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Review - "Shadow of the Tomb Raider" (2018)

I've had to sit on my thoughts on Shadow of the Tomb Raider for... jeez, almost a month now, huh?

This is mainly because I have a lot of complicated feelings about it. When I play a Tomb Raider game at this point, I have to let a lot of things percolate. That stems, primarily, from the fact that Tomb Raider II was the first video game I ever played, and therefore set a lot of standards that I hold near and dear for what a video game should be. As I got older, I compared practically every third-person adventure game against it, for better or worse. And, really, I don't think that's unfair. Tomb Raider II is, in my opinion, one of the finest pieces of interactive entertainment out there. It achieves a balance of smarts, thrills, and intuitive design that even most 2018 video games can't seem to get right, and honestly, gave developers enough ideas to plunder for over two decades at this point.

Anyway. Because I hold Tomb Raider II in such high regard, and because I have …
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Review - "Spider-Man" (2018)

I've been pretty dubious of Spider-Man since its initial reveal, not gonna lie.

From the outset, it seemed like an attempt to recapture the "glory" of Spider-Man 2, a nostalgic favorite among many that I happen to think is kinda of awful. On top of that, every bit of gameplay they showed off came across as a bunch of on-rails segment punctuated by bad jokes and questionable takes on classic characters. Yet I remained optimistic for two reasons: Insomniac and Spider-Man in general. Insomniac's a stellar developer, with only a few true duds to their name, and I really wanted them to have another open-world game after how great Sunset Overdrive turned out. And Spider-Man? Jeez. He and I go way back. First action figure I ever owned, first comic I read, first VHS tape I bought, one of the first games I ever beat, first movie I saw together with my current partner... Spidey's been an omnipresent part of my life since forever. Despite my apprehensions, then, I held on…

Review - "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege" (2015)

I've talked about falling out of Overwatch on this blog before. Plot twist: I feel back into it somewhat recently, and while I don't hate it as much as I did when I fell out of it, I certainly don't adore it as much as I used to. Yeah, D.Va is still extremely good, the mechanics are solid, the art direction's nice, whatever. But it's lost its luster to me. It's hard to love like I used to.

Same goes for Call of Duty. In the first half of high school, I thought that series was total gutter trash for fake geek boys. Then, as I neared graduation, I picked up a used copy of Black Ops and played match after match after match of multiplayer with my buddy. I finally understood the appeal of the constant dopamine rush that series is so good at providing Throughout college, I was pretty hardcore into it, but now... eh. Each year is just a prime example of the law of diminishing returns, and while I keep on buying them, I'm starting to really ask myself why. I think…

Review - "Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm" (2008)

The only thing I really remember about Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm from back in the day was that it kind of sucked in comparison to Rise of a Ninja. Keep in mind, that's a bit of a unfair comparison. Rise of a Ninja is a game that's attempting a significantly different thing that Storm, and while as a teenager I wasn't able to really see that, it makes me a little less hard on Storm now. Oh, and speaking of Rise of a Ninja, I genuinely hope Microsoft makes that thing backwards compatible at some point. It's super good, and an underrated gem of a game from a pre-monotony Ubisoft.

Anyway. Ultimate Ninja Storm is the evolution of the Ultimate Ninja series - a series of PS2 Smash Bros.-esque games that I seem to remember being pretty alright. Storm, however, plays nothing like those at all. It's a complete overhaul of that gameplay into something familiar to fans of shonen anime - the arena fighter. You played a Dragon Ball Z game in the past thirteen years, namely a…

Review - "We Happy Few" (2018)

It's disappointing when a game that you've been looking forward to doesn't live up to the expectations you've set for it. That's happened to me a lot in my time, to be sure. The list of games I expected more from that ultimately underdelivered is longer than I can recount here.

Over time, though, I've tried to learn and curb hype, because I think that it can be really caustic and set people up to be disappointed. I think we, as a populace, need to go into things with more moderate expectations - regardless of how excited we might get from a trailer, a demo, or what have you, or from how much we love a franchise prior to a new release. It's why, as much as I'd live or die for Lara Croft, I'm trying to be cautious of Shadow of the Tomb Raider's weird attempt to appeal to every possible demographic, or as much as I think Insomniac fucking rocks, I'm trying to have more realistic expectations for Spider-Man than "omg best superhero game ev…

Review - "Singularity" (2010)

What was it with the last generation of gaming and huge scenes that took place on cargo ships or aircraft carriers? Tomb Raider Underworld, Uncharted, Uncharted 3, Resident Evil 5, Prototype, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (and I'm pretty sure the third one too,) Bionic Commando, literally ten dozen shooters that I've played and can't remember the names of... it was a very big thing between 2006 and 2013. Throw Singularity onto the pile, because near the end of it, there's a very big cargo ship setpiece where the player has to shoot a bunch of things, pick up a thing, then swim out as the cargo ship implodes on itself.

Actually, Singularity could be described as the video game equivalent to a cargo ship level, now that I'm thinking about it. Because everything it does has been done before, done to death, and done way better. It's bad, is what I'm trying to say. Really, truly bad, actually, and I'm sort of shocked that it holds a status as some misbegotte…

A New And "Improved" Scoring Rubric

Now that I'm back in the habit of reviewing stuff, you might be wondering - what is my scoring criteria? Is the same as the one I used at CGM? How about Game Revolution? Or my old ones?

The answer to all of those questions is, "psh, of course not." My tastes have changed a lot. Not only that, but I've grown increasingly dissatisfied with the way game scores work. Most sites skew their scales way too high for my liking, to the point where some critics are roasting a game, only to give it an 8 or something. That sucks.

Of course, it makes sense why that's done. Game companies give serious fucks about Metacritic, and as soon as you threaten to bump their glorified marketing bullet point down a notch, they get pissy and start doing things like sending emails to editors, withholding review copies, and sometimes outright blacklisting people.

Which gets us into the stagnant jam we're in now, with games getting incredibly high scores, only to be remembered not a yea…