Tomb Raider (2013, Xbox One)

Lara Croft, One of the most recognisable names in gaming history. Mentioning her name or the games she is famous for, being Tomb Raider, stirs up feelings of adventure, danger, mystery and the need to explore. Ever since Lara Croft made her debut in 1996 with the original Tomb Raider, she has been an absolute powerhouse in the gaming industry. So, back in 2013 Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics decided to reboot our heroine and what a job they done.

Don’t lock the butler in the freezer!

Tomb Raider as I have said is known for its exploration and adventure and the reboot is no different. The game takes place on an island called Yamatai, off the coast of Japan. Yamatai and the surrounding area is known for being battered by storms, so exploration was never really an option before. This didn’t stop Lara and her crew. Saying that, during the game you will run into evidence of Portuguese traders, United States Marines and Imperial Japanese Army all being on this island at some point in history, though how they got there is a mystery you will have to uncover! The island was once ruled by a woman named Himiko. The tribe of people she ruled called her the Sun Queen because apparently she could control the weather. Himiko ended up dying which started a lot of crazy events on the island of Yamatai.

Lara sets out for Yamatai with her crew aboard a ship but along the way the ship is hit by a deadly storm which ends up capsizing and destroying the ship. Lara eventually washes up on a mysterious beach. Lara sees her crew on top of a hill and calls out for them before being punched and knocked unconscious by an unknown assailant. Lara awakens in a cave dangling in the air though she eventually escapes the cave to the outside, where the storm has calmed.

Lara eventually starts to wander around the harsh landscape of the island and finds a walkie talkie and a camcorder that shows Lara and her crew talking about the upcoming expedition on board the ship. After some more gameplay and scavenging, Lara finds her friend, Sam and a new person who calls himself Mathias. Mathias is injured and he uses a crutch to walk around. Sam, Lara and Mathias all sit around a campfire while Sam tells the story of the legend of Himiko. During this Lara goes to sleep, probably from exhaustion.

Sam and Lara: Best Friends Forever!

Lara wakes up to see that both Sam and Mathias are gone, but she eventually meets up with the rest of her crew but not before Lara nearly gets her foot amputated by a bear trap and eaten by a pack of wolves. Lara explains about Sam going missing and the group come to a decision that Lara and another crew member, Whitman, will go looking for yet another missing crew member called Roth while the rest of them go looking for Sam and Mathias.

While Whitman and Lara are searching they find a temple of sorts devoted to the worship of Himiko which confirms that they are indeed on the island of Yamatai. Inside they encounter what looks to be mercenary type men, and while Whitman has his gun pointed at them, he eventually drops his gun saying that he only wants peace, which ends up with Lara and Whitman becoming hostages to the mercenaries.

They don’t look too welcoming!

The group attempts an escape which forces the mercenaries to go after them, though Lara still has ropes around her hands which make her effectively useless. Lara has to sneak around all the mercenaries who are on the hunt for her and her group until she eventually gets caught by the head leader of this mercenary group. Lara and the leader have a bit of back and forth blows, the attacker drops a gun which Lara has to use to kill him. After trying to escape and killing some more mercenaries, Lara eventually finds her friend and mentor, Roth who is wounded.

Lara had to put this dog down!

Lara helps Roth to a safe location and Roth tells her that she needs to go and contact the outside world to get help. After some more camcorder watching to give more a background on the crew, Lara sets off on her travels. She eventually finds an old bunker that she hopes still has a way of communicating to the outside world. Lara, after killing a few more mercenaries makes it to the control room of the bunker, but nothing is working. Roth tells her she will have to climb the mast and manually communicate with the outside world through a radio on top of the mast. The mast is two things, extremely tall and extremely rusty, but Lara makes the climb anyway nearly killing herself once or twice. She eventually contacts the outside world and a plane comes to rescue them. But just as the plane gets close to the island, a storm brews up and lightning hits the plane, making it crash almost killing Lara in the process.

Lara tries to make her way to the crash site where she finds the pilot battling with mercenaries. Lara makes it just in time to see a mercenary stab and kill the pilot. Another pilot contacts Lara through the walkie talkie but he can’t hear Lara on his end. The pilot deploys smoke which Lara can see and she makes her way towards the pilot, though it ends up being a trap by the mercenaries, who are lead by Mathias, also they’re not mercenaries at all, they are a devout cult who worship Himiko and they call themselves, the Solarii Brotherhood. As Lara gets punched and almost knocked out, she witnesses what looks to be samurai slaughtering Lara’s attackers while the men scream about the Oni being there.

The Samurai called Oni

Lara wakes up hanging from the ceiling by her hands and surrounded by dead, rotting corpses all around her. Lara gets out of the ropes and falls on the ground and realises that the Oni are the ones who brought her here, and they are still here. Lara has to sneak around to escape the Oni, which she does. Lara makes it to a room with a few murals on the wall detailing how Himiko has to use a ritual called the Ascension to transfer her power from one vessel to another. While this is going on, the Solarii brotherhood catch up to Lara and chase her before alerting the Oni which ends up chasing all of them.

Lara eventually escapes from all the danger and is contacted through her walkie talkie by Sam who explains to her that she stole her walkie talkie off a guard and she is being held against her will and that the guards keep talking about fire rituals, when it dawns on Lara that Sam is to become the next vessel for Himiko. Sam tells Lara that she is locked in a Japanese temple which Lara says she is close to. Lara struggles to make herself towards the temple, even injuring herself on the way. Lara makes her way to the bridge of the temple but it is covered with guards. Roth tells Lara that he will cover her with a sniper rifle while she makes her way across the bridge, which she eventually does.

The journey to rescue a friend.

