Tomb Raider Thoughts

The Tomb Raider film really sold something else in its pre-release marketing (really encompassed in this ridiculous Lucozade ad). They certainly made some…choices for this version of Lara.

It all begins with Lara is getting beat to a pulp by a female opponent in the ring while being supported by a female friend (an important point for later). Female here is important because any other speaking parts that involve women only happen twice more. At a later part a woman utters a few words while scolding her son for not asking Lara out (because remember she is a desired woman) and you also have a woman in the pawn shop who scolds her partner for flirting with Lara. Then you have Ana, if you’re a fan of the series you know the deal with her. I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t take their cue from Rhianna Pratchett’s reboot iteration where Lara embarks on her expedition with a group, including her friend Sam.

I forgave them for leaving Lara alone with new character Lu Ren with whom she could bond with over their combined daddy issues (I will probably get into this later). Cool. Lara would probably have to navigate the island alone and solve the mystery of the island herself. I mean that is what happened in the new game and she had way more people with her to find and save at the same time. In the older games she is also a lone wolf. That’s not what Lara does though. She actually spends very little time alone in this film once she reaches Yamatai. For some reason the executive reason was made to feature the main antagonist way more than he should have been featured. The film should have been renamed Tomb Guide as she ends up spending a good chunk leading Vogel and his team to Himiko’s tomb.

Which I find odd because the decision was also seemingly made to not have Lara occupied as an archaeologist, just a food courier. In a chat with (spoiler) she also reveals that she never went to university. Her puzzle solving skills rely on the fact that her dad always had puzzle things around the house and the fact that she studied some of his notes before losing them. This brings me back to the “being beaten to a pulp in the beginning” point. The film of course went with the torture porn aspect that features heavily in the game reboot and Lara has her fair share of being impaled, pinned down and punched in the face. I just don’t understand why they would give her the tomb raiding skills in this origin story but not the fucking shit up skills. I know which of these was shown she was actively working on in the start, and in flashbacks (spoiler it was fighting and archery).

I was so frustrated because the few scenes that were ripped straight from the game and any action scenes were so good. Lara escaping the ship, trying to get to safety when she landed on an old rusty plane, using the parachute to get to safety are all examples of this. Although she definitely hit more branches using the parachute than I was allowed to in the game (rude). There definitely was not enough of her using her skills to survive. Instead we got Vogel and his bros and the huge fixation on Lara’s dad. After what felt like the 50th flashback of her dad saying he had to leave her I was over it. We get it. No dad. Maybe there was a mother once who knows she is mentioned once maybe. If only the dad thing was confined to the flashbacks too because yikes that was a hangup for the whole thing. I don’t think even Bruce Wayne is that obsessive about his parents.

There were nice nods to the Tomb Raider franchise (the best being the end scene) and the action when it was there was great. I just do not get why they spent so much time on Lara’s dad and Vogel. It is like they had all the tools to explain her interests in visiting Yamatai by, I don’t know, simply making her an archaeologist following in her father’s footsteps. I just do not understand the fixation on making Lara broken. I understood her when I was doing something as redundant as locking her butler in the fridge so why do I need a tragic backstory (the only tragic thing being how drawn out it is) to justify why she does what she does?

Let Lara live.

Worth having a look at though all the same if you need something easy and fun. It could be way worse.



So You Have to Buy a Games Console

Even though I have long left the hell that is retail (specifically toys) for greener pastures, I will never forget the lessons I have learned regarding shopping for gifts. Few of which are more awkward than games consoles and/or games, especially if you have no prior experience with them. Below I have compiled the main things that people didn’t even know (or think) they had to consider before buying one. Sometimes this information confused people more but I am throwing it out there in the hopes that it might help someone on the way to a relatively stress free Christmas.

Check the shop’s return policy

Many shops have return policies that differ from their standard return policy when it comes to games consoles. Make sure to clarify your position if not told by the staff member before buying. In my own personal experience on both sides of the retail counter, more often than not a console which is having issues will not be taken back by the retailer. You will be advised to contact the manufacturer of the console should any issues arise.

I myself have had an issue with a console but the shop took it back on the condition I had proof that I had logged the problem with the manufacturer first. However, this can differ depending on the shop and manufacturer you are dealing with. It is preferable for a manufacturer to try to fix problems directly rather than have a shop just hand out another unit for free.

Keep your receipts

This goes for anything with and electronic component really (I have seen countless remote control cars back to the shop in my retail days). A receipt might be the difference between having to pay the manufacturer for a replacement or a repair if it has a technical fault. Your “get out of paying for a technical fault card” will not last forever though so make sure you are aware of the length of the manufacturer’s guarantee and what it covers. Also, please don’t show up to the shop, 3DS in hand, ranting and raving at the sales assistant only to reveal that you took the battery out of it to try to fix it. That is definitely not covered.


