Video Game Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider

The 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider was a phenomenal surprise. I have played through the game twice and loved its story, characters, and gameplay. The sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider was just as excellent with the absence of multiplayer. Now we get the final entry in Lara Croft’s origin story. How can a game with two superior predecessors fail? Well, that is quite the story to go into details in this review. Buckle up for this one.

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Lara and her best friend Jonah are on a race to defeat the evil organization, Trinity. An ancient Mayan prophecy that says the world will end by several catastrophic events. She travels to a hidden city, Paititi to put the pieces of the puzzle together to save the world and stop Trinity.

The story has terrible pacing. A third entry in the series, especially a story about timing to save the world, goes at a snail’s pace. In many moments, you have some far logical leaps that will leave you confused why characters take specific actions or where the story is heading. The ending especially leaves plenty of room for some confusion. For the most part, you spend your time exploring forests, talking to locals in villages, or completing puzzles. Not much of an action-adventure game. When things do pick up, usually it is exciting. Lara must run through buildings that are falling apart or dodge helicopters shooting at her. The “fun” moments short-lived and rare to find at any point during the game’s fifteen or less hour campaign. The game is short and lacks any content in its storytelling that I am shocked that I paid $60.

Characters lack any development. Jonah remains to be the useless best friend. Lara still has the same motivations and has been saying the same things since the 2013 reboot about her parents or ambitions. Other supporting characters are introduced, but I felt there was no reason to care for anyone at all. The only interesting character was Amaru, the central antagonist within Trinity. At times he could be compelling. His Messiah complex made him a more complicated character. He felt he could do good for the city of Paititi, but his flaws made him go down the wrong road.

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Gameplay is relatively consistent, but overall the same from previous games. Crafting weapon upgrades and outfits that give Lara benefits are a central mechanic. The costumes are useless because most of the game requires Lara in certain clothes for story missions that provide zero benefits.  Gather resources from exploring the map is a lot of fun and is rewarding. To help highlight rewards or interactable objects, there is instinct. A vision that highlights items, similar to games like Assassin’s Creed. During puzzles, this can be frustrating because Lara will repeat the same bad hints at you until you make progress. Hunting is still a mechanic, but not much development makes the activity bland. Lara can upgrade by three skill trees: blue for the seeker, red for the warrior, and green for the scavenger. Many of the types of upgrades blend together, so it makes it a bit weird the game divides into three separate trees. Many of the abilities are useful and make you feel like Lara gets significantly stronger.

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Side activities such as tombs and side missions can be fun and often times some of the most rewarding aspects of the game. Side missions give you insight into new characters and the places that they live. The missions are far more interesting than the main story. The tombs are tricky but are worth completing their upgrades and treasure.

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Merchants are introduced for Lara to buy new weapons and equipment from. While it is satisfying to go buy new gear, most of it goes unused throughout the game since most of everything you do is not combat related.

Maneuvering through the game can be frustrating since the controls are often not that responsive or the layout of the map does not work well. Climbing walls with my climbing ax gave me plenty of problems. Lara would be stuck on small parts that were not climbable, leaving me stuck in a place for a moment. I would continuously die because she would not do what I wanted such as grab ledges. An overall unforgiving experience.

Combat feels good but is lacking anywhere in the game. Stealth is the most advanced aspect that gets used a handful of times in short bursts. The heroine can hide in bushes, on top of trees, and cover herself in mud to hide against muddy walls. Gun mechanics are fun but hardly utilized. The bow and arrow supply endless joy and satisfaction using.

The game is full of beautiful environments from claustrophobic caves, lush forests, dilapidated ancient temples, and terrifying heights in the mountains. Each area is vast for exploration and great rewards waiting for a nearby tomb raider to find. The exploration and environments are the game’s most prominent redeeming qualities. For such a pretty game, you do get a photo mode with all of the basic functions: filters, frames, camera positions, and more. If this were a photography game, it would rival many of 2018’s biggest hits. The only issue comes from darker areas. You as the player cannot turn on a flashlight at will. Lara decides when something is too dark for her to turn on the light. I had to turn up the lighting to see through pitch black caves and crypts.

The graphics are for the most part quite stunning. The way the sun shines over trees and reflects off of water is impressive. The caveat is the animations, especially for characters, is often lacking. I felt that there were plenty of times characters lacked any emotion in their faces. Sometimes dialog was not even appropriately synced to their mouths. With plenty of times looking out at the landscape, it is easy to forget the weird facial animations.

