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Spoilers for plot points and locations in Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Butch:

Escaped the Cenote. Which means did all that weird zombie shit, opened the gate, got screamed at by weird, half naked red faced zombie queen, found out there was no box (why didn’t the zombies notice that before?) ran like hell, etc.

Not sure how you got through all of that without cool outfits that absorbed damage. I died a ton. Stupid zombie things.

Though the worst was that last jump in the chase. I kept timing it wrong, and I’m gonna blame the game. I couldn’t see where the hell the ledge was because there were zombies behind me. I saw the backs of zombies, which made it very hard to know when to jump. So I died about 359847593 times, which kind of broke the momentum.

Ah, well.

All in all, nice balance of puzzling and action and story and all that.

I even liked the idea of baddies showing up when you’re doing a puzzle. I always thought it was very convenient for Lara and Drake that the baddies always left them alone when they were jumping and pulling levers and shit. That gate thing, thinking then being interrupted, having to think about the puzzle AND what to do if you were attacked was good stuff. Hard, but in a good way.

But, on the topic of “what can a game tell you before it gets hand holdy,” here’s something that ISN’T hand holdy that every game should do: The little tiny cutscene where Lara gets out her gun, then puts the gun away. That little thing that says “Ok, there may well be shooting/action in this next bit,” and then “Ok, cool, you’re back to exploring and talking and shopping.” You mentioned yesterday not wanting to have to check every box to see if you can loot it. Well, see also not wanting to have to worry that there might be something down this jungle path or in this cave. Cool mechanic.

Gameplay, great session. Props. Except that last jump.

But this story….just when I think it can’t get any more over the top, a red faced, pierced swimsuit model with Flava Flav’s teeth shows up…..

Feminina:

Yes, the Cenote was a pretty lively, exciting adventure. But you thought those were zombies? I thought they were orcs.

I mean, obviously they’re neither, I suspect they’re meant to be humans who do weird stuff to their faces and maybe have some freakish strength or abilities due to hanging out with that explosive gas all the time, but orc is the monster type I mapped them to, rather than zombie. I mean, they’re way too alert and lively to be zombies, aren’t they?

I do always appreciate the way Lara will let me know if there are enemies ahead by getting all armed and sneaky, and then let me know the coast is clear by standing up straight and putting the weapon away.

It can be especially effective and tense-making when you don’t see anything…everything seems fine…no one around…and yet, I’m sneaking…when is something going to jump on me!?

Or, on the other side, when you first see the shadow of one of those things scurrying away, and I was all “OMG WHAT THE HELL???!!!” and Lara’s just trekking along “ho-hum.”

I…GUESS everything is fine…sure doesn’t SEEM fine, but she’s not worried…

Butch:

I dunno, man. I just didn’t want to type “Weird, screechy maybe dead strongassed Aztec or Mayan or whatever the fuck dudes” every time I mentioned them. I was grasping for shorthand. We can do “orc.” It’s shorter than “zombie,” so good.

(As an aside, I had the subtitles on cuz kids and kids don’t shut up, and the whole “run around in the arena thing there” bit, the first fight, the subtitles were all “SKEEECH!” “YEARG!” I’m spelling them the way they were. SKEEECH. With three Es.)

Yeah! She was chill! I was not chill. Maybe she was like “Meh, I’m going to spend the rest of the night swimming around a galleon. I’ll deal with that when the time comes.”

Every hero puts the weapon away! And changes the music. It’s how heroes do.

Feminina:

The music! Changing the music is key. You can tell you’re a hero by the soundtrack.

Losers like us don’t get a music change when the orcs attack, we’re just puttering along listening to our Google Play channels and then suddenly we’re shrieking and dying, but a HERO knows something is up in advance.

Butch:

That’s why they’re heroes, man. They can do anything.

Well, not anything. Some things require sensible climbing gear.

That kinda made me laugh, too. She’s flying around, swinging axe rope mid jump, practically flying, and then she’s all “Oh, cool! Are those REI? OOO! LL BEAN! Even better! NOW I’m prepared.”

Feminina:

Yeah! Now I can climb on OVERHANGS!

Also, shotgun. That cenote had good gear.

Oh, and speaking of the shotgun, did you backtrack to the place where you needed a shotgun, right before you found it? I tried, but I couldn’t seem to find my way back, so I guess I’ll have to start again if I care that much.

So far, I have not cared that much.

Butch:

I did not, as it required swimming and fuck that noise.

Though I am gonna go back to that first village….again…to get into that one crypt as soon as I start the game back up.