Inside, Lara sees that Mathias has Sam tied up with a stack of wood built around her. Mathias is about to perform the fire ritual in front of the cult. Lara attempts to free Sam but gets captured while Mathias lights the fire. The fire doesn’t hurt Sam though and a divine wind swoops down and puts out the fire. This proves to Mathias that Sam is indeed the chosen one, meant to be the new vessel for Himiko. Lara gets taken away by the guards where she sees that her crew are also captured.

Lara sees Whitman walking around the temple who explains to her that when the Solarii didn’t see him as a threat they didn’t bother with him and let him do his own thing. He said he knew the other members of the crew were captured but he couldn’t do anything for them. He told Lara to go and free Sam while he stays on lookout.

Lara rescues Sam but as they are leaving the temple, they see Whitman tied up who tells them to run as Mathias and the Solarii chase after them. The temple starts to break up in the ensuing battle and Sam and Lara get separated by a collapsed roof. Lara has to fight her way through all the guard in and outside the temple where there is a helicopter on the way to rescue the crew, to Lara’s horror. Lara sees that Roth is already on the helicopter, but she has no choice to jump from a platform onto it where she begs Roth to land the helicopter as the island won’t let anyone leave. The pilot refuses to land which leads to Lara drawing a gun on the pilot forcing him to land, before a lightning strike hits the helicopter and downs it anyway.

A leap of faith

Roth realises that Lara isn’t breathing and almost dies before reviving her. Lara is standing and hugging Roth before Mathias appears and throws an axe which Roth takes in the back to save Lara. Lara tells the rest of the crew to get to the wreckage of their former ship, the Endurance which washed up on the beach and she will meet them there. After some more exploring, Lara eventually meets up with the group who have found a boat that needs repairs. Suddenly, Whitman runs out of the forest screaming and shooting behind him, though no one is after him. Whitman says he was running for ages but Lara notices he is not even sweating.

Lara goes to the wreckage of the Endurance to find the tools needed to repair the boat. There, she is ambushed by more Solarii. She finds one of the crew members, Alex trapped under some wreckage which she can’t lift. Alex tells Lara to run while he shoots the fuel tank and kills himself and all of the Solarii attacking her, which she reluctantly does. Lara makes it back to the remaining crew with the tools but tells the crew that they can’t leave because the island won’t let them and that they need to face whatever is on the island. The crew bar Sam said they are leaving with or without Lara.

Lara goes to find out what is the problem on the island and sees a samurai who committed ritual suicide or seppuku. Inside the samurai’s sword hilt there is a note which tells the story of his failure to Himiko. Himiko’s vessel killed herself with Himiko’s soul still inside, so Himiko is trapped in a dead body looking for a way out. Because of this Himiko’s anger is causing the storms on the island. While Lara is making her way back to the crew, Sam contacts her that they are under attack by the Solarii. When she gets there, the crew tell her that Whitman took Sam back to Mathias.

Whitman, Why?!

When Mathias, Whitman and Sam get to the temple they see that it is guarded by samurai. Mathias tells Whitman to get and talk to the samurai and see if they will let them through, knowing full well the samurai will kill Whitman, which they do. Mathias uses this to run past the samurai with Sam. Lara sneaks her way in while having to contend with samurai and the divine wind of Himiko trying to stop her from making it to the temple. When Lara is inside she realises that Himiko is not transferring her power to vessels but transferring her soul which means she destroys the soul of the previous vessel.

Lara makes her way up to the top of the temple where the ritual is about to commence. There she in confronted by another Oni which she kills. Mathias begins the ritual and Lara gets into a fight with him which ends up with Mathias being killed by Lara repeatedly shooting him with two handguns as a tribute to the old Tomb Raider games. Lara stab Himiko through the heart which destroys Himiko and calms all the storms on the island and also, in turn saves Sam. Lara carries Sam back to the boat and the crew and Lara leave the island. END OF STORY.

The last shot of the game

Now to the game and all its qualities. This was an excellent action/adventure game. I had serious fun playing this from the moment I picked it up to when I left it down. There was so much to do from survival, hunting dangerous animals, crafting cool weapons and items, exploring captivating and interesting locations to fighting in tense and thrilling combat. The story really pulled me in and while some of it was quite obvious and done to death such as me knowing that Mathias was the bad guy from the get go and that Sam would have something to do with Himiko, the story still felt fresh and it done a really good job of pulling me in and keeping me interested.

The graphics were absolutely astounding. The landscape changes so much in this game from thick, dense jungles, to snowy mountain tops and with each place I was in, I felt like I was there. The dark, murky, water filled caves and the divine wind blasted mountain tops really came alive for me and just added to the excitement and wonder that was the locations in this game. The character models looked really excellent too with some of my favourite being Lara herself and the samurai. Graphically there is nothing bad I can say about this game.

The sounds themselves are fine, nothing to really speak about. Guns sound fine and the action scenes are top notch. The voice acting is really on par. Camilla Luddington does a great job of voicing Lara. She has a compassionate and caring voice, but can be strong and fierce at the same time. I also have to mention that Robert Craighead done a great job voicing the antagonist Mathias.

The soundtrack, composed by Jason Graves, whose work includes Dead Space, Until Dawn and the Man of Medan, really knocked it out of the park with the soundtrack. There are some very soulful pieces of music in it, to action packed and exhilarating tracks that are used at the right time to convey what is happening. The soundtrack isn’t too in your face either and it allows you to enjoy it without becoming the main thing you’re focusing on in the cutscenes or gameplay.

Tomb Raider also has a multiplayer mode which seems to stem away from the usual tropes of death match games. The multiplayer seems to rely more on exploration, traps and picking your opportunities to strike.

Overall a really remarkable game and an outstanding reboot to the series, which done so well that it lead on to two sequels which I will be covering at some point. A well though out story story, beautiful locations and graphics, tense combat and action and an absolute thrill to play from start to finish.

