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Sprite Machine

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  1. Max Richter - On the Nature of Daylight (as used in the movie 'Arrival'):
  2. Why was he playing the 2016 trailer?
  3. Wasn't Attack of the Clones and/or Revenge of the Sith actually shot digitally in 1080p? How are there 4k versions of these films?
  4. Now with even more changes! https://www.filmstories.co.uk/news/disney-viewers-report-more-changes-to-star-wars-4k-versions/
  5. He's still too lanky and furry, but it's loads better.
  6. The Temple of Xian opens with a long corridor leading towards the altar where the dagger was kept - the location from the game's opening FMV. It's one big troll moment, though, as the floor drops as you approach the altar and sends you down and through one of the toughest levels in the game - a labyrinth of traps and monsters. This is still the Great Wall of China, right? Somehow, this elaborate area has managed to remain hidden from civilization. There's a waterfall, a lake, an underwater cave system and a hidden temple filled with rows of inanimate armoured figures. Plus the usual tigers and birds, but no men. Oh, and there's a very dark spider's lair filled with massive giant fucking spiders, so that's nice. At least there are no mummies. While not as scary a level as TR1's Atlantis, the background ambience is rather ominous in its own right - predominantly hollow winds and low growling noises reminiscent of a sleeping dragon. It's spooky. The most dangerous part of this level is the ladders! The level ends with an in-game cutscene, showing Marco Bartoli plunging the Dagger of Xian into his own chest while his troupe perform a chanting ritual around him and then carry away his 'dead' body. Lara follows them through a large doorway, a portal into... somewhere else entirely.
  7. The next two levels are a little shorter and I suspect they were originally one big level that had to be cut into two. Catacombs of the Talion is first, and when I reached the end of it, I thought I'd missed loads of things because there's a rope bridge above the main temple entrance that I couldn't reach, and a giant melting pot above a frozen pond that I didn't manage to tip over and melt the ice. These were things I was sure I remembered doing before, and it's only when I got to the same place in the next level (Ice Palace) that it made sense. I don't actually know what would have happened if I fell off the rope bridge before melting the ice - I assume it's possible to get back up, but I didn't dare try. This is the second time that Tomb Raider has brought the player back to a previous area in a new level (the first was an Egypt level in Tomb Raider 1). Catacombs of the Talion introduces a new enemy, the yetis, and features the scariest room in the game - a completely dark room filled with the screaming, growling monsters. Fortunately, they're all in cages and can't reach you at first, but you don't realise that when you enter the room and fumble around in the dark, throwing flares every which way and keeping your guns drawn. The yetis are actually not that difficult to beat, just very agile, but it's the noises they make that terrify me. Plenty of grenades lying around in this level, so I make use of them, blowing up yetis, leopards and armed goons. Ice Palace introduces bizarre spring platforms that launch you into the air. Ever since playing this game twenty years ago, I've mentally pictured myself suddenly springing hundreds of feet up into the air whenever I walk over a square cover on a pavement. Just because of this bloody game! There are bells that activate doors when shot at, a giant gong in the main palace at the end, more yetis in cages, more leopards, and finally a rather large boss. I had completely forgotten that there even was a boss at the end of this level. It's like a big metal muscly bird thing. Fortunately, my stocks of med packs are good, and my ammo isn't too bad. After beating the Ice Palace boss, I'm treated to another FMV. Lara makes her escape from Bartoli and his goons in a jeep and then drives back to the Great Wall. Using the Talion, she opens the sealed Temple of Xian and enters...
  8. I hope up-ending your TV doesn't damage it!
  9. It is. The character sprite and level design (signposted hazards!) are all from the GameGear version.
  10. Barkhang Monastery is next. Apologies, this is a very stop/start session with a fair bit of backtracking, dying and reloading. The goal of the level (eventually) is to find five prayer wheels and then use the Seraph to unlock the catacombs in the back room of the main hall. But it takes me back and forth, finding keys, gems, emptying pools and climbing a lot of ladders. The noteworthy thing about this level is that the monks will help you fight off Bartoli's goon squad - so long as you don't accidentally shoot any of them. Doing so will set all of them off and they'll attack you as well for the rest of the level. So, save regularly and be careful to only shoot the birds and the goons (and windows). Having to deal with spear-weilding monks on top of everything else made this level much harder 20 years ago, as I didn't realise the monks were friendly by default. Far better to let them run around stabbing the goons, then pick up any loot they drop. "Die!!!"
  11. Tibetan Foothills is the first of the snowy levels, and Lara's now wearing a sheepskin jacket she nabbed from the plane. This level feels a bit more classic Tomb Raider, with caves and hills and mostly animals to kill, though it does feel decidedly off shooting snow leopards with an assault rifle. The Goons With Guns seem tougher too, like their padded clothes are absorbing more of my bullets. Still, the most fun part of this level is riding the snowmobile - a mechanic that actually translates quite well into the classic Tomb Raider setting. Slopes and ramps become mere playthings for its grippy treads, and launching yourself over jumps, off ramps and into goons is very satisfying. This is a level that benefits hugely from the draw distance increase - no more black snow against a bright sky.
  12. Answering my own question seven years later... It's fine! The gameplay doesn't require hammering the fire button very often, so it's more comfortable to hold the console in place (with the pinky underneath method). And it's a much better game, so it's worth persevering with. And on a New3DS, you don't have to worry about sweet-spot drift. If anything, the biggest issue I have with the controls is stopping myself from going into instant-dashes when I just want to walk, and consequently falling off ledges. The core mechanic of "dodging and firing" is generally fun throughout, although I found some of the levels repetitive, but then there's loads of weapons to experiment with which keeps things fresh (and I particularly like that bosses aren't bullet sponges and can be dispatched quickly and satisfyingly). And the adaptive difficulty is refreshing and accessible. And the script and characterisation is genuinely a delight, when you can actually concentrate on what they're saying. The production values are through the roof, and the music is outstanding. It takes some getting used to the controls, but this is a delightful game and I'm glad I took a punt on it at last!
  13. The final level in the shipwreck is 'The Deck', and it's another one of which I have vivid memories. Specifically, I remember the multiple levels of the deck being navigable only one way, so if you fall off the upper decks, you have to traipse half way round the level through some caves to get back up there again because they're inches away from grabbable jumping height. I also remember being very confused about how half of the Maria Doria managed to crash the right way up and embed itself in a cave in such a way as to not be underwater. I'm pretty sure the level design makes no logistical sense, but it does look pretty cool. The cave is absolutely massive. I remember this level taking me days to get through when I was younger - or maybe everything just seemed to take longer back then. Either way, this time it took me an hour and twenty, including aimless wandering. Oh, I found all the idols in this one, and reclaimed my grenade launcher at last! So, with the Seraph in hand, Lara travels to Tibet by cutscene, crashes her seaplane and parachutes into the snow covered foothills, whereupon she's instantly set upon by an angry bird.
  14. I'm not sure I even want to see these films unless they have the "cutting edge novelty" selling point of a ridiculous framerate. It's pretty much the only reason I kept going to see the mediocre Hobbit films at the expensive cinema. How disappointing. High framerate in sweeping wide shots and busy action scenes, and low framerate during quiet talking bits, is pretty much how videogames work but in reverse. I don't think my brain can take that.
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