Month: September 2013

“Tomb Raider” (2013 video game) review

Tomb Raider for PS3/360/PC

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Imagine the structure you’re standing on starts collapsing after you’ve single-handedly defeated a team of heavily armed cultists. What if during that collapse you manoeuvre your way to safety while the enemies around you fall to their deaths? During this time the music is intense and your heart is pounding as you time button presses carefully to avoiding certain death. That’s what it’s like to play Tomb Raider.

Tomb Raider is yet another reboot of the Tomb Raider series that began with Tomb Raider in 1996. My prior experience with this franchise consists of almost nothing at all so I look at this fresh take with even fresher eyes. Fresh.

Crystal Dynamic’s reboot is meant to be an origin story focused on a younger Lara to help us understand how she became a “survivor”. In reality, you see how Lara becomes a cold blooded killer. As I understand in the other games, Lara is as cocky and confident as you can imagine. This time they toned down both her cockiness and her boobiness but did not hesitate in upping the violence and tension.

The story begins with Lara aboard the ship Endurance on her first expedition to find the lost kingdom of Yamatai. She convinces the crew to enter the Dragon’s Triangle where the ship is split in two by a strong storm, leaving the crew stranded on an island. Much of the game involves finding out the mysteries of the island and the people living on it, and of course figuring out a way to escape.

This is a third person action adventure game and the gameplay involves Lara wondering around the island, puzzle solving, collecting, combat and parkour sections. At times it is one near-death experience after another.

The controls are very good and I never got annoyed with them once during the entire game. I liked that during shootouts when Lara walks to cover she takes cover automatically, unlike in Gears of War when you have to press a button to glue yourself to cover. It makes the combat feel incredibly smooth and fun.

You learn new abilities and collect several weapons during the quest and these can be upgraded after you collect salvage, XP, skill points and weapon parts. And there’s a TON of hidden stuff to find. You can choose to upgrade in whatever order you choose. When I finished the game I still had a couple of upgrades left, so the game mechanics never feel stale. There’s a “Survival Instincts” ability, which is a form of vision, where the landscape turns monochrome and your destination, enemies and objects of interest are highlighted in the area. It’s a very useful skill that’s similar to “Eagle Vision” in Assassin’s Creed II and “Detective Vision” in Batman Arkham Asylum.

There are tombs to raid, but almost all of them are optional that contain one puzzle to solve. All the puzzles in out of the tombs are relatively simple. I set the game’s combat on hard, and it still wasn’t very difficult. I never had to consult GameFAQs once, which is an achievement for me.

Camilla Luddington’s performance as Lara is incredibly well done and the way the plot and each section of the game unravels and flows into each other feels almost perfect. It’s enhanced by magnificent graphics and awesome sound design to immerse players. This game doesn’t feel too long or too short, and while it’s not difficult, it never feels too easy. It flows so well and the action sequences feel like interactive movies.

There’s a multiplayer mode and it’s good but not great. It’s online only and allows you to pick from two factions. It’s essentially a third person shooter. It’s fun yes, but also feels unfinished and added as an afterthought.

Despite a few minor hiccups with the plot and an uninteresting multiplayer, the single-player portion of the game is extremely well polished. The graphics, the sound design, Lara’s characterisation and the gameplay are all great. It’s so good, that I have no idea how on earth Crystal Dynamics are going to top this in a sequel.

I give this game an excellent score of 5/5.

 

 

Carlton Dry Independent Music Awards Nominations Announced

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CARLTON DRY INDEPENDENT MUSIC AWARDS NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED

Nominations for the eighth Annual CARLTON DRY INDEPENDENT MUSIC AWARDS have officially been announced.
 
This years nominees include a stunning array of the country’s brightest emerging artists, alongside established and respected performers, acknowledging yet another extraordinary year for Independent music.  Awards to be presented during the evening include Best Independent Album, Best Independent Artist, Best Independent Hip Hop Release and Best Independent Hard Rock, Heavy or Punk Release among others.  
 
Electronic Wunderkind Flume and Indie Rock Dance duo Jagwar Ma lead the pack with five nominations each.  The two acts have not only been nominated in the same categories which include Best Independent Artist, Best Independent Album and Best Independent Dance / Electronica Album, but are also signed to the same label,Future Classic.
 
Previous nominees Big Scary garnered three nominations this year, while past winners The Drones alongside newcomers Seth SentryVance JoyDick Diver andCourtney Barnett are all nominated in two categories.
 
