OLD TOMB, NEW RAIDER
After last year's Legend, our faith in the Tomb Raider franchise was restored-new developers Crystal Dynamics brought us a highly enjoyable, if short, action-packed adventure that still stayed true to Tomb Raider's original puzzle-solving philosophy. This time round, they've resurrected the 10th Anniversary Edition of the game, abandoned last year by the previous developers. The game follows the same storyline as the very first Tomb Raider, but is built on Legend's engine.
If you haven't played the first game (it was eleven years ago, after all), here's what you need to know: Lara's on the hunt for the Scion of Atlantis, a mysterious and powerful talisman (what else?), torn asunder with pieces scattered all over the world. Her quest will take her from Peru to Greece to Egypt to heaven-knows-where-else, she'll have to deal with plenty of unfriendly wildlife, smart-mouthed mercenaries, and race against another rival archaeologist in the pay of the devious Jacqueline Natla. Just another day at the office.
Tomb Raider Anniversary (TRA) gives you the same, enjoyable gameplay as Legend-Lara's moves are fluid, and the control system lets you execute a series of moves quite quickly without fumbling. Her grappling hook is back, and is much better-utilised this time round. I've had a bunch of issues with the camera angles-most notably at times where you get the feeling you have to jump, but the camera hampers you from finding out where exactly you have to jump to.
The game's also riddled with checkpoints so you never really have to save your game, but this also has the potential to be an annoyance-if you backtrack, walk into a checkpoint and die, you end up undoing all the work you did before backtracking.
I liked the direction that Legend took the franchise in-more action made it a lot more entertaining-but TRA turns its focus strongly on puzzle-solving. The rare dose of action that you do get from the few enemies isn't much-they're freakishly dumb: bears who can't climb stairs, for example, and are quite content standing around while you perch on high ground and finish them off at your leisure. One nice touch is the Adrenaline Dodge, which lets you dodge charging enemies with a bullet-time effect, though you end up hardly using it due to reasons quoted in the previous sentences.
The environments are large-massive at times-and puzzles are spread out across them. This can get pretty confusing: you'll find yourself solving (or choosing not to solve) mini-puzzles only to realise much later that they were part of a much bigger picture. This can get pretty frustrating if you don't realise the big picture quickly enough, but is quite exhilarating when you have your Moment of Realisation.
TRA's huge environments lend themselves to a fairly boring feeling of solitude-you encounter other life forms very rarely, and unlike in Legend, you don't have the banter between Croft and her assistants to keep you entertained. It's just you and the puzzles. It gets so boring that you'll soon want to befriend the odd wolf, if only the blasted creatures would stop trying to kill you.
|Rating : 7/10 |
Developer: Crystal Dynamics Publisher: Eidos
Distributor: E-Xpress Interactive
Price: Rs 699
XFX GeForce 8800Ultra; Intel Core 2 Duo E6600; 4 GB RAM; Windows Vista Ultimate x64; WD 250 GB
The Croft Manor is back too, so when you're done with the game, you can spend some time in Lara's family home solving more puzzles and unlocking rewards-including cheats and new outfits for Lara.
TRA looks fetching, and it's a humungous joy that it'll run just fine even on my now-ancient NVIDIA 6600, but it doesn't seem to exploit newer, more powerful cards like we'd have expected it to-our monstrous 8800 Ultra seems wasted on it. Still, keeping in mind that there are many people who don't jump at the latest graphics card the second it comes out, you can enjoy the game without shelling out for new hardware.
TRA isn't as much fun as Legend-it sadly forsakes the action and intensity that we saw with the latter: one of the caveats of remaking an old game, I guess. The puzzles, however, are very well-designed, and while challenging, aren't especially tough-at no point did I find myself completely lost. It's also longer than Legend, so the fun doesn't have to end prematurely. Give it some well-deserved space on your Lara Croft shelf-if nothing else, it's miles ahead of the original.
A Glimpse Of Paradise
Here at Digit, we've been quite happy with Burnout: Revenge and Dominator. Slamming rivals into walls and pillars and coming down on their heads from above never gets tired. Why, then, would Criterion even bother with a new title having already achieved its sadistic zenith?
We had us a little chat with Alex Ward, Creative Director at Criterion, to find out for ourselves. Burnout: Paradise will naturally be the best-looking game of the series, but it's the new features we can't wait for...
