Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Wishlist for hypothetical Tomb Raider: Director's Cut

(Or.. possible fixes for Tomb Raider)

One of my favourite games ever, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, is being re-released in a new Director's Cut version. There's a massive amount of improvements they've made to the game, from the overhauled lighting engine to entirely redesigning all of the tiresome boss fights into something true to the Deus Ex name. It comes bundled with tonnes of nice extras like a sumptious art book, 8 hours of developer commentary and all the DLC seamlessly integrated into the main game. I'm really looking forward to getting the Director's Cut (once the timed exclusivity deal with the WiiU is over, grr..) and it got me hoping that Tomb Raider might receive a similar revisiting.

I really enjoyed my time with Lara's latest adventure, it's her best outing since the 90s and has positioned the series as a real contender that could displace Uncharted from the top spot of cinematic treasure hunting if it keeps up the same level of polish. But despite that, the game mechanics never quite gel with the story of an inexperienced girl transforming into a warrior. They made great strides towards that goal, but it didn't come off perfectly. Likewise, they stumbled in quite a forehead-slapping way by making a Tomb Raider game that isn't about tomb raiding and what little there is (while very good) is limited and unrelated to the plot.

A director's cut of the game could go back and rework some of the mechanics to make Lara's transition to badass more gradual and keep her feeling like a human being all the way through instead of becoming almost a superhero at the end. This video neatly addresses most of the problems the gameplay and narrative encounter largely due to not playing nice with one another...
http://youtu.be/sqm3_v9aZQY (lotso spoilers!)

They could expand the optional tombs and give us story-related reasons for venturing inside them through dialogue. Show us more of those handycam memories of the crew before the accident. We barely got to know them. Come to think of it, wasn't there going to be a level set on the Endurance before and during the crash?

That would be the ultimate big-ticket item (apart from mo' tombs). Let us find out just who these people are at the start and get us to empathize with them before throwing us into an epic tutorial section as Lara has to try and escape the ship. Picture Uncharted 3's cruise liner level but with people panicking all over the place and a lot more explosions. The climax of this added level would be actually playing what happens at the end of the trailer. But I'd make one crucial change- have Lara save herself instead of being rescued by "Unknown Male". Make it a quicktime event. The water's rising, electricity is zapping, time's running out! Tap X to not die! Having Lara escape drowning on her own there would establish her strength of will. She's not an action hero yet, this would be a tense and painful escape, but it'd show she's got the spirit to go on and do more to show she has what it takes than shooting a deer. They could have it be un-failable to drive home the notion she's a survivor, but that'd detract from the game's love of killing Lara in horrific ways.

After we dive off into the crashing waves, we'd wake up in the scavenger's den, improving the pacing and upping the stakes (since technically the player wouldn't know if anyone else has survived and they could be left for dead.) We don't need the bit on the beach since those characters have already been established in the added prologue level, and removing the clonk on the head when Lara's ten feet away from the group makes the scavenger's den setup more believable and shocking than the almost comical lead-in the game has now.

The other big improvement they could make would be adding additional game modes. The hunting has almost no purpose at the moment. If they included a "Survival Difficulty" where you actually had to hunt for food every once in a while to survive would have it make sense again. Additional concessions to realism could be made by having Lara not regenerate her health, needing to pick up first aid kits to heal her wounds, with appropriate pain sounds. They could play with the regenerating health in other ways too. (I think Campster might have mentioned this..) It'd be cool to have Lara go from needing to scavenge health packs and food at the start of the game to slowly getting health regeneration as she becomes more skilled.

These changes are probably more advanced than what Deus Ex has done, but I'm hopeful that if the Director's Cut does well, it'll give Square Enix confidence enough to consider doing this sort of thing with other titles, possibly on a larger scale. Since the team at Crystal Dynamics have revisited the past before with Tomb Raider: Anniversary (admittedly ten years later, but still..) and have said they're focusing DLC efforts into the multiplayer, it's not entirely unreasonable to hope they'd put together some nice additional single-player content for an ultimate edition package down the line. It's just what would that entail...?

Ridiculously optimistic wishlist in bulletpoint form:

  • Survivor Mode
  • Endurance level prologue (before + during crash)
  • More and expanded "challenge tombs"
  • More ambient dialogue, backstory
  • New Game+ (why every game doesn't have this is beyond me)
  • Options galore:
Toggle effects (annoying water and blood blobs)
Regen health on/off
Eagle vision on/off
QTE markers on/off 
   (for realism, get rid of colourful popups)
XP markers on/off 
    (having +10xp pop up after Lara's first kills breaks the mood somewhat)
More save slots (only three?!)