AIR in conjunction with their new sponsor are also incredibly excited to announce the inaugural Carlton Dry Global Music Grant. This joint-initiative will offer one award nominee $50,000 cash to be used exclusively in helping the artist tour, showcase, record or even temporarily relocate in order to further their career overseas. More details to follow soon.
 
The Awards will once again be held at Revolt Art Space in Kensington this coming October, and will include performances by Archie RoachViolent Soho,Saskwatch and nominees Big ScarySeth Sentry and RÜFÜS.
 

Nominations below for 2013 CARLTON DRY INDEPENDENT MUSIC AWARDS:
 
BEST INDEPENDENT ARTIST
 
Big Scary
Dick Diver
Flume
Jagwar Ma
The Drones
 
BEST INDEPENDENT ALBUM
 
Big Scary – Not Art (Pieater)      
Dick Diver – Calendar Daus (Chapter Music)
Flume – Flume (Future Classic)
Jagwar Ma – Howlin (Future Classic)
The Drones – I Sea Seaweed (MGM)
 
BREAKTHROUGH INDEPENDENT ARTIST OF THE YEAR
 
Courtney Barnett
Kirin J Callinan
Seth Sentry
The Rubens
Vance Joy
 
BEST INDEPENDENT SINGLE OR EP
 
Big Scary – Luck Now (Pieater)
Courtney Barnett – History Eraser (Milk! Records)
Flume – Holdin’ On (Future Classic)
Jagwa Ma – Man I Need (Future Classic)
Vance Joy – God Loves You When You’re Dancing (Liberation Music)
 
BEST INDEPENDENT HIP HOP ALBUM
 
Bliss n Eso – Circus In The Sky (Illusive)
Illy – Bring It Back (Obese Records)
Seth Sentry – This Was Tomorrow (High Score Records)
Spit Syndicate – Sunday Gentlemen (Obese Records)
Urthboy – Smokey’s Haunt  (Elefant Traks)        
 
BEST INDEPENDENT COUNTRY ALBUM
 
Baylou – Go To Hell and I Love You (ABC Music)         
Catherine Britt – Always Never Enough (ABC Music)
Karl Broadie – A Side B Side Seaside (WJO)
The Sunny Cowgirls – What We Do (WJO)        
Lee Kernaghan – Beautiful Noise (ABC Music)
 
BEST INDEPENDENT BLUES AND ROOTS ALBUM
 
Mama Kin – The Magician’s Daughter (MGM)
Mia Dyson – The Moment (MGM)
Paul Kelly – Spring And Fall (Gawd Aggie Recordings)
Tim Rogers – Rogers Sings Rogerstein (Four | Four)      
The Cat Empire – Steal The Light (Two Shoes Record)
 
BEST INDEPENDENT HARD ROCK, HEAVY OR PUNK ALBUM
 
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – 12 Bar Bruise (Flightless)
Kingswood – Change Of Heart (Capgun Kids)
Parkway Drive – Atlas (Resist Records)
The Mark Of Cain – Songs Of The Third and Fifth (Feel Presents)
The Smith Street Band – Sunshine And Technology (Poison City Records)
 
BEST INDEPENDENT JAZZ ALBUM
 
Allan Browne Trio – Lost In The Stars (Jazzhead)          
Christopher Hale – Sylvan Coda (Which Way Music)
Jonathan Zwartz – The Remembering And Forgetting Of The Air (Planet)
Magnet – Magnet (Magnet Sounds)
Trichotomy – Fact Finding Mission (Jazzhead Records)
 
BEST INDEPENDENT DANCE, ELECTRONICA ALBUM
 
Collarbones – Die Young (Two Bright Lakes / Remote Control)
Flume – Flume (Future Classic)
Jagwar Ma – Howlin (Future Classic)
ShockOne – Universes (OneLove)        
Yolanda Be Cool – Ladies And Mentalman (Sweat It Out)
 
BEST INDEPENDENT DANCE, ELECTRONICA OR CLUB SINGLE
 
Charles Murdoch – Dekire featuring Oscar Key Sung (Future Classic)
Flight Facilities – Clair De Lune (feat. Christine Hoberg) (Independent / AWAL)
Flume – Holdin On (Future Classic)
Jagwar Ma – Man I Need (Future Classic)
RÜFÜS – Take Me (Sweat it Out)
 
*Please note:
Nominees for Best Independent Classical Album and Best Independent Label will be announced at a later date.
 
For more info on the Awards, Charts and Independent music check outwww.air.org.au

 
The 8th Annual
CARLTON DRY INDEPENDENT MUSIC AWARDS
Wednesday October 9th, 2013
Revolt, 12 Elizabeth Street, Kensington

   

LINKS: 
Official Website: http://www.air.org.au
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