting action. The game starts off running, and practically never stops – this keeps you glued to the game. It’s like the game has grabbed your ankles and stops you from leaving until you have finished. Occasionally it lets loose a little bit and you can struggle free to rest a bit, but in my playing, I’ve just wanted to keep going until the game ended. There are countless action sequences which have Lara jumping and flipping, hiding behind cover and being a super action hero as you run through an area shooting people in the face with a shotgun and sniping people with a compound bow as the entire world around you blows up and falls apart leaving you to jump wildly – desperately attempting to just cling on to anything you can to survive.

There is one – what only can be described as a ‘holy hell’ moment – where you’ve been fighting on a big old boat suspended in some trees, and when the flight is over, the ropes holding the boat up on one side are broken, and the whole boat drops sideways, leaving you to hang off tiny ledges in the ground – while a maniac is shooting at you with a mini-gun. It gets a bit intense at some points.

Yep - that's Lara swimming in a river of blood.
Yep – that’s Lara swimming in a river of blood.

One thing Crystal Dynamics really vamped-up from the original games is the sheer amount of gore. The first few Tomb Raider games were known for their gruesome death cut scenes, which some considered to be a bit much. This was a practice which eventually died out in the Tomb Raider series. Well, Crystal Dynamics wanted it back, and it really is back. There are many times in the game where if you make a small slip up, a jagged, rusty pipe will end up being lodged through the base of Lara’s head and come out the top, though the middle of her brain – and other things like that.

I don’t think it will be easy for me to remember the first time Lara shoots someone in the game; it’s pretty intense. Lara tries to escape from be captured by a load of cultist weirdos and hides inside a small gap between some huts. This part is done very craftily; you expect it to be the standard Lord of the Rings style moment where the pursuer almost finds her but is distracted at the last second. I was stunned when he grabbed her and pulled her out. In an intense button mashing session (which happens quite a lot in the game) you grab his gun and struggle to aim at his head where just at the right moment – you pull right trigger and shoot him right in the face which… almost kills him. Lara is a little upset at this – as you would be – staring into the eyes of the almost-dead shivering bloody man on the ground, who had friends and a family, and who was only trying to survive. He dies after a few seconds letting Lara pull herself together and get out of there. Yeah – it gets intense. That bit left me breathless the first time I played it. Even when I replayed it I felt a little shocked; I’d forgotten how brutal it all was.

Of course, as was pointed out by many reviewers at release, this representation of the horror and brutality that is murder doesn’t last long. Withing about thirty seconds of this you have to shoot four or five people in a cover shooting battle. It’s a little jarring, to say the least, and it leaves you not sure how to feel about all of this. You quite easily forget all of that when you get more into the game and the combat system gets quite fun.

They... got in the way...
They… got in the way…

Okay, time for another unpopular opinion: the combat system in this game isn’t bad at all. I grant you it takes some getting used to and it’s not so fun when you aren’t very good at it, but when you are good at it and you unlock some of the combat upgrades, it gets deliciously exhilarating.

The combat first starts out as cover-shooting, which I normally find quite boring and I don’t really want to spend my time doing it. You start off with the handgun you stole from that guy you killed, but during the story, you find some other weapons. They’re all old, a bit damaged and kinda crappy. But that’s okay! Over the course of the game, you pick up salvage from boxes and crates. Sometimes it’s a puzzle to get it but it’s quite satisfying when you do. Using this salvage you can upgrade the weapons. They’re all themed upgrades and they’re quite realistic to the situation. For instance, you can’t attach a scope to the assault rifle; where would she have the parts to do that? But she can tape two magazines together to allow for faster reloading, she can bind the stock to reduce recoil, she can tape a flint to her torch to light it wherever she wants. All of these upgrades are realistic to the situation, and it’s things like this that I like.