So after all of that I think it is finally time to get into the scoring of the game:

Graphics: Fascinating and captivating locations. Characters and other assets look great: 9/10

Sound: A very interesting soundtrack and one that knows when and where to be effective: 8/10

Game play: Good exploration, a bit of a collectathon which can go on a bit, tense action. Overall very enjoyable and appealing gameplay: 9/10

Worth: Yes! An excellent and very faithful reboot. 10/10

Story: Good story, not great though with the twists being quite obvious, but it’s still interesting. 7/10

Total: 86/100 B+

I hope you enjoyed my review and as always, thanks for reading!

Resident Evil 2: Remake (2019, Xbox One)

Resident Evil 2 Remake

In 1998, the masters of horror games, Capcom gave the world the masterpiece that is Resident Evil 2. 21 years later, like the undead, they return and with them comes Resident Evil 2 remake and my word did they do a great job with this game. From the unrelenting hordes of zombies and other nightmarish creatures, to the dark and atmospheric hallways of the Raccoon City Police Department, Resident Evil 2 is genuinely one of the creepiest games I have ever played, and I have played a LOT of horror games.

Warning: Zombies are ahead

Resident Evil 2 is set in the year 1998 and almost two months after the events of Resident Evil. Leon Kennedy is a rookie cop that is on his way to his first day as a Raccoon City police officer, but on the way he stops off at a gas station. While there he runs into his first enemy of the evening, chowing down on some good old cops. Leon deals with this threat and on his way out of the gas station he runs into college student, Claire Redfield. Claire is the sister of Chris Redfield, one of the main protagonists from the first Resident Evil.

Claire has come to Raccoon city to find her brother so shes tags along with Leon to see what is going on in Raccoon City. As they head into the city they realise that not all is well and they dead have come back to life to feast on the yummy innards of the living. After a car accident, Claire and Leon become separated, but they agree to meet at the Raccoon Police Department.

Raccoon Police Department. One of the most famous places in gaming history.

The game is played through from both Leon and Claire’s scenarios so I will briefly go into the story of each of them. Both have a lot of similarities, but some differences.

Leon’s Scenario

As Leon makes his way through the RPD he runs into a fellow cop named Lieutenant Marvin Branagh who was bitten earlier in the evening. Marvin explains to Leon what has been going on and gives him some missions to do but eventually perishes to his wounds. During all of this, Leon encounters more zombies, lickers, infected dogs and the now infamous tyrant, Mr. X. Leon is helped by a woman named Ada Wong, who explains that she is an FBI agent. While Leon is searching through the parking garage under the Raccoon Police Department he finds a man in a holding cell by the name of Ben Bertolucci. Ben explains that he is in the holding cell because the chief of police, a man named Brian Irons has put him in there for investigating a company called, Umbrella.

Mr. X

Umbrella, one of the most famous “evil” corporations in gaming history was a medicinal company that went into weapons development. Through this path they came up with the bio-weapon, T-Virus. Unfortunately the T-Virus is the thing that is turning Raccoon’s brightest into brain dead rotten corpses.

Umbrella Corporation Logo

Back to Ben, Mr.X bursts through the cell wall and crushes Ben’s head. Leon escapes with Ada and they head to the sewers where they are encountered by a woman named Annette Birkin, wife of William Birkin, the creator of the T-Virus. Annette shoots at Ada, but Leon takes the shot for her. Leon and Ada agree to find a sample of another virus called the G-Virus to prove that Umbrella is corrupt.

Leon eventually catches up to Annette and finds a sample of the G-Virus in an underground secret lab called NEST. While in the lab, William Birkin appears as he did numerous times during the game. As I said, William was the creator of the virus, but Umbrella wanted him to hand the virus over. Umbrella sent in a crack team of special forces, lead by a man named Hunk to retrieve the virus. William refused to hand over his work and he was shot. In his final moments, Birkin injected himself with the G-Virus and mutated into a hideous monster.

One of Birkin’s hideous transformations

Annette tries to stop William but she ends up fatally injured. Leon defeats William and while he is comforting Annette in her last moments, she tells Leon that Ada is actually a mercenary not an FBI agent. Annette tells Leon that Ada only wants the G-Virus so she can sell it. Leon runs into Ada who eventually confesses to all of this, but she still demands that Leon hand over the virus. Annette, who still isn’t dead yet shoots Ada in the shoulder and the bridge that Leon and Ada are standing on starts to collapse. When Leon goes to catch Ada, he drops the G-Virus into the abyss below along with Ada moments later.

Ada Wong

After all of this Leon goes to escape from Raccoon city until Mr. X shows up in his final form. While on a lift going towards the train that will escape the city, Leon must battle the super tyrant. It is revealed that Ada didn’t actually die and she tosses Leon a missile launcher which he uses to finally and once and for all defeat Mr. X/Super tyrant. Leon makes it to the last train out of town and this is where he meets up with Claire and a child named Sherry Birkin.

Claire’s Scenario

Claire’s scenario plays out pretty much the same, having to go through the police station and what not at the beginning. Claire finds the child Sherry being chased by William as a monster. Down in the parking garage sequence where Leon means Ben Bertolucci, Claire runs into the chief of police Brian Irons. Irons kidnaps Sherry while pointing a gun at Claire and he brings Sherry to an abandoned orphanage. Irons rings Claire and tells her that Sherry has dropped a very important pendant and if Claire doesn’t retrieve it, then Irons will kill her. This is where you play Sherry, trying to sneak around and escape the orphanage yourself.

