Sunday 16 June 2013

Tomb Raider

The new Tomb Raider game goes back in time to tell the story of how Lara Craft became the adventurer we know her as today. You start off in the classic scenario where you get stuck on an island with no weapons and few skills, and then as you go you get more options and can upgrade your gear. You get some of the usual game weapons, and the bow, which is by far my favourite. Not only because it is different, but also because it allows you to set fire to the arrows (and that is useful).

The enemies are mostly as enemies usually are in this type of game, behaving the same way from fight to fight and repeating the same phrase as each other quite often. From time to time combat has also has a few quick-time elements, where one has to press the right buttons that show up on screen. These events are pretty basic and most of the time it is the same button that is used.

The game was a slow-starter for me. It took me a quite a while into the game before I discovered that I had gotten a bit more immersed into the story and scenery. After that I really enjoyed it though. The side-characters to me felt a bit shallow from time to time, and a bit stereotypical. It happened a couple of times that a character would be emotional about something, after which he/she suddenly just changes his/her opinion without a good reason just because of a trivial comment from another character.

Advancing in the game world is pretty linear, without many possibilities to explore off the path. There are some optional tombs that add a bit of problem-solving to the game though. They take the form of using different mechanics to try to reach a treasure. These are pretty fun breaks from the normal gameplay, but do not bring anything more to the actual game.

All in all I liked the game, despite it not being a totally unique game. It still had a good feel to it and some bits and pieces here and there that differentiated it from other similar games.

Sunday 19 May 2013

Ender's Game

Written by Orson Scott Card, an author I have not had the pleasure to read anything from before, Ender's game put me in a state of mind that reminded me of how I felt when reading Asimov's Foundation series.

The setting is earth, 80 years after the last attack buy the "buggers"—an insect-like race encountered twice and just barely repelled. United because of the external threat, the world government is trying to quickly breed intelligent leaders for military operations before the next invasion comes. We follow the life-story of the boy Ender Wiggins, the brightest of these kids; isolated from other kids because he is not like them, and forced to take the difficult path because the needs of many outweighs the needs of the one.

A large part of the story is focused on Ender's training and zero-gravity strategy games being played in military school during his stay there. It follows Ender's career and his ability to succeed by outsmarting others with his tactics. At the same time it tells the tragic story of the lonely boy who is forced to grow up too early, and gets isolated from his childhood and friends at every step.

I thought it was a beatiful story, which is an example of science fiction that is not solely based on describing a lot of cool technology. Instead it is actually telling a story that makes you think. I was left with these thoughts even after finishing it, and for me that makes it a very good book and well worth the read.

As a side-note: There appear to be other books following in the same time-line after this one. The book still stands on its own though, and can easily be read by itself. If I read one of the others I will add my conclusions on this blog though!