Before i roll with this, i'll just say this is my first actual blog here, so forgive me if the Rantometer is running a little high. Now on to bizness...
Gamers are crying out on one hand for a more adult, intelligent type of gameplay in terms of story and interactivity, as witnessed by the recent success of The Witcher 2
& to a lesser extent the Mass Effect
series, where real-world and/or mature themes or occurrences unfold during the game.
However on the other hand, gamers are also screaming bloody murder when a more realistic or mature approach is being taken by some game developers, in fear that change will destroy their image of the perfect character or story arc of games past.
Personally, as a fan of the early PSX Tomb Raider
games, and moderately enjoying the later ones which were fairly hit and miss in terms of character development & play mechanics with some not-so-stellar storytelling, i feel this kind of reboot or 'origin' story was a much-needed reality for the franchise that for me, mirrors the last decade of Mortal Kombat
, wherein i love the characters & the world both creative teams shared with us, but so many other things were either going in the wrong direction gameplay-wise, or stocking up on needless additions while ditching elements early fans loved in a desperate attempt to innovate or attract new fans.
Things were getting messy, and not having played the latest game showcased at E3 2012
, judging by the footage i've seen so far i feel the new Tomb Raider
is a breath of fresh air for a franchise i saw as on the edge of becoming a farce - the same thing i said of Mortal Kombat
when the whole DC Universe
MK vs. DCU: When marketing gurus collide...
The 'return to roots' Mortal Kombat
that followed restored my faith in the creative team and the franchise as a whole. It wasn't the perfect Mortal Kombat
game, but it was a hell of a lot better than most since the jump from 2D to 3D, and one i feel the fans loved, and hell, maybe even the new fans would also get a kick out of it.
As Mortal Kombat 9
was a redemption & return to form for the franchise, i feel this may be Lara Croft's redemption as well, however at this early stage only time will tell. For the life of me, i just don't get the rage over the issue many are taking with Crystal Dynamics
for apparently "making Lara weak."
In most games these days, you begin with a little power or none at all, shitty weapons and bugger-all XP. Over time you gain more power and experience as you progress as a result of the role you begin to play in your story, and the experiences and interactions you encounter as you explore, building up your strength, filling your inventory with items & knowledge, as well as developing your own personal kickass arsenal of weapons, magic, cars, mechs, pinatas - whatever.
I believe the development team realize they now have the tools to convey an emotionally charged story in conjunction with the ability to depict more realistic and humanity-driven action, so they're embracing that fact and attempting to deliver a much more convincing and lifelike version of a character that was once a few clunky-looking polygons painted to look like Jessica Rabbit in a braided ponytail had she gone to boot camp instead of a 1940's swing dive.
Lara is no longer a stick figure with polygon boobs and an upper-class British accent. She now looks and moves far more like a human being than she had in previous games, and i feel her creators want her to sound, act and react
just as realistically to complement her character and the mature level of storytelling they're attempting to reach.
As an aside, some people complaining she grunts & pants like she's having an orgasm? Clearly they need some 'education' in these matters - to me she just sounds like she's running, falling, tumbling through the jungle - just like she's doing on camera! She's not an athlete or marine, so of course she'd be out of breath, gasping for air as she runs from mercenaries, grunting and gasping for air as she's violently hurled down raging rivers and over cliffs.
Speculative Tech Demo: Will 'meaningful choices' be another new addition to Tomb Raider, a la Mass Effect?
I don't buy the idea that they want Lara weak to "make you want to protect her" as if she's a helpless doll who can't do anything for herself, and i highly doubt that 'that'
scene displayed at E3
was designed to evoke base sexual emotions in players, or to objectify women by assuming all their challenges will be based around sex and male dominance. Far from it.
I feel that this is just a plot point which goes towards helping understand her transformation from a naive student fresh outta college, to a woman learning about the harsh realities out there in the real world, and the nature of (some) humans as well. There have been hints in previous games of her protective nature while out on her quests, and this scene may have been an early catalyst, explaining a little more about how she weighs up certain situations involving conflict and choices.
Honestly, how can she go from being a happy-go-lucky student embarking on her first big adventure to shooting thugs, mercenaries and hardened career thieves without being confronted by some of the worst acts people force upon others? She needed a harsh trigger-point, something that defines her future path, something that could either make her a nervous wreck or ultimately push her to become the take no prisoners badass we all know and love as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
One judgement i have however with the E3
showing, was not about the changes to her character, or the controversy over a moment of mature storytelling, but more in what they chose to share with the audience - and what they didn't.
Counting chickens: Hopefully there will be actual tombs in the next Tomb Raider reveal...
I honestly love what i saw, and having never actually played Uncharted
, the only similarity i witnessed was the cinematic nature of the rollercoaster ride sequence during the manic shootout - a gameplay device recent Tomb Raider
games have attempted before, just not handled as fluidly and usually relying on (a personal hatred of mine) the use of timed button pressing events.
No, the issue i had with the presentation was the complete lack of any actual tombs. I think they wanted to show off the engine and how well it handles jungle settings, characters & cinematic gameplay - all of which were quite impressive, however i would have just loved that little bit of icing on the cake where perhaps ending that chaotic river sequence Lara is thrown down a waterfall, crashing through the soft crust of the earth below - into one massive long-lost motherfucking tomb.
I feel that that kind of cliffhanger ending would have served to show that Lara is still the Lara we all grew up with, and even though she's just beginning her story, discovering who she really is as she travels the world, her path laid out before her, and the fans can rest happy knowing what's to come, rather than being a little confused about the direction of the game, the franchise and the heroine herself.
End walkthrough. Lights up. Cue rabid fanboy applause.
It's still far too early to tell one way or the other, but from my limited viewpoint thus far, i think we may be in for an amazing reboot of a much-loved series, albeit with tweaks some may love or loathe. For me, the controversial issues about the E3
presentation were more about the lack of context.
One small piece of a much larger puzzle will never make a whole lot of sense without seeing the surrounding elements working together as one, unless it's a title like Call of Duty: Operation Deja Vu
or something similarly predictable year-in, year-out where 20 seconds of footage is all you really need to get the idea.
I'm all for change and reinvention if it betters the whole, rather than just making more stupid in a lame attempt to widen a market for a much-loved franchise. I just thank Jebus for the simple fact George Lucas doesn't have a hand in this particular prequel.
All i can say now is BRING IT!! read