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By otakuman5000 On 11 Jan, 2014 At 11:25 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, Interviews, ROG News, Tales of Real Otaku | With 0 Comments

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560059_545217922223147_21166582_nI had the wonderful pleasure of being able to interview Leon Chiro, a respected cosplayer throughout the nerd community who has won several awards for cosplays like Dante from the Devil May Cry series, Tidus from Final Fantasy X and Dissidia, Caius from Final Fantasy XIII-2, and the list goes on and on. Today we get a sneak peak into the life of a competitive cosplayer from his humble beginnings, his current works in progress, and everything in between.

ROG: The classic question; we all started somewhere in our cosplay careers. Tell me a bit about that – how old you were, what inspired you, your cosplay inspirations, and what convention you did your first debut.

LC: Ok, so it was 2010…

ROG: Oh, so you’ve only been doing this for a little while!

LC: Yeah. I only started to cosplay seriously when I realized what cosplay was. But my first convention was in 2010. I’m coming from the modeling world, and I was asking myself, “Ok, I love doing pictures, but what if I try to take a character I love a lot and I model with them?” So, I was thinking of doing Tidus because he’s my favorite character ever, and I was thinking, “what if I contacted somebody to see how much this costume would cost?” And they said, “Oh, that’s simple!” And I was like, “… what?” “Cosplay.” “Ok, what is cosplay?” So he explained it and I was like, “Oh. Hm. Sounds like a carnival thing.” He said, “No, it’s more than that…” So he explained it to me. I could never imagine what the cosplay world was. So, I took my Tidus cosplay, I went to the convention alone, and I was a nobody. I didn’t know anyone and no one knew me. That was fine because I was like, “Woah.. where the [expletive] am I?” (Laughter) Someone came up to me and said, “you should enter the cosplay contest [with the Tidus cosplay] because you are very, very good.”

ROG: Yeah, you did a really great job on that. I’m shocked that was your first cosplay.

Leon Chiro's cosplay as Tidus from FFX

Leon Chiro’s cosplay as Tidus from FFX

LC: Yeah, I did Tidus’ first and second version. So yeah, this guy said I should do the cosplay contest. Ok, what is the cosplay contest? Well, it’s like a masquerade. You have to do an exhibition and interpret your character, and I said “oh, sounds cool!” I discovered that I made it to the finals without knowing it. I wasn’t expecting that. A lot of people were surprised because I was anonymous and I came from nowhere, and I arrived in a place that other people have been trying to get to for years. I don’t know what I did… I did it with my heart. That’s the thing – I did my character with my heart.

I have to say that a lot of people started to go against me – “Oh, he’s nobody,” “He only has one cosplay,” “He has too much success” – just people talking bad about me. So I said, “Ok, it’s time for me to do a second cosplay.” I did Dante, and I tried to do the cosplay contest, but I didn’t arrive in time and I had some problems. People still continued to talk bad about me because they were like, “Oh, he’s just doing it for the body” or “He’s just doing it because of the abs.” By then it was 2011, and I wanted to stop because I was like “What the [expletive] is this world?” I’m coming from the modeling world where a lot of people respect me.

ROG: Cosplay is supposed to be fun, and unfortunately there’s a lot of hate.

LC: First of all, it was just supposed to be fun. Secondly, in the gaming and comic world, if I’m winning a lot in a short amount of time, they should be happy for me, and that wasn’t the case. I wanted to stop, so I stopped for two months and I thought about it, and I said, “Ok, there are a lot of haters, but I met a lot of special people and I wanted to do an achievement exhibition for them.” So I entered the cosplay contest, and the winner won a trip to Lucca. I won first place with Dante, and a lot of people were against me because I was doing good. It’s not easy in the beginning and you’re alone and you don’t have recommendations, but I started like everyone else – a nobody. Everything I did, I did by myself.

Leon Chiro as Dante from DMC3

Leon Chiro as Dante from DMC3

I started to get more motivated, and I was like “Ok, you hate me because I’m doing good? Ok.” And I did Tidus from Dissidia, and I started to face more haters, and I was winning every contest I entered. People started to look at me with more respect. I went to Lucca with my Kung Lao cosplay because he’s my favorite character from Mortal Kombat and I won the Best Interpretation Award, which is the hardest award to get. When you win in Lucca, you can say that you’re a professional cosplayer. Winning that award made me really proud of myself, so after I won, that’s when I made my facebook cosplay page towards the end of 2011. So yeah… that’s my story. After my first convention, I won something like 14 in a row, including Lucca. The most important thing was that people were starting to know who I was and that I did good work. That was the main victory. It wasn’t about being popular – it was about being respected. I got a lot of respect for my Caius cosplay because it was very hard. Do you know of Kamui Cosplay (another respected cosplayer in the community)?

