Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, writer, and possessed by cats

Tag: Trespasser

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Yes, I know. I’m late to the game when it comes to reviewing Rise of the Tomb Raider – Digital Deluxe Edition [Online Game Code], the latest installment in the Tomb Raider series of games. There is reason for it. First, I have moved away from console gaming almost completely. So I had to wait for Square Enix to bring the game to PC. In a move only understood by Square Enix and probably Microsoft, Square Enix initially released the game only on Xbox 360 and Xbox One. However, the day finally came and I snagged a copy. I’ve been playing at it for a couple of weeks and have finished my first play through and the Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch DLC.

For those who aren’t familiar with Rise of the Tomb Raider, it is the second game in the re-imagined Tomb Raider Series. The first, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition – PlayStation 4, (also available on PC and XBox) came out a couple of years ago. Instead of picking up the series where it had left off, Square Enix did something smart. It rebooted the series with the story of how Lara Croft became the Tomb Raider. That game, while good, felt a bit short and wasn’t quite the Tomb Raider I, or many like me, remembered. It was more a run and shoot than a searching of tombs and solving of puzzles. Gamers and reviewers let their displeasure, mild though it was, be known and Square Enix listened.

This latest installment picks up after the events of Tomb Raider. There are tombs aplenty and enough moments when a big bad — whether it be animal, human or something else — to cause a few starts and nervous laughs. This Lara is not only older but a bit more jaded. Part of that is because of what happened in the first game, although I don’t recall those events being directly mentioned, but mainly because of what she remembers of her father and the events leading to his death. In short, Lara is on a personal quest to prove that the mystery her father had been chasing not only exists but that he had been right all along. As the story progresses, she has to decide whether that quest, and the quest to clear his name of the shame that had been attached to it, was more important than the truth she was uncovering.

This is, in truth, a story about choices, not only Lara’s choices when it comes to either using stealth to avoid danger or approaching it headlong but also with regard to what she will do when she come to the truth surrounding the secrets her father had been chasing. Then there is the truth about the circumstances surrounding his death.

For anyone who saw the travesty that was the Tomb Raider movies, no, the Illuminati is not part of this plot. However, there is a super secret organization with ill intent out there. Called Trinity, you never see the leaders. That is part of how the developers have set us up for another game to come. Part of it is also because one of the big baddies we do meet in this game, Ana. She plays a pivotal part in not only what happens in the game but in the events that are the background for it.

If you buy the season pass, you will have access to some new outfits and such and one playable DLC right now. That DLC, Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch DLC,  was a fun addition to the game. I played it as part of the general progression of the game instead of finishing the game and going back to it. Part of that was strategy. I wanted to see what sort of weapon upgrades I might find in the DLC but I also wanted the experience upgrades before heading off to do the final mission of the game.

As the title of the DLC suggests, the plot draws its inspiration from the Baba Yaga tales. Yes, there is a house on chicken legs — or is there? There is an evil witch with ill intent in mind. Or is there? Those are only two of the questions Lara much answer in the DLC. It’s not a huge DLC, certainly nowhere near as long as The Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3 Digital Deluxe Version [Download]. But then, there weren’t as many upset fans with Rise of the Tomb Raider as there were for ME3, not by a long shot. Still, if you are a perfectionist and want to work to get 100% on the DLC, you will have several hours — or more — of game play.

The graphics on the game are great. It is one of the best looking games I’ve seen. While there is the occasional camera angle problem, those are so few that I almost hate to mention them. The background score is good and the plot is interesting if somewhat derivative at times. The bad guys, while bad, aren’t necessarily truly evil. They are flawed and those flaws blind them to the folly — and evil — of their intentions. One of the good guys isn’t quite as good as you think at the beginning. Lara herself is flawed and that is one of the things I like. She has doubts. She has a temper.  She is driven, often to the point where it puts others in danger. Yet she does make the right decisions when she needs to.

If I had to complain about the game, it’s a bit short. After playing the Dragon Age series and some others (and yes, I know. Different types of games), Rise of the Tomb Raider seems short. Still, it costs less per hour of game play than going to the movies, much less. I also am not a fan of releasing DLC so soon after a game comes out. Game developers have, for some reason, started releasing playable DLC within a month or two of the release of the games and that, to me, feels like cheating. Then there was releasing on only one platform for awhile. That bothered me more than any of the rest of it.

