Tomb Raider: Legend

Lara Croft is back doing what she does best: raiding tombs! No more James Bond type adventures for this girl, it’s back to what put her on the map!
This game has been described by many as the best Tomb Raider game since the original game, and with good reason too. A heavy emphasis of the game has been put back into exploring, and not the action. While there are a few missions where she’ll be strutting her stuff in the city (the Japan levels), the game mostly sees her exploring ruins and searching for clues to the disappearance of her mother. With a good mix of gun play and puzzling solving in between.
First off the graphics are beautiful with lots of color matching to the environments. The newly remodeled Lara also looks great and more “real” compared to previous game incarnations. A great amount of detail was also added, like the color of her clothes getting darker to show water absorption after taking a swim, and the way water reflects off her skin before drying off. Even the weapons and items she carries are visible on her character model! The audio also matches the game’s ambiance as well as the mood of the moment, picking up tempo along with the onscreen action. And the voice acting are all pretty well done also.
Gameplay-wise, the controls might take a little getting used to, but plays really well. She has all the acrobatic ability you’d expect her to have, and the only flaw I could find with the controls was a lack of a wall running mode ala Price of Persia, since everything else feels almost like the Prince games. She has some new items and abilities, like a grappling line she can use to swing accross large gaps or pull objects and enemies towards her. She can also go into a Resident Evil 4 type over the shoulder aiming mode to shoot more accurately, although headshots don't really count in this game.
The only small problem with the gameplay might be the camera angles. While you can spin the camera around to give you a better view, you don’t have full 360’ degree rotation, which can be a hassle sometimes when you need to jump accurately.
The only other flaw in the game itself is probably the length. You could finish the game in a day or two, but luckily there are incentives to play the game again to unlock the many bonus items like Lara’s outfits and finding all the hidden items in the game. There’s even a mini-game type level where you run around Croft Manor honing your skills and looking for hidden objects throughout the mansion.
Overall, this really is a fun, albeit short, adventure worth investing some time on. The game even ends with the hint of a follow up, and that’s something I’m really looking forward to.

Graphics – 9
Sound – 8
Gameplay – 7
Lifespan – 7
Overall – 8


Second Opinion: Fight Night Round 3

My original gripe with this game was what I felt to be really bad controls, even if there was a strategy element involved in picking your fight style. I still stand by this as despite how strong I make my character, the game still doesn't feel balanced when my opponent can wail away on me with haymakers and heavy punches at lightning speed where as my big punches come off really slow and aren't as damaging, add to that the fact that even with high heart and stamina, my fighter's health tends to drop really quickly and even after 10 rounds the CPU controlled fighter will have almost a full bar of health left.
I don't mind a challenge, but this is still unfair in my opinion.
And lets not forget the ridiculous referee stopping the fight because I'm bleeding too much even when I'm in control of the fight. I can understand if I'm getting pummeled to a bloody pulp, but when I'm pressing the action and the referee suddenly calls for the bell and gives the fight to my opponent, it really pisses me off to the point I reset my PS2 and play the fight over again.
Other than that there are the small bugs and glitches in the game that make it feel incomplete compared to Fight Night Round 2. For example, the replays are total crap. You have the announcer saying how much you dominated the match, but all you see are the two guys just standing there barely doing anything. And even these get cut off halfway at times. And the replays for the knockdown punches can be really bad at times as the punches don't even look like they hurt when they connect on the replay shots.
Another thing I didn't like about the gameplay is that the game will actually bribe you to take a dive in a fight! That's right! You get rewarded for losing a fight at a certain round. I don't know what the developers were thinking, but I play games to WIN and earn rewards, not lose.
The shop is also really confusing. They should have kept a proper order of the items, like keeping all the items from one sponsor in it's own bracket instead of having to scroll through a really LONG list just to check what's new, and it's hard to tell if you've already purchased something at times.
Overall, even with all the flaws, I have to admit that I'm a sucker for punishment and keep coming back to this game to open a can of whoop ass, so I'm adding to the lifespan and overall score of this game:

Graphics – 9
Sound – 7
Gameplay – 8
Lifespan – 8
Overall – 7

My original review of the game can be found HERE

First Impressions and Second Opinions

Seeing how it is I work alone and there really are too many games out there that I want to play and it will take too long for me to finish most of them before I can get to reviewing them, I've decided to make a few changes around here by adding two colums I hope will allow me to update here more often. First Impressions will be a larger preview of games, and Second Opinions will be for games I have reviewed already but want to add something to it without having to go back and edit the original review. I might even change my overall rating of a game based on my second opinion of it after playing it longer.
So enjoy and any feedback or comments are welcomed.


Big Adventure Preview

Tomb Raider Legend
Lara Croft is back in her latest video game adventure, which has received good reviews from game reviewers everywhere for finally bringing Lara out of her rut of crappy games since the original. With gameplay similar to Prince of Persia, I can't wait to get started on this one.

Kingdom Hearts 2
One of the most anticipated games of the year, featuring a larger world and more Disney characters and locales than the original. This should be one big, long and most importantly, fun adventure to go through.