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Many significant spoilers for the end of Rise of the Tomb Raider

Butch:

That ending.

That last fight really, really, REALLY sucked. It was tense, ok, fine, but I knew what I had to do pretty early, and just couldn’t fucking DO it. Toss the can….where is he where is he oh there he is I’m dead. Toss the can….ok I hit him with the can. Toss the can…..ooo! I’m close! I’m so close he turned around I’m dead.

Also….we posted about the whole “how to do villain character development” thing yesterday. Here’s a way NOT to: If you’re gonna have the villain do a bunch of talking, do NOT have said villain do said talking while you are trying to run away from and/or hide from said villain. Also, do not do so when loud boss fight music is playing. Konstantin said a whole bunch of stuff during that fight. I could hear that he was talking. Damned if I know what he said. I was busy trying not to die and swearing at the screen. If there was really great plot or themes there, you’re gonna have to do the writing. Missed it all.

Also, I only let him say that Trinity killed Lord Croft, he begged for his life, then begged for yours, before I killed him. I stayed in character. If he had a whole monologue planned, I missed it.

I DID, however, kinda love the whole cutscene with the source. Lots and lots of good stuff there, and really, REALLY well executed. Themes abound! Jacob WANTED her to do it! Does that mean he thought she was a hero….or not? He says he’s never met someone like her….someone so good? Or the evil person he needed to do this?

Lara’s “I’m sorry” was pretty damn perfect. Who was that for? Her father? Jacob? The deathless? Ana? Jonah? Herself? All of the above? Only some? If some, which? I LOVE an ending that makes me type so many question marks!

But…..once again…..we have a game with a man baddie and a woman baddie…(UC3, UC4, now this) where we kill the male baddie in a gruesome way…..and don’t kill the woman. Or fight the woman. Or do anything to the woman. (And we can talk on the finer points of THAT if you saw the after credits bit. Cuz there’s finer points of that.)

And I’m glad Jonah’s alive.

And we now know, to an 100% certainty, that the next game will NOT take place in Mexico.

Feminina:

Definitely not Mexico. Possibly the Yukon.

That’s funny, I didn’t have that much trouble with the Konstantin fight. I think I died twice.

I lurked on top of a pillar at first and jumped down on him, and then just hid behind things until I could distract him with a can and get him again. So for me it was kind of “OK, there must be a bigger worse fight coming!!!!” and then an interesting twist when there wasn’t.

I also killed him right after he said Lord Croft begged for his life, and then wondered “wait, did he have more to say there?” We shall never know. I also wondered if we could have just walked away and left him without killing him at all, but we shall probably never know that either. We just get so MAD when you taunt us about Lord Croft!

There was a lot of stuff in the cutscene with the Source. That “I’m sorry,” could indeed speak to everyone, or only one person, or maybe to the very concept of ‘finding out the truth’ because now the world will never know what the hell the Source was or how it worked. (Which is something I’m quite curious about: why did it allow Jacob to live forever as, apparently, the same guy he was–although as we previously discussed, he may have gone through a bloodthirsty, power-lusty phase on the way to being the calm and thoughtful Jacob we met–while it seemingly reduced the Deathless to soulless husks? Although to be fair, we never actually interacted with any of them aside from fighting, so maybe they were totally chill when they weren’t fulfilling their ancient destiny of trying to protect the Source.)

And yeah, interesting that once again we don’t kill the female villain, although this apparently was partly so that she could survive to ALMOST reveal some important tidbit before being killed by someone else.

But my prediction was wrong: there was no dramatic sibling showdown scene where Konstantin realized Ana had tricked him all along. Missed opportunity for character development there, but I suppose it was getting pretty close to the end and might have felt a little forced and/or irrelevant.

Butch:

Dude, I figured out the get to the pillar and jump bit in no time, and had no issue at all with THAT part. THAT was easy. It was everything else. Half the time I couldn’t FIND a damn can. I was watching with Jr. and I kept having to ask HIM “Do I have a can? Do I have a can?” And then I’d toss the can and run right into him and it was just awful. And I had to watch both cutscenes EVERY SINGLE TIME. “Yes, yes, you have my bow, yes, yes, destiny c’mon let me look for a can.”

