Not quite ready to talk about the ending and other spoiler-laden topics of interest related to Bioshock Infinite.  I replayed the ending last night just to make sure I’d remembered it correctly, but now I feel like I need to replay the whole game again and see if anything changes, now that I know what I know.

That might take a while, though, and in the meantime there’s a bunch of other games that I’m playing right now that ought to get talked about.

For starters, this week’s iOS hotness is Nimble Quest, from the makers of Pocket Planes and Tiny Tower.  Instead of being a resource sim, however, this is an action RPG played as a game of Snake.  Super charming art style and very, very addicting.

As a fan of endless runners, I’ve also been playing quite a bit of Bit.Trip Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, which is also super charming and has an amazing soundtrack and really goes out of its way to be as accessible and as challenging as you want it to be, and everything about it is great except that it tends to give me a headache, for some reason.   I think the movement on the screen can get a little bit too fast, which makes me squint.  Bit of a bummer, that, but when I need a quick aperitif it works just fine.

I’m still slowly moving along in my Road To the Show career in MLB 13: The Show.  Not much more to report, except that it’s the best baseball game I’ve ever played.

I guess the biggest news – as well as the most welcome surprise – is that Tiger Woods 14 doesn’t totally suck.  I’ve only played a round or two, but I’m very much enjoying what I’ve seen thus far.  The swing mechanics feel just right, and the putting game finally feels fair, and the game feels like it’s been polished and cared for, which is more than I can say for previous editions.  I can’t yet talk about the paywall or DLC courses or whatever – I’m still debating whether I want to buy my rental copy and get an online pass – but this could be a very pleasant way to spend baby nap times this summer.

Bioshock Infinite – part 1

I’m currently in Day 2 of a horrific stomach bug, so I’m home again.  Yesterday, my day was spent finishing Bioshock Infinite.  Today, my day will largely be spent thinking about how to talk about it.

In fact, I may have to do this in two posts, ultimately – one post devoted purely to how the game actually plays and looks and sounds and feels, and then another post about the story, necessarily filled with lots of spoilers, because, for better and for worse, there are things that need to be talked about.  I think I can combine elements of the second into this first post without getting too spoilery, though – or at least I’ll do my best to keep spoilers well advertised.

You know, I don’t even know if I can do this properly yet.  I’m still getting my thoughts together about the game, and trying to reconcile the stuff I liked with the stuff that didn’t make any sense, and it’s frustrating because I want to write this post RIGHT NOW instead of hours or possibly days from now, when the thoughts actually arrive.

That said, this is someone on tumblr’s reaction to the Bioshock Infinite ending, and it sums up my reaction pretty well, too:


THE GAME:  Whatever misgivings I might have about the story and certain other aspects of the game’s narrative, one thing I can say with absolute certainty is that Columbia is arguably an even more engrossing place than Rapture.  It is an astonishing place; pretty much every where you look you’ll see something amazing.  (I had to stop taking screenshots after a while, since it was getting ridiculous.  And if you’d like to see some of those screenshots, you can click this link.  I’ve labeled a few of them as spoiler-ish, and so you don’t have to see them unless you want to.  I hard a hard time choosing which one I wanted to be my desktop background – I ended up going with this one.)

My concern over the shooting and murdering wasn’t necessarily misplaced – indeed, Elizabeth and Booker have more than a few conversations about all the killing that goes on and how hard it might be to live with yourself after you’ve killed someone, and there’s a bit more I could say here but that should probably wait until the spoiler post.  The combat itself is fine; it’s never been why I like these games, but it works well enough.  Still, I was far more interested in exploring the world and opening locked doors and finding hidden passages and even listening to recordings.  As my friend Caro put it, regarding that last bit:

Yeah, so.  Mechanically, the combat works fine, although I really only used a few guns, and even fewer Vigors (i.e., Plasmids).  Some of the Vigors are introduced rather lazily, actually, and I almost missed picking a few of them up.  Not that it would’ve changed my playstyle very dramatically, though – I mainly used Shock and Fire (not their real names) for crowd control before mopping up baddies with machine guns and shotguns.  Most of the Vigors felt like afterthoughts, to be honest – as if the developers needed something to fill out the radial menu.