ROG: Yes, I recently liked her page on facebook because I saw it on your page. So I watched some of her tutorials on YouTube – they’re really helpful.

LC: To me, she’s the best cosplayer in the world. I had the honor of her complimenting me, and that was really satisfying… someone that big complimented me. I’m also talking to Rick Boer from Ubisoft, who’s the official Edward Kenway cosplayer (from Assassin’s Creed IV), and it feels great to have his respect because he’s such a humble guy. He’s my Assassin’s Creed idol. (Laughter) So that was a long reply for just one question!

ROG: (Laughter) It’s not a problem! How a cosplayer started out is usually a long one. All right, so an editor from ROG and I were talking and we were discussing that cosplaying seems to be mostly female dominated. What do you think about that and how to do you feel taking part in something that’s so female based?

1531739_565873086824297_1431166684_oLC: It depends, because people usually focus on half-naked girls. But for me, they’re appreciating cosplay – they’re appreciating modeling. It’s not the same thing. I’m not looking for likes (on facebook) – I want to earn them. I try to mix the two because I come from the modeling world and I’m doing cosplay from my heart. It’s female dominated because it’s easy to be popular when you’re barely wearing anything. It makes me laugh because girls will be like “Oh, you’re judging me because of my half-naked pictures?” They barely know what they’re talking about, and after you see their page, you’ll see them in bras and barely wearing anything. Girls will get angry and nitpick other girls’ cosplays, but they’re the ones doing sexier versions of a particular character. A lot of girls will judge girls that they can’t be as good as.

ROG: As a girl, I understand that totally. All right, so have you ever been an invited guest to a big name convention? And if not, what would be your dream convention to be invited to?

LC: I’ve been invited to a lot of European conventions, but I still haven’t been to America, for example. It’s unfortunately really expensive to go there.

ROG: Yeah, which is a shame. But, in the same way, I haven’t been to Italy because it’s really expensive. A friend of mine just left for Rome a few days ago and I was mentally cursing her (laughter).

LC: I mean, for me, a lot of people that go to America are really lucky. But even if I was invited to an American convention, I don’t think I’d be able to accept it anyway. I’d love to. I hope one day someone sees my cosplay and invites me over, I don’t know. This year, I was invited to three conventions. I’m taking things step by step. If you reach an achievement, it’s because you deserve it. That’s what we learn growing up. For me, it’s hard to keep up the good work because people love my cosplay, and they have a lot of high expectations. I always have to do my best.

ROG: Sure, it can be a lot of pressure.

LC: No, it’s not pressure. It’s kind of motivation for me. If cosplay was a pressure for me, I wouldn’t be doing it and I wouldn’t be doing this interview with you (laughter).

ROG: (Laughter) Trust me, we all appreciate your work. So, you’re from Italy, which I already said I’m totally jealous of, and you’re jealous of the fact that I live in New York. What would you say the biggest difference between American and European convention scenes are?

LC: I wish I could know about the American convention scene, but I’ve never been there.

ROG: I wasn’t sure if you just meant you haven’t been to New York in particular.

LC: I can say about Italy and other European conventions that there is a lot less competition. There are two European championships, and they’re the EuroCosplay, and ECG, European Cosplay Gathering. In every main convention in Europe, they choose 2 representatives and put them against the representatives from all the other countries.
I’m really proud to say that I’m competing in the world championship for Italy. It makes things harder because the competition gets more and more intense. Sometimes, competition isn’t healthy here because a lot of people are doing all they can to destroy the other cosplayers, with flames, with fights.

ROG: So it’s not good sportsmanship.

LC: Yeah, there was this guy who used to be my friend, and we’re not friends anymore. He always used to come into my job and wanted the basics to cosplays, and he’s good now, but he’s so arrogant. At the first opportunity, after I helped him meet a lot of contacts, he turned his back on me and left, and spoke bad about me. For example, we had a TV show to do and they were going to choose two cosplayers – one male and one female. They called me instead of him and a lot of other cosplayers, and I was happy about that. He wrote to the director of the show and said, “how can you choose that shitty Dragonball cosplay instead of mine, just to make me look bad. I didn’t believe he wrote and the director said, “yes, he did. Do you want to read?” So I read it and I was shocked. I was like “what the [expletive]? I don’t know what I did to him. Maybe he just ate something bad (laughter).” So I began to understand that reputation in Italy isn’t always good because a lot of them aren’t able to be humble and honest to someone else. Cosplay is a hobby, not work.

