Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PC, PS4, XBOX ONE)

“That’s right! Run you bastards! I’m coming for you all!”

Tomb raider

Yes, the only reason I am review this is because it was free for PSPlus users back in January. I thought I would just get that out there. Since I am still without anything new to play and still without a PS5 to elevate my gaming into the next generation (not that there are many PS5 exclusives available). I’m still going through my backlog of games of at least minor relevance still. So to that end here is the 3rd installment of the rebooted Tomb Raider franchise. Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider still follows Lara Croft, still saving the world from the bad guys at Trinity who are still trying to use the worlds ancients doomsday devices to be up to no good because otherwise there would be no plot device. This time around for a change it’s Lara who accidentally starts the Mayan apocalypse before Trinity can do so, Lara must then take it upon herself to undo her fuck up and stop Trinity from capitalizing on it.

My relationship with the new Tomb Raider games have changed with each installment. If anyone would care to remember my original review of the Tomb Raider Reboot despite my gripes about it I did enjoy it. 5 years later we’ve seen some marginal tweaks, a few scenery changes and very little else. With the 3rd installment what felt like a breath of fresh air originally is now starting to feel a bit stuffy.

In the first game a lot of my problems with it were due to me feeling like I was mis-sold the experience. Going into the game I felt like it was going to be a lot grittier than the game ended up being. I was expecting a greater fight for survival, having to scavenge and hunt for food, find shelter from the elements and in essence do what was needed to survive. In the end all we got was some scavenging and hunting for resources for the arbitrary crafting system all games seem to require these days. Fast forward to the third installment and I kind knew what I was expecting. I went in expecting more of the same and that’s sadly what I got.

My main problem especially in this and the previous games is that of Lara herself. She has absolutely no growth as a character, she’s just as vanilla at the start of the game as she is at the end. At least in the original reboot she showed glimpses of evolution even if it did come with a truckload of Ludo-Narrative Dissonance (for more information on Ludo-Narrative Dissonance see link). At least in the original series Lara was a seasoned archaeologist and that’s exactly how she acted, the new series tries to make her relatable by making her more “girl next door doing what she needs to do to survive” but she’s scaling impossible cliff faces, shooting like a seasoned professional and absorbing mental trauma with absolutely no signs of PTSD. Therefore I must conclude that Lara Croft is either a sociopath or a psychopath.

I’ve noticed myself I’ve not really done much talking about Shadow of the Tomb Raider specifically. This is probably because there’s nothing about this game that is particularly good or bad, it’s all very safe. Crystal Dynamics seem to have a formula for the Tomb Raider series, it’s not a winning formula by all means but it’s one that’ll get anything they make across the finish line. In doing this they have made the series boring and generic. It’s OK, if you enjoyed the previous games you’ll also enjoy this one but you won’t gain anything from it. You won’t leave the game with a lasting experience, just something to kill some time between now and the grave.

As I’ve said previously and I really can’t say it enough, the series could have been so much more. It was there in my minds eye when I saw the trailer for the reboot. I saw a darker, grittier, more realistic Lara Croft where she would be fighting for survival and barely holding her head above the water, not just against her enemies, but against the elements and the very environment itself. Have her need to find food and fresh water and if she doesn’t make it so she can’t run as fast or climb as high, have her need to suture bad gashes, create splints for broken bones or find different medicinal herbs with different properties (e.g. pain killers, antibiotics, ointments etc.), have her need to find shelter and warmth to prevent hypothermia. These things would have improved Lara’s story immensely and as such build her as a character because you’d be able to really see her struggle and watch her come out the other side a changed person. Make her a true survivor like the games advertise her to be.

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BONUS CONTENT: Game of the Year 2018

Now 2018 was a year of good games. 3 of the nominees made really good contenders for the top spot and I put more hours into the other 2 than I choose to account for. I would forgive anyone guessing the outcome of this one for getting this one wrong, but lets see if you can get it right.



  • God of War
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man
  • Monster Hunter: World
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Two Point Hospital


God of War

I did state in my review of God of War that I would have given it my Game of the Year award and here it officially is, anyone who spotted that and guessed correctly, well done. With the original E3 reveal of the game I was intrigued to see how a more mature God of War would pan out and I was more than pleasantly surprised with the outcome. The game is just fantastic, if you want the details click the link above but in short the story is emotional and full of depth, the gameplay is brilliant and the characters are solid and well rounded. A brilliant piece of work which leaves me excited about what the future of the franchise has in store.

