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Some spoilers for early in Rise of the Tomb Raider

Butch:

So let’s see… slept, got a cryptic cutscene with someone ELSE with a bow….(foreshadowing!)…got all sneaky, decided that doing death from above from trees is pretty damn awesome, killed dudes, killed the bear, toodled through the tunnel a while and now I’m about to start my first optional tomb, the ice ship, which I’m sure you did.

Two observations:

So we talked quite a bit about the gruesome nature of the death scenes in one. Here, we’ve only seen one gory one (or I have, the spike trap), BUT, if last night is any indication, Lara’s KILLS are far more gruesome in this one. I said yesterday that her body language is more savage, animal, and DAMN when she went all “finisher” with her axe, that shit’s gory. More so than one, if I remember correctly. People (including us) arched our eyebrows at the death scenes in one, saying it played up her “victimness,” and, if that’s true, turning the tables and making bad guy death scenes savage is interesting. Because it’s more than just blood and gore. Lara’s just savage. She is killing the SHIT out of these dudes.

Second, I felt bad for the bear. Poor bear. He’s just up there, found himself a nice abandoned cave, plenty of rabbits and deer around, chilling out. He doesn’t know he has a secret door. No. He probably thinks people want his cave, or his hide or something. He probably would have been all “Oh you just want to pass through there? Knock yourself out, just, you know, don’t touch my rabbits.” My guilt was increased by the fact that the first couple times I tried I ran like mighty holy hell, trying to draw him out, and he chased me out but then went back into his cave. He just wanted to be left alone. Sigh.

Feminina:

Damn it, I felt bad about the bear too! It’s the Nature Conservancy talking. I’ll choke 10 guys to death with my bow without a second thought, when they’re just hanging out trying to keep live ammunition from exploding, but that poor bear…

The bad guy deaths are a bit graphic. Very reminiscent of The Last of Us, when you’d sneak up and choke someone and have to really put some time and effort into it. This isn’t just an insta-kill, you WORK at it. (Especially in combat, when you’re trying to finish off one dude while another one takes aim at you: that gets a bit intense.)

Which makes Lara seem fierce, but also makes us, perhaps, a little more conscious of the fact that we are purportedly ending a human life. It’s a bit of a dark edge to the standard violence, which was par for the dark and gloomy course in TLOU but not so much in Uncharted.

I did feel a little bad for those dudes, really. Not the ones that were torturing the guy, but when they’re just sort of hanging out. I have to remind myself they were probably torturing some guy a few minutes earlier.

The ice ship was pretty cool. I’m glad we get some climby puzzly bits. And these “optional tombs” are kind of cool in that they’re not directly related to the story, so you don’t have that feeling of some bad guy just waiting to show up as soon as you solve it and steal your hard work.

Butch:

Hey, the dudes are looking for us and trying, actively to kill us. The bear is just chilling there eating rabbits. The bear could care less about us, but for the fact we are interrupting dinner. The bear is not trying to find the thing that was our father’s life work. The bear is only a threat because we’re half crazy and driven. I got no problem killing dudes who are actively trying to find and kill me. This does not describe the bear.

The dark edge to the enemy deaths also makes her less of a victim. She’s not killing out of need, and dying a slightly sexualized submissive death. No. She’s killing cuz she….do I say wants?….wants to kill? Or, at the very least, has consciously made a choice to pursue a quest that she damn well knows will lead to killing, and that wasn’t the case in the first game. She’s no victim, here. She’s not killing to avoid being a victim, here. She has chosen to be a killer.

Which, as you say, also indicts the player somewhat. I mean, pretty much every video game we play, we’re choosing to take quests that turn us into virtual killers. That is usually glossed over, but not here. She’s made a choice, as have we. Hmm.

Torture? NOT THERE YET! NOT THERE!

But I did like that about TR One. It is your work. And it gives you more of a sense of being a badassed action hero. You found this. They didn’t. I mean, Nathan never found something that someone else didn’t find either first or right away. Most times, he was late to the party. Here, Lara finds stuff that no one else does. She’s better than they are, and that’s cool.