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One of the most unique mechanics is in the options menu. Yes, you know I am trying to give this game some positivity when I am talking about how I can change the difficulty or look. The first choice you make is whether you want higher resolution or framerate. I switched between the two to see for myself, and I will recommend you stick to a higher framerate because it feels rough without it. The game’s difficulty has multiple settings. You can choose easy, medium, or hard for exploration, combat, and puzzles. If you want environments to tell you where to go, but a difficult puzzle and combat system then you can make that happen. I wish more games would have this setting for a more customizable experience. A final setting is for characters to speak in their native language for more immersion. While the idea is excellent, it is not immersive. Lara only speaks English to people who live in a hidden city, but everyone can manage to understand one another while speaking different languages. Not just in Paititi, but in other villages, you explore this occurs.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider might be the biggest disappointment of the year. The game has some of the worst pacings I have experienced in years. For an action game, it lacks any combat at all. The few times you get to fight it is short and not sweet. The highs are as high as the mountains you climb. The lows are as low as Lara falling off one of those cliffs to her death. The verdict is that she is definitely deceased after this lackluster adventure that should not be worth $60. The easiest way to say how I feel about Croft’s latest adventure is that it is beyond boring. If you want to play as Lara Croft, killing bad guys and raiding tombs, then go play the other two games.

Score: 4/10

Want the game? Buy it here:

Images via Square Enix

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Trailer Impressions: Captain Marvel

The next leader of the Avengers is coming in 2019. Yes, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel finally got a trailer. After people being a little let down by Entertainment Weekly for only having pictures and not a full trailer, we finally get a look at the next movie in the MCU.

We are taking a step back from everything going on in the MCU to go into the 90s. You know we are here because one of the first images is a Blockbuster. Our heroine, Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel is blown up from her ship (or escape pod, it is hard to tell) and lands right through a Blockbuster. As she stands up, we hear Samuel L. Jackson start to speak.

“War is a universal language. I know a renegade soldier when I see one. Never occurred to me that one might come from above,” says a two-eyed, young, Nick Fury with hair. Yes, the man has both his eyes and a full head of hair.

As we get the quick monologue from Nick, we see Captain Marvel walking through a subway full of people. What is notable about this scene is we get a better look at her blue suit that she is wearing when crashing on Earth. Already, this is one of my favorite looks for a hero in the MCU, but we are not even to the point to see her iconic red, gold, and blue costume that looks beautiful.

The most intriguing scene by far is when she scans her thumb on a pad which opens up some doors to an unknown facility. A quick shot shows a man holding a large alien weapon and a scientist examining the corpse of what looks like a Skrull, an alien being that has not been seen in the MCU but mentioned among die-hard comic book fans. Out of pure speculation, this could be a base for S.H.I.E.L.D.

Fury is talking again describing exactly what we see. An alien ship outside of Earth appears and a car chase.

A quick clip shows Captain in action before showing her and Fury meet. He was ready to hang up the badge before he met her. Now we get to see a full head of hair, young, two-eyed Nick Fury. The two of them go on a car ride in which she explains that she is not from around the area. Based on what we see, it appears Nick was a police officer before joining S.H.I.E.L.D. I can tell we might get a duo-origin story about both Fury and Marvel.

We get glimpses of Carol’s past as a child, training in the military, and outside of Earth as Captain Marvel. From the first behind the scenes photo from last year, we saw Brie Larson practicing in a military uniform while standing by a fighter jet, we knew that her character would be serving the U.S. in some capacity. At a point when she falls during a drill, she looks like the powers are setting in for the first time. In one scene we see her in some machine wearing her blue uniform from earlier in the trailer. Piece by piece we get to look at her origins from pilot to the most powerful hero we have seen so far in this universe.

Some flashbacks show our heroine in the suit from before with some aliens wearing the same outfit heading into a ship. The planet they are on must be the reason for her powers. As I am someone who never read the comics, a lot of what I have is pure speculation. I certainly can’t wait to be told by anyone how wrong I am.

Now the action is kicking in. Carol smacks an old lady. She is not hitting your grandmother. The elderly woman must be a Skrull, but it is a hilarious image of our hero beating down old people. Now we get the typical Marvel action scenes we want, outside of beating old women. A giant explosion is shown from what looks like shots from a ship. The structure being blown up is hard to tell what it is by all of the fire and smoke, but it appears to not be on Earth.