But those are minor complaints in the grand scheme of things. I would give this game a 9 out of 10. It is a definite recommend. I am looking forward to seeing what Square Enix does next with the franchise.

Since I mentioned Dragon Age, let me add a quick note here about the last playable DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Dragon Age: Inquisition – Trespasser – PS4 [Digital Code] (and it too, is available on Playstation, XBox and PC platforms) is one of the best playable DLCs I’ve played in a very long time. It takes place several years after the end of the main game. It not only lets you get reacquainted with the characters from Inquisition, but you find out what has happened to them in the interim. Some of it is determined based on choices you made during the main game. The basic conflict begins because the governments have grown concerned about the power — and respect — the Inquisition holds. The danger to their lands is over and now they want to rein in the Inquisition and hamstring it. Before that can happen, trouble once again breaks out and it is up to the Inquisitor to find out who is behind it and stop it before war breaks out.

The writers of the DLC left everyone who played Trespasser nodding their heads, convinced not only that there will be a sequel but that they know where on Thedas it will take place. Then there is the fact that, if we aren’t misreading the seemingly obvious hints in the DLC, Solas will play a major role in the next game and it isn’t going to be as the hero.

So, if you have played Inquisition and haven’t played Trespasser yet, do so. The only negative I can say about Inquisition — and it doesn’t play much of a role in Trespasser — is the endless collecting of resources and a crafting menu that gets too complicated if you are a completionist. But, it is one of those things you can do as little or as much with as you want. But, if you’re like me and you do your damnedest to get a 100% completely, that hunting-gathering gets old and does make it less inviting to play the game a second time.

Still, I give DA:I a 9 and Trespasser is the one playable DLC that I say is a must get if you enjoyed the game. The others are okay but they don’t really expand the story like this one does.

So there you have it. One game and one DLC review.

Snippets will follow later today.

 

Bioware brings Dragon Age Inquisition to an end

I have a confession to make. It’s not a new one. Anyone who has followed me here or on Mad Genius Club knows my secret. I’m a gamer. It started innocently enough. When my son was young and all his friends had Playstations and Xboxes, he wanted one too. I relented, finally, when prices came down to something resembling reasonable. The only caveat I put on his gaming was that I had to play the game first. It was the same rule I had for movies. He was young enough that I wanted to know what he was going to see or play so I could talk with him about it if he had questions or comments.

Checking out games to make sure they were appropriate for him soon turned into a bonding exercise between the two of us. We gamed together. As he got older, we discussed games, and gaming systems. Which game was better on what system. Then we got into gaming on our PCs and that added a whole new level of discussion. Was it better to game on a system or on the PC? What needed to be done to upgrade the PC to play the latest generation of games? Yes, we became a gaming and techie household.

Well, my son is an adult now and we are both still gaming and talking about what games we play, what platform we play them on and what games are coming out. I don’t remember if I turned my son onto Dragon Age Inquisition (Deluxe Edition) – PC when it came out or if he turned me onto it. Not that it matters. What does is that Bioware redeemed itself in my eyes after the debacle that was the ending of Mass Effect 3 Digital Deluxe Version [Download]. (No, I don’t think the ending of ME3 was as bad as some of the fans do, but I will admit it could have been handled better. After all, it basically did away with the decisions we had made through three games. That didn’t sit well with many of the fans.)

For those of you unfamiliar with Bioware games, one of the strength of those games has always been the story. From Jade Empire to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic to the Mass Effect Trilogy to the three Dragon Age games, story and characters have kept gamers returning and, more importantly, demanding more. All you have to do is look at the discussions that have gone on since the ME3 was released and speculation about what the next Mass Effect game might be.  Yes, I am one of those anxiously awaiting Mass Effect: Andromeda and hoping that Bioware continues building on the legacy of Mass Effect and doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel.

Anyway, back to DA:I.

If you aren’t familiar with DA:I, this is how Bioware describes it:

A cataclysmic event plunges the land of Thedas into turmoil. Dragons darken the sky, casting a shadow over lands on the brink of chaos. Mages break into all-out war against the oppressive templars. Nations rise against one another. It falls to you and your allies to restore order as you lead the Inquisition and hunt down the agents of chaos.