It is an unfortunate fact of life that some large consoles today rely on a decent internet connection. Some are more dependant than others. So be mindful of this when enquiring about which console to buy. You can always check your internet speed with your broadband provider. This still applies if the person you are gifting the console to will not be playing online. Which brings me to my next point.

Set it up

Where possible try to set up your console as best as you can before Christmas day. Most consoles need to update their software every so often (although it can feel like much more often than that) and will probably be looking to be patched the day you switch them on. More importantly though, many packaged bundles do not come with a physical game, only a download code, so after you wait for your console to update you may be sitting around on Christmas day waiting for a 50GB game to download and install (a huge inconvenience if you have a bad broadband connection). If you think you can solve that problem with a physical disc, think again. Most consoles require a game to be partially installed on the hard drive before they can be played.

Of course it is vitally important that you do this in case you encounter any problems with your console, especially if you have younger kids. Nothing ruins Christmas day like a faulty present and the prospect of having to look for a replacement the second the shops and customer care offices open back up.

If you are a parent it is also a chance to become familiar with the console yourself. There are a plethora of parental settings to explore from timers to age restrictions. I have had a few things thrown at me by parents who decided it wasn’t their job to know what exactly they had given their child. Not good when you have something that’s attached to the internet.

Anyway, you might want to set up a sneaky Netflix account for yourself because consoles aren’t just for games anymore.


Maybe you’re not committing a couple of hundred of your earnings to an entire console and have opted to simply buy a game. Well there is no use promising little Bobby a game featuring his favourite Italian plumber if all little Bobby has is a Playstation. Unfortunately not all games are available for all consoles.

Adding to this, Playstation 3 games do not work on a Playstation 4 and vice versa. Some Xbox 360 games work on an Xbox One but Xbox One games do not work on an Xbox 360. 3DS games work on the 2DS but do not work on a DS or a DSi…there is a lot of instances where you can be tripped up. There is also no going back if a game is opened and it is discovered far too late that it will not work in a particular console. I wasn’t even allowed to take back sealed games with a receipt in the shop I worked for, so I really emphasised this to anyone buying a game.

Double, triple, quadruple check you know what you are buying for. If you intend to buy a game for somebody make sure that you know exactly what console they have, even as much as taking a picture of the console night help a staff member figure out what you are looking for.

Know what you are buying

I once had a granny come in with Grand Theft Auto in her hand, telling me how great her grandson was and how he really wanted it for Christmas. However, dear old granny let slip that her grandson was only seven years old. The look on her face when I had to explain that the game in her hand was over 18s. If I had not caught that, her grandson could have very well received GTA and it also could have very well flown under his parents’ radar.

Now I am making no presumptions here, maybe his parents would have been cool with it. I did once have a six year old come in with his dad for a Call of Duty game which they were going to play together online as they had with COD before. That was the dad’s decision. A different woman had also asked about GTA for her thirteen year old son and she said she didn’t mind the violence but would pass because of “sex stuff”, her words, not mine.

So just double check with whoever you are buying the game from to see if it would be suitable. It also helps that an age rating is written on the box, but remember an age rating of 3 does not mean it is just for 3 year olds. It is for 3 years to however old you want. It may sound self explanatory but I have had countless arguments with people about this.

Be wary of a new trend in games where they may subtly harass you into buying in-game items with real money (my dad still hasn’t recovered from when my brother bought €200 worth of things on FIFA). It has gotten so insidious that governments are debating as to whether to consider certain games as containing a form of gambling. The company EA is in the spotlight right now because of what they have pulled with Star Wars Battlefront and are planning to pull with UFC 3. You can read about it here. Just be sure to pull your card details off the console after you buy something on it or just opt to buy online store vouchers.

It may sound like a lot to take on (before you get into things like what storage you should get etc.), but the beauty of modern technology is that when it works, it works. Consoles pretty much take care of themselves, setting up much like your own phone would. However, don’t use this as an excuse to tune out of conversations surrounding it, especially if you are buying for younger kids. There is a whole world attached to that little box sitting in your living room.


Adventures in Andromeda

I am going to be honest. I know I don't remember the original Mass Effect trilogy with the same voracity as some others do. So forgive me if I can't give the lowdown on how different the shooting was in each game or if I cannot list what lovely RPG goodness was added following on from the first instalment. The point is, I remember the Mass Effect trilogy as a solid space opera with some firearms and biotic powers thrown in for good measure. I laughed, I cried (how predictably feminine of me) and my heart nearly gave out when I heard the bloodcurdling screech of a banshee.