Brief images appear showing a variety of characters, the most striking to me is seeing Ronan from Guardians of the Galaxy. How he makes an appearance or how much he is in the story is something I have no idea about, but that might be the most eye-catching moment in the trailer. Seeing him is swift, but I know it is him from preview images released a few weeks ago.

“I’m not what you think I am,” a piece of dialog spoken from Carol as we get a look at her in her iconic suit as she glows from her powers. The images we have seen from Entertainment Weekly is a better image of the costume. The colors, patterns, and material of the suit make it look spectacular. Out of every character in the MCU, she might have the best look of them all.

I am beyond impressed by Captain Marvel and what we see in the trailer. Not much is shown about the story or how she gets her powers, but enough of a glance to get a good idea. Some accident must have occurred to lead Carol down this path. In the comics, she is one of the most popular heroes as of now, which makes me more curious to see her in action. On top of a new exciting character to help lead the Avengers to defeat Thanos and future threats, we are getting her origin story with Nick Fury. How could you go wrong with more Samuel L. Jackson? The answer is that you can never have too much of him.

Captain Marvel arrives on March 8, 2019. You can check out the trailer below:

Image via Marvel Studios

Album Review: Fit for a King – Dark Skies

Christian metalcore band Fit for a King have transformed themselves off of their last record, Deathgrip and have gone further down this road with a new release, Dark Skies. From basic metalcore to a blend of metalcore, deathcore, and some hardcore elements. The band has been able to make the perfect combination of bone breaking breakdowns to sing-along choruses that will be stuck in your head all day.

Dark Skies is a relentless record that starts off with a bang. Engraved and The Price of Agony are your typical songs to expect from the quartet in the best way imaginable. Hooks that will grab you right away along with catchy choruses that will stick with you even if you forget the title of the song. Engraved has some of the most killer bass lines that mix well with the tone of the guitar work to make for some heavy breakdowns.

The band sticks to the metalcore genre except for a few tracks, Backbreaker and Anthem of the Defeated, a more deathcore sound. The two songs are by far some of the heaviest songs in the band’s career. Full of fast riffs, speedy drumming, and heavy bass to make for some skull crushing breakdowns.

Almost any song you decide to listen to, just about everything is single worthy. That makes sense since the band has released so many of the tracks as singles with more music videos to accompany those songs coming soon. The only weaker song of the ten tracks is Debts of the Soul. A song that starts off somber, but goes into a heavy direction that didn’t fit well with the rest of the album. A solid track, but felt unfitting with its second half.

The instrumentation for the band has never been the most impressive. Simple riffs and breakdowns, but the band have matured in this aspect. Jared Easterling (drummer), Bobby Lynge (guitar), and Ryan O’Leary (bass) have been able to make the music sound more distinguishable from other bands in the scene. The band’s earlier material sounded generic in some parts, but now stand out more than ever. Now we still get more of the typical metalcore or deathcore sound, but with one guitar player and quality mixing, the instruments have a cleaner sound.

Ryan Kirby gives some of the best vocal performances in his career. Kirby with developing his cleans and continuing to bring brutal screams helps bring balance to the band’s sound. His most impressive moment is an over twenty-second scream at the end of Backbreaker, it is a must listen.

The band manages to tackle the darkest parts of humanity in their lyrics along with vocals to bring these words to life. Kirby discusses how divided the world is politically in The Price of Agony with powerful lines, “Taught to hate anyone that dare stand in our way / Taught to fight the system that keeps this evil alive and feeds their greed.” One of the heaviest tracks, Backbreaker goes into Kirby’s challenges with social anxiety by screams of this pain, “When your mind is stuck in a cloudy haze / Pressure pushes its way inside / No room to move, nowhere to hide.” The emotional Oblivion is about a fan who confessed a story to the band about his wrongs to his loved ones and wanting forgiveness. The lyrics,  “For so long, I can barely breathe / The grip of the guilt and the scars of my sins live on / They’re choking me,” echo this fan’s emotions.

With nine out of ten single-worthy songs that I would never dare skip, that is a solid listing of songs that can stand on their own. While being “single-worthy” is not the most important thing, it shows how far Fit for a King has come, and I can understand why they decided to make most of the album singles. While improvements could be made instrumentally regarding technicality, a heavy breakdown at the right moment can never be a bad thing. Kirby delves into some of his best lyrics to deliver emotion provoking songs that will pull your heart strings. Metalheads needing something with the right balance of brutal sounding screams and sing-along choruses should have no reason to pass this one up. Although the album had room for more variety, the record is full of high-quality material to headbang at any time.

