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DapperMouse avatar 9:50 PM on 12.08.2013
Is Realism important?

Warning: There are some minor spoilers 

Nothing strikes more fear into my heart than the words "Gritty, Realistic Reboot". 

It didn't use to be this way. At one time, in the distant past of 2004, I would have quickly accepted the possibilities that the "gritty reboot" could have brought. The world was young and bright, or gritty... what does that even mean anyway? I don't want grit... that sounds... uncomfortable (*author hasn't slept in 48 hours)

But the world is changed, I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost; for none now live who remember it. Suddenly, and out of nowhere, everything was a gritty reboot. Even things that technically weren't remakes had the same verbs used to describe it as everything else. And nothing was sacred anymore. Not even our video games.

Now I'm not here do discuss the "gritty reboot" today (HA! I JUST MADE YOU READ THREE PARAGRAPHS OF MOSTLY USELESS INFORMATION!!!) But I am discussing what came after. In the wake of the trend of movies and games attempting to become hyper realistic we somehow lost what that realism is. Increased technological ability meant that we were allowed to tell stories in even more realistic and graphically interesting ways but just as easily as we gained the ability to tell realistic stories we threw it away. 

Most recently I've been playing through the newest Tomb Raider for the first time. I remember that the marketing campaign surrounding the game was the attempt to make the story far more realistic than it had been before. Mostly this involved giving Lara proportions actually found in nature but a good deal of the game really does look (admittedly badly) at what would psychologically happen to a young woman suddenly thrust into this scenario.

Don't get me wrong. Video game logic is wonky and for good reason. True realism would be boring as hell if not done exactly right, but where is the breaking point? Fantasy elements aside (those are cannon and perfectly acceptable within the games reality) how much damage am I really supposed to accept Lara can take? Within actual gameplay (shoot outs and the like) I can accept getting hit because that's just how fights work. It is what it is. What I find hard to digest is literally everything else. Think about it.

Before Lara starts her shift into gun toting badass she survives a shipwreck, gets clubbed over the head, assaulted, hung upside down, lit on fire, dropped a good fifteen feet onto her head and impaled, run through freezing water, and left to survive the elements after surviving a cave-in. This is only the first twenty minutes of the game. Not to mention she steps in a bear trap and sleeps it off. A god damn bear trap. Used to trap bears.


What I'm saying is that there is no way she should be alive. 


Of course we know Lara Croft cannot die, the game is a prequel, but with good writing its possible to suspend disbelief and forget that. Unfortunately, as it is, the effect is pretty game breaking for me. I'm too far in to actually stop playing at this point but I can't possibly feel any source of tension or drama for a character who so routinely shrugs off life threatening injuries. I had the exact same reaction to Peter Jackson's Hobbit when I saw it. The Dwarves, who couldn't take on three trolls, can suddenly kill hundreds of goblins, yet can't take out a small platoon of Orcs, but fully intend to go head to head with a dragon? I don't believe it. I believed it when I read the novel but seeing the overdone action simply sucked me out of the story.


So here's my question to you C-Bloggers and D-Toid community:


Do you have similar reactions to big budget action sequences? Or does a game or movies level of realism matter to you in the least?

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