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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some plot spoilers for Rise of the Tomb Raider

Butch:

Ok. Hugged Jonah, did the maproom bit (Belloque’s staff is too long…..they’re digging in the wrong place!), saw Jonah get kidnapped, got the “you’re not here but you’re gazing up in this direction so we’ll show you the cutscene” cutscene, got climbing arrows, killed some dudes, got killed by dudes in dumb ways, decided I was tired, stopped.

Well, Jonah really just showed up to be a plot point, didn’t he? “Hey Lara…I just wanted to let you know how much I love you and give you the chance to give me a really earnest hug before I get kidnapped. I mean, the audience has to CARE, right?” The only thing that’s stopping this from being a total eye roll is the whole twist on the damsel in distress trope. Here, the hottie is saving the big butch guy. Indeed, the picked the biggest, butchest guy to be the one in distress. Kinda cool. ALMOST makes me forgive the fact that it’s so very, very contrived.

Maybe it was because we were just talking on jarringness of third person cutscenes, but yeah, that was jarring. But I can see why they did it, and it’s something that games are going to have to wrestle with: complexity of baddies. If you’re going to have a baddie with layers past “I’m a really bad baddie,” (which is what usual video games have) you have to develop them and their motivations somehow. If all your scenes are from the perspective of the PC, this gets tricky. I mean, the hero is probably not going to sit down for a latte with the bad guy just to shoot the shit, talk about the future, hopes, dreams, that sort of thing. When baddie and PC are together, they’ll either be trying to kill each other, or there will be eye rolling villain exposition, which isn’t any better.

So props to game for giving us a baddie that is more than, say, Lazaravic in UC2. He ISN’T just “I’m big man who never takes off bullet proof armor who wants things.” He ISN’T just Trinity’s guy. There’s stuff going on in his head. But in order to show us that, they have to cheat. Or they think they have to cheat. Do they?

Climbing arrows are a cool mechanic. Another oddity, though, in light of the rebreather. We’re both adding mechanics and subtracting them all at once.

What caught my eye with them, though, is body language. The motion capture in this game is pretty fucking perfect, and lets us talk on this sort of thing. Her pose, that balanced sitting pose, is interesting. We’ve talked on her body language in trees and all, how it’s animal. This, she looks scared, poised, in control and deadly all at the same time. It’s great.

Not a bad starting point. That’ll get us to about noon before we derail.

Feminina:

I did enjoy the twist on the classic rescue trope, but yeah, it was pretty contrived. Although not unexpected: I mean, we knew he wasn’t going to just go home even though she said “don’t come after me,” right? (Also a nice touch that he then yells “don’t come after me!” and, of course, she goes after him. Although in some ways it would have been an even MORE interesting twist if she’d said “OK, unlike you, I will respect your wishes and not go after you, especially considering you wouldn’t even be in this trouble if you’d respected my wishes and not come after me.” Cold, though. That would have been very cold.)

That was precisely the jarring cutscene I was talking about. Jarring. Comes out of nowhere and all. And as you say, it complexifies the baddies and that’s all to the good, but it still jars. And now we’re in the position where WE know they’re complex, but Lara doesn’t, so how does that translate? How to we manage our identification with Lara, who doesn’t have this additional understanding, when we ourselves do?

“Uh…for this next bit, pretend you don’t know that…”

It’s hard. It is hard. And there’s really no idea way to do it–you can only get so much across with (also implausible) found documents, a videorecording of their conversation that happened to be saved on a computer Lara stumbled across would have been just as jarring because it would be completely unrealistic…I don’t really have a good answer to the problem, but I definitely noticed it.

I do like her stance on the arrows. It’s nicely balanced and alert and controlled (and stable enough to shoot more arrows, which is handy).

I played some as well. Roamed around Kitezh (spoiler: eventually you get to the place you’ve been trying to get to for the whole game). Trying to complete challenges and collect loot and stuff. Got the secret from the 9th tomb so now I can go back to that lady in the valley who wanted them. I don’t know if that’s all the tombs in the game or if the rest are just optional to that mission…anyway, I’m 80-something percent now, so we’re closing in on the end. I expect a big fight soon. Once I’m done toodling.

I mean, it’s urgent, there’s doings a-transpirin’ that are supposedly time-sensitive, but one can always spare a moment to explore a hidden crypt, right? Of course right.

Butch:

Nine tombs is it. And your psn account spoiled it. It was all showing “tomb raider: lost city.” Guess she’s in the lost city.

Even Jacob was stunned that she didn’t twist the trope! “You’re not going to carry on to find the secrets? That we died for? That you pretty much fucked up our whole way of life for? FOR THAT GUY?”

He’s got a point Lara.

And there’s “saw it coming” contrived, and then there’s “we’re gonna bring him back and kidnap him IN THE SAME CUTSCENE” contrived.

I’m with you on the cutscene. Another instance of this game trying to do something good and just kinda missing.

Feminina:

Well, nine it is, then. I guess it makes sense that at this point I’m in the last major ‘region’ and there won’t be any more places to stick tombs. Ah well. It was fun while it lasted! This one was another interesting “things weren’t all sunshine and puppy dogs in this ancient civilization” one.

Jacob does have a point. “Do you want this Divine Source or not, lady? Because going to rescue your manly friend is not going to get you closer to it.”