Two Point Hospital (PC, PS4, SWITCH, XBOX ONE)

I spent a week writing an interesting piece on violence in video games and their repercussions in the real world. I almost got to the end only to realise I hated everything I wrote, so I’ve shelved that for now and looked into something a bit more fun. So as such I was thinking about what game I played recently that I had the most fun playing. This was the first game that came to mind and was the perfect choice to move away from the seriousness of the previous mentioned topic. So please step into my clinic as I prescribe to you a dose of Two Point Hospital.

Hands up who remembers Theme Hospital? I know I do, I spent hours playing it back in the 90’s/00’s. For those who don’t, Theme Hospital was a hospital simulation game on PC and later ported to PSone. It was developed by Bullfrog Productions (co-founded by video gaming legend Peter Molyneux) also famous for The Populous series, The Dungeon Keeper series as well as Theme Park and it’s sequels before they were gobbled up by video game giants EA. Theme Hospital’s lead Producer (Mark Webley) and Lead Artist (Gary Carr) founded Two Point Studios in order to create a spiritual successor to Theme Hospital and I can honestly say they succeeded.

Although there is nothing in the games that directly links the two of them, Two Point Hospital defiantly feels like a Theme Hospital for the 21st century. It’s just as wacky and fun as the original with greater smoothing around the edges. This certainly doesn’t hurt the game in my opinion, I’ve seen a few reviews marks points against it for being “too much” like Theme Hospital which is a concept which I personally don’t understand. You wouldn’t say “I don’t like this delicious cake because it tastes too much like the delicious cake I had a few years ago” would you? Unless you were an absolute cretin.

I feel it easy to connect with Two Point Hospital, this is probably because I am British and the game is also unashamedly British. The characters look like they would be right at home in anything made by Aardman Animations (The guys who made Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run and the like) and the humour is witty and dry with a dark undertone without trying too hard to be funny, just how us Brits like it. The little details too are what I love about the game, I could spend hours reading the compendium about all the different diseases and the causes. They have absolutely no bearing on the game but some of them are that bizzare I can’t help but keep reading and having a giggle.

The game play itself is endearing in being easy to learn and hard to master. This is done by making the in game missions difficult to fail but quite challenging to gain top marks. One slight niggle I have about the game is that once you develop a strategy that works the game play can become a bit tedious. There are a few missions where limitations are put in place or the formulae is mixed up a bit but depending on your strategy it’s not hard to alter it slightly to fit your needs.

At the time of this review there has been 4 major DLC’s for Two Point Hospital. I have played the first 2 (Bigfoot & Pebberley Island). Both of them I have found are a bit samey, you get 3 extra missions with a handful of new diseases, I’ve heard that the third one (Close Encounter) is the same. The fourth (Off the Grid) adds a few new game mechanics too in making your hospitals more eco-friendly but isn’t massively refreshing. If you own the Steam version I wouldn’t buy the DLC’s at full price as compared to the rest of the game it doesn’t really seem worth it, luckily enough the DLC’s are semi-regularly on sale. This currently doesn’t effect the console versions as they are shipped with the first 2 DLC’s and the second 2 have yet to be ported over.

To round it all up I highly recommend Two Point Hospital if you played and didn’t hate Theme Hospital. Sure the game-play may get repetitive at times and it may not be much of a challenge but it is fun, humorous and for all those who have played Theme Hospital oozing with nostalgia. However I’m not sure how the game would hold up without the nostalgia value as I’m finding it very hard to separate my feelings for one on my opinion on the other because of the overwhelming similarities between them. This was also the first game developed by Two Point Studios and I’m hoping to see more spiritual sequels of old Bullfrog games in the future, hopefully if Two Point Hospital is anything to go off of, I’ll be looking forward to hearing of news of Two Point Theme Park.

NOTE: I was originally planning on posting this next week but I have learnt that it’s the game is free to play on Steam this weekend because it’s the games 2 year anniversary. So check it out for free if you like what you read.

Detroit: Become Human (PC, PS4)

I originally started to write this review soon after I completed the game, which was a few days after it’s PS4 release but never got around to finishing it. I only discovered that it was half written after finishing my Persona 5 review and was looking through my drafts for something else to write about (I have a few drafts sitting there that I’ve been meaning to write about) and with it’s release on PC not so long ago I guess it makes sense to revisit it. So let me take you into a not so distant future where androids obey the will of their owners, unemployment has skyrocketed due to cheap android labour. Social tension is high, the city is at boiling point and revolution on the horizon.