ROG: Yeah, I was actually talking to the rest of my team a few minutes ago that I truly appreciate you taking the time out. It says a lot about the cosplay community – you being good at what you do and so respected, but you’ll still take the time out for others. I’ve known and met a lot of cosplayers who thought they were better than everyone else and slammed other people. We’re all nerds, we all play videogames, read comics, watch anime – whatever. We’re supposed to be a family, but instead we just shut other people down because someone can’t sew and craft as good as someone else.

LC: There should be a middle ground between those who share the same passion. It’s not everyday that you find someone who understands you. You can’t always talk to others about video games. For example, when I was doing my Tidus cosplay, I had my hair blonde. I wasn’t wearing a wig and I had to face university with blonde hair. People would call me names like fleshlight (laughter).

ROG: That’s awful! I thought it looked great. Who cares?

LC: Yeah, who cares? I can kick your ass whenever I want, so…

ROG: (Laughter) I’d hate to get on your bad side…

LC: (shakes head) Nu-uh. Ok, so I go to school for motor science… what I would like to do with that degree – that future degree. University is a

Chiro's cosplay of Kung Lao won him first place in Lucca.

Chiro’s cosplay of Kung Lao won him first place in Lucca.

cruel world. Not everyone can pay to go to university here in Italy. It’s very selective. They’ll choose the best 200 out of thousands of applicants. Luckily for me, they were extending applications to former athletes. I was a former national champion in athletics.

ROG: What sport were you in?

LC: 100 meters. I was a runner. I’m doing parkour right now because it gives me freedom of expression. I would take my degree, get a passport, and come to the USA. I’m doing this major for personal satisfaction. I want to create my own future and do the things I love. If I can do something with it, that’d be great.

ROG: That’s a great point. Most parents in America – when I tell my parents, “hey, I want to go to school for video game design.” The first question out of their mouth is going to be “what are you going to do with that degree?” There’s no such thing as going to college for something that makes me happy; it’s all about how to make money out of it. Good for you that you go to school for something that makes you happy.

LC: You pay for your time to study. You can’t live anymore because you have to constantly study. School should make you motivated, not miserable. A good teacher isn’t someone who knows everything. A good teacher is someone who can give you those few things during your time at university and motivate you. It’s not a competition of knowledge. Sometimes it could be a former student going through their own frustrations and they pass down to you what they’ve learned in life.

ROG: Great point. So, we’ve all had that one costume that was a lot of fun, and others that were extremely challenging. What costume did you have the most fun making, and which one was the most frustrating?

LC: Caius was the one that gave me the most satisfaction. It’s full of armor parts, and it was great winning because it didn’t show off my body [like how Dante and Tidus did], but I spent a lot of money on Caius. Especially making this (shows Caius’ weapon).

ROG: Wow… how did you make that?

LC: (Laughter) I don’t even know. It’s a bit damaged now. You can say that it looks good, but since I created it, I can say that it’s definitely damaged.

ROG: How long did it take you to make Caius’ cosplay?

LC: Ahhhh… a month. One month, every single day for five to six hours. If you look on my page, I have a work in progress album that you can see. I started with a piece of wood, and then cut the shape, added more layers of wood, and just added things piece by piece. I was covered in sawdust. I had so much sawdust on me that when I went outside, all the dogs kept trying to pee on my leg because they thought I was a tree!

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Caius was the most uncomfortable to wear. It’s a lot to put on. I went to a convention and I took three redbulls with me… I have no idea why I did that. When you’re anxious and nervous about getting on stage, I had to have a redbull. But then I was like, “Oh my God, I have to pee. What the [expletive] am I going to do?” I had to remove all the pieces of the cosplay. It took a half hour to put it on and fix it. Thankfully, the Dante cosplay from DMC was the easiest. I just had the coat, didn’t have a wig, and if I got hot, I could take the coat off. It’s hard with the Caius cosplay because he does a lot of movement, and it’s hard to move in his cosplay. I need to improve some things before I compete with it again for the debut of Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns.

ROG: What do you enjoy doing the most – the outfit, the props, or the makeup and wigs?

LC: I hate the wig part. I have to make them in a way that it wont fall apart. When you’re on stage, you can’t have something like that go wrong. I mean, you’ve seen my Vegeta cosplay. It’s really heavy. I love doing makeup, but I love making my accessories. I’m well known for my props. I can get help with my tailoring and sewing stuff. If I have to do something with a coat, I’ll buy a coat and alter it. Come, on, let’s talk about it. I think it’s stupid. If you need orange pants, buy a pair and dye it. There’s no need to make one. I mean, sure, it can be satisfying, but really. Just buy a pair of pants and do what you need. With the accessories, you make it from scratch. I go to the woodshop, get the wood, and I get to work. Or you can use regular household items, like tubes from toilet paper, paper towels, or wrapping paper. Even plastic water bottles.