Score: 8/10

Buy the album:

Image via Solid State Records/Fit for a King

Video Game Review: Marvel’s Spider-Man

Readers, if you have followed me for a while then maybe you read my most anticipated games for this year then you would know Marvel’s Spider-Man was my number one. I had wanted a game like this since Spider-Man 2 back in 2004. Now we have the open world Spidey adventure, and it meets the hype level in every way.

Peter Parker/Spider-Man is quite experienced at this point. He has been the web-slinging hero since 2010, a whole eight years. The journey starts off by defeating Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin, his longtime rival that has taken some time to put behind bars. Now that Kingpin is no longer running the streets; a new threat emerges that are not just the typical gangsters, they are terrorists. Spider-Man goes forward with the help of Yuri Watanabe who works in the police department, his ex-girlfriend M.J., and Miles Morales to discover this new threat. The story is charming, funny, heartfelt, compelling, and feels like something straight out of an MCU movie.

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In this story, you will face seeing some of the most iconic and obscure characters in Peter’s world. His beloved Aunt May is working at a homeless shelter, M.J. making it big time in at the Daily Bugle, and J. Jonah Jameson has his radio show all have a role in Peter’s life in some way. It is not just people supporting Peter/Spider-Man, except for Jameson, but Peter has plenty of villains to face. His most iconic baddies are here from Kingpin, Rhino, Electro, and many more. There are plenty of more obscure characters that casual fans won’t recognize, but the game does a beautiful job of introducing such as Mister Negative. Confusion about a character can happen especially with more obscure characters; you can go into bios of anyone on the menu to give background on everyone in the game. Each character is well developed with some great arcs. The writing has a lot of heart and a wide variety of tones that are well executed. A few jokes fall flat, but most put a smile on my face or more rarely get me to actually laugh.

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Out of any game made about the beloved web-swinger, I have never seen a story like this. Insomniac takes the heart and soul of both Peter and his superhero life, unlike any other video game. Spider-Man feels like an MCU movie that was teamed up with Insomniac by their mix of humor, drama, epic action, and even the soundtrack. Yes, they also have an after credit scene.

Insomniac is known for fluid combat, movement, and a wide variety of fun weapons and gadgets to utilize on the journey. This reputation from their Ratchet and Clank series and Xbox exclusive Sunset Overdrive is visible in Marvel’s Spider-Man. The combat is similar to many action games such as the Batman Arkham series. Basic combos, use of gadgets, similar parrying and dodging mechanics make it feel like an Arkham game with so much more. The fighting and movement are unlike anything that I have played since Sunset Overdrive. Spidey can scan around to see nearby enemies or interactable objects to use as a weapon. Action and traversing build up focus which is used to heal or finish enemies with one hit. Beating on bad guys is full of variety and lets you be as creative in how you tackle threats from the use of gizmos to stealth. Whichever way you tackle gangsters, terrorists, or supervillains, it always feels perfect.

The most significant aspect besides beating down criminals is moving around this giant open world. Web-swinging feels organic enough for me to feel like I am Spider-Man who has been active for eight years. The difficulty comes in slightly for people who want to go faster or be more precise with how they traverse around Manhattan. Traversal is a beautiful mix of ease and some talent for players with different levels of skill.

The gameplay is continually evolving by adding new mechanics in or building upon older ones. Various mini-games such as hacking or finding out about new chemicals are easy enough to do but hard enough to let you think for a few minutes. Every research activity done helps capture Peter’s brilliant mind in the world of science and technology, unlike any other game we have seen with his character.

The open world is full of typical activities such as side missions, randomly occurring crimes, collectibles, challenges, enemy bases, and towers that will unlock the map. While these activities are in every other open world such as the towers to unlock the map are similar to Far Cry, and the collectibles are in every game imaginable, we get something more rewarding. Every challenge, minigame, collectible, base, and crime give you tokens. Redeeming tokens for upgrades, new suits, suit modifications, and more to make Spider-Man stronger. Each activity provides a specific token. If a new suit requires X amount of challenges, crime, and research tokens, then you must complete challenges, crimes, and research minigames to unlock that costume. Collectibles in the game are fun to collect and are rewarding by giving some background on the world along with their tokens. The backpacks specifically are some of my favorite collectibles in any game since you see an item in that backpack that Peter will give some commentary on what you have found. You see some fantastic easter eggs from other Marvel characters or explanations about what has happened in the last eight years during Peter’s time as a superhero.

