Tuesday, December 31, 2013

NettoSaito's Game of the Year - Tomb Raider

2013 has been a year that I have a lot of mixed feelings about. In my personal life, a lot of tragic events occurred. I three family members (one of which I was VERY close too), my grandma lost vision in one of her eyes, and someone I went to school with met a tragic end as well... Really, the year has been quite sad with heartbreak after heartbreak; however, it hasn't all been bad (I started a new job after all!) When it comes to the video game industry, 2013 was actually an amazing year. New game consoles hit the shelves, a lot of heavy hitters finally came out, and we got a lot of exciting news about the future as well. Really, looking back at it all, 2013 has to be one of the best years in gaming we have had in a long time... That is why this next post isn't going to be easy for me.

Every year all of us here at NGR take our time to write an article discussing a game we felt deserved the "Game of the Year" award, or rather, our version of it. Looking back at every game that has been released this year, I actually had a hard time deciding on which one I would personally choose. Near the start of the year we got Fire Emblem Awakening (which is one of the best Fire Emblems in my opinion), we got amazing new IPs such as The Last of Us, we got a directors cut of Deus Ex Human Revolution, we got a sequel to The Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past, Assassin's Creed IV is easily one of the best Assassin's Creed games, Tearaway is a very creative Vita game (and a very much needed one), Tales of Xillia was finally released in the west, Nintendo finally released Pikmin 3, and the list could go on. Really this year was filled with a lot of surprises, and there were just so many great titles that deserve to be discussed here; however, there is only one game I want to focus on. It is a game I had personally waited a long time for, and it is a game I am considering buying again very soon. So, what is this game? Well, its none other than the Tomb Raider reboot!

The thing about Tomb Raider is, I was never really a fan of the series. I played a game or two on the PS1, I played some of the "spin off" titles, and Underworld was one of my first PlayStation 3 games. Even so, I just never got into the games. I thought that Lara seemed like a cool character, the story seemed interesting, and the gameplay was solid (for the time), but I just never really got into the series. Something about it just didn't keep me going back. Now, with that being said, I was excited to hear about the reboot. I was happy to see Lara being redesigned in a much more realistic way, and I personally couldn't wait to see her new "origins" story. I followed the game from the moment it was announced, and I went straight to GameStop to pick it up as soon as it hit the shelves (sadly my car battery died and I got stranded for about 3 hours).

When I finally got to play the game, I was pretty much blown away. While the game wasn't anything truly ground breaking, it was a game that just did everything right. I was interested in the story from the get go, I liked seeing Lara as a "normal girl" who had to learn to survive on an island filled with killers, and I loved how the game was a bit more open ended. While in past Tomb Raider games you were forced into specific areas for each chapter, this time around you could basically go anywhere on the island, and new areas were always becoming unlocked. As Lara learned new skills and abilities (or as you upgraded equipment) you could use your new found abilities to advance to areas that were previously out of reach. This style of exploration and progression just reminded me so much of other games I loved (such as Metroid), and it gave me a reason to search every nook and cranny.

The gameplay itself was also very solid. The way Lara moved/was controlled in general felt very smooth, and it made the game a joy to play. She would interact with the world around her as she walked through it (for example she would rest her hand against a cave wall to help keep her balance and make her way through it faster), she would auto duck and take cover behind objects when hiding from the enemy, the combing sections were very fluid, the gun play was dead on, the few puzzles were a nice change of pace, the ability to hunt and salvage resource was nice, and the game even had a multiplayer mode to kill time in. Tomb Raider was just one of them games that had a lot to offer, and it was a game I just really enjoyed playing. Truthfully I could go on and on about why I like the game, or what it did right, but that's what reviews are for. For more information over Tomb Raider; feel free to check out my review right here at Netto's Game Room. Overall, Tomb Raider was just a game I really enjoyed, and that is why I have chosen it as my Game of the Year for 2013.

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