ROG: Obviously it takes a lot of work to keep your body in such great shape. What’s a typical workout routine for you? I know you’re all about ‘eating clean and training dirty.’

LC: I avoid fast food and processed food. I train 6 days a week. You have a choice between choosing an elevator or the stairs. Just take the stairs. Exercise is making changes in habits like that. People always complain because they don’t get the results they like because they’re not working hard enough. Or they reach their result and people think they can take a break. No, it doesn’t work like that. You have to maintain it. It’s not just your metabolism – it’s about habits. Everyone can be in shape if they wanted to. We have two legs, two arms, and a brain, and we can do whatever we want. I work out a bit less in the winter – one to two hours a day, a few times a week. During the summer, I’m training three to four hours, six days a week. I’m a trainer too, so I have to make sure I stay in shape. I don’t do the gym… I’m usually in the playground. You should see the face of the kids. They’re like “daddy! This guy is stealing our playground!” Well, you’re gunna have to fight for it. Round one… FIGHT!

ROG: (Laughter) Your cosplays are absolutely incredible. I see that your cosplays are all video game-based. Do you plan on doing any anime or movie characters?

LC: I do video game cosplays because video games, in my opinion, are the best ways to release emotion. Video games give you the power to choose, and to be that character. I believe in the power of books, but that’s the power of imagination. It’s still good, but they have limited potential. You can have great images from a movie, but not control. Video games combine the two – the freedom of movement and the wonderful visuals.
I did do a non-video game cosplay. Well, it wasn’t really a cosplay. It was a tribute to Spartacus. I did it for a new amusement park that was opening in Rome. They were doing different eras – Roman, Greek, futuristic… They wanted to do some entertainment with gladiators and they asked me, “do you have a Spartacus cosplay?” I said no, and that I’ll call them once I was done making one. I have a recycle box with material – if I don’t like a piece of armor, I’ll put it in there because I don’t want to waste materials. So I took out the box, and I made that cosplay in 4 hours with just the recycled stuff.

ROG: Care to share what character we should expect from you next?

LC: Sure, why not. I’m planning on doing Lloyd from Legend of Dragoon. I usually like to do characters that are newer, but I want to do some nostalgic cosplays too. So, Lloyd from Legend of Dragoon will be my next cosplay. Next, I’m going to work on Gladiolus from Final Fantasy XV. He is such a badass. I don’t think this cosplay is a secret anymore (laughter). I want to learn more about him before cosplaying him. Adam Jensen, from Deus Ex, is a dream cosplay of mine. I really wanted to do Nathan Drake. I could cut my hair, but I don’t want to cut it just for him. I want to keep my hair longer for some cosplays in progress and future projects.

ROG: I can say for myself that you’re a true inspiration for cosplayers around the world – whether just starting out, or an expert. To those just starting, what would you consider to be the best piece of advice you can give them?

LC: Like I said before, do everything with your heart. If you really love a character, do it from your heart, and don’t care about the critics. Don’t do it because you like it – do it because you love it.

So, there you have it – backstage access to the world of cosplay through the eyes of a professional. I was fortunate to be told some exciting news and future cosplays (I was sworn to secrecy!). Thank you again to Leon Chiro for graciously allowing me his time and contribution, 

You can find Leon Chiro on Facebook at Leon Chiro Cosplay Art and look through the rest of his work. You can also find him on Instagram at Leonchiro, and on YouTube at LeonChiroCosplayArt.

By otakuman5000 On 3 Oct, 2013 At 01:54 AM | Categorized As Editorials, NINTENDO, PlayStation, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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Wind Waker Cover
The Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker has, in more recent years, been regarded as one of the most finely crafted Zelda titles and many believe it to be the best entry in the acclaimed series. However no game is perfect and all great video games have at least one or two kinks in the armor. This year gamers were treated to two highly-anticipated HD remastered remakes, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX and The Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker. Both titles have more than 10 years under their belts and are hailed as classics in the hearts of millions across the globe. In the case of Kingdom Hearts 1.5, the Kingdom Hearts Final Mix portion of the game was built from the ground up all-over again due to the missing masters. Though bringing back a game true to form is certainly commendable, Square Enix however didn’t fix many of the problems that were persistent and frustrating in the original which cause the game to fall short of outshining it’s older counterpart.

