The Sandbox: March 9th 2013

Tomb Raider

It’s time for another edition of The Sandbox, the weekly feature in which the GamerNode team members reveal what we’ve been playing over the past few days and what we’ve got on our plates for the weekend. This week we reminisced about 1996 Lara Croft, witnessed the transformation of 2013 Lara Croft, and overcame server issues to build a whole city, among other things.


Kem Alily

I finished my endeavor against the forces of Grima and his cohorts in Fire Emblem: Awakening. To celebrate my hard fought victory over the forces of evil, I made myself mayor of The Darkness Smells, a bustling industrial juggernaut nestled in the region of Van Woud. The people of The Darkness Smells are a blue collar, no nonsense bunch who eat coal and spit fire. They are the beating heart of the Van Woud region, enabling the yuppies in the commercial centers to eat their foie gras, and down their Remy XIII. Unfortunately, the gods who control SimCity have not been the most hospitable. Initially, I had issue accessing my wondrous city but as the days went on, the problem reduced significantly. Granted, I realize that I may be in the minority, but my experience playing has been favorable.

My fellow mayors and I are committed to ensuring that the people of Van Woud, despite ongoing server problems, will be properly attended to. We understand the road ahead is laden with lizard men, zombies, and grudge bearing tornadoes but any mayor worth their mettle must wrestle with mother nature to protect their denizens to the best of their abilities. After all, I don’t see nothing wrong with a little bump and grinding.

Aliens: Colonial Marines

Jason Fanelli

I have a fearsome foursome of games to play this weekend, all scary for their own reasons.

First is Aliens: Colonial Marines, which is scary because, well…I hear it’s not very good. Maybe I’ll enjoy some of it…but I don’t have high hopes.

Next is Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2, which is scary because I want it to be good. I’m a big Fist fan, but the reviews were also not very good for Kenshiro and company. We’ll see.

Third is Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, which is scary because MONSTERS…and, once again, low review scores. I liked this at E3 2012 though, so I think I’ll like it.

Last is Naruto Powerful Shippuden (or Nartuo if you believe the spine art), and that’s scary because I don’t know the first freakin’ thing about Naruto, so I hope it’s a good game that doesn’t require a lot of background knowledge.

I may try to fit Tomb Raider in too, but no promises Lara.

Mass Effect 3

Eddie Inzauto

This week I had the pleasurable displeasure of finally playing through Grasshopper and Digital Reality’s Black Knight Sword, which is pretty damn difficult, but rewarding. It’s a simple game in terms of mechanics, but also super interesting because of its content, and I feel there’s much to be said about game development under its grotesque paper cutout graphics.

I’m looking forward to playing Tomb Raider very soon, but I also have this Mass Effect 3 game sitting mid-game. I’m honestly somehow not into it much. I don’t think it feels like previous ME games, or my memory is just bad. I’m not in the mood for a shooter right now, maybe. Or maybe I should just pick up Final Fantasy VI and have at it, SNES RPG style.

We shall see.

Tomb Raider

Anthony LaBella

I spent the whole week playing through Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider. My full impressions will be posted in the forthcoming review, but in short I thought it was a smart reboot that managed to make Lara Croft an interesting and dynamic protagonist – something I haven’t felt about the series in… well, ever. I admit the physical torment of Lara dips into the absurd by sheer frequency alone, and her transformation from innocent bystander to revenge-fueled heroine is a bit sudden. Nevertheless, it’s still a transformation worth seeing through and the action set pieces – which clearly owe a bit to the Uncharted series – are often thrilling. I’ll spend some time back on the island this weekend to collect more hidden relics and documents before trying out the online multiplayer.

Tomb Raider II

Aled Morgan

I’ve got vague ideas that what most people do in Tomb Raider games is jumping, and climbing, and shooting at anachronistic dinosaurs. Presumably there are treasures involved. When I played Tomb Raider II as a kid, I did none of this. I began in Lara’s mansion, which I think was meant to be some kind of tutorial area. Alright, I thought, let’s get down to some adventurin’.

Then I saw him: a hideous, hunched-over half-human, incapable of speech, but attempting to communicate with what could only be described as painful groans. He dogged me. I don’t know what he wanted. He held a tray of tiny, pixely glasses, but what if it wasn’t a light refreshment, like he would eagerly indicate, but cyanide? I was sure he wanted to kill me, somehow.

I ran. I ran for days. Sometimes I would jump. Every time I tried to play Tomb Raider II, I’d just run away from Lara’s butler. My concentration broke whenever I tried to learn to dive, or learn to shoot, or ride around on a quad bike, because I knew he would never be far behind, wheezing and quivering.

Then I learned how to lock him in the fridge. Then one time he teleported out of the fridge. I never went back to Tomb Raider II.

Anyway, as that convoluted departure/counseling session excerpt might have given away, I’ve been playing the Tomb Raider reboot this week. I’m a few hours in now, and I’m enjoying the writing and character work, especially considering the expectations given Lara Croft’s dubious role in gaming sexual politics. Here’s to hoping this turns out to be a landmark depiction of women in games.

The game itself is pleasing puzzly platforming. So far I’ve run and jumped, I’ve plundered some modest treasures, and while I haven’t shot at any dinosaurs yet, I don’t mind because if Lara’s butler was ever a character in this reboot, it looks like he died in the shipwreck.


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Author: Anthony LaBella View all posts by
My first experience playing a video game blew me away. The fact that Super Metroid was that game certainly helped. So I like to think Samus put me on the path to video games. Well, I guess my parents buying the SNES had a little something to do with it. Ever since then my passion for video games has grown. When I found that I could put words together into a coherent sentence, videogame journalism was a natural interest. Now I spend a large majority of my time either playing video games or writing about them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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