  • Developer commentary (lots of it)
  • Unlockable customisation (outfits, cheats etc.)
  • Cool extras like behind the scenes videos
  • Improved TressFX (seriously, that tech looks weird.)
  • All "preorder bonuses" unlocked
A director's cut of Tomb Raider 2013 with that sorta stuff included? I'd definitely be up for paying £20+ for it. So long as I don't have to buy a WiiU too of course.. :P

Anyways, keep up the good work, Crystal.
Hope that Rhianna Pratchett has some real sway over the next game. We need more good stories and this was the start of a great one.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

epic quotes 2010 - 2013

For the past few years I've been keeping a collection of random quotes I've come across while browsing the net. Here saved for posterity are some of my favourite random outburts and words of wisdom I've seen...


"When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret,
And would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so.
Now that I am fifty, I read them openly.
When I became a man I put away childish things,
Including the fear of childishness,
and the desire to be very grown up."

                 -C.S. Lewis

If you're going to reach for the stars,
settle for the lowest one you can find!

                -Robert Yang

"The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes ...with everyone else’s highlight reel."
                - Steve Furtick


The internet: where Men are Men, Women are Men and Children are FBI Agents

A man is a series of tubes, and the internet is made by man.
Tubes beget tubes. Hmm.

Welcome to the Internet, where: "pretentious" = "discussed in a depth my brain cannot immediately process at first glimpse".

"I don't always soup up my PC, but when I do, I add motherboards."


What? Suralan is evolving!? ... Suralan evolved into Lordsugga!!

random YouTuber on bronies:

"it might be hard to imagine how someone can enjoy a brightly-colored cartoon made for little kids, but then many people genuinely do enjoy Call of Duty.."

I've come to love the new cartoon incarnation of My Little Pony.. it's funny, has memorable characters, epic animation and great music. Of course, adult males weren't exactly the target demographic, but this phenomena has trigged a massive cult of followers online, dedicated to friendship, magic and a whole lot of remixing.
Set to Will Smith's immortal classic "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air"..

In west Fillydelphia, born and raised,
on the Rock Farm is where I spent most of my days
Being bored, moving all the rocks around
from here to there, all over the ground
but then I saw a Sonic Rainboom and I suddenly knew
partying was what I really wanted to do
my parents instantly approved and couldn't keep still
they said "You're going to your auntie and uncle in Ponyville"

Inspired by Valve's "Meet the Soldier" video for TF2..

If harvesting is sure to result in zap apple jam then you must harvest! Granny Smith said that! And I'd say shes knows a little more about zap apple making than you do pal because she invented it! And then perfected it so that no living pony could best her in the kitchen! Then she used her jam money to buy two of every apple in Equestria! Then she herded then into a barn! And then she made jam? out of every single one!

"I used to wonder what combat could be...
until you shared its action with me!
Big adventure, tons of guns!
Beautiful hats, fancy and fun.
Fragging / healing.. it's quite a treat,
and crafting makes it all complete!
You have... Team Fortress 2!"


"Jerry Springer calls for a Brony and his disgusted girlfriend to come on show"

By some fluke, a community stands up focussed on kindness, and like any group, you have weirdo's. It then takes a very special kind of asshole to attack this group by looking at the weirdo's exclusively.
   The state of the videogame industry - as told by Adam Jensen:

If you want to make enemies... 

try to change something.

The year, is 2011. 

It is a time of digital distribution... and technological stagnation.
It's also a time of chaos... and DLC.

These publishers are like ghosts, Adam...
Always in the shadows.
Always hiding behind marketing and community managers...
I never had a choice but to buy the DLC...

Corporations have more power than the government.
I never asked for this.

    on Game being unable to buy games:

"I guess this is what happens when you turn your store in to Cash Converters."

"They can finally compete with online prices...by having a closing down sale! "

    on DRM:

"An open door is an Invitation; a locked door is a Challenge."
Challenge accepted.

    on needing Next Gen:

"Dig out your emulators, dig out your Dreamcast and PS2. Play games when times were good, when the game on the disc was the whole game and playing it and doing well unlocked extra bonuses. When expansion packs came out and were actually worth paying for rather than half arsed money grabs. When every game was something different and not a clone of johnny gunner man versus alien / germans / russians / middle east. Those were the good old days when companies with vast gaming heritage weren't closed down on a whim because their game didn't sell enough copies. I have stomached the current gen this long but now I've had enough."

    on Online Passes

Publisher: "were losing sales, place more DRM and shit that makes it unpleasant for the consumer, it must be the pirates!"