A friendly warning before I start, from this point on Here Be Spoilers.

The story revolves around 3 main characters. First up is Connor, an android commissioned by Cyberlife (a leading android manufacturer) to aid the Detroit police to investigate how and why androids are becoming self-aware (known as deviants). Next is Markus, an android owned by a rich elderly gentleman to whom Markus acts as his butler, chef and general confidant. Finally there is Kara, another android owned by a dead beat, drug addict, child abusing father of one, to which Kara acts as general house maid and punching bag.

As you will know I am a huge fan of Heavy Rain (It actually being the first review that I posted) although less so with Beyond: Two Souls, but like Heavy Rain I was excited about it’s release so it was only natural to pick this up on release day. Although I don’t think it quite lives up to the height of Heavy Rain, I’d still rate it closer to that than Beyond: Two Souls. Much like it’s predecessors it’s graphically very well rounded and of the finest detail, the motion-capture is well worth a mention as it’d probably one of the best I’ve seen in video games. However, as is the problem with the previous Quantic Dream titles the game play is where the game is let down. The controls are still as clunky as ever and the characters seem to move with very little urgency even when faced with life and death situations, where you’d think moving fast would be of use. I mean they are androids, it’s not like they are going to get out of breath.

There does seem to be a lot more “cause and causality” in this game than in Heavy Rain or Beyond with many more branches to the story depending on action and relations with certain characters. In fact at the beginning of my first play through I refused to break Kara’s programming so didn’t play as her for the rest of the game and as such missed out on a fair chunk of the story. The characters are relatable, you can sympathise with them wanting to be treated as equals, especially in our current political climate.

There is also a greater emphasis on morality in Become Human, when Markus rises to lead the rebellion, the play can decide whether to approach things with violence and destruction to get what they want by force or whether to act peacefully and sway the court of public opinion to your cause. Either way I’d go into the game choosing one or the other as a half arsing it is only going to get you a bad ending.

Now for my final thought. It does seem that when it comes to Quantic Dream, “The more things change, the more things stay the same”. The game suffers from the same faults as all those that came before it. The story little depth and clunky game-play grinds whatever flow the game has to a slow trickle. With Heavy Rain at least the story was executed in a compelling way and had a goal to keep you playing through. Beyond’s story was so disjointed and the flow so poorly you’d think the the office intern knocked the original script off David Cage’s desk and hurry replaced them in whatever order he could grab them before anyone found out. Detroit had all the potential to be great, but lazy writing and poor scope prevented this. The game boasts about having 40 different ending like it’s a good thing. I’d rather have 3-4 well written, engaging endings than 40 poor developed ones. Like how I’d rather have 4 packets of Walkers Salt & Vinegar crisps as opposed to 40 packets of a cheaper brand.

God of War (PS4)

With things being a bit slow at the moment it’s given me the opportunity to make up for lost time and get something down for the most recent games I have played. With Spider-Man being the game I’m currently still playing, I’ll make my way down the list of past games. For my next trick we are in Midgard following the adventures of our favourite blood thirsty Spartan and his sprog. Here is God of War.

Our story starts with Kratos and his very manly beard cutting down trees for his deceased wife’s funeral pyre with his son Atreus, afterwards the pair set off on an adventure to fulfil her final request and scatter her ashes from the tallest peak in all the realms and in true God of War style if any deities happen to die on the way, so be it.

I was quite late to the God of War party, I didn’t play the first 2 until the HD editions were released on PS3 then played no. 3 as soon as I completed both of them which would have been a year or 2 later. However, you don’t need to have played the previous games in order to enjoy this one, you may miss a few easter eggs but nothing critical. The game has done rather a lot of growing up since the previous instalments, much like Kratos himself (and not just his luscious face bristles). The game play feels a lot more coordinated rather than the mash square and dodge now and again tactics of the past.

As you can tell from the art cover, Kratos has ditched his Chaos Blades of the past in favour for his cool looking Leviathan Axe, which has the power to be thrown and return to the wielder as well as the power over ice. These abilities make for interesting puzzles to solve in order to progress through the game, usually to do with hitting far away switches and freezing cogs. You also have Atreus helping you both in and out of combat, in combat he will use his bow hitting enemies from afar as well as using different magics to conjure different spirit animals to help either offensively or defensively. Outside of battle he will usually be used to crawl into small spaces or be thrown onto higher ledges to either drop a ladder for flick a switch.

