Review: Tomb Raider
Publisher: Square Enix
Systems: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Tomb Raider is a complete reboot for the long-running franchise, as the story opens with a much younger and inexperienced Lara Croft suddenly shipwrecked on an isolated island. The core of gameplay involves exploring the mysterious island and dealing with the local and hostile inhabitants. The design of the varied island environments is excellent, while seeing where you need to go from afar and then figuring out how to get there is rewarding. Robust sound design rounds out the immersive experience by helping to further bring the island alive.
Camilla Luddington -- recently seen in Californication, Grey’s Anatomy and True Blood -- voices the re-imagined Lara Croft and serves as her body model in the game. Luddington does well in effectively delivering her lines and providing a convincing template for Lara.
Considering this is a Tomb Raider game, one of the real surprises is how well the weapons and combat work. Lara’s skills and weapons upgrade at a good pace, so while you'll never feel overwhelmed by the opposition, you'll also never feel overpowered.
And while there’s no shortage of collectibles and mini-challenges baked into the game, achieving them remains addictive and engaging.
Tomb Raider stands tall as one of the best games of 2013, and a worthy measuring stick for what’s to come.
Score: 10 out of 10
Review: Crysis 3
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Systems: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
In Crysis 3, you play as Prophet, a battle-hardened soldier pitted against various minions of the evil CELL Corporation and the alien Ceph. The single-player campaign is set in Manhattan, breathtakingly rendered with overgrown vegetation and littered with the crumbling remains of human civilization.
Prophet’s nanosuit allows you to scan environments for enemies and weapons, and once you’re ready to attack, it allows you to cloak or armor up. These functions drain your energy, however. This simple dynamic allows you to decide how to best get past the bad guys. If you want to use stealth and peel off your opponents like an onion, you can; if you want to defend a position and take their best shot, you can do that as well.
The weapons in Crysis 3 are varied and powerful. The notable addition is the Predator bow, which unlike guns and rifles is usable while cloaked. The combat controls in Crysis 3 are well designed, allowing you to quickly modify weapons on the fly without leaving the action. Weapons and armor upgrades are also well apportioned as you progress through the game.
Crysis 3 has a respectable multiplayer suite that helps extend the game beyond the relatively short campaign. For a first-person shooter game, Crysis 3 impresses with well-balanced action, eye-popping graphics and audio and a solid storyline.
Score: 9 out of 10
Review: Metal Gear Solid: Revengance
Systems: Xbox 360, PS3
Revengance is another way of saying revenge and vengeance. It's also another way of expressing the Metal Gear franchise, which was previously rooted in stealth combat. Revengance is a completely different beast, focusing on fast-paced and full-frontal assault action.
In the game you play as Raiden, a Samurai/consultant/cyborg/cool-cat fellow out for some payback. The story in Revengance is bizarre and convoluted, but none of that matters because it’s all about the crazy combat, which is centered on a complex system of melee strikes and counters. There’s a learning curve to the combat, but once you get the swing of it you’ll quickly learn to dance Raiden around in a ballet of slicing, dicing and destruction.
The graphics in Revengance are pretty good, holding up to the frenetic on-screen action, but the game suffers some wonky camera angles that interfere with your attacks.
The story campaign only lasts five-six hours, but it’s still satisfying and intense. Score: 8 out of 10