Explore, lead, and battle: Tough choices define your experience, and even one decision can change the course of what’s to come.

It’s fun. The combat can be challenging and it has, in my opinion, a high replay value because of the different classes you can play as as well as the different choices you can make during the game.

Even without the DLC packs, DA:I is a game that can keep you busy for tens, if not hundreds, of hours in a single playthrough. You can simply do the main mission quests or you can do all the side quests. Then there are all the “collectibles” you can go after. Yes, some of it does come down to simply grinding as you try to find the right group of bad guys to beat so you get the valuable you need to finish this side quest or that but, unlike so many games, grinding isn’t required to progress through the game.

There are three single player DLC missions for the game. The first,Dragon Age: Inquisition – Jaws of Hakkon [Online Game Code], was an interesting mission, taking players to new areas and giving them some challenges battles. The mini-boss near the end of the DLC was, to me, more difficult to defeat than the final boss. As with the main game, there are storyline missions, side missions and grinding if you want. Overall, I enjoyed Jaws of Hakkon and found it challenging enough to keep me interested.

The second DLC, Dragon Age: Inquisition – Jaws of Hakkon [Online Game Code], was less satisfying to me. Yes, it introduced a couple of new characters, non-playable but companions during the quest. Yes, we got to return to the Deep Roads, one of the more interesting areas we’ve visited in the Dragon Age universe. But the plot was only meh, in my opinion, and it felt too linear and felt like one big grinding exercise. No, that’s not quite right. It felt rushed. Yes, when I finally go back to do another playthrough of DA:I, I will play this DLC, not for the plot but for the items you can grab along the way.

The final DLC, Dragon Age: Inquisition – Trespasser, was released yesterday. It isn’t as long as the previous DLCs and that could be seen as a detriment since it costs the same as the others. However, I didn’t care. This DLC did exactly what Bioware promised. It brought DA:I to a close and it set the stage for the next Dragon Age game (please let there be another one).

trespasser

Trespasser takes place two years after the end of the events of DA:I. It is your chance to find out what happened after the breach was sealed and peace came to Thedas (Of course, peace is never long-lived in that world). The basic starting point is that the Inquisition, which had been welcomed for its help in closing the breach and driving off the bad guys, is now seen as a danger. It is too big, too independent and too well armed. So a conclave has been called to determine what is to become of the Inquisition now.

Once again, you play as the Inquisitor. You have the chance to interact once again with your companions from the main game. But trouble is afoot. That becomes clear very quickly. So, while you leave your advisors to deal with the icky political aspect of what is happening, you and your companions go haring off to some new and some familiar locations in an attempt to track down not only who is behind the trouble but learn why they are doing it.

No, I’m not going to give spoilers here. Just know that this DLC, which I played through in about 4 hours, answers a lot of questions left from the main game and other DLCs. Heck, it even answers a few questions from the first two games. While it does give closure to the game — and you get to choose what will happen to the Inquisition and see the near future consequences of that decision — it also leaves questions open, questions that could be the seeds of the next Dragon Age game. It left me wanting to play the next game when it comes out because there is no doubt Thedas will soon be facing its greatest threat yet.

As I write this, part of me is sad to see the game come to an end. While we might not have seen the backstory of our Inquisitor like we did with Hawke in Dragon Age 2, the Inquistor and companions in DA:I are characters I want to see more of. Perhaps they will make appearances in the next game. But, that is not guaranteed. One character that has been with us since the first Dragon Age game is talking about retirement. Another, one we’ve known since the second game, has been — much to my surprise — raised to a position of political power. A third, who we were also introduced to in the second game, may or may not be the new Divine, depending on decisions you made during the main DA:I game.

Yet, sad that I am to have DA:I over, I have to applaud Bioware for how the did it. The decisions I made during the main game and other DLCs mattered and had an impact on the decisions and outcome of this final DLC. Because of that, and because of the quality of the not only the plot and lore in this last DLC but also the graphics, I give Dragon Age: Inquisition – Trespasser a thumbs up. It is a must for every fan of the game.

One last thing, watch through the credits for what very well may be a hint about where the next Dragon Age game will take place.

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