Reviews by NimbusStev

95

A Clone of a Tomb Raider Clone... and that's Perfectly Fine!

NimbusStev | Nov. 21, 2013 | Review of Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider is one of gaming's most revered franchises, so it's no surprise that in 2007 Naughty Dog took that formula and turned it into a blockbuster series of its own. While Uncharted was pushing new boundaries, Tomb Raider had kind of fallen from grace with a couple of very mediocre entries. Thankfully with TR2013, Crystal Dynamics took some hints from its biggest successor and got Lara right back on track.

The setting and plotline are perfect for a game about exploring unknown tombs. You've got an interesting shipwreck story, a decently likable cast of characters, a psychotic villain and his followers, and a boatload of pretty graphics. Speaking of which, this game is gorgeous on PC. As a 3D artist myself, I love being able to see the early stages of artwork, and Tomb Raider gives you tons of beautiful concept art and 3D models to unlock. And if you have a DirectX11 capable video card, you can also enjoy the amazing hair technology they've implemented into Lara's locks.

Lara herself is a very interestingly written character. As this is an origin story, gone is the bold, cocky woman we all know. Instead we have an ordinary but believable young girl thrown into an extraordinary situation. She starts off as an innocent and ambitious adventurer, and through a need for survival evolves into a strong young woman. Some haters may argue that the game instantly transforms her into a cold-blooded murder the second she sets foot on the island, but that all really depends on your play style. Nobody wants to play as a scared little girl for an entire game, so some suspension of disbelief is required here. The transformation still fairly natural within the confines of an entertaining action game.

Speaking of action, the gameplay in Tomb Raider is fantastic. It has all of the stealth, gun play, platforming, puzzle solving, and melee combat that you'd expect out of a big budget title such as this. While it doesn't really do anything groundbreaking in this regard, it is a nearly flawless game that I can't really find anything to complain about. Not only are there tons of things to collect if you choose to wander off the beaten path, the highly cinematic story telling will encourage you to progress through the main plot as well.

Overall Tomb Raider is a breath of fresh life for a series that was treading into dangerous ground. With jaw dropping environments and genuinely fun game play, Lara has regained her throne as "Gaming's First Lady." This was without a doubt my favorite game of 2013 and I'm already waiting on the edge of my seat to see what comes next. Some may claim they made it a little bit too much like Uncharted, but if that's the price we pay for an excellent Tomb Raider experience, then it's completely fine with me! Do yourself a favor and check this one out.

89

A Game that Values Atmosphere

NimbusStev | Nov. 21, 2013 | Review of Anodyne

(This review was adapted from my previous recommendation, posted on my Steam account)

I bought this game for a couple bucks during a sale and figured it would be a neat little time waster. What I got was so much more than that! To me the most important factor of a good game is something a bit intangible - the mood and atmosphere. And boy does Anodyne deliver in that regard.

The tone is mostly set by the super eerie and mysterious music of Sean Hogan. But the whole game feels like some kind of profound experience as you travel through this almost dream-like world. Everything about Anodyne is so surreal, and because of that it really feels like a piece of art. The game play is like old-school Zelda, the dry humor is reminscent of EarthBound, and the whole thing will make you feel like you stepped into a time portal to the 1990s. After only playing for a couple hours, I was already in love. Controller support for this game is a bit wonky (especially if using a PS3 controller) and sadly the developers don't seem to have any plans to fix that. But it doesn't take too much away from the overall experience. If you enjoy games with interesting atmospheres, this one is definitely for you!