KH HD Alantica

The Wind Waker, on the other hand, is a completely different story. This is a remake done right, Nintendo listened to all the complaints that were voiced about the original and solved every single one of them and more! The sea was too big and the your ship was too slow? They threw in a swift sail! This effectively reduced the time sailing around from island to island by making your boat faster and eliminates the need to change wind direction. This also made exploring the sea fun, engaging and less of a chore. The Triforce quest was too tedious? No problem! They streamlined it so that it literally shaves hours off your schedule by reducing the amount of charts from 8 to 3! It’s changes like these that truly make me respect Nintendo in the sense that they learn from their shortcomings. The Wind Waker HD also enhances the experience in other less significant that end up having a big impact. Such enhancements are the reduction in the time it takes to use the grappling hook to latch onto post or to salvage treasure from the Great Sea, they are small changes but they go a long way. Perhaps one of the biggest addition to this exemplary package is The Hero Mode option that is available from the beginning of the game. Debuting in The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword, this mode offers more of a challenge to seasoned Wind Waker players in which the player takes twice the amount of damage and that there are no recovery hearts to be found in the game, the player must rely on potions and fairies to restore their health.

Wind Waker Treasure

All of this along with remastered graphics, more advanced lighting effects, and a re-orchestrated soundtracks it’s no doubt that this trip down memory lane completely obliterates the original in every aspect. This is grand classic that is experienced even better this time around thanks to the smart decisions by our guys at the Big N. Nobody does it quite like Nintendo and The Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker is a reminder of that!

The Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker drops in stores October 4 but it is now available in the Nintendo eShop. Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX is available now. Don’t hesitate to relive the magic of these great games.

DARE 2B HECTIC!

By otakuman5000 On 7 Jun, 2013 At 02:38 AM | Categorized As News, PlayStation, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarAmong the throngs of people at the SquareEnix booth at New York Comic Con, I was shoved left and right as I gawked at the trailer for Final Fantasy: Agni’s Philosophy. It had been what seemed like ages since a Final Fantasy game was released, and although so many of them have come about, the games seem to be hit or miss ever since the merge of Squaresoft and Enix. I couldn’t help but be awestruck at what was displayed before me.

Agni's Philosophy2SquareEnix revealed this cinematic short at E3 2012 and at the Sony conference back in February, however it was stated that this is not a game trailer, but a reveal of their new Luminous game engine. They made this FMV to display its beauty and glory, which earned a huge fanbase pleading for it to be a full length game. Although there is no confirmation that this game will come to fruition, an official website was created to ask people’s opinions on what they saw. The Luminous engine conveys in depth facial expression, emotion through the pupils, and every strand of hair.

Watch the tech demo and be blown away like the rest of us.

 

By SarahTheRebel On 11 Mar, 2013 At 06:42 PM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 1 Comment

No Gravatar“There are no heroes here, only survivors” – Matthias, Tomb Raider

Lara-Croft-Tomb-Raider-2013-character

When the first trailer was shown for the new Tomb Raider, I was among the skeptics. It looked like another game with an over-sexualized heroine, and there was even a potential rape scene! However, as I mentioned in a previous article, after watching all of the trailers, I came to a different conclusion: Tomb Raider was probably going to be awesome. Other journalists told me not to get my hopes up.

It feels good to be the one smirking now.

I was right! They did it! They told a woman’s story, the story of her growth into a survivor, in a completely compassionate way. Yes, her body is still a little on the fantastical side (also, why didn’t she ever steal someone’s parka so she could stop shivering?) and yes, she often makes dumb mistakes and gets herself into all sorts of ruckus, but those are minor details and really such an improvement over the norm. One step at a time! And this was a pretty big step.

Tomb-Raider-2013-Screen-11

The game also includes a few homages to past games and movies, which I loved. This new Tomb Raider is completely modern, and yet retains the feel of the classic Tomb Raiders. I felt it the first time I wandered into a water-filled cave. As I moved slowly through the water, a wave of nostalgia hit me. Luckily, no bats or batshitcrazy T-Rexes made an appearance!

So, without further ado, let’s zip-line-and-crazy-pickax-jump into this review! This covers the PS3 version of Tomb Raider, which does not include her fancy “every strand of hair moves” technology that the PC version came with.

Package

Check out my unboxing video here. The game came with a code for a scavenger hunt (that I was apparently supposed to do before the game came out) a mini art book, and Tomb Raider: Final Hours, which works through the Amazon Appstore.

tombraiderfinalhoursedition

Plot

“Armed with only her instincts and her innate ability to push beyond the limits of human endurance, Lara must fight, explore, and use her intelligence to unravel the dark history of a forgotten island and escape its relentless hold.”

In this reboot of the series, a young, 21-year-old Lara is on her first archaeological adventure, looking for the kingdom of Yamatai. Following a hunch, she convinces the crew to head into the Dragon’s Triangle and its deadly storms.

From there, everything hits the fan in a rolling avalanche of crazy.