But there’s another reason we need to talk about those Vigors.  There’s a fantastic Gameological (AVClub) review which I might as well quote directly since John Teti says exactly what I was thinking, and the whole review is worth a read:

Other parts of the BioShock carryover simply don’t make sense. It’s all well and good that the plasmids of the old game have been rechristened as Vigors for Infinite, but in the [first] BioShock, plasmid abuse was an integral part of Rapture’s downfall. More to the point, plasmids made sense in the culture of Rapture, where self-worship was the norm, and man’s freedom to improve his lot was sacrosanct.

Where do Vigors fit into Columbia? I don’t know, and neither does Infinite. There are advertisements for Vigors all over the city, and you can find bottles of the stuff lying around, but very few Columbians use them. In a society that espouses racial purity, you’d think Vigors would be more of an issue. After all, they can turn a person into a demigod regardless of race. But this never comes up. If anything, [the main villain] Comstock appears to tacitly embrace the sale of Vigors. There’s a difference between plot holes, which are excusable, and a disregard for internal logic. Vigors belong to the latter category.

And along those lines, it seems downright odd that there would be so many ammunition vending machines all over the place, especially since there’s this whole uprising/revolution that Comstock is trying to hard to quell.  I can’t necessarily speak more about that until I get to the spoiler post, but purely in terms of game mechanics, it’s striding a very fine line between aiding the player in combat and distracting the player’s brain who’s trying to make sense of everything they see.  In a game like this, where you can tell that every single object has been placed with deliberate care and purpose, it just seems weird.

I should probably stop now, before I start saying things that I shouldn’t say in a non-spoiler post.

before the first few hours: Bioshock Infinite

I’d been suffering from shooter fatigue for quite a long time before I found that I was enjoying Far Cry 3 almost in spite of myself.   The endless slaughter of virtual enemies was still somewhat tiresome, but FC3 had enough distractions and side projects to take on that I felt like I could still enjoy what the game had to offer.

And then the Newtown shooting happened, and suddenly I felt sick again.

From that link, which I wrote back in December:

The narrative [in FC3] is where the game’s more or less fallen apart for me, is the thing.  While I appreciate that the game is actually attempting to say something (in that you start out as a whimpering trust-fund douchebag and gradually turn into a sociopathic killing-machine douchebag whose friends (the same friends who you’ve been trying to rescue) are super-creeped out by you and your murder-lust (they actually look into the camera (i.e., your eyes) as if they don’t recognize you)) – in other words, the game is saying that killing hundreds of people doesn’t necessarily make you a hero – the game also requires you to kill hundreds of people in order to advance the narrative; you don’t have a choice in the matter.

And then, a few paragraphs down, I wrote this:

I was originally going to start this post with a hypothetical challenge; would it be possible for me to play any games in 2013 that didn’t involve the firing of a gun?  Then I remembered that Bioshock InfiniteTomb Raider and GTA5 were coming, and that pretty much ended that – I won’t be missing any of those games unless my wife or my newborn son is on fire.  BUT.  I think I’m going to try and get through as much of 2013 as possible without playing any shooters.

Well, here we are.  I’ve finished Tomb Raider – and enjoyed it, for the most part.  And I have not played Gears of War: Judgment, or Crysis 3, or Metal Gear Revengeance, or Dead Space 3.

And when I get home tonight, I’m going to be firing up Bioshock Infinite.  It’s one of the only big AAA games that’s coming out this year that I promised I wouldn’t miss.  The original Bioshock is one of the watershed moments of this generation, after all – and even if the gameplay doesn’t quite hold up these days, the atmosphere and the storytelling still do.

But as much as I’m looking forward to checking it out, I’d be lying if I weren’t apprehensive about all the murdering I’m going to have to do.  What does it say about games as a medium when the game that’s being touted and hyped as the most important story-driven game of the generation still makes you kill lots of things as you get from Point A to Point B – and how one of the game’s selling points is that you can kill these things in lots of interesting and unique ways?

*   *   *

I’ve been trying with all my might to avoid any and all preview coverage of Bioshock Infinite.   This even extends to reviews; I’m aware that it’s been getting very high scores, but I’ve not read any actual reviews or analysis.  This has been very hard of late, as the game’s presence has blanketed pretty much every website I visit with ubiquitous advertising.

But I’m also contractually obliged to link to anything that Tom Bissell writes, and his Grantland interview with Ken Levine is, as usual, very interesting and informative without even really getting into the game itself.  They talk about the game mostly from a writer’s point of view; how game writing differs from novels and screenplays, and they even get into this shooting business a little bit:

[TB:]  Here’s the weird thing, to me, about BioShock. It draws in first-person-shooter nuts who love to electrocute people and set them on fire. It also draws in the disaffected philosophy PhD candidate and gives him something to think about while running amok. A belief of mine is that shooters are made for naughty children, and we all like to become naughty children sometimes. When a shooter can take that mischievous core impulse and enrich it with something that feels genuinely thoughtful, well, that’s lightning in a bottle, isn’t it?