OOOO! I never thought you could leave him alive! It IS true that there was NOT a big pillar of light over him when he was lying there. I check compulsively. Oh, that would be cool!

But here’s a thing: He said “You father begged for his life…then begged for yours.” Now….on that…..

It could be that Trinity was being super duper cruel, all “I’m gonna kill you, then your kid” just because they’re super duper evil. But considering they DIDN’T kill Lara, and don’t even seem to want to…yet…maybe Lord Croft AND Trinity knew something about Lara that she herself does not yet know. Maybe Lord Croft knew there was a reason that Trinity might want to kill Lara BESIDES the fact that she was his kid and they’re super duper evil. Indeed, I killed Konstantin right after he said that, and regretted it cuz I wanted to ask “Uh….what did you mean by that?”

Hmm. Good point about Jacob apparently responding differently to the Source than the Deathless did. He wasn’t just the same guy: he was, in all respects but the immortal part, human. I mean, we have no real reason to believe that his daughter wasn’t his biological daughter, so, despite being 1000 years old, he could still have kids. It sure didn’t look like the deathless ones could. Maybe it was a prophet thing. Maybe he WAS chosen to be special, even if he didn’t believe it.

We don’t know what the source is, but that’s pretty cool cuz this game is, in a lot of ways, about faith. The game is asking us to believe that it’s really powerful, ok? Now, that could be lazy writing, but I don’t think so. If you explained it, then it undermines wondering if Jacob is wrong about being chosen (maybe he is). It undermines Lord Croft’s faith that it was real, and Lara’s. This whole game everyone’s been after this because they BELIEVE, not because they want to KNOW. Changing gears and giving us some ridiculous information in the last five minutes would not just be hokey: it would cut down a lot of themes.

Ana’s death: Cop out. Konstantin could have done that. And what important plot tidbit? Konstantin already told us that Trinity killed Lord Croft, so all Ana said was “I loved him,” which isn’t all that important. So if that was their reason, it’s flimsy.

But yes: she was killed by someone else. This ALSO plays into a gender thing. Good guys, be they men or women, kill men. Only VERY VERY BAD guys kill women. Trinity, Konstantin, BAD. It’s ok that we saw Ana gunned down graphically because a MAN did it which reinforces that said man was very, very bad. In fact, good guys not only don’t kill bad women, they try to rehabilitate them. Talk some SENSE into them. Drake, Lara, all have a conversation of “You don’t have to do this…join me…come to the light side.” The bad woman ALWAYS given a chance to get good, and is punished for not listening to reason. Men? Not so much. She never tells Konstantin he’s “better than this.” Drake never tells evil Helen Mirren’s partner he’s better than this. Ditto Raef/Nadine. But the woman is always given an out BY THE HERO.

Also, Konstantin was a little too ready to believe Lara about the truth. “Ana faked it all along…” “Hey yeah? Really? Oh….ok then.”

Feminina:

Yeah, for a man of deep and abiding faith, Konstantin seemed surprisingly chill about the news that Ana had faked the revelation that started the whole thing.

Perhaps the whole “being on the brink of death” thing made it seem less pressing, although you’d think it would be MORE important at that moment for a man of his deep and abiding faith to be confident about what awaited him and all.

But hey…we haven’t been in his shoes! Maybe it kind of took a load off. “Whew! God isn’t counting on me to do this after all! NOW I can freely taunt this woman.”

And I don’t know WHAT tidbit, man, but I had the definite sense that she was about to tell us SOMETHING we would have found interesting besides “I loved him.” And Lara had the same idea, the way she was kind of leaning forward, and then the way she was so mad when Ana abruptly dropped dead in front of her.

“Damn it! I was going to learn something!”

Now it’s entirely possible it was just “I loved him. And he wanted me to tell you…he loved you!” instead of “he wanted me to tell you…your mother is actually alive but NOT in Mexico or Roanoke, probably the Yukon, and you should definitely go after her but watch out for Evil Helen Mirren because she’s been behind this thing from day one.”

Still. She was going to say something and Lara wanted to hear it. I stand by that. Possibly an interesting counterpoint here to the way we’re wondering if Konstantin was going to say something, but WE didn’t wait to find out, and now we’re wondering if Ana was going to say something but someone else didn’t let us find out. Our search for truth is thwarted at every turn, even by our own uncontrollable rage?