Consumer: "Oh look, only 10 hours to go before I can play the fucking game, I'm never buying from these guys again" (Times 10,000)

Publisher: "More lost sales, what is this?! Those retailers are strangling us here! Make the consumer who buys those used copies pay extra to get the full content!"

Rinse and repeat, fuck you EA/Ubisoft and anyone else that does this shit, I'm noones whipping boy.... You can run yourselves into the ground for all I care :D

    on game reviews:

"If you would prefer a technically accurate review, the system requirements are available on the Steam page."

    Gearbox announces Aliens outsourcing-

"Logic tells me that the more people working on something, the faster it should be finished, rather than constantly delayed. That in turn makes it logical to believe that it is an absolutely massive game with lots of content and amazing graphics/sound.
    Then I realise what i'm looking at and at the back of my brain, my subconscious is saying "This will be a generic, sub-10 hour long shooter that will ultimately disappoint severely, with a lacklustre multiplayer, that is riddled with bugs (not the exciting Xenomorph kind)."

"No description available" has never been so factually accurate in every conceivable sense of the phrase.
-on Tokyo Jungle

"I'm very dissapointed at the lack of Aerosmith."

  -totally serious (no rly) customer review of DoA 5


Before release:

"I quite like the look of this. The videos i've seen reminded me a bit of Heavy Rain."
Goldblum!?! GOLDBLUM!?!?!
Goldblum!?! GOOOOLDBLUUUUM?!?!
Goldblum!?! GOLDBLUM!?!?! Goldblum!?!
GOOOOLDBLUUUUM?!?! Goldblum!?!

After release:

God creates dinosaurs.
God destroys dinosaurs.
God creates man.
Man Create Tell Tale.
Tell Tale Destroy dinosaurs...


While Enemy hides in building ..

Modern Warfare 3 : Let's clear the Building and take em down !

Battlefield 3 : Let's take down the Building and clean em out !


My friend has Warcraft and said
"wow come over and see my awsum game!"

He clicked some bad guys lots of times
and clicked some glowing things lots of times for about an hour,
then he was the winner.


Tweeting as a quake hits LA during Clash of the Titans:

"Earthquake hit while I was watching the Kraken scene in TITANS. For a second there, I thought the movie was getting good."


How do you animate dinosaurs with a blender?
I thought those were for smoothies.


Sheldon:      "Excuse me! Spoiler alert!"
Stuart:      "What? I didn't spoil anything."
Sheldon:     "You told me it's mind-blowing, so my mind is going into it pre-blown. Once a mind is pre-blown, it cannot be re-blown."


There is an escape velocity for evolution as well as gravity


     First Person Shooters then and now

Gibbing people in mid-air with a Railgun while moving 100 miles per hour off a jump pad was my breakfast, but then came CS and the slower shooters.
      Everyone was moving in slow motion and I had the pause button. 
      I was a god.
      Years passed & I return to my trainer, Quake 3. I discover I can no longer bend time. The pace of the new games had weakened me. I tried to rocket jump, and blew my legs off.
     I lie in my blood reflecting. I was Neo but, now... 

     Now, I am? 
     Just part of the shitty Matrix =(

One of my favourite game series is like an epic quote magnet..

MASS EFFECT in 5 Seconds:

Sheppard: "Saren"
Cpt Anderson : "Saren"
Council : "Saren"
Sheppard: "Reapers"
Cpt Anderson : "Reapers"
Saren : "Reapers"
Council : "There is no proof"

(1 sec delay)
(Reaper explodes into council chamber)


An officially licensed novel that was supposed to tie together Mass Effect 2 & 3 was farmed out to a writer with no experience in that universe who turned in a very obviously rushed first draft filled with horrid plotting and a billion inconsistencies. Not to mention making Kai Leng, a deadly and mysterious assassin, into the butt of a thousand breakfast-related jokes. William C Dietz is a good writer, his Resistance books were quite excellent and in keeping with the themes and details of the game series. But here, well, something somewhere went horribly wrong, and since his name was on the cover...

"Rasna vas Kather (Rasna crew of the Kather)"

Dietz, this is a goddamn novel, not a pamphlet destined for the lobby in a dental office. Lern2exposit.

Oh, also, I'm pretty sure this quarian's not crew of sh!t considering they aren't living on a ship because they ran away to join the biotic circus or whatever. Also, this ridiculously conspicuous "Biotic Underground" apparently likes to hold what are essentially the equivalent of Biotic Pride Parades. On Omega (the space racist capital). I. Sh!t. You. Not.

