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 Shipwrecked: Hands-On with Tomb Raider Multiplayer 

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PostSubject: Shipwrecked: Hands-On with Tomb Raider Multiplayer   Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:38 pm

The imminent Tomb Raider
reboot has a whole lot going for it. It’s cinematic, it’s intense, it’s
personal, and it’s very highly anticipated. It’s been lauded at nearly
every turn, including IGN’s very own Best Game of E3 award for 2012.

Tomb Raider, however, also has a surprise up its sleeve: multiplayer. Huh?

While it can be argued that multiplayer extends the shelf-life of a
game, keeping people engaged and preventing them from trading it in
after a month, players and publishers alike have begun questioning
whether or not high-profile titles like Tomb Raider
truly need it in order to survive. 2K and Irrational Games are betting
it doesn’t with BioShock Infinite, and it seemed Lara’s journey would be
a solo one too. And guess what? Everyone was, by all anecdotal
accounts, fine with that.




So simply because nobody asked for it, Tomb Raider’s
newly announced multiplayer component must wage an uphill battle in the
minds of gamers. The good news, for those who follow such
dollars-and-cents things closely, is that Tomb Raider’s four-on-four,
Survivors vs. Scavengers face-offs across multiple modes of play is
taking exactly zero resources away from its single-player side. The
lion’s share of work on the game – the white-hot, Uncharted-on-Steroids
campaign the world’s been drooling over for the better part of the past
two years – has been the focus of developer Crystal Dynamics in Northern
California. The multiplayer side of things, meanwhile, was entrusted to
a relatively small crew of developers 2,000 miles away at Eidos
Montreal (makers of Deus Ex: Human Revolution).

That means Tomb Raider will still be the same Tomb Raider we’d have
gotten even if Eidos Montreal had never come into the picture. But how
does it play?

I spent a couple of hours at Crystal Dynamics to find out, trying my
hand at two of the game’s undetermined number of modes – Team Deathmatch
and Private Rescue – on “Chasm,” one of five multiplayer maps Tomb
Raider will ship with.



My rounds were all three-on-three affairs despite the eight-player
support. After Max Payne 3 last year, Tomb Raider’s third-person
perspective isn't surprising, but it is a bit disconcerting – and not
necessarily in a bad way. Make no mistake: this could not be done in
first-person as it’s currently constructed. Environmental traversal is a
big part of Tomb Raider’s multiplayer combat. Clambering up ledges,
using your pickaxe to whoosh down ziplines or scale rock walls (or dig
into someone’s skull…more on that shortly), and setting traps are all
key tenets, and they all affect the game differently.

I played Team Deathmatch first, and as it stands now, it’s not the
best foot for Tomb Raider multiplayer to put forward. Each team gets two
loadouts to choose from: a shotgun/pistol or assault rifle/pistol for
the Survivors, and a bow-and-arrow/grenade launcher or rifle/pistol for
the Scavengers. One of these is not unlike the other, and indeed that
bow-and-arrow loadout is the most promising. At one point, I went on a
nice killing spree by scampering up to a shady perch where it was hard
to see me, then held RT to pull the bow’s drawstring all the way back
and let it rip, sniping several foes from above.

Unfortunately, if you connect but don’t kill, your position is
compromised and the bow becomes a much less desirable option in the face
of the enemy’s returning gunfire. At least you've got the grenade
launcher slung over your shoulder to help even the odds. Meanwhile, said
gunplay is, at this point in time, nowhere near as polished or
impactful as it is in Max Payne 3 – likely because the latter builds its
entire game around shooting, whereas here it’s wedged into a game that
is definitely not a third-person shooter at its core.


Bow > guns? It is in this case!


Private Rescue packs exponentially more potential, as the Survivors
must scour the map to retrieve five bundles of medical supplies and
bring them back to the capture point. The Scavengers need only kill
them. The round ends after either A) 10 minutes, B) all five medical
supply bundles have been secured, or C) the Scavengers have killed the
Survivors a total of 20 times. It makes for an interesting tug-of-war;
in one round, my Survivor team had zero captures and was down to our
last two lives, but we tightened up our teamwork and went on an
improbable rally to win.

Traps also become much more integral to the gameplay in Private
Rescue. It’s quite useful to set a rope trap on the ground when
escorting a teammate back to the capture point, as a pursuing enemy will
probably be in too big of a hurry to look for it, then end up hanging
upside down by one ankle when the trap snares him. Sure, a teammate
could come along, shoot the rope, and let him down, but by then you and
your friends will likely be long gone. Explosive barrels, falling rock
piles, and collapsible floors can also prove very useful. But the
sandstorm was the highlight. Ring a giant bell in the middle of the map
and a wall of dust will blow through, lowering visibility to almost zero
for the other team (you’re able to see glowing red outlines of your
foes thanks to “survival instinct”).

Of course, if you manage to sneak up behind someone – or you simply
run out of ammo – you can press Y to swing your pickaxe in the direction
of your opponent’s brain. While it’s satisfying to pull off a
from-behind stealth attack on some unsuspecting chump who was sniping
your friends with a bow, anything else no longer a one-hit kill. After
that, it devolves into an awkward, clumsy dance governed by unstoppable
lunging animations, as the two of you circle each other, thrusting with
your pickaxes to see who can strike the fatal blow first.

The good news? Four other maps and apparently at least one other game
mode have yet to be revealed – any of which could be the hook that
perfectly realizes the possibilities of Tomb Raider multiplayer. After
all, Private Rescue is exponentially more interesting than Team
Deathmatch. Might Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal be saving the best
for last?


End Transmission ....
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PostSubject: Re: Shipwrecked: Hands-On with Tomb Raider Multiplayer   Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:33 pm

Mmmm, The rape is strong in this one.
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