But she doesn’t even hesitate, just “he came for me, I’m going for him.” It’s touching and all, but you’ll never clear your father’s name with this kind of sentimental nonsense. I mean, I like Jonah too, he’s stuck by her and he seems like a good guy and a true friend, but priorities!

I wonder if at some point in the endfight we’ll see either Konstantin or Ana have to decide whether to take the Source or save the sibling, and they’ll make the opposite choice, and it will drive home the point that that’s why Lara is good and they aren’t.

Calling it, if so!

Or it would be an interesting further complication of the baddies if they had to make that choice and DID save their sibling….we shall see.

Butch:

That and, until then it was all “Hey, lady, could you go away before we all get shot to shit?” “No…I must not care about your ways…or anything else…for my father….” “Oh…well….then…..” BANG BANG BANG BANG “Well Lara….I hope it was worth it…..I hope you find what you seek…” “What? Seek? Oh, yeah, fuck that…gotta go save this other dude you just met. Sorry about that whole getting shot to shit thing…..”

Dude….you can’t do callsies on both sides of something. That isn’t how callsies works.

Feminina:

But if I can’t call both sides of an issue, how can I be sure I’m going to be right?

You can see my concern here.

But fine, I’ll call the first one because I think it’s more likely, but I’ll be impressed with their subtlety and baddie-complexification if they do the second.

Butch:

Fair.

I do admire the attempt at making the baddie interesting. We need more of that.

You know, maybe the whole mechanic of the scene was what was REALLY jarring. I mean, it wasn’t JUST a scene we weren’t at. Lara looked up, there was a zoom in, the scene, then a pull back to Lara, like the game was really TELLING you “And now we’re GOING OVER HERE.” Maybe if they had just DONE it without so deliberately taking you there, we’d have cared less. I mean, I found the other times they did this less jarring.

Feminina:

We do! And making the baddie interesting and complicated also highlights the complicated interesting-ness (or, sometimes, not-that-interesting-ness) of the goodie, who in many cases is not really all that different from the baddie, certainly in practical terms, but even in motivation.

We’re supposed to empathize with Lara more than Konstantin and Ana because her motivations are more sympathetic, but are they, when you get right down to it? She’s obsessed with proving her dead father’s point, which really no one but she cares about. Konstantin and Ana are religious fanatics, and I personally don’t find that sympathetic, but you can’t say they aren’t trying to do what they see as right. Well, Konstantin, anyway. Ana…I’m unsure how strong her faith really is, but even if it’s not about faith, she’s trying to save her own life, which is certainly understandable.

It’s never just black and white, and games–at least the ones we play–very often recognize this at least in passing, but it’s always interesting when they actually address it.

Butch:

Even really really good games often gloss over the baddie. We have flawed HEROES all the time, but, usually, the baddie is just bad. Which makes sense, given that’s it’s easier to do subtle character development when the character is actually in the scenes.

It was interesting in jarring scene to see that Trinity ISN’T really the ultimate in fanaticism. Konstantin is MORE of a fanatic than they are. That’s a nice twist, too.

Who is the number one of Trinity? Twists….I sense twists…..

Feminina:

I hope it’s Evil Helen Mirren. This could be a prequel!

I did like that hint of “if Trinity isn’t with me on this, hell with ’em” we got from Konstantin. He’s using them for his own purposes to a certain extent. And he REALLY believes in his own purposes! Another look at the power of faith.

Lara believes in her father, Konstantin believes in his own visions, the Remnant believe in the Prophet…

Butch:

Admit it: You’re going to hold out hope that the overbaddie is Evil Helen Mirren in every game you will ever play forever.

Feminina:

Siiiiiiigh…I will, yes.

My fingers will always be secretly crossed: “come ON, Evil Helen Mirren!”

She was not particularly complex, and she could have used some complexity. What was her story? Why was she so interested in all this stuff? What did she REALLY think of Drake?

We shall never know.

Butch:

She wasn’t complex at all. But she was EVIL HELEN MIRREN!

Which is enough. It is.

This is my last evening with substandard TV. I’d say I’d take pictures or something, but I don’t think they’ll do it justice.

TECH LUST!!!!!

I just won’t think about how good Civ6 would have looked on it…..

****whimper****

Feminina:

No, don’t think about that. Think about how good Lara Croft will look on it. Also Evil Helen Mirren when she shows up (fingers crossed!). That is enough.

Butch:

Oh Lara’s gonna look great. Might have to spring for that tank top outfit in the supply shack.

Sadly, not kidding.

Feminina:

I’d mock you, but then, I’d probably spring for a johnson physics add-on if there were such a thing, so…we both have our pet issues.

Buy away, my friend.

Butch:

I chased down all those coin caches, dammit. I deserve SOMETHING. Not like I NEED another shotgun.

I do like that the supply guy wound up with a stylish tank top number in his shack. Makes sense, though. I mean, he’s sitting there all “What would Trinity miss…..hmm…..not this…..”

Feminina:

Ha! True. “I don’t know how this even got in here with the riot shields and body armor (really not Ana’s style!), so I’m sure no one will ever notice if I sell it to this murderous lady with all the gold. Or recognize it if they later see her wearing it.”

Butch:

They won’t notice it on her. They’re too mesmerized with the hair.

The hair will TRANSCEND on the new TV.

Feminina:

OMG. The hair. It IS going to be mesmerizing. You’ll spend the first 20 minutes of your game session just staring at it…moving slightly to make it ripple…staring…

Butch:

That’s how I’ve spent so much of this game already. And that’s in 1080p!

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