[KL:] Look, I can’t say I’m a man of high taste. I’m a man of low taste. I like action movies and comic books — not that all comic books are of low taste. Not that all action movies are of low taste. I like things exploding. I like candy and cookies. I’m not a sophisticate in any way, shape, or form. My wife and I live the lives of 14-year-old kids; we just happen to be married and have enough disposable income that we don’t necessarily have a bedtime. If I could sit around and eat pizza and ice cream — and not fancy pizza — and watch Lord of the Rings and play video games, I’m a pretty happy guy.

Ken doesn’t quite answer the question, and even Tom’s question addresses the perception that I find somewhat troubling, which is that we should at least be grateful that Infinite is offering something more than just an opportunity to kill hundreds of things, even if killing hundreds of things is a vital, integral part of the experience.

Wouldn’t it be something if we could find something else to do to fill in the time between story beats besides shooting a gun?

Behind The Music: review commentary

So one of the reasons why I was so quiet last week was because I was working on a review of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon for the New York Videogame Critics Circle, which can be found here.

This was my first experience writing a review the way the professionals do it:  with a free download code given out a week before the game’s release.   So not only was I flying somewhat blind (in terms of not knowing how the other gaming outlets were going to score it), but I was also flying without a walkthrough.   This turned out to be not that big a deal, because the places where I was getting stuck were less about not knowing how to solve a puzzle and more about not being able to adjust to the rather sudden difficulty spike in the later levels.   That being said, I would’ve hated to have not been able to finish the game because I couldn’t figure out what to do next!

Still, though, I wrote the review (and the epilogue) without having finished the game.   Still haven’t finished the game.  Haven’t even thought about the game since I turned in the epilogue on Thursday.  Don’t want to think about the game.  I’m so close to the end, but there’s no way that the actual end will be worth all the bullshit it takes to get there.  If I am going to think about the game, I’d rather remember the parts that I liked.  I still may go back and try to find all the stuff I didn’t find in the earlier levels, although I’m still pretty obsessed with Etrian Odyssey IV, and also my copy of Fire Emblem: Awakening just arrived, and that seems pretty awesome, too.

This was also the first time that I’ve written something that ultimately got looked over and edited by a much better writer than myself – and very much for the better, I might add, even if we had to cut out the footnotes.  In any event, I did get to use (and keep) the phrase “core gameplay loop”, which is one of my favorite bits of industry jargon.

It was a pretty neat experience, all things considered.  I hope I get to do it again.


As for the rest of the weekend, I didn’t really get to play all that much.  I ended up spraining my ankle on Saturday (as part of a story that I’ll feel better telling in a few weeks), and so I was mostly just laid up.  As mentioned above, I’m still pushing along in EO4, and I played the first few levels of Fire Emblem.  Fire Emblem seems pretty great, although I was terrible at the previous game on the DS, and I’m not necessarily all that into turn-based tactical RPGs.  It’s a nice companion to EO4, though; when I get tired of one, the other seems to fill the void quite nicely.

Also, my rental copy of MLB 13: The Show arrived, and I started a Road To The Show career – my pitcher, Jervo McNervo, is 2-1 on the SF Giants Double A team, with 2 complete game shutouts and 34 Ks.  As much as I respect this game franchise – it’s clearly the best in the business – I’ve always been terrible at the hitting part of the game, so being a pitcher makes sense – especially since I’m pretty good at the pitching part.  Normally I tend to rage quit when I do terribly in sports games – if I’m not pitching perfect games and going 6-for-6 with 4 grand slams, then I start over – but I’m trying to keep myself honest this time around.  So, yeah – my first two outings were complete game shutouts, but in my third outing I don’t think I made it out of the fifth inning.  Sometimes your pitches don’t go where you want them to go; such is life.  That being said, the fielding controls for the pitcher are backwards – I fielded a few infield choppers and inadvertently threw to third base each time, not realizing that the pitcher’s controls are inverted.  (That would’ve been nice to tell me, Sony.)