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The customization is light but satisfying. At any point, you can switch out which costume to wear along with its upgrades. Almost every suit comes with an ability that will enhance you for a limited time during battle or perform a super move to eliminate nearby enemies. With the swapping of skills in and out leaves for anyone to use their favorite costumes along with their preferred abilities. Each outfit is fantastic and got me excited to see what the next costume will be once unlocked. Fan favorite costumes such as his classic suit, Stark suit from Homecoming, and Iron Spider suit from Infinity War are present along with some that are more obscure. Some of the most unusual costumes are the Spider 2099 and Noir suit. I enjoyed every outfit that I would wear one for a while then switch to another. I felt almost overwhelmed with how many I could choose from in the best way possible.

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Everything you do gives you experience points, like just about most other games. You have three skill trees: innovator, defender, and web-slinger. Each will provide you with new abilities to fight, move around the city, or give you a bonus of strength or health. The leveling up system is fun and easy with all of the basics you will find anywhere else.

Manhattan is a massive part of New York you will be able to swing around in and fight crime while feeling like a real city that is being impacted by unnatural people. Instead of hopping from rooftop to rooftop, you can just walk the streets. Civilians will react in a variety of ways. Some may want a high five or to say hello. Others might be hateful towards Spider-Man. Everyone has a different opinion which helps flesh out the world. As you progress in the game, the world changes organically. Due to Spidey and his villains causing issues throughout the city, Jameson’s radio show will pop up briefly in crucial moments in the story that will provide a hilarious insight to how the city is being impacted. His banter about how Spider-Man is the cause of every issue is funny throughout the game but makes for a believable world that has this web-slinging hero as its protector. Later in the story, enemies will be more robust as they gather better weapons and introduce new enemy types. Enemy types and which faction they belong to will determine your strategy. All the way till the final act in the game new mechanics and enemies will demonstrate how the city is affected by the actions of the superbeings within it. The lively city that changes make for one of the most enjoyable open world games that I have played in years.

The game has a unique style to its graphics and animations. Insomniac has blended a realistic approach with a comic book style. Colors pop just like comics or any superhero movie in the MCU would. Details such as facial animations are wonderfully done for the game to have a look of realism. Animations are continually entertaining by how many variations there are. Spider-Man will do a variety of moves as he swings around the city depending on the objects he is maneuvering on. During combat, his movement is changing throughout the fight depending on how he is jumping or what objects he is using to his advantage. New York is filled with enough grit for a realistic look, while still maintaining enough color for a vibrant and interesting looking game.

Photo mode is something no game can go without anymore, especially with how beautiful games can look with the advancement of technology. All the essential functions are available such as filters, frames, emotes, and camera angles. One angle that can be used is a selfie mode, who doesn’t take a good selfie when they can? Those of you who are talented with photo modes then this will be game you cannot pass up.

The issues I have are few and quite small. Dialog repeats way too often. Spidey will have a quip after defeating criminals or as he arrives but tends to replay the same joke every time. If he is at a base, then he will have a set joke for that, or if he is doing a stealth challenge, then there is the witty remark for that situation. Hearing the same wisecracking can be annoying after playing the same missions over and over. The dialog can be easily interrupted, some of which I missed was important, but mostly it was Jameson going on about Spider-Man. If you miss an episode of Jameson, you can go to the menu and listen to it, which is no big deal. Loosing on meaningful dialog during a story mission is more difficult than missing out on Jameson’s banter. Progressing through a mission before a character finishes speaking will go on to a new set of dialog. While the boss battles are fun, sometimes it felt anti-climatic at times. The final critique is that many of the activities are a bit repetitive. What makes this a small criticism to me is the satisfyingly fun gameplay along with how the game progresses allows for new enemy types to change things up. The changes that Manhattan goes through makes the repetitive side activities much more bearable along with the rewards that come after completion.