Some choice pickings:
What we're out to achieve with the new game is to take the Burnout experience to a new place.
The main themes of this development centre around freedom and freedom to play Burnout however you would like to. This is your Burnout at your pace. Now you are free to do whatever you want whenever you want to do it. We want to remove the restrictions of the old generation of hardware and break with many conventions.
Burnout: Paradise is the biggest open-world game EA has ever made, with everything open from the start; you can go anywhere and do anything from the get-go, and your first hour of play will be totally different from other players'.
I personally enjoyed playing the game Mercenaries, where I got a kick out of doing things I was not really supposed to be doing. Burnout: Paradise offers a similar sensation, exploring the city, playing with different types of cars, hanging with buddies, doing massive drifts, jumping from roof to roof-anything you can think of.
On The New Features:
Because Burnout: Paradise is a completely open world, there is no more jumping back and forth from menu to go into different race modes. There is no such thing as "modes" anymore-every "mode" is seamless, and an extension of your driving experience. The state of driving freely in the open world is called "Free Burn," during which you can drive around exploring the city and discovering new areas and hidden gimmicks. At any time while Free-burning, you can choose to engage in various racing experiences:
Each road has a set of best records for who drove fastest and who caused the biggest crash-beat your friends' scores to rule the road!
Each traffic light in the game represents a different game, and you can choose (or not) to participate in any race with absolutely no loading time.
We re-invented this experience so you can go into crashes with a push of a button at anytime, anywhere. This new crash experience is called Show Time. The objective of Show Time is to time your crash so you can keep flying and move forward, while crashing your car into a pulp-the distance you can travel while crashing will determine your score.
Marked Man And Payback
When playing with multiple players online, you can decide to "mark" certain player and go after him together. Taking down a "marked" player will let you earn a special trophy as a collectible item.
To be fair to the marked man, we offer these players a chance for a comeback by giving them a special ability called "Payback." These randomly-chosen abilities include pulling stunts on other players like reversing their controls, taking away their breaks and boosts, and such-just fun gimmicks to allow players to have fun messing with each other.
Watch these pages for our review when the game is released for the PS3 and Xbox 360 in November this year!
The Road Less Travelled
Colin McRae: DiRT is undoubtedly one of the best-looking car games for the PC. Unlike other racing titles, this one has nothing to do with storylines, creating mansions, or playing fairy godmother in a fantasy world. DiRT is the latest and probably the most anticipated of all the Colin McRae Rally releases. It's one that's come out on gaming consoles alongside the PC.
The entire game is based around tiers or levels. You make your way to the end of the game by scoring points on a tier through races, time trials, or super specials. The reason I'll be using the term "vehicle" is that DiRT isn't only cars-there are buggies and trucks, too, which takes the game to an all-new level! In fact, there are 13 classes of vehicles: FWD, RWD, 4WD, Classics, and more. You go through plenty of tiers and levels before you finish the game. When you do complete them you can dive straight into the multiplayer game on the Internet or on a local network.
The handling of the cars and trucks differs a lot from one to the other. The slower cars, like the Fiat Punto, are extremely difficult when you first try them. They react aggressively to tiny inputs, which results in you swinging from side to side hitting guardrails even on a straight road. This coupled with wet roads means you've really had it... The trucks and buggies have a rather unique, sim-like feel.
DiRT isn't an easy game to start with even at the Rookie level. The damage levels and AI difficulty increases as you go up the levels. It takes a while before you can hold the cars by the scruff of the neck and throw them around the place.
Looks-wise, DiRT is fantastic. The models are well-detailed, and this can be noticed when you scrape your vehicle on rocks alongside the track or into walls, which results in shedding of panels of your vehicle and exposing of the insides. Fallen pieces of mangled metal and other wreckage you and other players cause lie scattered all around the track. It can become an obstacle course at times-you need to be careful not to run over them while making a second round through the track. Dents and folds on the metal appear when you bang your vehicle onto something a little more solid. The sensation of holes being pieced into my retina was proof enough that the HDR effect was being shamelessly abused in DiRT.
It's really bright and distracting when it's really sunny in-game. The tracks are unique and pretty long as well, which adds some amount of the authenticity of rally car racing. There's even the legendary Pikes Peak track!