Characters

tombraidercharacters

  • Alex – Know-it-all nerd boy who just wants to impress Lara.
  • Jonah – The spiritual brown man, he’s nice, patient, never loses his temper, and gives me presents. He also has a dark past.
  • Sam – The director of the expedition’s film. I loved seeing a woman in this role, as it’s very rare to see female directors represented in any medium. She also cares deeply about her roots, as well as Lara. She miiight be sweethearts with Lara.
  • Reyes – The tough girl with a heart. She is tough on Lara and has little patience for her. She’s also a mechanic and single mother.
  • Roth – Is the fatherly figure who taught Lara everything she knows.
  • Grim – The badass old man. You get the idea that he, Roth, and Lara’s dad had some crazy adventures of their own.
  • Whitman – The prima donna douche-bag and head archaeologist of this expedition.
  • Lara Croft – The young and passionate Lara lives on instinct, much as she is told to. Unfortunately, her instincts tend to lead her and others right into danger. Also, she comes off as a little book smart but street dumb, constantly tripping on vines, loudly calling out for people instead of hiding, and never picking up a parka from one of the many dead, fully-clothed people around her. As for her new look, her arms should be way more muscly, but in general, her body is proportional and more realistic than past representations (though I still think her lower back is probably aching and hey, she keeps using a bow but doesn’t bind her breasts, but whatever, survivor, wooo!).

I love this multicultural cast of characters and I enjoyed learning more about each of them. You find out most of the info through reading documents or, rather, having documents read to you by their voice actors. It often lends a haunting and melancholy air to the adventure.

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As great as it is to have a diverse cast, I do have to point out that they each turn into tropes by the end of the game. The exciting news is that those tropes aren’t based on their race or gender, but more on roles of other characters in action movies. Yes, Reyes is a single mother and has a bad temper, but she is also a mechanic, a strong leader, and has a sweet side that is shown only when talking about her daughter or around her secret beau. Jonah is the mystical brown man, but he also has a troubled past, and his mysticism has more to do with his personality than his race.

All in all, I was very pleased to see this group, and I hope other games take note!

Graphics and Sound

This game is lovely. Environments often equate to eye-porn, with the complementary music adding a sense of loneliness to Lara’s journey. The atmosphere in this game was just spot on. I was freaked out, excited, sad, whatever they wanted me to feel.

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The characters look stunningly realistic, and on the PC version Lara has TRESSFX, lending super realism to her…hair.

I played on the PlayStation 3 and saw only one glitch, where a gun was floating in the air, lonely and aloof.

Gameplay

The gameplay of this game is really and truly a blend. It’s not exactly a survival game, because you don’t need to eat to live, and ammo is plentiful. It is an action game with strong puzzle and shooter elements.

In general, the gameplay made me think of Far Cry 3 (PS: holy fast-travel batman!) and Uncharted. Oddly enough, a lot of the controls reminded me of DMC: Devil May Cry, but that’s probably just my brain being strange. Either way, I felt that this was the kind of game that would have been more difficult to play if it had come out a few years prior, but instead feels like a natural evolution of game mechanics.

QuickTime

QuickTime events were used heavily throughout the game. You all know how much I hate QuickTime events, but at least these generally did not take away from my ability to see what was happening on the screen.

Tools and Skills

There were a few interesting mechanics, such as lighting things on fire, environment interactions, and scaling walls with your pickax. Using fire continuously to help you in various puzzles and in traversing the environment was very interesting to me, as fire is usually a damaging feature in games, as opposed to a helping one. The game uses a system of base camps to allow you to upgrade skills and weapons based on experience points and loot (called salvage in game). Lara can also change outfits and collect relics and journal entries, adding clues to the island’s mysteries.

The UI of the skills and gear was very awkward and non-intuitive to me. It took me forever to figure out where everything was, and I found it difficult to compare weapons in any way.

I also had to figure out that when I dug in a box and didn’t find something, it actually either just made an automatic change in my gear or added to my salvage, without me appearing to have grabbed anything.

Environment

Lara’s interaction with the environment is also a solid gameplay experience. She automatically takes cover when enemies are near, she reaches out to touch walls when she gets close to them, she lights a torch in dark tombs and looks around in interest at scenic areas. I loved the automatic cover, and would enjoy seeing it as an alternative to sticky cover in other games.

tomb-raider-2013-gameplay-screenshot

As I mentioned before, the game is vaguely reminiscent of the old Tomb Raiders, especially in the optional tomb maps. Each area is its own puzzle/platformer, and there are enough varied moments that no section ever becomes dull. You could be doing anything from steering a fall to jumping around sunken ships to scaling an ice cliff to running from flames. This was truly a game that kept me on my toes, and even the most ADD player would have trouble being bored.

However, one issue I had is that sometimes areas are so clearly traps that it feels ridiculous that you have to actually go to them. This is a combination of narrative and level design that leads to this issue though. It just made Lara seem dumb for going into those areas.

