Tomb Raider Reborn

tr_contestOn March 5, 2013 the latest Tomb Raider game was released, but it didn’t feature the seasoned explorer we’re used to. It’s focuses on the young Lara Croft. It’s about survival and the loss of innocence as she’s thrown into intense situations and pushed beyond physical limits. I was intrigued by the release, but I’m not the type to rush out and buy a game as soon as it comes out, especially with a $60 price tag and not having tried it. Well, I got an opportunity to test it out when I received a free Redbox game code and quite frankly, it rocked! It has all the things I love in a game: powerful storyline, stunning extensive worlds, action, adventure, problem solving and it kept me on the edge of my chair. There was never a dull moment, see for yourself in the trailer below. I didn’t complete Tomb Raider, but it’s now on my buy it list.

What drove me to discuss Tomb Raider was that I stumbled across a design competition held by Square Enix and DeviantART. They challenged artists to develop original artwork depicting Lara Croft’s latest transformation (her rebirth so to speak). The winners received some pretty hefty prizes and the competition was fierce. I was astounded by the amount of entries and the quality of the work submitted. I did not envy the judges, but I did enjoy scrolling through the entries. I’ve included my favorites below. Having played Tomb Raider, I was drawn towards the darker and grittier submissions which I think captured the game’s feel.

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Battle by *tincek-marincek

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Tomb Raider Reborn Contest by *Keevanski

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Tomb by ~Msweeneyart

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TombRaiderFinalNoLogo by ~ArchLimit

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TombRider Reborn by ~Tinosukae

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Tomb Raider Lara – The Rescue by ~frankiewCG

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Tomb Raider reborn contest by ~chuyDeleon

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Lara Tomb Raider Contestby ~Dedyone

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Lara Reborn by ~Griever6260

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Lara Croft Entry by ~benjamindeutscher

The Power of Imagination

Never underestimate the dream of a kid and their ingenuity. I’m inspired by Caine Monroy, a young boy who took a simple idea and made it grand. Caine is fascinated by arcades, so much so that he created his own full scale functional arcade out of cardboard. It started with modifying a basketball hoop that he won at a pizza place and grew. His dad owns a hardware store and allowed him to takeover the entire storefront. You can win prizes, buy tickets, or purchase a fun pass (500 turns for $2 – what a deal!).

Caine’s Arcade now is a popular spot, but it wasn’t always that way. At first Caine didn’t get any customers and his friends didn’t even believe he was the boss of his own arcade. That all changed when filmmaker Nirvan Mullick went into the hardware store to buy a door handle. He was thoroughly impressed by Caine’s creativity and shocked to learn that he was his first customer. That inspired him to make a film about Caine which went viral. People flocked from all over the world to play in Caine’s Arcade. It also sparked the start of The Imagination Foundation, an initiative “to find, foster, and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in more kids like Caine.” Watch the video below.

Kudos to Caine’s dad for giving him the freedom to explore his imagination and hat’s off to Mullick for recognizing and encouraging Caine’s talent. If interested, here is the original film.

Even if Caine’s story didn’t go viral, his accomplishment is still noteworthy. How many people can say they literally built their own arcade?

Reinventing A Classic: StarFox64

So, I finally got a chance to check some of my tracked updates from E3 2010 via Gamespot. I know, shame on me. Well, surprisingly what I found most exciting wasn’t Mortal Kombat or Zelda: Skyward Sword (though I’m a fan of both franchises). The winner for me was the remake of StarFox64 on the Nintendo 3DS. I LOVE that game! I used to own it until a friend borrowed it and decided to permanently add it to their collection. For those of you who don’t know, StarFox 64 is an action-packed scrolling shooter game in which you pilot a spaceship blasting away at enemies while navigating through different worlds. Advancement depends on completing missions and how well you do or what path you take determines which world you go to next. It is extremely entertaining and the challenge of beating your best score leaves you coming back for more.

Now, picture StarFox64 in 3D. Nintendo is adding the Nintendo 3DS to their hand-held line-up. It weighs about 8 ounces and uses 1 internal and 2 external cameras to give the user a 3D gaming experience without the need for 3D glasses (c’est magnifique!). You can adjust the extremes of the 3D view with the 3D Depth Slider, even turning it off, if you so desire. The 3DS has a motion and gyro sensor and can even take 3D pictures. It also has wireless internet capabilities so you can connect with other gamers and exchange data (even in sleep mode).