In other news, you probably heard that Rockstar has announced that their next game will be Red Dead Redemption 2, a sequel to the western classic that I didn’t play cuz it was a console exclusive. It was one of those games I regretted not playing, as it is universally considered a masterpiece. Did y’all (or at least Mr. O) play it? Because, must say, this is instantly on my “games I am now paying very close attention to” list, and ought to be on yours.

Feminina:

Sorry! Sorry! Forget I said anything!

It’s true, those guys are a bunch of would-be me-killers, while the bear is just chilling and having dinner. And good point about her choices here: she has definitely made the decision to pursue this quest even though it will lead to her murderin’ a bunch of dudes. She had the opportunity to back off. After her first meeting with Konstantin, and when that guy stole her book, she could have said “hell with it, let them keep it.”

These guys are clearly a bunch of murderous weirdos, and she could have made the choice to stay out of it. But she didn’t, and so, knowing what these guys were about, she knew there would be murder. Making her related decision to do the lone wolf thing more sensible–it’s quite reasonable not to want to bring other people into that.

Also, yeah, I caught up on Dad’s journals, and I don’t trust Ana either. Her just happening to show up and be interested in his work is way too convenient. I bet she’s Evil Helen Mirren as a younger woman! Before she got involved with that secret government agency, she was involved with this secret…whatever type of agency Trinity is.

As for Red Dead, meh…I heard it was good, but it really didn’t ever sound like anything I wanted to play. I kind of THOUGHT I should want to play it, because of people saying it was good, but I didn’t actually want to.

I dunno, maybe when you grow up in Montana you’re kind of over the whole cowboy thing? Anyway, I did see the news of RDR2, and I was pretty much just…meh.

So, I guess if you’re into it I’ll consider being interested for blogging purposes, but I have to say it doesn’t particularly appeal.

Butch:

Indeed, Lara’s choice to work alone makes some sense given her choice to take on this enemy.

She differs from the bear in that regard. We talked yesterday about how the perils in this game mirror Lara’s journey. The bear could be her in the last game. Lara was minding her business, shooting a TV show, and boom. Much like poor bear. Without the TV show.

And yeah, Ana ain’t right. No way. I’m surprised Lara seems to sort of trust her.

I, too, am interested in Red Dead because I think I should be. It’s supposed to be very, VERY story heavy, and we do that, don’t we?

Over the whole cowboy thing. C’mon, man. You make it sound like you spent your days on horseback, riding the range, side saddle in a hoop dress, only to pass your nights in the saloon, sitting ’round the player piano, singing songs of yesteryear. Which is complete BS. You sat around reading, turning up your nose at mac and cheese.

Feminina:

Oh, I don’t mean to imply I WAS a cowboy (or girl) in any significant way, I just mean that you kind of grow up saturated in that culture/mythology and learn to a) take it with a grain of salt in that most people don’t actually do any of that and b) not see it as particularly glamorous or romantic or interesting even for those people that do it (because even though I didn’t personally do much of it, we certainly knew ranchers, hung out on ranches, etc.).

Although there ARE photos of me driving a tractor at age 6, so don’t mock my cred, man.

But mostly I mean “over it” in the sense that I got plenty of that story as a kid and didn’t especially care about it then, so I don’t especially care about it now either.

Or maybe I just don’t care about it, period, and it has nothing to do with my childhood. I’ll entertain that possibility as well.

Maybe Lara’s trust of Ana is supposed to represent her lingering strands of innocence and trust in humanity? Kind of a signal that even though she’s embraced the idea that she may need to murder hundreds of dudes to get what she wants, she hasn’t yet concluded that everyone around her is suspect and potentially just using her/her dad to get something?

I bet by next game, that’s all gone and she’ll trust no one.

Butch:

Oh I know it’s fake. I mean, I think that if a game tried to make a western totally realistic, it wouldn’t work. They have to be stylized. A good western game is as much “real” as Uncharted (maybe without the zombies, but still) in that UC had jeeps and guns and real stuff, but c’mon.

Well, we’ll keep an eye. Like I said, I didn’t play the first few either, what not having a console and all. But if it’s a great open world story game, we owe it at least our curiosity.

That said, if Cyberpunk comes out at the same time, then we ignore Red Dead.