Sherry Birkin

Irons eventually catches Sherry trying to escape but father of the year, William Birkin comes in and implants Irons with a G-Virus larva, saving Shelly. Claire eventually comes and rescues Sherry. Claire and Sherry attempt to escape, but who shows up? That’s right, Mr. X. Mr. X chases Sherry and Claire into an elevator but William Birkin puts his big meaty claw through Mr. X. This is where it is also revealed that William Birkin is Sherry’s father. William transforms again and charges the elevator knocking it down into the sewers and knocking Claire unconscious.

I’ve got a bad feeling about this

Claire wakes up to find Sherry gone. Annette finds Claire and explains everything about William creating the G-Virus and how he wanted to sell it to the military. She also explains how he got shot and injected himself but through this you find out that rats ingested the virus and that is how it got out into the streets of Raccoon City. Annette explains that because Sherry is the William’s daughter she is the perfect host for the virus.

Claire finds Sherry is a trash compactor and realises that William has already infected her with the virus. Annette tells Claire to bring Sherry to the NEST lab where a vaccine is stored. Claire uses Sherry’s pendant to unlock the vaccine and Claire fights William while Sherry is being cured by her mother. Annette tells Claire that Sherry is free of the G-Virus before succumbing to her own internal injuries and passes away. Claire and Sherry attempt to escape before being confronted by William for the final time. Claire defeats William and boards the train where she meets up with Leon.

Ending

William returns one final time while Claire and Leon are on the train but this time he is a massive, horrid creature. Claire and Leon fight him while trying to unhook William’s carriage from the main train. As they do this, William descends back towards the NEST lab where a self destruct sequence has been initiated. NEST explodes, killing William and any other grotesque mass living down there. Claire, Leon and Sherry leave Raccoon city and never look back.

The Ending

Now onto the game play and my, oh, my is the game play great. Don’t get me wrong, Capcom have went down the third person route long before this with Resident Evil 4 back in the year 2005 but in this game it is absolutely seamless. The third person view really adds to the claustrophobia of the Raccoon Police Department, not knowing what is around every corner and realising how tight the corridors are and how little room you have to maneuver.

You have to do a lot of item management in the game but believe me when I say, it is a lot easier then the original Resident Evil 2. During the game you will find hip pouches which increases the amount of stuff you can carry in your inventory. Also through out the game there are safe rooms where you can save your progress, each safe room has an Item Box which you can store items until you need them, which makes things very handy.

The enemies in Resident Evil 2 aren’t the most diverse roster of enemies in a video game but they are some of the most intense you’ll ever meet. You have your typical zombies, which are actually really hard to take down. No more one bullet to the head nonsense, you could empty your entire clip and the zombie will still be walking, this really brings in a fight or flight aspect to the game on whether you waste ammo to kill a zombie or try and avoid it but it could be trouble later. Also you can’t dodge the zombies, so if a zombie attacks you, unless you’re lucky you are going to be bitten. Lastly, zombies can follow you through doors, which makes it even more terrifying.

Resident Evil 2 Zombie

You will also fight lickers which are grotesque monsters that crawl around with their brains hanging out. The reason they are called lickers is because they have a giant tongue that they attack you with. These lickers make for some really intense moments as they are blind and you have to be super quiet to not attract them. Getting into a fight with a licker is something you must avoid as they are tough enough to deal with. Other than that you have zombie dogs which are what you would expect, fast, agile and hard to hit but they aren’t too strong. Finally you have the bosses, Birkin and Mr. X. William Birkin will show up every now and again to further the story, but Mr. X will show up again and again and he is absolutely unrelenting on how much he chases you throughout the game. You can outrun him if you’re quick enough and there are some safe places but otherwise he will pursue you through this whole game which makes it even more intense.

The lighting in this game is so atmospheric from the dim streets lit only by the fires of burning vehicles and whatever street lamps survived the catastrophe to the couple of bulbs still working in the Raccoon Police Department and sewers the game done a great job of looking really dark, but in a good way and in a way that definitely added to the all round creep factor of the game.

Almost pitch black

The sound track to the game is something you wouldn’t want to listen to in a dark room, alone at night; or maybe you would because you’re mad. The hair-raising and spine-chilling sound track is enough to send any RPD rookie and college student screaming for their mammy. Between this you have epic boss battle music that really makes what you’re doing come alive and makes it very exciting and draws you into the game even more than you would be with the incredible visuals and anxiety ridden game play.

So let’s get into the scoring:

Graphics: Incredible, dark, atmospheric, claustrophobic and horrifying. Superb job. 10/10

Sound: Unsettling soundtrack, horrifying monster sounds and excellent voice acting 10/10

Game play: Amazing game play. Challenging but not the hardest game I’ve played. Enjoyed it immensely through out. 10/10

Worth: Definitely! Even after you beat the game, you get a few extra modes to keep you busy. Really worth it. 10/10

Story: The story was fantastic, one of my favourite horror game stories. 10/10

Total: 100/100 A+

I hope you enjoyed my review and as always, thanks for reading!

Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy (2017, PlayStation 4)

Crash Bandicoot cover art

Woah! Crash Bandicoot is back and he means business. That’s right, the 90’s PlayStation 1 star came back with a bang in 2017. Crash Bandicoot was and still is one of the best 3-D platforming game that was ever made. Originally created by Naughty Dog in 1996 who are now known more for their horrific apocalyptic adventures through a clicker infested wasteland than a strange Australian Marsupial, Crash took the world by storm and to this day still has a great reputation, though Activision and Vicarious Visions have taken over the name and the game.

The N. Sane Trilogy was released in 2017 on the PlayStation 4 and later on the Xbox One, Switch and PC in 2018. The game features the first three Crash Bandicoot games which are, Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back and Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped. That’s right you get three fantastic, beautiful and content filled games for the same price you would pay for just one game, which is an absolute steal. So let’s start getting into the nitty and gritty of it.