By the time I was happy to wrap up Mass Effect 3, people were already in meltdown over it on the internet. Thankfully I did not see too much of this before I got to experience it myself. It was fine. I had a certain expectation that it would be near impossible to end it in a way that would fully satisfy all individual choices made in the games. However, as people discussed it more, I was left a bad taste in my mouth.

The newest game, Andromeda had no chance. The fandom were hungry and this new part of the Mass Effect universe was meant to fix the betrayal they felt they experienced at the hands of BioWare. Again, I was bombarded with review upon board upon tweet about how Andromeda was the worst thing to happen to humanity (and probably whatever is floating around up in space). Despite this, I paid €69.99 of my own money in order to check it out. I mean, how bad could it really be?

Not that bad actually.

If you don't play a BioWare RPG partly because you get to customise the appearance of your main character (in this case Ryder plus sibling) then we may not have our priorities lined up. I was very happy with how my Ryder turned out. I have to give credit to the best range of female hair options in a BioWare game to date. I did feel that I could not make the face too different from the templates given, but sliders are always awkward when you play on console.


Customisation is available for your armour also. I had Ryder running around the galaxy in millennial pink. Who needs realism when you might be kissing aliens in space? Other than changing the colour you can build your own armour based on research you acquire exploring around. It took me longer than I would like to get comfortable with this. The development screens were far too fussy. I eventually got there and managed to even craft some interesting weapons. I did like that you had the option of making armour and weapons either from the Milky Way (Ryder's home galaxy) or from new alien tech you discover.


In terms of plot, Ryder leaves the Milky Way when Commander Shepard of the original trilogy is doing his/her thing. The mission is to find planets viable for life to house the many other volunteers who left along with Ryder. However, you wake up 600 years later and there are big problems. Most of these come in the form of insectoid aliens called the Kett who are determined to make the galaxy a home for just them. In terms of design and overall motive, the Kett are not going to blow you over. They are a familiar villain. Much of the main story also has you go into vaults where you solve a few puzzles and shoot a few things in order to re-calibrate a particular planet's atmosphere. Thankfully they don't take a long time to complete. Many know how soul destroying those Dwarven ruins in Skyrim are…but maybe that was just me.


Speaking of exploring, Andromeda's open world-ness did not feel too overwhelming. When you were out in the Nomad (your car essentially), quests were marked very clearly and the map had visible pathways to and from most points of interest. Unlike BioWare's other attempt at open world, Inquisition, travelling distances felt more purposeful. Where the game let me down however was when quests were running thin. Believe me, moving from the ship, into the galaxy map, into a cluster, into a planet, then going to the planet, walking to your objective, getting a small dialogue, being told the next part of the quest is on another planet, reversing the steps and then starting them again was not fun. At the beginning this was not an issue because you would to have a few things to complete on one planet which made the journey worthwhile.


Of course the worst offence Andromeda committed was apparently having more bugs than stars in the galaxy. I did get the famed funny faces albeit quite rarely and a few smaller quests did not complete for me. The latter annoyed me the most because I made the effort and got no rewards for my time. I also experienced some crashing and enemies stuck in walls and all that fun stuff. Luckily since a fateful day when my sister spent many hours working on a house in the Sims only to have her laptop die, I have been a serial saver. Some might construe it as making a game easier but if it meant I didn't have to dive into the galaxy map again, I was going to do it.

Overall do I regret biting the bullet and spending €69.99 on Andromeda? Not at all. I put a lot of time into the game and despite a few annoyances, found myself very entertained. If you are unsure about it still, there is definitely no harm in waiting until it goes down in price. Ryder's story has benefited from the lack of Shepard level fanaticism, spoilers are few and far between.



As I played Mass Effect Andromeda on the Xbox One, all screenshots here have come from there (if you were curious).


Review of Batman: The Telltale Series

I was glad to receive Batman: The Telltale series as a Christmas present.  It had peaked my interest on release, but not enough for me to commit waiting from August to December to finish it. This is because originally the full game was broken into five separate episodes that were each released over the five months, as with all of Telltale’s other series. The format of the game is very different to what most of us are used to playing also. Telltale’s Batman is a point and click game, a sort of choose your own adventure, that moulds its story around the choices you make. At the end of each episode you are given a list of the most important decisions and shown the percentage of players who made the same choices as you. Adding to the pressure, sometimes a nice “she/he will remember that” pops up in the top corner of the screen to remind you that you are changing the story.