As for the gender thing, it’s true. People offer bad women a chance to repent more often than they offer bad men that option. We ourselves killed Konstantin before he could even (possibly) finish saying whatever he wanted to say! And yet we arguably gave Ana a chance at redemption, although I think Lara was kind of planning to shoot her before deciding to listen to her and then having someone else shoot her first.

BAD guys kill women.

Which, again, loops back to “there are so few women, that you have to handle the ones you have very, very carefully to avoid being super creepy about it.”

If Konstantin and Ana and half the Trinity army had ALL been women, it would have been a much less fraught decision to say “should Lara kill this enemy?”

As usual, we come back to Bethesda as a counter example. When half your randits are women, you (I!) kill woman all the damn time and it’s not a statement of anything other than the fact that randits should know better than to attack me.

I don’t know. It’s a prickly issue. Did I WANT to kill Ana? Meh. I did actually kind of believe she loved Lord Croft, to the extent that she could, so I don’t know, I felt a little sorry for her.

I could have been moved to feel a little sorry for Konstantin, too, having been manipulated and lied to his entire life, but (to return to his reaction to that discovery), he didn’t even seem to care, so I didn’t really either. If he’d expressed shock, seemed lost, wondered aloud how to find meaning in his life now, something, I might easily have figured “whatever, I’ll leave you to this moral suffering and perhaps you’ll repent.” Instead, he taunted us with our father’s death, which is as good as saying “you might as well kill me.”

And this is certainly another reflection of gender in the sense that how the characters are written (Ana with some love and moments of doubt, Konstantin sneering boldly to the end) relies on gender stereotypes about how women have emotions and men have one emotion which is rage…yeah.

As always, complicated.

Butch:

It’s true. We have not been dying in a mystic temple having our murderous faith challenged. 

But, in defense of the story, he was told all along that his destiny was getting the source, etc., and, when it became clear that THAT was a lie, maybe he was willing to accept more as being lies.

Ah, you feel they kept Ana alive to provide a cliffhanger, not an actual, tangible plot point. I see that. And yes, I had the same idea of she was going to say more. I think Lara’s NOOOO wasn’t because she was losing someone she cared about, but a NOOO like “Dammit I was going to learn something.”

HA! That would be great if the tidbit was something stupid. Game three she does find another secret to everlasting life, brings Ana back from the dead and asks “So what was it? What were you going to tell me?” and she’s all “Oh….not that important. Like, your mother’s crypt is in the basement.”

Mother is alive I tell you.

Pretty much, our search is thwarted by our own flaws. And our unwillingness to go on the internet to find out what we missed.

But that is a nice counterpoint. And I agree: she had information.

And I dunno about Lara being merciful, man. Remember earlier she DID shoot before Ana could say anything, and she sure as hell didn’t hesitate to kill Konstantin. Or I didn’t.

True, they have to be careful, but there are also few women heroes. A man killing a woman has connotations, but Lara killing a woman doesn’t have all the uncomfortable implications of dominance or abuse or whatever. Which in and of itself might not be fair, but whatever. Even women heroes can’t kill women and be heroes! One would think that Lara, being female, isn’t bound by the same antiquated codes of chivalry that a man would be, and yet, here we are.

I didn’t necessarily WANT to kill her myself, but I did feel that some narrative consistency was lost in Lara not going batshit after she’s been batshit the whole game.

Feminina:

It’s true…I did feel that Lara was on the brink of killing Ana, and only hesitated because she thought she might learn something, and then someone else killed her first (presumably to prevent Lara learning the thing).

So the woman was PLANNING to kill the other woman and was still going to be the hero, but was saved from herself (i.e., from doing something ‘non-heroic’) by a convenient villain. Would we have thought so much less of Lara for killing a woman? I don’t personally think so, but perhaps the focus groups said otherwise.

As for Lord Croft begging for Lara’s life, I didn’t honestly make much of it other than Trinity being super evil and having previously threatened to kill Lara in an attempt to induce Lord Croft to cooperate with them, but you’re right, there is a possible additional meaning if he and they know something about her that she doesn’t.

Something, presumably, about her potential/destiny in the vast historical context in which this secret organization operates and which Lord Croft has investigating. She’s the Chosen One? She Alone Can Fix This? (Sorry.) As you say, we do get a specific “shall we kill her?” “not yet,” exchange at the end, so Trinity is leaving her alive for some reason.