Superhero games are mostly underwhelming with some that are beloved. Marvel’s Spider-Man will join the cherished crowd of masked heroes whose games have been successful. The game is has a beautiful aesthetic, brilliant voice acting and writing to make for an incredibly Spider-Man/Peter Parker story, fluid gameplay, and immersive open world. The game is smooth as can be with its fantastic traversal and gratifying combat. For the most part, the game leans on an easier difficulty. Puzzles might take a minute to think but are apparent for the most part. Missions as M.J. are stealth missions that require not a ton of skill. The combat is accessible especially with the move list in the menu to help you. I played on medium difficulty and felt it was too easy for the most part. If you want a challenge, then play on medium or hard difficulty. Fans of the web-slinger must play this game. Not only do we have the best game we have seen with the iconic hero, but this is the best superhero game of all time. With its slight flaws, it manages to pick itself up as you progress through its charming story. The game is full of unoriginal ideas with its side activities and certain gameplay elements but manages to refine those aspects into something fresh and enjoyable. Anyone looking for a more heartfelt game with more satisfying gameplay will have a tough time because it is going to be hard to beat Insomniac’s masterpiece.

Score: 9/10

Buy the game here:

Rock on the Range is Ending and Announces a Replacement

After twelve year, one of America’s biggest rock festivals – Columbus, Ohio’s Rock on the Range – is now ending due to a split between the companies Danny Wimmer Presents and AEG Live. The replacement festival will be named the Sonic Temple Art + Music Festival.

The split between the two organizers will direct the festival to a new direction with Danny Wimmer. Danny spoke to Loudwire on September 7 about the changes the festival will be making.

“I feel like Rock on the Range has fallen short on delivering better art installations and better food and drink options. Rock on the Range is the biggest rock festival in America that has no bells and whistles. This show deserves to have better offerings.”

The focus of added art exhibits, better food, and other forms of entertainment besides rock music is heavily influenced by other festivals. Mainstream festivals like Coachella or rock festivals like Knotfest have a wide variety of entertainment outside of their music lineups. Danny later continues by saying:

“We’ve built this to 45,000 fans a day, they deserve to get the art and the secondary entertainment. They deserve the best food options. They deserve to have the stadium look different than it does for normal events. They deserve for this to not be just another stadium parking lot show.”

Currently, there has not been a lineup for next year, but a venue and date have already been booked. People will be able to attend the festival on May 17 – 19, 2019 at the MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, the venue that Rock on the Range was formerly home to.

Image via Danny Wimmer Presents and AEG Live

 

What We Know: Shadow of the Tomb Raider

The third entry in Lara Croft’s adventure is about to start. So, why not have a quick rundown of everything we know? If you have been curious about the new Tomb Raider then here is everything we know about the upcoming game.

Release Date and Where to Play

Shadow of the Tomb Raider will release on September 14 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Season Pass 

The game will have a season pass which will give players seven new tombs to raid. One tomb will come out each month until everything has been released.

Hardest Entry Yet and Difficulty Options

That is right, Shadow of the Tomb Raider will be harder than its two predecessors. How it is difficult has not been detailed, but expect smarter AI and challenging puzzles.

“This will be, I would say, the most difficult Tomb Raider of all the Tomb Raiders. That is important because this is a more experienced Lara. This is going to be bigger, it’s going to be harder, and that tomb shows the first ever puzzle you’ll solve, and it’s very difficult. The checkpoints are not far away from when you die, so having these gruesome deaths make you feel bad to fail, and do everything to stay alive,” Daniel Chayer-Bisson, creative director for the game, told Edge Magazine.

Most games throughout gaming history let you choose easy, medium, or hard difficulty. Sometimes there is some variation such as very hard or very easy. This time you get to decide what elements you want to be hard or easy. These settings include easy, medium, or hard for combat, puzzles, and exploration. The new system will allow players to get the most challenging aspects in what they feel confident in and go easier in others where they feel less confident.

Story

Lara is finishing the fight with the Evil Trinity organization in South America. On top of this threat, the world is ending from what the Mayans predicted (yeah, 2012 all over again). Lara must race against the clock to defeat the organization along with stopping this apocalypse.

Gameplay Changes

If you haven’t played one of the other two games then what you need to know previously about the gameplay is simple. Lara utilizes her ax to climb and interact with objects. Climbing and using the environment has always been vital. Crafting has always been important to improve your ax, guns, or other skills. The light RPG elements in leveling up will reappear along with other features that players are familiar with.

What is different is the extent to the environment interactions. Lara can hide easier to sneak up on enemies by using the trees or bushes. While nature is on your side, it is your enemy. Instead of using the environment to help you during challenging puzzles, it will work against you in many ways.