In any event, this will all be moot soon enough; Bioshock Infinite is already preloaded on my PC, and as soon as it goes live, that’s where I’ll be for the rest of the week… unless the baby arrives, of course.

the first dozen hours: Etrian Odyssey 4

I’ve had my 3DS for a few weeks now, and I must say I’ve been pretty happy with the experience overall – even if the 3D does weird things to my eyes after a while.  The Streetpass feature is pretty neat.  I think I’ve mentioned that I don’t often see people using 3DSs on the subway, but clearly people are bringing them along in their bags or something, because almost every day I pick up 3 or 4 Tags, which is neat.

The game I’ve spent the most time with thus far comes as a big surprise (to me, at least) is Etrian Odyssey 4, which I’ve been playing rather obsessively for the last week or so.   I’d figured, since I’d had such a disappointing experience with Ni No Kuni, that I’d lost interest in JRPGs; but as it turns out, all I need was a breath of fresh air and a completely different context.

EO4 is a radically different experience from pretty much every other RPG I’ve ever played, even if it feels bewitchingly familiar.  It’s a first-person grid-based dungeon crawler (similar to something like Legend of Grimrock), with a turn-based random encounter battle system (much like, well, most old-school JRPGs) – but the key difference is that it also features a map-making system that encourages you to be as detailed as possible.  This comes in handy, as you might imagine, since you’ll frequently go through each maze more than once, and things that you might’ve noticed as odd or significant may end up being important on a 2nd visit.

The game also does a terrific job of making grinding as hassle-free as possible, which is something that I very much appreciate.  For one thing, you can create auto-pilot routes through each maze, which speeds things along quite nicely; for another, you can choose to auto-pilot your way through each random encounter, which makes going through easy enemies much quicker and doesn’t deplete your TP reserves (TP being what you use to activate special skills in battle).

The battles that you do choose to pay attention to, though, are a lot of fun to engage in.  It’s not just mindless button presses – that’s what the auto-pilot mode is for, after all.  Tougher enemies require strategic planning, and the variety of skills you can use mean there’s lots of different tactics you can employ.

The graphics are a little weird, I suppose.  The 3D screen makes battles look like active dioramas, with detailed monsters bobbing and weaving against rather dreary backgrounds.  Indeed, the actual 3D mazes you explore are surprisingly drab and ugly as compared to the rather crisp 2D character drawings; I’m not sure if the art style is meant to be consistent with earlier titles in the franchise (as I’ve never played them) but as an EO neophyte I’m not particularly impressed.  Still, I’m not staying with this game for the graphics.

Nor am I sticking with it for the story, although that may very well be because the story is just now – after a dozen hours of playtime – coming into focus.   In the early going, I was simply assembling my crew to go out on little missions for the local town – and that was enough, frankly.  Now – in the dungeon I literally just discovered about an hour ago – there seem to be larger, world-shaking forces at work, and I suppose I’ll need to save the world somewhere down the line.

One word of caution, in case you read this and decide to check it out – the game doesn’t explain itself particularly well in the beginning.  The very first thing you do is assemble a crew as part of a guild, and the types of crewmember are not necessarily self-explanatory.  (For example, the main melee fighter in your party is called a Landsknecht.  This is, in fact, a real thing, but I had to look it up on Wikipedia.)  Once you finish building your guild, you’ll find yourself in another set of menus – which is actually how you interact with the town.  The menus are a bit obtuse at first, but you get used to them with time.

I’d heard that one of the trademarks of this franchise is its punishing difficulty, which is why I’m grateful that there’s a “Casual” mode – which is still plenty difficult, mind you.  You can’t save mid-labyrinth without going back to town and then re-tracing your steps, which is a drag – especially as you have a limited inventory and it gets full very quickly.  (As a matter of fact, I’m about to go up against a boss, and I’m probably not going to make it – I never had a chance to go back to town, and my party has almost no TP left, and I could very much use some refreshment.)

In any event, I’m really enjoying my experience, and I’d highly recommend it if you’re in the mood for this sort of thing.

weekend recap: all tombs raided

Finished Tomb Raider.  Currently at around 93% completion, and I’m not sure I give a shit about finding the last few things there are to find.  Lara is fully leveled up, as are her weapons (not that there are that many people to fight), and the stuff that’s left (mostly GPS caches) doesn’t have much of a payoff.  Usually when I finish one of these kinds of action/adventure games, I feel compelled to go back and replay one of my favorite levels, if only to really take in the scenery and find all the hidden stuff without the pressure of combat.  But you can’t really do that in this edition of Tomb Raider, as there aren’t really any levels to speak of.  There are certainly different geographic locations on the island, but it’s not quite the same thing.