But yes, shotgun good. Can you imagine those orcs (see?) without it? Ugh.

Feminina:

Yeah, I went back to the village for that. But a whole crypt is way more worth going back for than one sealed room you couldn’t get into one time, that you only vaguely remember where it is. Crypts have cool clothes you can mend! Sealed rooms have…maybe a document. Probably just some gold or mushrooms or something.

If it’s on the map, I’ll go back for it. Otherwise, I’ll likely forget.

And yeah, shotgun good. I died many times with the orcs, before I got it. My aim is just so bad on the other big gun! The recoil is no joke.

I’d be trying to fill the air with bullets, and only manage it literally. I should have specified that I actually wanted to fill the bodies of my enemies with bullets. NOT the air. The air is blameless in this situation!

Butch:

Ah, see, that was me before I upgraded the rifle, and I’m so glad I did. I did all the recoil fixes, and that thing was what got me past those damn archers with the damn green arrows. Just bzzt bzzt gone. Magnificent.

Wait, what do you mean “before you got it?” I got it before the orcs. That first fight was all shotgun all the time.

Feminina:

You didn’t fall into this big bone-filled pit, where orcs kept coming out on a kind of balcony and then hopping down into it with you? I died so many times. And I could have sworn that was before the shotgun.

Or maybe I just ran out of ammo for the shotgun. Hm.

But yes, I recently finished upgrading the rifle and have hopes that it will be a little less jumpy in future. Because of course that is the thing about a shotgun, it’s great up close but not so much on the dudes with the green arrows standing up on ledges.

Jerks.

Butch:

Must’ve been out of ammo, cuz that was certainly after the shotgun. But no idea WHY you were out of ammo, because the only time I had fired the shotgun before that was to get past the barrier right before the fall that plopped me in the bone pit of death. Where you had to start over each time you died. EACH. TIME.

They are jerks. But they will fall before your newly upgraded rifle!

Feminina:

Huh. I probably just ran out of ammo from firing wildly at everything that moved, then. It was a panicky time. There was a LOT of scrambling around trying not to let anything grab me, because if they grab you, that’s it. No QTE escape opportunities here!

And then starting all over again. EACH. TIME.

Butch:

They were quite strong. That they were.

As, I imagine, red pierced swimsuit model is, which will become clear when we inevitably fight her.

There’s no way we’re not gonna fight her, right?

Feminina:

That’s a good question.

I would say “oh, no doubt,” except that these people aren’t the main bad guys. If she’s the leader of the main bad guys, no way we don’t fight her. But since she’s the leader of the secondary bad guys, there’s a chance we instead make some sort of deal with her to fight Trinity together.

We already know the orcs have attacked Trinity’s guys too, so if we could somehow convince them we’re on the same side (which is presumably the side protecting the box…that they didn’t realize was gone…?), maybe they could help us.

I’m not saying I think the odds of that are super high. We’ll PROBABLY still end up fighting her. But I think it’s not absolutely certain at this point.

Butch:

I dunno, man. She didn’t seem that chatty. And she’s probably not that reliable.

Remember my fictional guardian of the knife, Rambalakan? He came up in the blog before. Callback!

Rambalakan: ‘Sup baby?

Swimsuit Flava Flav: nuttin’.

R: Man, the week I had. This British chick took the knife.

S: Yeah? Dark hair? Talks to herself all the time?

R: Yeah, that’s the one. How’d you know?

S: She showed up here.

R: Well, you showed her, right? After all, I watched that knife for eons. As soon as she touched it, I unleashed FURY!!!!

S: Uh……

R: What “Uh…..?”

S: Well…. I did unleash some fury…..

R: As soon as she touched it, right?

S: Well…this is awkward…it was…kinda…already gone.

R: What? You had ONE JOB. I had a damn treasure chest to watch and I STILL didn’t take my eyes off the knife!

S: Hey, you know how much time I have to spend at the salon to rock this look? Hours, man. Every week. I don’t just roll out of bed looking like this. Maybe someone took it when I was getting my look on.

R: Well I never went to the salon!

S: ***looks him up and down*** No, no you didn’t.

R: What’s that supposed to mean???

S: Nuttin’.

Feminina:

We just need to decipher some documents and murals until Lara can speak SKEEECH YEARG-ish. Then she’ll be all ready for a nice conversation about local sites of interest, cool ways to murder dudes, etc.

It’s gonna be great.

Butch:

Yeah, makes sense.

I bet their murals are downright obscene.

 

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