Exploration will be more critical than ever. This has not been too detailed, but we can expect to find plenty of secrets that will either help Lara on her journey or get some trophies/achievements for the completionists out there.

We don’t have to wait too much longer for Lara’s third adventure. Shadow of the Tomb Raider releases next week on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. You can pre-order the game below:

Image via Square Enix

 

Five Books Every Metalhead Needs to Read

Being a dedicated fan of heavy metal means more than just listening to the music. Fans go from buying merchandise, making battle vests, decorating their rooms with posters, and getting tattoos dedicated to their favorite bands. On top of this, a die-hard fan of a band should want to get to know the artist or the industry. Many artists and industry leads who have developed this scene of music into what it is today have done a lot of work to get us to this point in heavy metal. Many have detailed their journey and passion in interviews, their music, and writing books. Yes, you will have to do some reading, but it will be worth it for the biggest headbangers. Here are five books that every metalhead needs to read.

Clicking the images of any of the books will take you to Amazon to purchase. You can click one link then shop away without having to keep going to separate links.

#5: Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore (Extended) by Adrian Mudrian

Ever wonder how death metal came to be? The answer is right here in this extensive read that gives you insight to teenagers with the love of heavy music would create extreme genres such as death metal and grindcore. The book is full of interviews with members of legendary acts such as Carcass, Napalm Death, Death, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, and many more. You get an in-depth look inside of the minds who create such iconic extreme music along with the people on the business side who will end up signing these bands to spread their horrific music to the masses.

#4: Confessions Of A Heretic: The Sacred And The Profane: Behemoth And Beyond by Adam Nergal Darski

The Polish blackened-death metal band Behemoth is one of the most popular extreme bands out there in modern metal. Their vocalist, Adam Nergal Darski, came out with a book that is a series of interviews with him that gives fans an in-depth look into his complex mind. Readers will learn about his extreme religious views, his childhood, musical journey, battle with cancer, and much more. Even if someone is not a fan, this is a must read due to his compelling story and thought-provoking ideas. Seeing an essential figure in the heavy metal world survive against leukemia should be more than enough reasons for the biggest metalheads to dive into Nergal’s life.

#3: Dark Days: A Memoir by Randy Blythe

Anyone who pays attention to what happens in the metal world will remember Randy Blythe of Lamb of God getting arrested in the Czech Republic. In his memoir, he details the entire process, how he survived a month in a foreign prison, and some other details in his life such as the loss of his child. This memoir is full of heart with Randy’s sense of humor shining, and his darkest emotions bleed onto the page. Just like an excellent movie, you will laugh, cry, and so much more. You will feel a swirl of emotions. Randy has a compelling story and is one excellent writer. For Lamb of God fans and people who never got into the band, this is one powerful story you cannot miss.

#2: Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good by Corey Taylor

Corey Taylor is full of surprises from his talent to rap, scream, sing, play guitar, and even write incredibly funny and thought-provoking books. The man has written four exciting reads, but his first is not only his most controversial, but his most important. Though many will turn their noses up at Corey dismissing and bashing the seven deadly sins, the importance comes from his stories about his own life. If you never understood the emotions from either Stone Sour or Slipknot, then this will give you that needed insight. Corey delves into his personal demons that lends inspiration to those also struggling. Besides that, the man can set up arguments with precision and education. Whether you agree with him or not, he knows how to back up what he says. With a conversational style, all of his books are easy reads for the most part and will make you think and laugh with every page.

#1: For the Sake of Heaviness: The History of Metal Blade Records by Brian Slagel

Would it be too extreme to say Brian is the most critical person in the heavy metal world who isn’t an artist? Not at all, the man behind Metal Blade Records has signed some significant bands along with some influences you would never have guessed. His short autobiography details his journey of making compilation albums of local heavy metal bands in LA to being the CEO of one of the most prominent heavy metal record labels. You see the story behind classic headbangers such as Slayer and Metallica to more extreme artists like Amon Amarth, The Black Dahlia Murder, Whitechapel, and Cannibal Corpse. For those of you who want an insight to the business then this should be number one on your list.

While there are many more books to read to learn about this scene and your favorite bands, these are just some of the many fine selections out there. Go read a book and learn about this scene of music if you are as die-hard of a fan as I am. Comment below some of your favorite reads about heavy metal along with any thoughts on these books I have listed.

Image via BMG/Metal Blade Records