I think, overall, that it’s a very good game; that the developer’s intentions were clear, and that they were largely successful in achieving what they set out to achieve.  But it’s not perfect; there’s still too much killing (and, let me tell you – for a girl who starts out hesitant and apologetic to kill a deer in order to survive, she ends up kneecapping dudes with pickaxes and spearing dudes in the throat with arrows), and the whole 2nd act is basically one long chase sequence where everything is on fire.

There’s also something else that troubles me a little bit, though it’s a bit more subtle; they go through great lengths to make Lara Croft a real, relatable human being this time around, someone grounded in reality (even if she has an incredibly high tolerance for pain).  But without getting too spoilery, the mystery of the island is, in fact, something supernatural.  I was actually hoping for some scientific, grounded-in-reality explanation to what was going on, being that everything else was meant to evoke a real-world feeling.  The ending isn’t necessarily disappointing, but it did feel a bit… hokey.

I’d also add that some of the systems they introduce in the beginning feel unnecessary and undeveloped – like the whole survivalist thing, about needing to hunt game in order to stay alive.  Actually, once you kill that first deer mentioned above, you don’t need to kill any animals (besides the wolves that attack you) ever again; and if you do, the XP you gain is modest, at best.  I’m not saying I wanted them to introduce a hunger system, but it’s just weird that in the beginning of the game it’s presented as something important, and within 30 minutes it’s an afterthought.

Still, problems aside, I had a really good time with it; I’d give it a solid B+.  I’m just not sure if I’ll ever find myself going back to play it again, the way I have with other, similar titles.


My 3DS experience continues to be hit-or-miss.  I’ve got 2 games on rental right now – Etrian Odyssey 4 and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, which, if nothing else, wins the “Most Ridiculous Title of 2013” award.  I gave Castlevania about 30 minutes before sending it back; the screens are too dark to really see what’s going on, and the 3D gives me a splitting headache – even with it turned off.  And the first real boss was a bit of a dick.  I generally like Castlevania games – not necessarily for the fiction, but for the action and the map-filling and such.  But this one kinda felt like it was going nowhere, fast.

Etrian Odyssey, on the other hand, is a bit more interesting, and I’m tempted to stick with it – even if a lot of the mechanics seem needlessly convoluted.  It’s a fairly standard dungeon-crawling turn-based RPG, but there’s also this map-making feature that’s kinda fascinating, where you actually chart your progress through each dungeon’s maze.  Some of your quests actually depend on your cartography skills – you need to be able to point to something on the map in order to show your quest-giver where a given object might be.   The party management system is not very intuitive, and so I’m never sure if I’ve arranged my party correctly or if they’re as well-equipped as they need to be.  It’s tempting to think that a lot of this stuff would be familiar to people who’ve played the earlier 3 games, but I haven’t, and I don’t plan to, and so I’m stuck with a level of obtuseness that is a little intimidating.  But the actual exploring and fighting is fun enough, and the map-making aspect is certainly novel and engaging, and so I’m probably going to hang on to it for a little while longer.


I was going to write a thing here about being conflicted about what to do about Bioshock Infinite, but it’s a very silly problem to have and I’m not sure it’s all that interesting, either.  But I’ll write it anyway.

The gist of it is that I was always planning on playing it on my 360, but there’s a few snags in that plan.  Firstly,  the release date (March 25) is right at the edge of the baby arrival window, and so if I were to pre-order a copy and the baby arrived before the 25th, then my game would be stuck at my office for 2 weeks (as I can’t really get packages delivered to my apartment).  Not that I’d be playing a game instead of taking care of my newborn child, but you understand what I mean, right?  The baby’s gotta sleep at some point, and when I’m in that weird exhausted half-sleep daze that will be as close as I can get to experiencing actual drug use, I’m going to want to unwind with some Bioshock.    Secondly, when the baby is sleeping, I’m sure my wife will want to unwind as well, and if I’m playing Bioshock on the big TV in the living room, she’s relegated to the bedroom with the smaller TV, and I always feel bad about that.

