Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
30 December 2008
The Other Side
Eurogamer's crew put Tomb Raider: Underworld at #19 on its list of 2008's top games. I rated it a stinker. Comments like these I simply cannot understand:
Kristan Reed: [...] By building on the more exploratory approach of Anniversary and giving the series the best game engine by a mile, Crystal Dynamics delivered what amounts to the first 'proper' new Tomb Raider since 1999's Last Revelation. Apart from that ridiculous swimming bit near the beginning, it's got everything you want in a Lara game - great controls, taxing puzzles and oodles of atmosphere.
Yes. EVERYTHING you want in a Lara game.
Simon Parkin: Some critics have misconstrued Underworld's precision and polish for soullessness and yes, there are times when the design's meticulous order robs its world of credibility. But really this is a game of supreme competence, executed by a developer that understands its heroine and the laws of her universe in full.
I never understood Lara, I suppose, since I missed the whole brooding, harpy Lara who misses her dear lost Mommy from the original games.
John Walker: The entire world has gone bats*** insane. Look at the reviews for this, and the reviews for the dreadful Prince of Persia, and then bang your head against a wall until you're dead. This is the best Tomb Raider has ever been, and I'm losing my mind over people's false memories of the original games, and the lack of recognition for the astonishing architecture and puzzle design here. It's epic. The story is complete toss, which is a colossal shame after Legend set things up so nicely. But this is a game about solving puzzles the size of hillsides while fluidly and beautifully leaping about. That POP could get higher review scores while being so loathsomely stupid as to be a series of tediously connected boss fights, and Tomb Raider could have the balls to include not one single boss encounter but instead replace them with elaborate and ingenious challenges and not get championed, makes me want to set fire to all of gaming.
I think this is where I diverge from the traditional gaming culture. Punishing games with cheap design simply don't entertain me like games with stories and character and mechanics that allow me to enjoy the flow instead of repeat it ad nauseum.

Also, I am pretty frustrated with IGN's review of Super Stardust Portable. I think the game is brilliant, because it achieves much of the same challenge on the PSP that you can find on the PS3, with suitable modifications. Having gone back to the PS3 version for a bit before leaving for the holidays, I realized that Portable is in fact a far different game. Still exciting and brilliant, but different.

So I was annoyed to read:
If you're a hardcore Super Stardust HD player, Super Stardust Portable will feel totally alien to you. If you're trying this out for the first time, things won't be as tough but the game is still very clearly designed around different hardware -- it just wasn't made for the PSP. If you can get by these restrictions, you'll enjoy the download, but veterans beware.
This simply was not true for me. The fact that I was (in my own eyes) a veteran SSHD player meant that I was more disposed to understand and work with the adaptations, not fight against them. I knew it couldn't be the same as the PS3 game, embraced the differences, and found a gem of a game.

The folks that I see as the traditional gaming critics and I have somehow parted ways in the past year. I'm not sure what changed. I don't think it's that I'm more casual or hardcore -- my goals and sense of enjoyment have changed, and my taste in games accordingly.

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--Matt Matthews at 11:00
Comment [ 3 ]

Comments on this post:

I found myself mostly floored by one commenter using "precision and polish" to describe Underworld. Those are the last words I can think of for it; the list placement is justified but a couple of the comments are just bizzare.

By Blogger Shaun, at 03 January, 2009 12:05  

Shaun: Very good point. I had two hard locks on my PS3 and the camera work was horrible, as others have noted.

I'd also lift up the Mexico level, obviously intended as a centerpiece for the entire game, as an example of something that is anything but precision. Sprawling, ponderous, and boring.

By Blogger jvm, at 03 January, 2009 12:09  

Ridiculous, there hasn't been a good Tomb Raider game since... forever.

By Blogger Darren, at 06 January, 2009 20:31  

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