Kratos has changed a lot in the gap between games, you can tell he has grown. He’s become more responsible for his own actions and has stopped blaming others for his own wrong doings, almost becoming ashamed of the person he was previously. A lot of that seems to be due to his son Atreus, you can tell that Kratos only wants the best for him and pushes him to be the best he can be in full Spartan style, this can be seen as Kratos being a bit cold to Atreus or harsh on him but as the story progress you see their relationship grown and develop, as Atreus proves himself and Kratos opens up to the ghosts of his past.

The world itself feels more open and reactive than the earlier games. Where previously you had a single route you must travel and one direction you must go in, in this one there is still one main route to follow, but there are several offshoots to visit option areas and take part in optional quests as well as being able to back track to a lot of previous areas either because the story demands it, to gather the collectables or beat optional bosses.

Now my final thought, I thoroughly enjoyed playing this game and do recommend anyone play it, even if you weren’t a fan of the original series. The game has so much more depth, is more well rounded and is a lot better written than any of the others. The characters are relatable and more human (strange given as most of the characters aren’t humans) and graphically is visually beautiful, I played it in 4K and was stunned by some of the scenery. Not only is the best game of the series, I’d would have probably named it my 2018 Game of the Year had I still been posting last year. So what are you waiting for, go play it… NOW!!

Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4)

New site, new review. It’s been a while since I last posted, life has kind of got in the way of these things, but that’s what having a full time job and commitments will do. I would love to do this full time but sadly I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills and to be honest I don’t think you guys would be too bothered if I were more regular in my content. Any-who, lets crack on. This time we delve into super-villain soaked New York and follow the adventures of our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.

The story is set in it’s own Marvel Universe (Earth-1048 I believe). Our adventure starts (funny enough) with Spider-Man doing what Spidey does best, fight bad guys and swing through New York city. During the tutorial mission at the beginning Spidey takes down Wilson Fisk (aka the Kingpin) and has him carted off to Ryker’s. The rest of the game is spent dealing with the aftermath that comes from the created power vacuum, coming face-to-face with some of Spidey’s most well known foes such as Falcon, Scorpion, Doc Ock and many more.

I remember not really being a fan of Spider-man during my youth, I watched the 90’s TV show but not religiously. Didn’t read the comics but did watch all the live-action films. Not that I didn’t like them, I just preferred doing other things, mainly playing video games. Although with the introduction of Spider-Man into the MCU I developed a fondness for the guy, plus the game was getting some pretty good reviews so I borrowed a copy and got to it.

The game is created by Insomniac Games, the same guys that made the Infamous games and you can tell with the way the game plays. Swinging around the map feels very similar to the grinding the rails in inFamous. It feels very natural, easy to pick up buy difficult to master (as some drone and pigeon chases will show). Building climbing is much easier than in Infamous, rather than having to jump from ledge to ledge you can just run up the side of the building and start swinging. Then the map itself is small enough that you don’t have to rely on fast travelling (I’ve played for about 20hrs and have only used the fast travel once) but big enough that map still feels big. You can spend enough time exploring and finding landmarks and collectables without getting bored.

The combat reminds me a bit of the Batman Arkham games. I don’t think it’s as fluid as Batman but then again they are in my opinion the best combat mechanics in recent history it’s not exactly a mark against it. There is a plethora of different combat skills and gadgets you can use but honestly I was quite happy against the minions using mash square and dodge now and again, however when it comes to the big baddies the game does want you to defeat them in a certain way, but given that you don’t really meet them until the end of the game you’ve got plenty of time to practice your fighting styles before you get to them.

Now for my final thought. It’s a decent game that will keep you entertained and engaged if you are already interested in the Marvel franchise but I can’t suggest that it will bring new fans to the Marvel Universe. The length of the game is just long enough that it will keep you busy for a few weeks but doesn’t have the replay value of any of my 100+hr games like Skyrim, but that’s ok. I was only looking for a short excursion rather than an expedition. Doing a quick look on the internet I found people saying the game can be Platinumed in about 20-ish hours which after playing the game sounds about right. So if you enjoy the Marvel comics/movies/video games/branded yogurts then I’d say you’d more than likely enjoy this too, if not you’re not really going to be missing out on much.