Mike's general stuff ~ Random

What I'm going to babble about on this page: Tomb Raider 6, and Mozilla.

TOMB RAIDER 6 (aka. "Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness") has finally been released (in the UK on the 4th of July), but sadly, within a week of receiving it, I completed it. Compare that to previous experiences, usually a month or three IIRC. A bit of a letdown on that front.

TR6 is very different from previous versions in a lot of respects. The graphics, combat situations, interactivity in conversations, and lots of new little features.

First off, the graphics: Generally amazing. However, a few major let-downs - the graphics preferences are totally bizarre. I'm fairly experienced in graphics options in games, I know what all the popular universal options mean, however, I'm sure half of those don't mean s__t to anyone except maybe the programmers themselves, and only when they were all stoned out of their gourd. I do like having tonnes of graphics options but A: some useful descriptions please and B: SOME DOCUMENTATION! Also, I have an NVidia graphics card (my machine spec here), but the 'nvidia shadows' option results in graphics corruptions in the shadow.

Secondly, the control system in TR6 really sucks. In previous TR games you could get Lara to do things like turn 180 degrees in the air while somersaulting backwards, pull guns while jumping, and quite a few other simultaneous functions. In TR6, you pretty much can't, except for the most stuff like changing direction while walking/running. A nice word for the graphics here again though is that when Lara is climbing structures, she can do a few more things now, but the realism of her looking like she's actually putting effort into it like a normal human would is impressive. Key bindings are very bizarre in TR6, and a few are undocumented or incorrect. Irritating. Lots of actions are significantly less responsive than before, also irritating.

Thirdly, there's a new playable character: Kurtis Trent. This is a first for TR games, with the slight exception of TR4 where the game starts using Lara when she's a teenager. Anyway, back to Kurtis. To use a phrase I heard someone on a forum use: "Kurtis moves at the speed of Jabba the Hutt after a 5 course Chinese meal". He is nowhere near as easy to control as Lara is. I also found it irritating that he seemed to have a touch of The Matrix about him in a number of scenes. They even did a bit of a ripoff of the "Bullet Time" style twice in a cutscene. I think Kurtis was brought into the game to serve to break up the gameplay a bit, but IMO that is not necessary.

Again on the control system - it is supposed to be, and does initially look like a nice feature that Lara/Kurtis sometimes automatically back away or move toward the target they are aiming their guns at. This generally served to get them killed on a number of occasions. Looks nice, but irritating.

About the combat system - I really like the hand-to-hand combat system. Sometimes I go back a save game just to whup someone's ass again :-) Maybe they ought to develop it further rather than "clickety clickety click" with the same button, but its fun all the same. I also really like that shooting people is more realistic now, they go down with a few shots if you go in close. Two things at once I like there :-)

Something I really dislike is the Resident Evil feel of the game. TR games have always been free look 99% of the time. This game is about 70% of the time, and the fixed camera angles only serve one amusing purpose, which is to get Lara facing them, and jump on the spot, and watch her jubblies bounce, which I might add is very realistic :-)


TR6's ending was disappointing, I was left feeling "is that it?", and I had only just become confident with the control system!

The bugs were a let down. No gameplay bugs from what I saw on the PC version, but other bugs in the game made me consult a forum on two occasions when I thought something wasn't happening right and could be the result of a gameplay bug. I'm not saying TR games in particular should have no bugs whatsoever, but puzzle games need to have a higher standard than most other games.

I think the reason for the quickness of completing the game was partly down to the graphics. They are significantly more detailed than previous TR games, so more disk spaced used, and the game came on two CDs. Quite a few of the levels are urban, and urban scenery generally needs to be more detailed, whereas in previous games the same texture could be used far more for large areas. One example - I completed a particular level in TR6 in under a minute. On "The Deck" level on TR2, it would take at least 20 minutes just to run around the entire level, let alone do anything. Most levels on TR6 were smaller than the smallest levels on any previous TR game.

I'd give TR6 5 out of 10, compared to the previous TR games. I completed the game twice in one week "to get my money's worth".

MOZILLA 1.4 has been released. A good deal faster and better than previous installments, no significant bugs to speak of. I like. I'm waiting for the standalone versions of the browser and mail client to become more stable and use less memory before I move on to them (Firebird, the standalone browser, and Thunderbird, the mailnews client). The only thing in the way of that plan is that I use Mozilla Calendar, which is relatively new, and doesn't have many developers, so it advances slowly. One thing that I don't know if it has changed much with Mozilla, as I have it installed in a ramdisk, is whether its startup time has been shortened.