You’ve been warned!

So we will start as you would with Crash Bandicoot. The first thing that struck me were the graphics and oh my lord are they pretty. The game still kept the cartoony graphics but they are so much more vibrant and colourful and very pleasing to the eyes. The story of the game is a tale as old as time, the evil Dr. Neo Cortex has kidnapped Crash’s girlfriend Tawna, who is also a Bandicoot. The reason they are walking on two legs is that Cortex experimented on animals and wanted to evolve them into an evil army, but Crash escaped and is going back for Tawna.

Tawna and Crash

So Crash has to go on a perilous adventure through dangerous islands and eventually through Cortex’s factory where he created the evolved animals. All the while Crash has to deal with other evolved animals and bosses such as Papu Papu, Ripper Roo and Pinstripe Potoroo. Crash is not doing this alone though as he has the help of a wooden mask named Aku Aku, which allows Crash to take more than one hit, which believe me is needed! Eventually, Crash comes to the man himself, Cortex and fights him on top of an airship. Crash beats him, rescues Tawna and escapes.

Final fight with Cortex

Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back opens from the first one when Cortex gets sent plummeting to the earth from his airship. Cortex discovers crystals and believes that they have immense power but he needs 25 of them. To do this he convinces Crash that he has actually turned over a new leaf and is now a good guy and that he needs the crystals to save the world from an impending solar flux.

Crash starts out on his adventure to find the crystals and Cortex keeps in contact with Crash through a holographic projector, but every so often Coco Bandicoot, Crash’s sister cuts into the feed and tells Crash not to trust Cortex! Oh shock and horror!

Coco, Crash’s sister and Aku Aku

During all this another person named Dr. N Brio tells Crash that apart from the crystals, if Crash collects gems that are scattered all throughout the game, he can power up a laser to defeat Cortex. Crash finds all the crystals and defeats N. Gin, Cortex’s assistant. This is where Cortex’s devious plan is found out that he was going to use the crystals to brainwash everyone in the world to be in his army. Crash eventually defeats Cortex but if you only got the crystals, Cortex remains on his ship in orbit and that’s that. But if you also obtained the gems then N. Brio fires a laser which destroys Cortex’s ship and sends it hurtling towards the earth.

Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped

Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped takes up from when the second game ended. Cortex’s crashed ship leads to the release of Uka Uka who is Aku Aku’s evil twin mask brother. Cortex and Uka Uka team up with N. Tropy who is a master of time. Their plan is to come together, collect the crystals through time and enslave humanity and again it is up to Crash to stop them. Crash travels through Medieval Europe, Ancient China and Egypt and even into the future, all the while battling robots and Uka Uka’s minions.

Uka Uka

Crash eventually beats, Cortex and Uka Uka and through all of this destroys the time machine. Uka Uka becomes trapped in a timeless prison while N. Tropy and Dr. Cortex and transformed back into babies. With this, it is the end of the three Crash Bandicoot stories.

Now onto the game play. I am going to begin saying one thing, I am terrible at platformer games, so let’s just get that out of the way. Crash Bandicoot is one of the hardest platforming games I have ever played, it drove me absolutely mad at some points, but I never found it unfair. It was challenging and extremely tough but I never felt like the game was purposefully trying to make me lose.

As with all platformers there is a lot of jumping but in Crash Bandicoot you have to have pinpoint accuracy just to make some of the jumps. The other thing you need is confidence and a lot of it. There are some moments that you just need to go for it, because waiting around will kill you and a lot of things want to kill you in this game. Because of this, the game is quite fast paced, there isn’t a lot of standing idle waiting for things to happen, other than trying to figure out the timing of some platforms.

Running for your life!

In the first game all you have to aid you is a jump and a spin, which is fine it does the job but there a lot of moments where I could have done with more skills. In the second game they give you more such as a body slam and a slide which comes in very handy. In the final game they actually give you abilities to help you on your quest every time you beat a boss such as boots that make you run faster or a bazooka that shoots fruit.

The game works off lives. Crash can take one hit with no power ups, he can take two hits with one Aku Aku, three hits with two Aku Aku’s and if he gets three Aku Aku’s then Crash becomes invincible for a short time and he runs while being able to kill everything he touches. Crash can collect up to 99 lives while going through the game, but the other things he can collect are wumpa fruit (No they are not apples) and for every hundred wumpa fruit he collects it gives Crash an extra life. Once Crash runs out of lives, its game over, but you can click continue and it gives you four lives back and you continue from your last mission. Each level has checkpoints throughout so if you die you start from that checkpoint but if you run out of lives you have to start the whole level again.

Crash with a Wumpa fruit

As I mentioned the game is absolutely beautiful looking and the graphics blew me away. The colourful and vibrant graphics really add to how crazy or N.SANE the game is! Each level whether it was in the air, underwater, in an evil scientists lab or on a tropical island done a great job, from the look of the levels and the music used for those levels, it gave a fantastic ambiance to the game.

The boss fights were a little lackluster. Each boss across all three games had a gimmick and once you knew how to exploit it, you were set to win, unless you yourself made a mistake. The sounds and the music in this game is atmospheric at parts, very industrial at others and a lot of fun just to listen to overall. I listen to the soundtrack casually because it is just so good, in fact I’m listening to it right now, Under Pressure from Crash 3, in case you’re wondering.

Overall Activision and Vicarious Visions done a fantastic job remaking Crash for the modern age and as someone who grew up with Crash Bandicoot, I was delighted to see how well they done with it. Also with the N. Sane trilogy they give you a free DLC called Stormy Ascent which is only one level, but it was so tough they left it out of the original game. Could I beat it? No. Lastly with Crash Bandicoot 4 on the way there is no better time to pick this up and play it!

