Friday, 29 January 2016

Threemb Raidered

Yep, I'm keeping that title going. Finally polished off Tomb Raider 3 last night. I don't really have much to say about it. It was a slog, that's for sure. It's very much treading the same ground as TR2 with a few new features. The ability to pick which area you wanted to go to next was a bit random really, and only served to take even more focus away from the story. It also didn't help that although they had movies at the end of some levels, they very rarely had them at the beginning - which is often when you really need them. It meant most of the time I didn't really have a clue what my goal was for the level other than: Get to the end. It's a shame, because I actually think a good yarn is critical to the Tomb Raider series; it's what keeps you invested when your completely lost and the puzzles are doing your head in (which happens frequently in these games). Other than that, it sticks very closely to the TR template - you jump around, you shoot things, you fall into a multitude of spike traps. That's not to say I didn't like it - I still really enjoy the grand vistas, and the thrill of reaching a new area and gazing around to see how the heck you're going to get from A to B. I don't think some of the environments were as good in this one - there's a lot of indoor stuff that I don't find as fun as the caverns and huge outdoor areas, but also some good stuff. I really liked the outdoor temple area and the huge valley, but I didn't really like the prison section or the mining bit. There seemed to be a lot more frustrating pain points in this one as well. I think I finished with almost 600 saves - I don't know how console people did it with the limited saves they had. My overriding feeling, though, is that it did go on forever and all of the levels kind of blurred into one after a while. Not that I'm feeling Tomb-Raidered out quite yet!

Next up is The Last Revelation. I actually had this one on the Dreamcast, so I've played a little of it, but I don't remember getting too far. It's the one where you start out as a young Lara learning the ropes (quite literally - rope-swinging is one of the new features). I'm still slowly going through the First Templar. It's quite fun, but feels like it might take a while. In other news, I've been playing through some of the Lego games at the weekends with Max on the Steam Link. We've just finished the Marvel game and have started the Lego Movie one. We just rushed through the story, as that's all Max wants to do, but the crazy completionist in me wants to unlock everything it has to offer, so I'm not going to count it as complete yet.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


I finished up Turok last night. It actually got a little trying toward the end because it kept on randomly crashing. It'd been doing it all along, but at the beginning the save points were close enough and the enemies easy enough that it didn't really matter...not so at the end. There was one point especially on level 7 where there was a bunch of incredibly difficult jumps (yay platforming in early 3D games) that I had to redo about 10 times because the game kept crashing. I was pretty close to quitting, but luckily I got through it. Anyway, the game - I'm sure you all know Turok, right? The dinosaur hunter? He's a native American guy who goes around shooting dinosaurs and other evil stuff. I lost track of the back story, but there was some evil guy who came down from space to do... something?... and I killed him. All good clean fun. It was originally (I think) an N64 game, and it's got that chunky feel about it. The graphics are pretty cool, especially when the dinosaurs start getting cybernetics - the triceratops with missile launchers strapped to its back is my favourite. Oh, and of course there is a t-rex with lasers for eyes! You have to traverse a bunch of levels finding keys so you can open the final level and defeat the big bad. It's quite a standard early 2D FPS in some respects. There aren't millions of monsters, but they do respawn, which keeps you busy. There's some great level design - early 3D games were often keen to showcase just how '3D' they were, so there are massive towering structures that you have to work your way up, with intricate walkways strung between them. It would look much better if the fogging wasn't so bad, but hey, that's how it was in those days. The weapon selection is varied and pretty fun, with some great big hitters in there - the exploding shotgun was a personal fave. It was good fun and the levels were different enough to keep the interest up. A few annoyances - particularly evil jumping and some annoying mazes, but otherwise a good experience. First game of the year down, onwards!

Next up on the randometer, it's: Burger Time! I remember playing this one on the Beeb! You essentially have to construct giant burgers while avoiding the evils chasing you. It's a fairly simple arcade game as far as I remember, so shouldn't take long. I also made it a little further in TR3 - now in London (with vultures!).

<Later Edit> Hmmm, just tried Burger Time and DOSBox won't even start it, so not sure what's going on there. Ah well, I don't think I'm missing much. Next up on the randometer is...The First Templar! Don't know much about this one, except that I picked it up in a recent bundle. I think it's a fairly recent game (2011), so it'll make a nice change.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Hello, 2016!