A demo of StarFox64 was presented at E3 2010 on the 3DS. So far I’ve only read/seen positive responses from those who were able to try it. Andre Segers on GAMEXPLAIN claims that “the added depth really makes playing this game feel like an entirely new
experience.” The graphics have been improved upon, but the core game remains the same. In actuality, I have never owned a DS. I didn’t really see the need, but now I am thoroughly tempted by the Nintendo 3DS, specifically because of StarFox64. Other titles shown at E3 for the 3DS include: Kid Icarus: Uprising, Mario Kart, The Sims™ 3,  Kingdom Hearts, Paper Mario, DJ Hero® 3D etc…

By the way, I still own and operate my Nintendo64 console.

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Xbox 360 Project Natal – The Whole Body Experience

Have controllers been holding you back from your true gaming potential? Yes I mean you, the one who always gets slaughtered in the matches/races/tactical fights you enter with more experienced gamers who have clocked-in far more hours at the controls. You will be happy to know that Microsoft’s Project Natal for the Xbox 360 sets aside the irksome plastic controller from gaming. You become the controller. You use your whole body to interact with the game. If you can kick, jump, swing, or simply move your hands then you can play with Natal. It greatly reduces the gaming learning curve so almost anyone can join in the fun. The only limit being your own personal experience [that’s the theory].

Natal’s slim casing holds a special processor, an RGB camera that can recognize facial expressions, a depth sensor that constructs a digital 3d model of the player’s body as it moves, and a multi-array microphone that can detect individual voices (ignoring ambient noise). The system uses an algorithm that teaches itself to recognize movements in real time rather than just adhering to definite set of pre-programmed actions. Microsoft’s team gathered a slew of data, recording humans in their natural environment and actors in motion capture studios. Development took into account the differences in age, gender, and size of the players, even considering the type of clothing that may worn. Curious about more of the technical aspects of Natal? Read Binary Body Double: Microsoft Reveals the Science Behind Project Natal for Xbox 360 in Scientific American.

Microsoft expects Natal to be ready for sale this upcoming holiday season (2010) and the best part is that you don’t have to purchase a new Xbox system. It’s compatible with all Xbox 360s past, present, and future. What the cost will be however is a different story. I’m hoping for the $0 – $100 range.

Other highlights from the product vision include :

  • support for up to four players; Natal detects multiple people in the same room
  • voice recognition; issue verbal commands
  • facial recognition; further customize your avatar etc.
  • visual chat with friends on Xbox Live

Personally, I think it will be a while before the controller becomes extinct, if ever. However, I look forward to trying Natal. The downside is though, this time when you play with Natal and lose, it’s all on you. Check out the clip below and visit the Xboxprojectnatal YouTube Channel to see demos and reactions. Microsoft also wants to hear your ideas for Natal.

Mirror’s Edge – More Than Just A Game

Posted by Cruxis Mana on Neoseeker

Posted by Cruxis Mana on Neoseeker

I just got this game a couple days ago, and needless to say I am far from disappointed. This isn’t just a game, it’s a visual experience. I am a big fan of adventure genres, but I’m not too fond of gun-play. A friend suggested Mirror’s Edge explaining that it’s a momentum driven game based on the urban sport Parkour and it can be completed with very little shooting. Played in a unique first person perspective, you run through the city leaping, sliding, and climbing while being guided by color. The environments are stunning. Everything is crisp and engaging and because of the perspective you really take notice of the detail in textures. You don’t have to be an architect to appreciate the effort that went into making the buildings’ exteriors and interiors.

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Mirror’s edge is very different from so many games out there (which I think makes it appealing). However, it’s because of those distinctive features that many important people had doubts about it succeeding. What! No major weaponry, shoot-outs, or car chases! Fortunately, the creators at DICE (Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment) stuck to “their guns” and their core ideas. They studied all the physical movements and focused on creating game play that is believable. You can read about their journey and see sketches and video of their process here in Making Mirror’s Edge: Behind the Scenes at Dice written by Matt Leone. Below is the game trailer for Mirror’s Edge.

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