So let’s get right into the scoring:

Graphics: Visually stunning, cartoony, colourful and fun 10/10

Sound: Ambient soundtrack, voice acting was great and a lot of effort put in and sounds of monsters and general atmosphere put you right into the environment 10/10

Game play: Very tough but fair. Challenging and a lot of hair pulling moments, but it makes you want to beat it even more! 9/10

Worth: Absolutely! Three amazing games for the price of one. They will keep you occupied for a while and they never felt boring! 10/10

Story: The story across all three games is a bit meh. I mean it was okay, engaging enough but not the reason you would play it 6/10

Total: 90/100 A-

I hope you enjoyed my review and as always, thanks for reading!

Assassin’s Creed Origins (2017, Xbox One)

Assassin’s Creed Origins

Assassin’s Creed Origins is an action adventure game with stealth elements developed by Ubisoft Montreal, published by Ubisoft and released in 2017 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It is the tenth main installment of the Assassin’s Creed series that has been going since 2007. The game is set in Ancient Egypt during the Ptolemaic period and it tells the story of a Medjay named Bayek and his wife, Aya, as they struggle against The Order of the Ancients, who are the predecessors to the Templar Order seen in previous games. It also delves into the origins of the Brotherhood of Assassins.

You’ve been warned

As I said, Bayek is a Medjay, but what is a Medjay I hear you ask? Well simply put, Medjay were like desert guardians and they dealt with any issues that may have arisen in their particular region of protection. Bayek was a Medjay of a region called Siwa. While he was showing his son, Khemu, what it means to be a Medjay, they were both kidnapped by masked men and brought to a place called the Temple of Amun. The masked men wanted Bayek to open a vault down in the underground passes by giving him an Apple of Eden, an artifact that possesses great power which was seen in other Assassin’s Creed games. Bayek eventually gets free from the masked men and attempts to kill one of them by stabbing them, but the masked man moves aside and Bayek stabs Khemu, killing him. Filled with grief and rage, Bayek vows to destroy the masked men and kill every last one of them.

Bayek and Khemu

Bayek, eventually gets around to killing the five masked men he thought were responsible for what happened the year previous. But after he killed the final one, he was told there were a lot more than he had previously thought. Bayek discovers an even bigger conspiracy when he meets a man named, Apollodorus. Apollodorus is an advisor and friend to the deposed queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, yes that Cleopatra. Apollodorus introduces Bayek to Cleopatra and explains that the masked men are from a secret order called The Order of the Ancients. They removed Cleopatra from her throne and installed her brother, Ptolemy as the new Pharaoh of Egypt. All they wanted was someone they could control.

Cleopatra tells Bayek to go and kill more of the Ancients while she asks Aya, who is supremely loyal to Cleopatra to go to Sicily and ask a roman general named Pompey for aid to get Cleopatra back on the throne of Egypt. Bayek starts to believe that he is only a pawn to help Cleopatra get back in power and that she doesn’t actually care that Bayek and Aya had their child murdered by the Ancients.

Bayek and Aya

Eventually, Pompey gets killed and Cleopatra says that she needs to talk to the main man himself, Julius Ceaser to secure the support of Rome so she can oust her brother. Aya, Bayek and Apollodorus sneak into Ptolemy’s palace with Cleopatra wrapped up in a fine carpet as a gift. Once inside Ptolemy’s palace the ruse is up and Cleopatra introduces herself to Julius Ceaser who is immediately impressed by what he sees. Ptolemy is removed as Pharaoh and Bayek is on the cusp of getting his vengeance, especially on one of Ceaser’s men, Septimius who killed Pompey. But just as Bayek defeats Septimius in battle and about to deliver the final blow, Ceaser stops it and Bayek is betrayed.

Bayek fighting

Bayek and Aya are removed from Cleopatra’s favour, while Cleopatra takes the throne of Egypt back. Septimius is also made an advisor to Ceaser which is a further insult to both Bayek and Aya. Their thirst for vengeance increases ten fold as they vow to bring all these people to justice. Bayek and Aya realises that to do this they will need support as they can’t take on both Cleopatra and Ceaser on their own. During the game you meet a lot of characters and do side quests for them, these characters are later called upon when the decision to get help is made.

Apollodorus is found dying in the tomb of Alexander the Great. There he tells Bayek about the leader of the order named, Flavius and how he took an orb and staff from Alexander’s tomb and is about to open the vault in Siwa, yes the same one that Khemu was killed over. Bayek goes to Cyrene to deal with Flavius and the Order of the Ancients once and for all. Flavius goes mad with power and develops all these new skills such as teleportation, splitting into multiple versions of himself and so on, but Bayek eventually beats him.

Flavius with the Orb

Bayek and Aya come to the conclusion that what they are doing is bigger than both of them and if they are going to be successful in removing corruption from the world they must do it separately. They create a group called the Hidden Ones which is a precursor to the development of the Brotherhood of Assassins that will come years down the line. Aya eventually goes to Rome and in the senate, Ceaser gets stabbed by the senators and assassinated. This then ends with Aya speaking to Cleopatra and telling her to rule her people well and with fairness or she will be back to kill Cleopatra. And that is the story of Assassin’s Creed Origins.

Now onto the game play. The game play is very different to previous Assassin’s Creed games, it is a lot more focused on the RPG side of things, which is not necessarily a bad thing, just different. Also I feel that the game moved a good bit away from the stealth elements of previous games and was more focused on actual combat scenarios then trying to sneak around and assassinate targets. I found it a lot easier to just go into a place and kill everyone then having to sneak around and try not to get spotted. During combat you can choose to either block with your shield or dodge, but most of the time I just dodged everywhere. One, because I was better at that and two, because you could recover a lot quicker to land some blows to the enemy. Once you kill enemies or complete missions, you gain experience, level up and spend skill points, pretty standard stuff for an RPG.