So, here we are again, Happy New Year! Things have been absolutely manic here at work over the last couple of months, as evidenced by the number of posts here. As such, I can't really remember much of the games I've been playing, but I'm looking forward to getting back into them. I think I was about half way through Turok, but I've no idea really how long it is. In TR3 I'd made a start on the first of the three 'world' areas, so still quite a way to go there.

Last year was a bit of an odd one in many ways, and this year is starting similarly. In blog related news, there's been one change that means I'll have a bit more regular time to try and get through some more of the backlist. In other news, the backlist has grown something rotten. About half way through the year I decided to just sod it and buy a bunch of bundles...and got a bit carried away. So...I haven't looked at the numbers yet, but I'm expecting it to be a bit crazy - as in, really crazy. This year, as always, the plan is to buy less and play more!

Last year was also the year of the new computer - it seems like ages ago now that all that happened. Touch wood - so far, it's been brilliant, no complaints at all. Windows 10 was a bit of a gamble over 7, but it seems to be okay so far. I hope I'm still saying that when I've had a few Win 95 games to try - though Turok worked straight off, which surprised me. It hasn't struggled to play anything yet - but then, I've hardly been throwing the most demanding games its way. Saying that, also on the hardware front I got my Steam controller and streaming box this year. I've only really been using it to play Lego games with my son on weekends, but it's had no problems playing those and streaming them downstairs. In fact, with the new PC and ability to stream to the living room, the poor PS3 barely got a look in last year. I played the new(ish) Tomb Raider on it, but other than that, it's pretty much only been used for iPlayer - how the mighty have fallen! That is one thing that I'd like to try and pick up a bit more on this year and get through some PS3 games, as I have a horrible feeling Sony will switch off the PS3 Plus servers before too long, taking all of my games with it! On that note, it's time to look at the numbers...

This time last year we started out with:
   Done: 396
   Total: 3727
   Completed: 10.6%

Here's where we stand at the start of 2016:
   Done: 462
   Total: 4070
   Completed: 11.3%

Which means, for all you maths fans out there, my totals for the year were:
   Done: 66
   Total: 343
   Completed: 0.7%

So, not quite what I was expecting. That means I actually finished around 20 games less last year than the year before, and bought about 60 games more. About 30 of those new games are from bundles and Steam sales in the past week, so that hasn't increased as much as I thought. In reality check terms, 66 games done is still a lot - and, as always, many of those are games that didn't work, or games that I only scratched the surface of before moving on. Also, 343 new games is an absolutely ridiculous number, especially as the vast majority of it is things that I probably didn't even want that were part of bundles. Case in point - I bought a bundle this morning because it included one game that was in my wishlist, and received another 12 games that I'd never even heard of, let alone wanted. Ah, I'm an idiot (NB: yes, I'm counting those into my 2015 purchases, so 2016 hasn't been sullied yet!).

Of the games I played last year, there were a few notables. The original Tomb Raider was great to go back to. It still holds up remarkably well, and I thought it compared favourably with the new Tomb Raider, which I played at the same time. I also played through the Marathon games, which I was looking forward to after hearing a lot about them. They were fun, but definitely began to drag on towards the end. In terms of surprises, Die by the Sword was really enjoyable. Looking back on it, that's maybe more because it was just fun rather than being a particularly brilliant game, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I also played through a couple of real indie gems from the first wave of the indie explosion - Limbo and World of Goo, and both were fantastic. They really illustrate why Indie was such a big thing back then when these games burst out, even though the term has since become a bit diluted by all of the tripe appearing on Steam every 5 seconds. In terms of disappointments, I think the biggest ones were the Tintin games. Man, I love Tintin, but the games were such an exercise in frustration. Ugh, it makes me come over all peculiar just thinking about them. Other moments of keyboard-flinging frustration came with The Lost Vikings - may they remain lost for many more years to come; and Codename Iceman, of which the less said the better. So, a few stars and a few turkeys - all very Christmassy. I look forward to playing through a few more games this year and, who knows, maybe even sticking to a few new year's resolutions! Happy New Year to one and all, and I hope 2016 brings more happiness and free time!