At the recent X-Series 2013 Spring Preview event, I had a chance to check out two games that I am really looking forward to this year: Tomb Raider and BioShock Infinite. Both games are new entries into their respective series but both also reinvent the series in their own way. Tomb Raider is a gritty reboot featuring the tale of one of Lara’s first adventures and BioShock Infinite takes the series into a new world with new themes. Both look exceptional but I was super excited to see how they played because for me, games are made or destroyed based on their game-play.
Usually at industry events its very difficult for me to focus entirely on a game. Usually you aren’t able to hear anything in the game due to the ambient noise level being quite high thanks to other games that are being played. In addition, most of the time there is at least one person talking to you as you play, telling you about the game and trying to give you advice on how to do well (ignoring the fact that concentration is key). But with BioShock Infinite, despite all the outside distractions I was drawn in so deeply at the beginning of the game that I forgot about everything around me. I can only really speak to the opening moments of the game but they were so beautiful!
I swear it looks like that one guy is doing ballet.
The folks at the BioShock booth were pretty militant when it came to photos of the screen (and I can’t blame them), so I’m going to err on the side of caution in my description of game-play, keeping it as general as possible. Essentially, you start your journey very much with exploration in mind. Obscurity and surprises await as you transition between the initial area and the next in a way you may not have expected. That whole sequence felt just like one of those theme park rides where the seats move – which I thought was awesome. The seat I was sitting on (in real life) didn’t move; but damn, it did I feel like I was right in the middle of the action. Eventually, I was unwittingly drawn into conflict. At first, I had a melee weapon that dealt some incredibly brutal kills, but eventually I moved up in the world and attained a gun – after which point things became pretty standard. I don’t say that as a bad thing; it’s just a fact. BioShock Infinite will survive based on its story and ability to engross its audience. I feel like the game is gonna be a total experience to play.
I never played any of the older Tomb Raider games because I didn’t like the old tank controls. Since then, though, things have changed significantly for Lara, and her newer games have been very well received. Yet, I still have not really played any of them, so I can’t speak to how well this new game stacks up to the previous titles. What I can say, though, is that this new title is freaking gorgeous!
The graphics in Tomb Raider are absolutely mind-blowing. One cut-scene featured a boat, and if I didn’t know any better, I genuinely would have believed it was footage of a real boat. “Maybe the game is actually a FMV game” I foolishly thought to myself. To my delight, it wasn’t.
Apparently the audience in this place is tougher than nails.
The game also does a great job of creating a sense of defenselessness throughout the levels that I played. I feel that the real draw to this particular Tomb Raider game will be that ever-pervasive feeling of fear in the game. Unlike many of her other games, Lara is not in control and often times has to fight her way through dire situations. I feel like Tomb Raider will raise the bar in survival games, and I can’t wait to try out the full game.
This year is shaping up to be one of the best years yet for this current console generation. As it most likely is the very last year for this tech, it’s good that it will be going out with a bang. I’m excited for games like BioShock and Tomb Raider and even for the new Gears of War (despite not having a chance to play the game). The booth was super full so I’ll have to play it another day. That being said, I have no doubt that it will be a hit given how amazing it looks and how much fun people were having while they were playing it.
The eye of Jorge looks 2013 square in the face and approves.
You had best get your wallet ready, because 2013 is going to suck it dry