The reason why this is stupid is that the logical answer is for me to simply download the game on Steam, which is how I’ve been playing most of my games lately anyway  including Tomb Raider, actually.  I have kick-ass PC headphones which will prevent the baby from hearing all the strange noises, and the PC is in the office, which means my wife can relax in the living room.  My only concern, really, is that while my PC can run Bioshock, it can’t necessarily run it as well as it could, and so it may not look as fantastic as I’d hope.  Still, Tomb Raider looked more than OK on my PC, and so I’m sure Bioshock’s performance will suffice.

the first few hours: Tomb Raider

[For some reason I feel it necessary to tell you that there’s a bunch of other posts I’m working on, including a special Subway Gamer 3DS post and a revival of the Everything Old is New Again feature (as I play the 3DS version of Ocarina of Time).  In the meantime, I need to talk about Tomb Raider, so here we go.]

I started writing this post yesterday, but I lost interest in it after a while; I couldn’t quite figure out what I was trying to say, and it soon became clear that I just hadn’t played enough of the game to know how I felt about it.  Of course, the whole point of these “first few hours” posts is to provide gut reactions and first impressions, but still – I wanted to at least get past the early tutorial stuff and experience a bit more of what the game had to offer, as that first hour is pretty linear.

So now I’m around 4 hours in; I just made base camp outside the helicopter in the shanty town, if that means anything to those of you who might’ve finished it already.  And I can sum up my experience thusly:  I am enjoying it very much, even if it is not quite the game I’d like it to be.

I never played the original Tomb Raider gamesand from what I understand I’m not necessarily missing all that much.  I did enjoy the 360 games, though – LegendAnniversary, and even Underworld, to a lesser extent.  And the XBLA top-down co-op game that came out a few years ago was quite fun, too.  Those games did well enough for me in the  exploration-to-combat gameplay ratio to make them entertaining; the combat felt obligatory, but at least it was over pretty quickly.  The stories were utterly ridiculous, but I didn’t really care – I liked exploring the tombs and solving the puzzles, and that was enough for me.   As for Lara Croft herself, well, she seemed to be a comic book character with superhuman parkour abilities and some overly generous (some might say borderline-gratuitous) physical endowments.  If I were a 13-year-old boy, it would be one thing.  But as a mid-30s man, it started to get a little embarrassing – sadly, this is pretty much par for the course as far as female videogame characters go.

character design


This reboot is clearly less about globetrotting and raiding tombs and more about trying to redefine who Lara is – she is young, inexperienced, and is frequently in a great deal of pain.   She is, refreshingly, not gratuitously sexualized; if anything, one could argue that she is perhaps overly victimized.  Terrible things happen to her with a frequency that would be almost comical if she weren’t constantly gasping in agony.

The key part of that last paragraph, though, at least as far as I’m concerned, is that there are hardly any literal tombs to raid – there are certainly some optional tombs to explore, but the three that I’ve found so far consist of basically one puzzle each and took me around 3 minutes to figure out and solve.   That being said, there are certainly a lot of environmental traversal puzzles, and tons of hidden objects to find, and I do enjoy those parts immensely.

In many respects, Tomb Raider reminds me less of, say, Uncharted, and a bit more of Far Cry 3 – especially as there’s one section in Tomb Raider where Lara has to climb a radio tower.  It’s a lot more linear than FC3, but that’s actually OK; the game gives me clearly explained reasons for pushing forward, and so while there’s no countdown urging me to the next objective, I find myself eager to see what happens next.

*       *       *

It’s been interesting (and a little confusing) to hear other people’s reactions to this new Tomb Raider reboot.   I’m only around 4 hours into it, after all, and I can’t necessarily speak to the things these professional critics are responding to – even when they talk in a non-spoilery way.  Rock Paper Shotgun’s review details an experience almost completely different from what I’ve been going through – their guy talks about this feeling of the game constantly interrupting you and your control over the action, but I haven’t really felt that way at all.  And this week’s Giant Bombcast discusses, among other things, the disconnect between Lara’s intense discomfort and revulsion at the things she has to do (like killing people), and the unlocks and perks you can unlock that let Lara perform incredibly gruesome kill maneuvers.

The Bombers also talk about what they wish this game actually was, though, and in that I can absolutely agree.  While I appreciate that the combat in the game is actually pretty good, it’s still the part that I like the least.  What I (and they) love is the exploration and puzzle solving.  I felt this way in Far Cry 3, and Uncharted (both 2 and especially 3), and even Skyrim to a certain extent (not that there’s many puzzles to solve in Skyrim, of course).  I would love a game that forgoes combat altogether and simply gives you a world to explore and solve.  That sort of game is probably too risky to spend AAA development money on, but it’s clear to me from listening to critics and talking with friends that there’s definitely an audience for that sort of experience; hell, look at the success that Dark Souls found in catering to a niche audience.

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