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Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (PS4)

I remember gasping at the E3 2011 demo two years ago. It was a sign of a new beginning for our modern gaming icon. Boys (and men) around the world rejoiced as this polygon beauty promised a whole new direction for the Tomb Raider series. Gone are the fair-skin, plaited hair and big boobs that characterised the First Lady of gaming. In its place you have a younger, more rugged Lara that’s not scared to mix it up with anything Mother Nature can throw at her.
Things start off with Lara joining a film documentary crew on an adventure to find an island based on a myth. As they (unbeknownst to them) near the shores of Yamatai Island the ship gets struck by a sudden storm and splits into two. Lara and the crew are separated and washed to shore and before our heroine knows what’s happened she’s hanging upside-down in something that looks like a torture chamber. Adult Lara would be horrified. Crystal Dynamics did not fool around with the gruesome bits either.

Nathan Drake occasionally reaches out to touch a wall in passing. Batman’s suit gets more tattered the further into Arkham City you venture, but nowhere have I ever seen such reckless physicality as in this Tomb Raider reboot. Hearing Lara scream in agony each time she puts a foot wrong is a common occurrence. I’m a strong supporter of this new hard-hitting direction that Crystal Dynamics is taking with Lara. It’s not just her looks or the blood-splattered edge of her design that warrants attention. After being ship-wrecked on an island with psycho killers, Lara has to push deeper inland to find her friends. To keep the latest Ms. Croft outing relevant in the modern age Crystal has adopted an entirely fresh approach with a welcome emphasis on both physical ‘oomph’ and a more tactical use of surrounding environments.

Not long into your journey Lara will discover a bow. Your first victim? That would be a deer or rabbit. Press and hold the left trigger to ready your bow and press the right trigger to inject an arrow into anything that moves. Unlike Tomb Raider titles in the past you always feel in complete control with your weapons. Salvage the animal and you receive points for upgrading Lara’s survival abilities as well as weapons. No, you can’t just upgrade these as you please. To do that you have to find a Base Camp which consists of a bonfire. Here you can improve your damage stats of your shotgun, increase the magazine size of your handgun or attach a scope to your machine gun. Don’t sneeze at your bow. You can add napalm and explosive rounds to the tip for that ‘Rambo‘ effect. You can also use the opportunity to travel between various campsites, acting as waypoints to help you find all the notes left by other people who have since succumbed to the island’s mysterious happenings and relics. To help you locate these along with mission objectives you simply press the LB button to highlight everything of importance within your immediate surroundings.
Comparisons between Tomb Raider and Uncharted come naturally, given that both franchises are third person, action adventure titles with treasure hunting at their cores. In the mid stages you’ll encounter a good dose of bullet spraying (as seen in Uncharted) along with the odd quick time event. Other similarities come in the form of detail. Lara automatically ducks under anything that is waist-high. There is no need to press a button to crouch and it has to be said that the graphical detail matches most of what Uncharted could throw at the PS3. Forget for a minute that this is one island. The various scenes are vastly different in atmosphere and style. One moment Lara will be stealthily treading through the forest and in an hour or two she’ll be walking over a bridge towards a hidden temple. Other than using the waypoints there is no backtracking.
Ironically Tomb Raider falters in one aspect and that’s the tombs. There are only a few tombs scattered about the island and, unless you’re a very unobservant player, chances are good that you won’t miss it. These tombs act as mini puzzle chambers, with each one taking about five to ten minutes at most to complete. It’s a little disappointing as the game generally lacks in material that challenges the mind. It’s also best that you steer clear of the online multiplayer. It’s a bugfest that does not deserve to be on the same disc as the single player campaign.
Gamers that are craving for some adventure and platforming won’t be let down. If she’s not scaling mountainsides with relative ease using a climbing axe (which attaches to specified surfaces by pressing the X button) she’s shooting a rope arrow to make it from one side of a cliff to the next. Yes, expect different types of baddies and a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat for most of your journey. Yes, headshots and stealthy kills will reward you with more points to upgrade quicker. Yes, this is the best Rambo ‘movie’ since First Blood: Part 2. Yes, you really should stop reading this and go buy one of the best games of 2013… like now!

Titanfall Delayed on Xbox 360

Titanfall will be dropping on gamers worldwide on March 11th, which is just over a month away. Well at least that will be the case for PC and Xbox One owners as the Xbox 360 version has been delayed by two weeks. EA annouced the delay on Twitter and said that the reason for the two week delay is that Bluepoint, who are the external developers handling the Xbox 360 version, can put final touches on the game. This is what else EA’s Patrick Soderland had to say about the 360 version:
“To give [developers Bluepoint] the time they need to put the finishing touches on the current-gen version of the game, we are moving the Xbox 360 ship date to March 25 in North America and March 28 in Europe. The extra two weeks will ensure the full world of Xbox gamers has an awesome experience.”
The fact that the Xbox 360 version is being handled by an external studio and no gameplay footage has been released is a little concerning. Although, Bluepoint are responsible for the HD ports of The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection, God of War Collection and the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, all of which were well polished and produced ports, even great in some cases. Regardless of the game being delayed, it’s release isn’t too far off, and since there are only a handful of Xbox Ones in the country, it leaves South African’s with either the PC or Xbox 360 version. Which will you be getting?

Carve and Devour with the Void Sword in Lords of Shadow 2

If we’ve learnt one thing from popular culture, especially the Castlevania series, it’s that Dracula is nothing short of beastly and very likely needs little to no help in his forthcoming adventure; he’s an immensely strong character and is ready to throw down with whatever he may encounter in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. That said, it wouldn’t hurt if the interminable lord had a little assistance along the way. To that effect, Dracula has taken up the Void Sword.
The void sword is an apparently hugely effective weapon that is capable of both damaging Dracula’s enemies while restoring his health with each strike of the blue blade. We know you want more, so we’ve scored this video demonstrating what the blade with the blue hue can do; see what we did there.

Expect Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 to hit our shores on February 28th for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. There’s a lot about Dracula’s latest journey that’s worth getting excited for. Heck, even the bosses, like the Toy Maker, look pretty enjoyable.

Transformers Universe gets a Debut Trailer

Jagex, developers of Runescape, have a new MMO to show off today, welcome to Transformers Universe. Set to launch this year, Transformers Universe is a multiplayer online tactical game (or MOTA) that will put you in command of your very own squad of a “unique collection of Transformers” in order to do battle with and against others online.
We’ve built a massively online, tactical action game, or MOTA as I like to call it! Transformers Universe offers fast-paced, battle centric, tactical action with a selection of game modes for core gamers, casual gamers and Transformers enthusiasts alike.
It sounds like it has definite potential, especially considering that we’re suckers for a good strategy-centric game, and the fact that Transformers pose the possibility for a lot of customisation, well colour us intrigued.
What’s the goal of Transformers Universe, you might ask? Well, according to Jagex:
Autobots versus Decepticons, you’ll team up to play with and against other Commanders around the world in tactical and strategic online battles, competing for supremacy in the global faction war. Legendary Transformers characters will make special appearances – but more on that another time!
We don’t have much more than that at the moment. A trailer demonstrating some gameplay is promised to go public soon, but until then, we have this for you: