Rock climbing, adventuring, ancient relics, and spelunking are all things that sound like tons of fun, in the right circumstance. Now, add that to insane islanders, guns and violence, and a fight to survive, and you have yourself a video game. Lara Croft is back and better than ever as the lead character to Tomb Raider. Much like Life of Pi, Lara is headed to find an ancient treasure on a large ship that becomes ship wrecked after a sudden storm fills the sky with black clouds and rains terror down on the crew. Now it’s up to her and other survivors to discover the supernatural forces that are keeping them from leaving the island.
Graphics in games continue to get better as we venture further into the life of the current console generation. Tomb Raider is no exception. The character design and environmental work shine with realistic movements and lush vegetation. The creation of the island was intricate with the slightly contained, open world feel filled with ledges to climb and tombs to explore.
The gameplay feels a lot like Uncharted if you mix in a little Far Cry 3. It has similar but slightly more realistic climbing elements. Lara finds and improves weapons along the way. The gameplay achievement of Tomb Raider is its upgrade and customization system. It allows you to customize Lara to the way to like to play, whether it’s going in quiet and killing with silent takedowns, or its taking the AK 47 and going in guns blazing. The weapon you will gravitate toward is the bow and wow is it fun. The bow mechanics are the best I have played in a video game and later on when you can strap napalm to an arrow, it will not disappoint. Along with the bow, the takedowns in close range combat are also satisfying. When Lara rushes in with a rock, and later an arrow, to finish off a pursuer, you can just about feel the punch. Let’s remember now that these men that Lara are attacking are trying to kidnap and kill her and her mates. It’s not like Grand Theft Auto. These are not innocent people.
The story in the Tomb Raider game is just about the same as most of the Uncharted series. There is a secret force keeping Lara from leaving the island, and she must use her wits and the help of others to figure out the problem. There are bad guys, good guys, and good guys that go bad. It’s not very inventive or original but it doesn’t lack adventure and action. It’s the constant movement and terror that keeps you enthralled. The voice acting of Lara’s character is great and at some points heart breaking. There are only a couple of issues to the game that are quite glaring. As you get later into the story, the game starts to reuse environments that you have already experienced. Yes, it is good to have a sense of where you are as the game difficulty gets harder, but it starts to lack the discovery factor that goes into an adventure/spelunking Tomb Raider game.
Overall, as a series that has been suffering of needing a reboot, Lara Croft and Tomb Raider got a serious uplift. Developer, Crystal Dynamics, took a dead series and revamped it to contend with award winning games like Uncharted and the other best ofs. It’s a game that someone could watch as you play and wouldn’t get bored. It’s cinematic and exciting and that’s what makes Tomb Raider a huge surprise and easily a must buy.
Article by Tyler Comstock
What if someone told you that they knew a story that would make you believe in God? That’s what a writer, played by Rafe Spall, is told about Pi’s adventurous and unbelievable story about a zoo packed into a boat that capsizes at sea. The story starts with a boy named Pi who grows up in his father’s zoo in India. As the zoo continues to lose money, Pi’s family decides to pick up and move everything. As the ship capsizes in one of the most visually intense scenes going back to Titanic, Pi hitches a ride on a lifeboat with a zebra, and more hidden surprises. Pi finds himself alone, his family dead, on the open sea full of sharks and other dangers. His only hope is to survive on the lifeboat and find refuge.
One of the strongest elements to Life of Pi aside from the acting, which will be touched upon later, is the amazing special effects. Ang Lee won the award for Best Director at the Academy Awards for his near perfect treatment of the effects displayed in the film. The biggest technological achievement is how well they were able to integrate the use of a real tiger and an animated tiger. The movements of the creature and how the fur flowed in the wind made the tiger look as if Pi was fighting the actual ferocious beast. Frankly, all of the animals looked great. The water scenes were filmed in a gigantic swimming pool surrounded by green screens. It became fun trying to pick out what was real and what was animated. That would make a great and difficult movie trivia game.
Like I said earlier, the acting in the film was another thing that really stood out to me. Like Danny Boyle and Slumdog Millionaire, Ang Lee searched for an actor that hadn’t been in a feature film and found Suraj Sharma to play Pi. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it would be to act with animals that aren’t actually there. Suraj’s reactions and emotions are conveyed nicely and it makes you as the viewer really feel for his character and what he is forced to go through. There are moments of sacrifice, tragedy, melancholy, and immense joy. The film ends in a question, possibly the best way to end a film like this. It forces you to think and leaves you wondering.
Overall, Life of Pi is a film that does what it needs to do to be successful, given its story, really well. The visuals and the acting, given that there is only one human for most of the film, is incredible. The only one thing that I had wrong with the movie is that some of the transitions from scene to scene are jarring. Actors and backgrounds transition at different times and I’m not sure that that sort of transition really works for this film. Even though the film touches on the topic of religion, it doesn’t shove it down your throat. Not being religious myself, I didn’t feel like the film was trying to preach to me in any way. It is more about Pi’s unbelievable path to survival.
Article by Tyler Comstock
Django Unchained centers itself around its main character, Django, played by Jamie Foxx. Django is a recently sold slave when bounty hunter Dr. Schultz, played by the Academy Award-winning Christoph Waltz, finds him. Schultz seeks out Django to gain knowledge about a group of men that Schultz is to kill for bounty. When the doctor acquires Django, he finds out that Django has a wife and he was sold separately away from her for punishment. Dr. Schultz gives Django his freedom and, in exchange, wants help identifying his next bounty and ultimately ends up helping Django to find his wife’s whereabouts.
The critically acclaimed and award-winning The Walking Dead is a game that’s outcome fully depends on what dialogue options and heart wrenching choices your character makes along the way. It follows the story of an ex-convict named Lee who is on his way to prison when the outbreak happens. When his car crashes, he finds himself a survivor in a place where the dead have risen and are hungry for living flesh. He meets a young girl early on named Clementine and takes on the task of trying to help keep her alive and to help her find her parents. They meet friends and foes along the way, some stay loyal and some move on, but Lee and Clem always are looking out for each other.
Most people think that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the story of Bilbo Baggins and how he comes upon the “one ring to rule them all.” The prequel story is actually about the adventures of Bilbo and a company of dwarves determined to take back the dwarves’ home from the evil dragon Smaug and reclaim the treasure that rightfully belongs to the leader of the dwarves, Thorin Oakenshield. Thorin and the company of twelve loyal dwarves recruit the hobbit, Bilbo, at Gandalf’s request. Bilbo is naturally taken by surprise and quickly refuses because Hobbits are not people that go looking for adventure. In the end, he accepts the challenge and embarks on a journey that will change his life forever.