Although the level design is usually very fun, sometimes it was a “learn by dying” experience, as you slowly pieced together how best to proceed in the level. Some levels needed to be stealth, which wasn’t always apparent since most areas allowed you to choose your own approach. These areas were particularly punishing and frustrating.

Stealth

When it worked, stealth was mildly addictive. When it didn’t work, it was horrendously annoying. As most of you know, I don’t generally enjoy stealth games. I am very impatient, which resulted in my death numerous times because I didn’t wait for an enemy to move, or pay attention to where they were facing. Eventually, I learned to treat the game as if every mission required stealth until the mission proved otherwise.

Tomb-Raider-2013-Screen-4

Combat

You will probably die in at least one fire-fight, as waves of enemies relentlessly pursue you, shooting up the frail boundaries you hide behind.

tomb-raider-2013

In general, combat is very well-paced with the story. Modding weapons leads to very satisfactory shooting experiences. One issue I had though is that Lara is so weak compared to the enemies. I can shoot some of them in the head twice and they don’t die… but if one of them has a rifle, I’m dead in seconds.

Enemies honestly cause more harm to themselves sometimes, setting things on fire, dropping napalm, cramming a choke point…lol, blowing up entire levels…lots of ways.

In general, combat became a more enjoyable experience the more I played and became used to the aiming mechanics, which felt slightly shaky in the beginning.

Multiplayer

Tomb Raider has four multiplayer modes:

  • Team Deathmatch – Team vs. team and highest score wins
  • Cry for help – Round based mode where survivors must activate radio transmitters while preventing batteries from falling into enemy hands
  • Survival of the Fittest – Kill other players without dying to become the executioner before time runs out
  • Rescue – Attempt to recover medical supplies while the Solarii must finish you with a melee execution

I played Team Deathmatch to get a feel for the multiplayer. It has a fairy simple set up: gain XP to get new weapons, mods, skills and characters. You get to choose which team you will play on, Survivors or Sollari. I liked that the system rewarded me not just for epic wins but also for epic fails, with a Feats and Setbacks feature.

The multiplayer is not bad, I just really wish they’d made it relate more to the main game. For example, all of the times the crew was separated from Lara could have been the setup for each of the multiplayer maps, with Lara calling in on walkie-talkie at the end of them.

Final Thoughts

This game took me on a journey. I went from scared and naïve Lara to a badass warrior woman. There was a moment at the very end, where Lara does something iconic to the Tomb Raider franchise, and I actually cheered. This is the Tomb Raider we’ve been waiting for.

tomb-raider-2013-screenshot7

You know what else is amazing about this game? Women stood behind it. Girl gamers asked for it, bought it, played it, and mostly loved it. This is the proof the industry needs that “if you build it, they will come” should be their mantra! Gamers are hungry for more strong female leads in games.

Another favorite aspect of the game for me was something that even my male friends noticed: no one called me rude names! I was never “bitch” or anything like that. They called me the “Outsider.” Heck, some of the bad guys even talked about what an amazing shot I was! I love that positivity in things I kill.

Despite the sometimes punishing combat and Lara’s almost unbelievable naivete in the beginning, this game proved to be a fun, fast ride worthy of any action flick, but with the solid gameplay of a classic.

First appeared on Nerdy But Flirty.

No GravatarThis is a look into the music for one of the greatest and longest running franchises in Video Game History.

Nobuo Uematsu and the Grand Rapids Symphony

 

You never forget your first Fantasy. Turning on the game, to hear the now immortal Crystal theme, before being thrown into a wild ride of story, monsters, magic and the triumph of good over evil. I felt it way back in the late 80s when I received a copy of Final Fantasy for Christmas, and I played that game so many times…For over 20 years, Final Fantasy has been a huge part of the RPG gamer’s experience, and has ushered in some of the most important developments in game play, storytelling, characterization and, above all, visual beauty.

 

 

Nobuo Uematsu, The Man Behind many a great Final Fantasy Soundtrack

 

One of the integral parts of the gaming experience has always been the music. From humble beeps and bops on the NES to the sweeping scores of the later games, Final Fantasy has delivered some of the best in-game musical experiences ever. It would be hard to find a fan of the JRPG genre who does not own at least one soundtrack, or one of the bevy of associated orchestrated, piano or even celtic revival discs released since the late 1990s. Given life by composer Nobuo Uematsu, some of the songs and themes from the series have transcended their origins and become contemporary classics in their own right.