The combat is brutal. It starts out as cover shooting, but evolves to more melee elements, in the most traditional sense of melee, meaning a confused fight or scuffle. Early in the game you acquire an Ice Pick for opening doors and as a general multi-tool – it’s surprisingly versatile. After a bit of upgrading, Lara learns how to throw dirt into the enemy’s eyes and drive the ice pick into their skull. Yup. You can unlock finishers which have Lara push them to the ground and pepper them with the assault rifle. Yup – it’s harsh. Fire arrows will allow you to set your prey on fire and a grenade launcher attachment to the rifle lets you generally blow stuff up. I like it. Some people don’t like how the brutality of Lara’s actions juxtapose the timidness of her character at the start of the game. I like it; it’s character development. She’ becoming the Lara Croft of legends (and video games) past. This is addressed in the dialogue at the very end. The bad guy (?) says this to Lara:

“I was only trying to save people’s lives. How many have you killed to do the same?”

(That’s not an exact quote; I don’t have super-memory) She starts out hating her experience, but at the end of the game it’ revealed that she grew to enjoy it – like Lara Croft is like in other games. The game ends with this cheesy line:

“Don’t worry, we’ll get you home soon.”

“I’m not going home.”

And then the music swells and the credits roll. She could just go home, but it’s probably better she doesn’t; she may well get bored and kill a bunch of the public for taking too long in a queue or something.

Is this a DV cam, in 2013?
Is this a DV cam, in 2013?

The story is… okay. It’s quite a puzzle because the whole big thing about this game was how Rhianna Pratchett came along and was all huffy and puffy about how games never have good stories because developers don’t care enough and are evil compiling machines who just want to kill people in a digital fantasy land. Pratchett wrote the story and was all proud of it, I remember her talking about it on the radio. Personally, I think the story ain’t bad. The main complaint I’ve seen about it is it being a little difficult to follow at times. I won’t spoil it, but play the game yourself and see if you understand it.

The main problem I have with the story is not the complexity of the plot, but of the characters. You see, there ain’t much. Every character is pretty two-dimensional. Lara’s companions are a multi-race 80’s power supergroup involving an Asian woman, a black woman, a Scottish stereotype, a nerd, a Hawaiian,  a clearly-going-to-sell-us-out-at-the-first-opportunity cowardly intellectual man and a trustworthy, down-to-earth northerner. They all behave the way you expect they would. This wouldn’t be so noticeable if it weren’t that Lara’s character is so three-dimensional. Do I care about these characters? Yes, I do. Well, most of them anyway; there’s a couple who you know are going to die from the start, so forget about attaching to them.

The antagonist is alright, though. He’s this sort of religious leader type who knows what’s up on the island because he’s been there so long. He’s become hardened in his old age and will do anything it takes to get off the island. By the end of the game I pretty much was sympathizing with him; by that point Lara’s body count is pretty much in the hundreds and he’s just trying to get off the island. Granted – the process involves human sacrifice, but he’s been there for about twenty years – he’s gonna do all it takes.

No Lara - it's not a good idea.
No Lara – it’s not a good idea.

The picture above was taken at one of my favorite points in the game. It’s quite early on where Lara is trying to radio for help. The only way to get the radio tower working is by climbing to the control panel, which is helpfully located at the top of the tower. I’d like to point out that there is no reason for any sort of control panel to be at the top of the tower, but this one is. When you get to the top, it just feels great. I don’t really know why – but it does. And then you get to zipline all the way back down it’s a bunch of fun. Climbing in this game is awesome. I can’t tell you why, but I just love the way Lara traverses around the place. It feels like an action film and I love it.

Two guns!
Two guns!

So then, to conclude, this game is great. If for any reason you have not played it, I must inform you that you are missing out, and we should all be excited for the new game coming out early next year (I’m not counting the xbone release in November because I don’t have an xbone). The new game is set to have many more puzzles in the main story line and some actual tomb raiding! Seriously, play this game. Stop reading this, stop doing anything else until you have played this game to completion.

Wow, you read all of that? Thank you very much for giving me your time. You deserve a treat. How about a look at my Tomb Raider screenshots folder (warning: very vague and minor spoilers!):