Bayek kicking ass

The visuals of the game are stunning. I found myself in absolute awe just going around ancient Egypt and I feel that Ubisoft Montreal got the feeling down to a T. From vast deserts to murky swamps. From sprawling cities to dusty villages. Assassin’s Creed Origins makes all the areas feel unique and very different to each other. You will also be encountering different animals in these different areas and the animals use the areas to their advantage. For example if you go into a swampy area, there is a 99% chance you are going to run into a Crocodile, but the Crocodile stays in the bushes or under the water just before it strikes and when it does, you better be ready. Another example would be cobras hiding in vases that you smash and then suddenly you are bitten by a highly venomous snake. Ouch!

Mounted Combat

There is also a fair bit of mounted and ranged combat in the game. You will be spending a lot of your time on your camel/horse/chariot and as you are going along enemy soldiers might want to have a word with you…with their blades. There is also a lot to be said about using your bow to get out of tight situations and for picking people off which is very handy. There are various types of bows like predator bows, hunter bows, light bows and the like. Some of them are really handy and good and suit my play style. Others I just found to be ridiculous, like the Predator bow where you can actually control the arrow once you fire it, that was just absurd.

There is a hell of a lot of stuff to do in Assassin’s Creed Origins. There are loads and loads of side quests that will keep you busy and there are also some mini games such as chariot racing and gladiatorial arenas. The arenas I was fantastic at, the chariot racing I was absolutely rubbish at and I could not even pass the first tournament, but it was nice that they added it to the game.

The game like other Ubisoft games, lends itself to a lot of exploration though there were areas that were completely barren. You couldn’t have a game set in Ancient Egypt without exploring tombs and that is something you can do to collect money and trinkets that you can sell later on. The game is also a collectathon, which comes as no surprise with Ubisoft but in this one you will be collecting Stone Circles which opens up a small mini game, having to basically match dots of star constellations, Finding secret Papyrus puzzles, Finding Hermit Locations around Egypt, going through Ancient Tombs and it wouldn’t be an Ubisoft game without viewpoints/towers or whatever you want to call them and this game is chock full of them.

Just take time to take in the stunning graphics

Assassin’s Creed Origins is a smooth game with very little to no technical issues (that I experienced) and I thought the game was absolutely stunning visually. The soundtrack was amazing, epic and it was used at the right moments to convey the messages the game wanted to. The story was very good, deep and meaningful that had a lot of layers, though a bit far-fetched. I know since the first Assassin’s Creed game that there were more elements to it in terms of magic and all that but I would just rather a game where it was set in the era it was meant to be set in and forget about the magic and other rubbish. I mean there is a modern story line to this game, but have you noticed that I haven’t spoken about it? Because it’s crap and I don’t care about it at all and I wish Ubisoft would forget about the modern story line, but that is just me. Desmond Miles story line from the first three was okay, but that is done now. Just stop trying to force the modern story line on us.

Again, I’ll mention that the combat was fine, nothing great, nothing terrible. But the stealth mechanics were definitely sacrificed and it was a lot more noticeable in this Assassin’s Creed compared to previous ones. The tools in and out of combat such as sleep darts, smoke bombs and other such tools I found to be next to useless. I never used them, or more so I never felt like I needed to use them. Lastly, while there are a lot of areas of bristling towns and villages and temples full of worshipers, there was so much empty space in this game. If you go to the deserts of which there are a good few, there will be nothing but sand, sand and more sand…and the sun. You might find the odd place or character here or there, but otherwise, if you like sand, Assassin’s Creed Origins is the game for you. So yeah, Assassins Creed Origins is a good game, a very good game…just not a great game.

Graphics: Visually stunning 10/10

Sound: Great soundtrack, voice acting was fantastic and general atmosphere was immersive 10/10

Game play: Exploration was good, Combat was good, Other Mechanics were decent 7/10

Worth: Fun game but it drags on a bit and it does have issues 7/10

Story: Very good story but with some silly parts and a boring and pointless modern story line 7/10

Total: 82/100 B-

I hope you enjoyed my review and as always, thanks for reading!

Outbreak (2017, Xbox One)

Outbreak

Outbreak, a survival horror game developed and published in 2017 by Drop Dead Studios LLC is a hark back to the days of yore in the world of survival horror video games. Truly a contender in the survival horror genre, every bullet counts in this zombie infested hell hole and it is a game that will test your confidence, survival skills and nerve.

You’ve been warned!

The world has turned into a zombie plagued wasteland. Terrifying undead monsters roam the streets and building looking for more victims to feast on and add to the masses of rotten corpses that already swarm the land. You, our hero must choose from a cast of characters that each have their own attributes and take a buddy. You and your buddy must then traverse through these buildings such as hospitals and police stations and even laboratories and complete certain goals to try and escape and leave this tar-man covered world behind.

A dark and grim setting is what this game brings to the table

This game plays from a top down perspective but the horror is very much real. This game left me on the edge of my seat and there was one clear reason for this, you only have one life. Yes, no checkpoints, no save points! That means that if you die, even at the end of a level, then you have to go back to the very start and do the whole level again. There are only six levels in the game anyway, so it wouldn’t take you that long to learn the layout of the levels and what is needed to be done in terms of objectives, so that if you do die at least you have an idea of what is needed to be done and where certain quest items are.

The game tributes our favourite brain munching franchise, Resident Evil in a lot of ways. From the inventory management system which can be a pain in the ass, knowing which items/weapons to bring with you to help you in the upcoming challenges. Do you take the weapons and ammo or do you take the health items? These are decisions you will have to make, though if you ever played a Resident Evil game, you should be used to making choices like this. Also even just the way it does the health system is a nice call back to classic Resident Evil with the way it uses the Fine/Caution/Danger with the heart beat sensor, I thought this was quite cool.