 

 

Distant Worlds Logo

 

So it is little wonder that Uematsu decided to take this show on the road. Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy, a world tour featuring a full philharmonic playing the most beloved songs from the series, crossed the country, finally stopping in New York on April 1st and 2nd, for a two part event that would bring these distant worlds that much closer to the fans who have devoured them over the years. Held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Gilman Opera House, the event drew in over 2000 people each night, some in costume, some not, but all fans of the sweeping arrangements that Final Fantasy has become famous for having. I had the chance to attend the second night only, which was fine by me in the end, as it had a lot of the music I was anticipating. I missed out on “Liberi Fatali” and “Fisherman’s Horizon,” two of the standout songs from Final Fantasy VIII, but that just gives me an excuse to attend the next tour.

 

 

Final Fantasy VIII Squall

 

After an introduction that featured Uematsu himself receiving the first of several standing ovations of the night, the music immediately took off, greeting listeners to a sight and sound trip into the Bombing Run that opened Final Fantasy VII. See, this was more than just a concert- accompanying each song were selected images and movies from the adjoining games, broadcast on a huge screen directly over the orchestra. (This screen would later also be used for the largest karaoke event in history, but that was a ways off.) Attendees were given a chance to revisit some of the classic games in the series, and perhaps be exposed to new ones.

 

The music continued on To Zanarkand, followed by the oft repeated message Don’t Be Afraid, before welcoming guest vocalist Susan Calloway to remind us to cherish our Memories of Life, which might have been the most poignant moment of the evening, with nary a dry eye around. (Although Aerith’s Theme, a personal favorite of Uematsu, came close.) But just in case it wasn’t “manly” enough, we were once more introduced to that Man With the Machine Gun as he blasted his way through the Lunatic Pandora.

 

 

Final Fantasy VI

 

As the evening progressed, there were tributes to each and every other game in the series- a medley of pieces from the first 3 Final Fantasies, numerous variations on the now-classic Chocobo theme, two-part delves into the recent Final Fantasy XIII and XIV, a rousing rendition of “Battle on the Big Bridge” from Final Fantasy V, the quirky “Vama allo Flamenco” from Final Fantasy IX, and even a quick play of the immortal tune-turned-perpetual-ringtone Victory Fanfare (all 7 seconds of it).  But the highlights of the evening were certainly the staging of “Aria di Mezzo” from Final Fantasy VI and quite possibly the best known theme from any Final Fantasy, “One Winged Angel.”

 

 

The One Winged Angel

 

Since the show was held in an Opera House, it made perfect sense to stage the opera there. Three powerful singers gave life to what might be the most powerful sequence in the entire game, while the screen showed what the other party members would have been doing during the performance. For 12 minutes, the audience was transported out of Brooklyn and into the game itself, culminating with a three vocal harmony that closed out the “show.” But that was far from the end. Conductor Arnie Roth revisited the game with “Terra’s Theme” while the “opening credits” rolled and drew big applause from the gathered fans.

 

 

Classic Final Fantasy Warrior of Light

 

Then, when everyone thought it was over, Uematsu himself came out to get the audience ready for the true closer. But since there was no choir that night, as there had been the previous, we were informed that we would be providing the now-infamous choral accompaniment of latin phrasing and “Sephiroths.” This was the moment most of the audience had been waiting for, judging from the cheers, because who wouldn’t want to hear the descent of the “One Winged Angel” played out in full, orchestrated glory? And while the 2000 strong “chorus” might not have been in perfect harmony, Uematsu ran from one side of the stage to the other, cuing voices and granting yet another moment for the fans to join together in communal harmony and celebration.

 

 

Final Fantasy 13 Cutscene Plays Behind the Symphony

 

I had been waiting for something like this to come my way for years. As a long time fan of the games (and owner of just about every soundtrack, plus more than a few orchestrated collections), this was a chance to realize a dream, and be part of something larger than my own life. In some ways, Final Fantasy might be more remembered for its classic themes and scores, which have outlived the games themselves in many regards, and have certainly surpassed their initial purpose.

 

I can only hope there will be more chances like this in the near future.

 

 

 

 

 

No GravatarIt’s time for Only the Goddamn Truth. Time for the most epic man in video games to bring in the truth and news about the video game industry.

 

This time there is some big BIG news, as well as some impressions on a newly launched handheld. On this double hitting  episodes, I talk about the news about a Final Fantasy 7 HD Remake on the PSP2.

And don’t forget to check out the impressions and thoughts on the 3DS midnight launch and day 1 issues.

 

Final Fantasy 7 HD Remake

 

 

3DS Launch

 

 

Stay tuned for more info and more OTGT videos here on Real Otaku Gamer.

By Charles On 2 Nov, 2010 At 05:13 PM | Categorized As Featured | With 0 Comments

The large Expo floor served to separate the “men from the boys,” as companies debuted new products, announce new projects, and became an exercise in survival among fans.