And, well, there are certainly people Lara still trusts. Jonah is obviously someone she trusts.

It’s interesting you mention the next game. Maybe a silver lining of having to wait to play this is we’ll get our sequel sooner. One would think that, as this game sold a bunch of copies on X1 and PC, and is likely selling very well on PS, there will BE another one, and they’ve probably been working on it for a year. Here’s hoping. Nothing so far in this one would make me not play the next one.

Feminina:

I’m not even objecting to the fakeness, I’m just objecting to the ‘been there done that’-ness of the entire genre for me, I guess. Which is perhaps unfair! There could be good stuff in the genre! Just not my favorite genre.

It’s like country music. I grew up hearing it (sometimes). There are good artists working in country music. I enjoy some country songs from time to time. It’s just not overall my favorite kind of music.

And for a huge open world game that we’d spend months playing, this feels like a potential concern. Like, “Do you want to spend the next 700 hours listening to country music?”

Umm…not that much? I mean, if it’s really good country music with a well-developed storyline and strong, fleshed-out characters and plenty of loot…maybe…but even then I’d really RATHER get those things from pop music.

That’s just my personal listening preference.

I totally intend to keep playing Tomb Raider until Lara is an embittered old weirdo living alone in a mansion full of loot, and then child Sam and Nathan break in and she gives them her assistant’s notes about Sir Francis Drake and drops dead.

It’s going to be awesome.

Butch:

Dude that circularity would rule.

I would have loved it if Nathan’s daughter had been named Lara. Loved it.

Or if it turned out her dad answered to “Indiana.”

As for red dead, who are we kidding? We’re going to be playing Horizon and Mass Effect by holiday 2017 anyway.

Is this where you say “I grew up in Montana so I’m so over robot dinosaurs?”

Feminina:

Oh GAAAAAAAWD yes, I am SOOOOOOOOOO over robot dinosaurs.

Because I also grew up in Idaho, though: this time it’s not on Montana. Ha.

I’ll never be over Mass Effect. Never ever ever. Even if eventually the entire game is just scanning planets for resources.

Well, OK, maybe then.

Ooh, ooh, ooh, different kind of circularity, but it would also be awesome if in some future game(s) Lara and the adult Cassie Drake team up and go on adventures. I would play that the second it was released.

Butch:

Oh HELL yes. So would I.

Frankly, as Naughty Dog has been all cagey when asked if this is the last Uncharted by saying “Well, it’s the last game that features Nathan as the hero,” I fully expect we’ll play a game with Cassie as the hero. So we’re halfway there.

And agreed: ME is certainly my most anticipated game of next year.

Unless something else huge gets announced.

But it’s gonna be tricky: if unsubstantiated internet rumors are to be believed (and they MUST be), it’ll come out in late March. One must play something, and Horizon comes out for sure in mid February (this has been confirmed). Which means we may well be playing Horizon when ME hits, as Horizon is supposed to be big.

What to do, what to do? I don’t like interrupting games…..

Feminina:

All we can do is hope one of them (but certainly not both) gets delayed by a few months.

And that Uncharted Tomb Raider doesn’t come out in April.

I mean, there are worse game problems to have than too many good things to play, but I agree, it would suck to be wanting to play more than one thing at a time.

If unsubstantiated internet rumors say that ME Whatever is supposed to be shorter than Horizon, maybe hold off on the long one? I dunno. We can cross that bridge when we come to it.

Butch:

Life sure is hard.

Though, gotta say, ME is the one more likely to be delayed. We’ve seen far less gameplay, and we haven’t gotten a hard release date. The rumor was just from some Amazon listing of an art book.

The general hope is we get some news on November 7th, because Bioware always gives a little ME treat that day (Cuz N7. Get it? Cheeky.)

But in the meanwhile, got me an ice ship to raid.

Is Mr. O back into Assassin’s Creed? I keep seeing trophies being won.

Feminina:

Raid that ship!

Yeah, he’s been playing the AC pretty regularly. We just swap out discs whenever one of us goes to play something. He says it’s actually pretty good, but I’ll probably never get to it.

If ME is delayed, that could work out fine. We only need, oh, 6 months for a massive open world game…

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