Now you may be asking "Why in the hell would you want to do that?" And the answer would be because on Omega, that shizz gets you street cred, yo.


    Bioware later decided to "amend" future copies of Mass Effect: Deception:

"they release book patches now?"
"can Kai stay a 'cereal' killer?"

And now here's a thought provoking analysis on the devolution of the Mass Effect series:

I think Matrix is a near perfect comparison, instead of Star Wars. The first movie was by far the best. It introduces you to a vast new world, with a detailed background, and an impossibly strong villain, where facing even one of them is literally impossible for almost anyone.

The second movie went downhill. It's more action and less story. They start throwing in a few explanations here and there, and it starts to unravel. The story has no real beginning or ending, since it's the middle act, and it's really just drawn out for no real purpose other than leading up to the third movie, where little story actually happens. The villain is radically weakened and dumbed down. Instead of facing one being impossible, now they fight hundreds, if not thousands of them.

The third movie is the war movie. It's a battle against a machine race in the heart of humanity's homeland. The machines also harvest sentient life in cycles, allowing the civilization to build up over time. The odds of defeating the machines are impossible; as they've destroyed entire civilizations countless times. It's been built up since the first movie that the enemy is radically more advanced and more powerful than the humans, and they don't spend a whole lot of time doing anything to gradually build up humans for the fight (In ME, right up until the invasion, most humans willfully ignore that the reapers even exist; which is about as piss-poor as preparation can get.).

And at the end of the third Matrix movie, some mystical light flashes and destroys all machines at the last minute. That's more or less what I'm expecting. Great first act, major let downs for acts two and three.

And people wonder why others say the writing in movies and books is still infinitely better than in games. We hold up the equivalent of the Matrix trilogy as our supposed pinnacle of writing, which would get laughed out of town for movies. The other most commonly praised writing series is usually Uncharted, which is about the movie equivalent of the Die Hard series.

The amazing and kinda sad thing is, this was was written BEFORE the dissapointing final game had been released..

    on the depressing quality of MASS EFFECT 3:

So they made keyboards, gamepads, bags, hoodies, shirts, field jackets, mugs, mouses, mouse mats, headsets, collector editions, art books, figurines, and then sent it all to space. They created day 1 DLC and a mobile spin-off that can cost you a fortune.. 
     However they didn't care about PC gamepad support, about people who prefer Steam, about cloud-saving XBox ME2 players, or PS3 owners who enjoy playable framerates.
     Remember the days when Activision used to be the bad guys?

    and its ending:

What is this.. I dont even... (It's like) you walk into Hitler's bunker.. your'e telling me if he said, "the only way to save the world is to kill ze jews," you would say, "just tell me what button to press. Im not going to question your logic"!?


With the release of Dead Space 3 nearing, which looks more and more like Army of Two in space, one forumite summed up the series downfall thusly:

Dead Space:
Woman, battered and bloodied, standing in medical centre looking at corpse of man lying on hospital bed, and crying. Just crying. Doesn't interact with you, doesn't do anything. She's just there.

In one of the lifts you can just about hear someone singing, distorted, over a mic. Like they found their way to a control room and just sat there singing softly to themselves and an open mic is transmitting it.

A man's voice recording has him deciding that if he is going to die and inevitably be resurrecting as a necromorph then at least he can stop himself from killing anyone by shooting off his legs. Later on you come across him in necromorph form, dragging himself towards you without legs.

There's a necro corpse in a washroom in crew quarters that doesn't pop up and attack you. You watch it the whole time you're in there.

Temple meets up with his girl, Elizabeth, but they never make it out. They meet their end being stabbed in the forehead while bound and gagged.

A soldier is sat on the floor, clutching his severed leg to his chest as if in disbelief that there's no way to fix what's happened.

Dead Space 2:

Nothing, nothing comparable to the above. It's not just about scaring people by throwing different kinds of monsters at them. They have to experience things that are harrowing as well. Think of that diary in Resident Evil: "Itchy. Tasty." There's no danger involved in that bit, it's just a diary of someone changing slowly, at the end they start self-consuming.

Dead Space 3:

Loses the other foundation of horror: that the experience is something you endure on your own. If you share it, you have less than half of it. It becomes tension, suspense, but not horror.

What's so irksome is that on the first one they got the principles so, so right, and as they take away these things you start to worry that maybe the first one was just a fluke of some kind.