A summary of the kind of hero I was throughout the game

I am a huge fan of other recent Batman games (Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, Arkham Knight) in which you spend stalking criminals as Batman most of the time. What made this game interesting was the fact that you had a chance to explore the persona of Bruce Wayne. Often you are given the choice of dealing with certain characters in your cape or in your business suit. I found myself picking the latter. Being able to navigate the political side of Gotham as Bruce Wayne made the Batman story feel fresh. After all, the rest of the game gives you ample time to beat down on some thugs. As the game is set pretty early on in the life of Batman, Telltale gave themselves a fairly blank slate to work with. This has meant that characters such as reporter Vicki Vale and Oswald Cobblepot have been given new coats of paint, making them more central to this particular Batman story.

You have opportunities throughout to team up with or reject the help of each and every character in the game. The most fun duo to play as was definitely Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle (Catwoman). Unfortunately what starts off as a good representation of the Bruce/Selina dynamic turns extremely cringe-worthy if you pursue a romance with her. I found myself laughing at many serious moments in the game beyond Catwoman also. I do dislike a Batman that takes itself too seriously though, so it did not ruin the game too much.

Screenshot-Original (1).png
A dynamic duo (sometimes)

Gameplay-wise I was not blown away. I played Batman: The Telltale series on Xbox One and as with those who played on PC, I experienced some lagging issues. Especially at the beginning of the final episode. Although not game breaking, it did make fight sequences using quick time events a lot less immersive. I also was excited to use Batman’s arsenal of gadgets to solve crime as the world’s greatest detective. Mainly all you get are CSI type sections where you link correct pieces of evidence together. I found these tedious as by the time Batman talks through everything and tells you the story out loud at the end, you have already figured it out in your own head ten minutes prior.

A high tech flip phone

Overall it is not a  bad way to entertain oneself, especially if you are looking for something short and simple. The story kept me interested especially since Bruce Wayne had a more active part in the narrative. As I have played some other Telltale series, I thought I had the decision formula down. Batman definitely has a more nuanced decision making system. Although when you are familiar with Batman lore, it can make some decisions  seem pointless.  I was also very glad I played all episodes in a chunk, unlike Telltale’s Walking Dead there was zero emotional connection to the game, so I probably would have grown bored playing one episode a month.


Mass Effect Andromeda Ramblings

I had stored Mass Effect away in my heart next to the hole I let the Harry Potter series also slip into. As far as I was concerned, Mass Effect ended with my Shepard along with all the hopes and dreams I had for the galaxy at large. I was happy that I didn’t have to experience any more emotional turmoil at the hands of the 70+ hour trilogy (dramatic, I know). Yet in 2015, Mass Effect Andromeda was announced to the world.

BioWare community manager Chris Priestly quickly shut down any hopes of the game continuing what the trilogy had set up after the game was announced. That should have solved my issues with wanting to put the Shepard thing to bed but I was still unenthusiastic. As a result I have avoided reading too much about Andromeda. Which is a miracle considering how the entirety of Dragon Age Inquisition crossed my path in the form of online chatter long before release.

The only information I have really acquired is the announcement that you will be accompanied by your brother or sister depending of which gender you pick to play as. Cool concept, pity BioWare love to kill your fictional siblings/parents/loved ones, not the family dog though…yet. I have met the family announcement with a heavy side-eye for a different reason however. Creative lead Mac Walters announced that you see their dad in one of the earlier trailers in an interview with PlayStation Access. Also very cool. That was the full Ryder family now revealed according to Walters. I really hope the non-existing matriarch of the family surprises us with a mention that she is having a great time somewhere across space. If she will be used as a motivational corpse for the plot I would rather they forgot about her. It is a wonder that any fictional character does anything when they do not have a dead or endangered woman in their life!

The female half of the Andromeda protagonists

The latest game-play footage caught my attention also. After all, how could I resist that 4K magic? The game will apparently look good on everything but the player in the video advises you to “find” a 4K screen just to watch him play four minutes of the game. The game definitely looks quite different to the previous Mass  Effect games. The environment seems more open, exploration being a big thing in this game. The layout reminds me of the environments of Dragon Age Inquisition somehow. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as they fill the space better than Inquisition did. I do not need to spend time running through a large empty space just to find a tiny collectable rock. It is pretty and definitely has depth. I might have an issue looking at a protagonist walk like they are holding in a fart but I am sure I will get over it.

It looks like out of the three companions in the preview clip, two are human. Possibly one is Ryder’s sister. That is a bit underwhelming but I would prefer them keeping the more interesting companions quiet until closer to release. There is one alien species represented, an Asari. She looks very out of place as instead of armour she has a belly revealing kind of biker jacket and cargo pants on. She seems a bit more rough and ready than most of the Asari we are used to seeing which could make for an interesting companion.

Can we talk about this though:


4K crotch.

Anyway I am far more intrigued by Andromeda after seeing some proper footage. I do hope they reveal more information about the game as tactfully as they have been. There is few things worse than coming into a game first time knowing too much.

Check Andromeda out in all its glory below