Game Review – Tomb Raider

This reboot of the very famous Lara Croft – Tomb Raider series was something I was looking forward to play. The character is no longer a scantily clad hottie with loads of oomph, but a meaningful and more likeable character in many ways.

 Premise –

 A stealth-based first person shooter. Your character is marooned on an island where previous survivors and a mystical force don’t allow you to leave. This game shows the growth of Lara Croft into a survivor.

The Best Bits –

  • An open and interactive environment made map exploration actually enjoyable.
  • The gradual but palpable change in the protagonist, who goes from “Please. Why are you doing this?” to “That’s right, run. I am coming for you.” over the course of the game.
  • The survivor instinct is extremely helpful in navigation, which otherwise can be frustrating if you get stuck.
  • The point where Lara had to cauterize her wounds in the helicopter and the fight that followed.
  • The final scene where she dual-wields the pistols in the traditional Lara Croft way.

What could have been better –

  • Your character gets so much experience, that you have the ability to get more perks than the total perks available. Was this not calculated in the alpha phase?
  • The mini-puzzles of the secret tombs and wall climbs near the climax remind you strongly of Prince of Persia-Warrior Within, but fail to come even in the horizon of its complexity or fun.

My takeaway  –

Another definite recommend.  This game also sets a good premise for future games in the franchise which I look forward to. 8/10.

Game Review – Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Human Revolution is a long awaited prequel to the critically acclaimed Deus Ex, this is a worthy part of the series and definitely surpasses its previous games.

 Premise –

A stealth-based First Person Shooter based in a futuristic, technologically advanced world. Your character is surgically modified for extreme performance and caught between two powerful powerhouses.

The Best Bits –

  • The social enhancer perk gives you significant power to alter the outcomes of several scenarios by just talking. Hell, I wish I had that in real life!
  • The gameplay lets you choose your style from complete stealth to complete violence. It is possible to complete the game without killing anyone except in the boss fights.
  • Your character is vulnerable to bullets and can die almost immediately if caught in cross-fire. This is good because it makes it realistic at all playing levels – easy or hard.
  • A reasonably good, if not outstanding, storyline.
  • The stealth mechanism is outstanding.

 What could have been better –

  • The dark environment throughout the game makes you wonder at times if the developers forgot that the sun exists.
  • Even if you opt for a stealth based approach, there is no way around the bosses. You have to fight them.

 My takeaway  –

 It’s a definite wow.  It is a definite benchmark setter for upcoming stealth based games. 9/10.

Game Review – Companies of Heroes 2

CoH2 is a long awaited sequence to the universally acclaimed Company of Heroes. It tried to combine the good points of the original game and better graphics with the lesser romanticized saga of the Second World War.

Premise –

A World War II themed real-time strategy game. It features the struggle on the Eastern Front.

The Best Bits –

  • True sight system is new and I hope similar systems are used in any upcoming strategy games.
  • The focus on the Soviets in WWII is a welcome change from the usual, done-to-death western front.
  • The sound effects give a feel of good research being done on the aural part.

What could have been better –

  • The thought to inculcate the best bits from the original game into this game essentially ended up making CoH2 more like a big DLC with slightly improved graphics.
  • The overall visual effects achieved do not feel worth the computer resources needed to play at a reasonable graphic setting.
  • The story and the characters are a big letdown.

My takeaway –

For people who have played and loved the original game, this is not how you want to see a sequel. If you are new to the series, you may give it a try. 5/10.

Game Review – Alan Wake

I have been an avid gamer since well, forever. I have put in enough game-hours to make a good judgment about any game and thought I could jot down my views on some of the games I have played. That being said, I will try to make this concise since there are many detailed walkthroughs, tips and tricks available on the net. We begin with Alan Wake.

Premise

A psychological horror first person shooter. Preternatural elements are involved and you play the titular character, who comes to a seemingly idyllic town.

The Best Bits

  • The story and narration mix – An above average story coupled with good narration makes a compelling reason to play. The ending also differed from what I expected.
  • Fantastic music – The songs taken for the game make a fabulous collection, my favorite being ‘The Poet and the Muse’ and ‘Haunted’. I can listen to the former on a loop for hours.
  • The fact that light is used as an actual weapon is a novel idea.
  • The scene where you fight on an old rock concert stage. ‘Children of the Elder Gods’ blasting in the background and you whaling your opponents for a change.
  • The TV show in a dream sequence utilized a video of the actual people on which the characters were modeled.

What could have been better –

  • The DLCs were a comparative let down. After such a good story, it seems the effort put in them was low.
  • The collectibles did not impact the gameplay in anyway, so going after them just to reach a game achievement didn’t seem worthwhile at times.

My takeaway –

A definite recommend. I loved playing it and was genuinely scared at times. 8.5/10.

I am Ron f***ing Swanson!

After Charlie Sheen managed to get himself fired from Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory has now become Friends Part II instead of a nerdy comedy it used to be, I thought good sitcoms are now an extinct species. Then as all hope was lost (as always is the case), along came a you tube video of Ron Swanson which introduced me to Parks and Recreations.

True, the name is boring, and so is the premise. It is about a government department dealing with parks (I am yawning as I type this). But (that too a big one), everything else about it is fantastic. Amazing characters, super story and a mocumentary style wherein the characters break the fourth wall often.  The best is of course Ron Swanson, who says about fishing “It’s like yoga, except I still get to kill something.” The bonus is Rashida Jones, who lights up the screen with every appearance.

I am an avid watcher of sitcoms and have been bored with most of them having similar premises and jokes. This one is different. If you don’t need a laugh track to tell you when to snicker or roar, go for it.

Punishment – by Boss

I have been a fan of Kelsey Grammer since the first episode of Frasier. So when it recently came to my notice that he was acting in a drama as a character with a negative shade, I was looking forward to it. I completed watching the first season of “Boss”, which is an amazing series. Fantastic stories and subplots, superb dialogues. I jotted down an excerpt from one of the episodes which features the Boss’s political adviser telling him about the nature of punishment. Good lines, even better with the context.
The punishment should always be commensurate to the crime. It should be proportionate And visible. A punishment is not only an act of retribution, it’s also a signal.
It needs to be seen and understood by anyone else Who might have flirted with the notion of committing the same transgression,
And it’s a signal that no one is exempt from the consequences of betrayal.
We had a saying when I was in the boy scouts whenever we entered a camp:”take pictures,leave footprints.” But now more than ever,you must do neither.
There is a formal aspect to punishment, a ritual nature. It has shape and body. It’s about consequence, Accountability, Actions having repercussions. It’s vital that the transgressors understand the rules they have broken. Your choice of punishment needs to be seen as fair, proportional and reciprocal.
But the nature can only be decided by the punisher himself – You. You decide. The boss.

 

Delhi Belly: Creative profanity at its best.

I don’t think I can look at a carton of Orange Juice and feel the same again. Nor I think next time I see a Santro car and not think of Delhi Belly.

The story is same boring story about a diamond trail with lots of abuses and intolerable toilet humor, with the main characters miraculously live to see the day.

However what makes the movie so interesting is it dialogue delivery, sequence of events and spontaneous humor.

It’s definitely not a movie to watch with mature and sensitive audience. But I guess it’s like Japanese food. You either love it or you hate it there… there is no middle path. However kudos to Bollywood for finally making a guy’s movie that does revolve around getting laid or dirty talk which degrades women.

Verdict: Must watch for those who find all this appealing… for the rest it would be the longest 90 minutes of their life (even if they did not have to pay for the tickets/popcorn/parking etc.)