Because they Know Something, or just because they think she and her obsessions might be useful in ferreting out things they themselves would like to find? (It is longstanding tradition for these sorts of organizations to wait for the Lone Hero to discover something and then swoop in, avoiding all the traps the hero has disarmed and taking advantage of all the puzzles the hero has solved, and steal it.)

I dunno. Time will tell! Unless it turns out the next game is set in the Serengeti and makes absolutely no reference to the end of this one.

Butch:

Well….. I just took a toodle for old time’s sake around Croft Manor. Found the document that I missed, or that wasn’t there before. It was from Lara’s mother, saying “They’ll always have a connection.” It was near a pamphlet saying her art was going to be shown in New York, something Lara says she never knew. AND, in the study, she has the sword she took from Yamatai, Roth’s twin pistols (a trademark as absent from this as her tank top), AND the Atlas. She kept the Atlas. So a lot of harkening back. Could it be the man behind the curtain is from Game One? Could be.

I surely hope they don’t leave loose ends. Or too many.

It’s true, we don’t yet know who left Lara alive. What reason did they have? And who SAID that? We never did see the man behind the curtain. Or we did and we don’t know it.

Feminina:

Indeed: have we met the “not yet” dude already, or is he a new figure?

It probably turns out it’s Jonah. Ha.

I did find the Atlas and the pistols and stuff back in Croft Manor. Mementos from her past adventures. It is a nice little nod to continuity: this game was about this stuff, but don’t forget there was a whole previous game with some other stuff! Which will maybe become relevant again (though surely not TOO relevant since they don’t want to discourage people who might decide to only pick it up at number 3).

There will probably be more loose ends than we’d like, but since we won’t be playing them back to back to back like we did with Uncharted, we’re likely to not notice them.

Butch:

The thought has crossed my mind, it could be Jonah, it has.

It’s a problem with continuity in games, the late comers. Bioware does the best with that. Well, that and the Witcher, which really gave nary a fuck that you hadn’t played one and two.

It also should be noted that that last scene was yet ANOTHER scene to which Lara was not privy. They ended on that.

Feminina:

I noticed that too.

“Just remember, you’re not the character! Lara has no idea someone intentionally left her alive and didn’t just, you know, run out of bullets right then, but YOU do.”

Um…thanks.

Speaking of continuity, we can’t help but note that Jonah IS the only character aside from Lara herself who appears in both games. So either he’s the evil mastermind carefully keeping tabs on her by being a ‘loyal friend,’ or…he’s a loyal friend.

There’s no way to know, and the fact that we can suspect our oldest and most loyal friend is just a symbol of how thoroughly (justified!) paranoia has destroyed Lara’s peace of mind.

Butch:

He DID get stabbed. If he is the secret baddie, that’s quite a gambit, getting stabbed.

On the other hand, think: he shows up RIGHT BEFORE TRINITY. Maybe not to be kidnapped, but to make sure the time is right for his boys to strike. (Maybe Konstantin got overzealous.)

He says “Don’t come after me” because he doesn’t want her to find out HIS secrets, not because he wants her to keep looking for Jacob’s.

Just sayin.

Feminina:

It’s true, he’s willing to take great risks to stay secret and keep an eye on her. Doesn’t mean it’s not true, but does make it less likely. Unless it’s all part of his plan, as you say.

Or unless he already knows another secret of eternal life and was in no real danger even without the Prophet’s eternal life secret (which, wait, did that even help him? does it heal injured people and make uninjured people live forever? What is it!? Never mind, we don’t want to know.)

Butch:

Jacob did some weird shit. And Jonah didn’t LOOK at it, which seems to be the thing.

Don’t look at the ark, Marian!

All adventure is the same.

Feminina:

I thought the same thing, there at the end, when Lara was carefully not looking at the Source while she was holding it.

Bad stuff gets you by going through the eyes. All the way back to basilisks and Medusa! Farther, no doubt!

To NOT see–and thus, metaphorically, to not KNOW–is to be safe from the horror of the truth. The truth Lara thought she wanted, but in the end, chose to destroy.

And on that note, we leave this game. We can’t handle any more truth about it.

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