Graphically the game looks really awesome. From the little bits of different coloured lighting, showing you just what you need to see to the darkened corridors and the limited field of vision; these are all things that add to an already tense atmosphere. Not knowing what is around the corner will keep you on your toes and keep you paying attention to whats ahead…or behind you. The dead bodies and blood covered floors and walls will give you an idea of the massacre that has taken place just before you showed up.

You can barely see, but it makes the game super tense

Outbreak, was a really cool little game that would very much appeal to the gamers who enjoyed the old school survival horrors of Resident Evil and Silent Hill, but it would also appeal to modern day players with it’s charm and difficulty which keeps things exciting. The game has spawned four sequels, each getting better in their own right but they are vastly different from the original. I would suggest for horror fans to give this game a go and scare yourself silly. You can pick up Outbreak from Steam and on the Xbox One. Today, I will give Outbreak a 7/10.

I hope you enjoyed my review and as always, thanks for reading!

Resident Evil 5 (2009, Xbox One)

Resident Evil 5 (2009)

Resident Evil. The horror series is legendary amongst gamers. From the dreaded halls of the Spencer Mansion from Resident Evil (1996) to the long awaited remake of Resident Evil 2 (2019), Resident Evil has always been at the forefront of gaming. Resident Evil 5 is another chapter in Capcom’s survival horror franchise. While silly at times and the horror being a lot to be desired, Resident Evil 5 is still a very strong game which is a lot of fun to play.

What that said

Resident Evil 5 is set in a fictional African country of Kijuju. BSAA (Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance) agents, Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar are sent to investigate and apprehend a black market dealer named, Ricardo Irving before he sells some bio-weapons. When they get there though, all is not what it seems. The citizens of this African country seem to be more aggressive than would be usual. This is when the agents find out that they are in fact infected with the las plagus from Resident Evil 4. Things are going from bad to worse until Chris and Sheva are saved by a BSAA Delta Team, lead by Josh Stone who taught Sheva everything she knows. Irving escapes but Chris finds information on his old partner, Jill Sandwich-sorry Valentine. Chris thought that Jill died while fighting Albert Wesker, the main antagonist of the game. Chris and Sheva go to the marshlands where they find Irving again, though he injects himself with Las Plagas and becomes a giant sea monster. Chris and Sheva defeat Irving and he tells them to head to an area filled with ancient ruins to find their answers. There they find a few things.

Majini and Chris
  1. A company called Tricell is conducting this whole operation
  2. There are special flowers that are being used to create the virus
  3. There are hundreds of bodies in capsules, waiting to be tested on
  4. The new strain of Las Plagas is called Uroboros

Chris and Sheva find out that Wesker wants to load the virus into missiles and launch them all over the world with the help of Tricell CEO Excella Gionne. When Chris and Sheva finally confront Wesker, he has a hooded partner which turns out to be none other than Jill Valentine, though she is under some mind control device. Chris and Sheva remove the device and Jill tells them they must stop Wesker.

Excella as the monster

Chris and Sheva make it onto the ship that Wesker is on and they find out that he has betrayed Excella and she too becomes a massive sea monster. After defeating her, Wesker then tries to fight you himself, but seeing that its not going to well, he tries to escape on a plane. Chris and Sheva bring down the plane in a volcano which leads to the final fight. Wesker infects himself with Uroboros and fights Chris and Sheva but eventually falls into the lava. Josh and Jill fly in on a helicopter and rescue Chris and Sheva but just as they are about to escape, Wesker launches one last attempt to bring down the helicopter. Chris and Sheva both fire a RPG at him and that is the end of the game.

Wesker in his final form

Resident Evil 5 is played over 16 chapters, some long, some short. The game is a third person shooter that is full of action from the get go. So much so that it loses a lot of the horror element. From being surrounded by weak but numerous enemies to dealing with the tough and strong ones, you really have to change your strategy depending on the situation.

The game has an inventory management system which allows you to carry 9 items into a mission, this includes weapons, ammo and health, so have a good balance of each. There are a wide variety of weapons and the gun play is pretty good. You can upgrade your weapons with the gold you have found and turn that dinky pistol from mission 1 into a lethal handgun capable of literally blowing enemies heads off.

An example of the inventory

The game is the first in the Resident Evil franchise to do co-op play and boy is co-op fun. Don’t worry though, even without a player, Chris or Sheva become AI which you can use as a mule to carry 9 more items you need which is very good as space becomes limited very quickly. But as I said the co-op was a lot of fun, tactical and enjoyable and it is up there as one of my favourite co-op games. The only thing is, you and your partner need to watch each others backs. If one of you die, you both die, which can get annoying. Also you need to share resources which at times can be tough to decide who gets what.

The graphics were crisp and clear and had a lot of detail which I found nice. Some of the landscapes looked beautiful, even though they were filled with creatures wanting to eat my face. There are some additional modes to the game such as Mercenaries which was trying to score the most amount of points in a set time by killing enemies. Slayers which was another mode to kill Majini and other enemies to earn points and lastly Versus, which was PVP.

Resident Evil 5 is a game that I have a long history with. I have completed it 5 times now but each time it’s becoming more of a slog. The game is enjoyable and the story line is strong but I find that some of the missions just drag out too long. The environment changes from an African Village to a Marshlands to Ancient Ruins and more, so at least the background changes. Overall a fun game, but one that I find doesn’t have a lot of replay value unless you REALLY enjoyed the story/action of the game. As far as I am concerned, Resident Evil 5 gets a strong 7.5/10 from me.

I hope you enjoyed my review and as always, thanks for reading!