Tomb Raider EP3: Arrowed!

 By Josh Jun 13, 2013 121 comments


Link (YouTube)

Wherein we talk about Lara’s fight with the totally-not-a-rapist-you-guys and get killed by arrows a lot. Oh yes.


A Hundred!201There are 121 comments here. I really hope you like reading.


  1. Irridium says:

    I would really love to watch this season, but I can’t. Because for some reason with these videos they will only load while playing, which means with my ~70kb/s (that’s what it is at the moment, at least) connection, I can’t watch them.

    Guess this comment doesn’t really have a point and is me just complaining, but damn does it makes me sad :(

    And angry >:(

    • GM says:

      only loading while playing is a recent thing,i know because i accidentally had my cable through the phone lines so i got about 20kb/s fun or not.

    • I think it’s a YouTube “feature” so they’re not “wasting” bandwidth sending data to those who have just paused the video and are trying to buffer what they’re watching.

      This isn’t advocating piracy, but I’d look for a browser extension that just downloads the FLV file or whatever directly from YouTube to watch at your leisure.

      • Torsten says:

        It´s like we are back in late 90´s. And Youtube actually was pretty much the first major video site to fix the buffer issues, by letting us load the video before watching it.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      A really stupid move on youtubes part.

      But anyway,try downloading the video.http://www.getvid.net/ should do the trick.

    • X2-Eliah says:

      Yeah. I think Youtube implemented this “feature” here in Sweden at least a year ago if not more.. And it is very annoying, yes – sometimes my internet is just plain too slow (or more likely, taken up by others) to watch any streaming video… The inability to buffer anything is incredibly frustrating.

    • Neko says:

      It’s worse on the Android youtube app. Oh, you accidentally pressed the power button (right next to the volume controls) and closed the screen? Well, better throw out the entire buffer!

  2. Josh, you take back what you said about Atlantis! We didn’t find the hidden arctic base of the Ancients until recently, and then we had to convince the brass to let us use our only ZPM to power a stargate connection to the Pegasus Galaxy before we could find the city.

    • Michael says:

      Honestly, I found the Atlantis references to be really grating, since Atlantis was the final zone of the original game. Given that they have kept the supernatural archeology elements, it felt like they were taking potshots at the series’ history one second, and then begging to be accepted as part of it the next.

      …I’m probably not making sense here.

  3. So, full disclosure, I’ve never been sexually menaced.
    But! I am afraid of heights, to the point where my palms sweat when I’m working up high in Minecraft. So I’m going to use Acrophobia as a metaphor in the following. Not saying they’re exactly equivalent, but it makes the discussion a lot less loaded.

    The deal about bringing up falling from a great height in a game isn’t the issue itself. I mean, it happens to a lot of people, and it’s not good, but you learn to deal with it. As you said, the problem is bringing up traumatic experiences in entertainment in such a way that they are difficult to avoid. I mean, I’d love it if the dev team just put an option in the game to have “replace great heights with spikes” or something. The mechanics don’t have to change, but I’d like to be able to play the game without confronting my deep seated fears, or at least having the option available.

    On the other hand, if there were such an option, I’d always be wondering in the back of my mind if the game devs intended to have deep pits everywhere, and I just wasn’t seeing them because of the option I selected. You can’t really win either way. The one is blatantly uncomfortable, but selecting the option to decline the experience merely moves the discomfort to the back of the mind.

    I don’t know that there’s a good answer, really, except to have full disclosure about the kinds of experiences the player can expect to confront. Having “contains scenes of a vertiginous nature” on the box would certainly be helpful. Paying for the game under false pretenses is pretty much the worst.

    • Naota says:

      This is very true, and on top of it all, if the game developers were to provide substitute content to save you from recollections of a traumatic experience, they’re then pointedly excluding people with fears of every other sort if they don’t also accommodate them. Soon the wolves need giant squirrel replacements, the bear traps must be available as discarded rakes, the watery sinkholes with small puddles. Then you meet the man who was savaged by a mutant death-squirrel while raking his lawn and fell face-first into a puddle. Oh my.

      Somewhere out there is a person who is shaken and disturbed by the sight of just about anything you could conceive of. We simply do not have the resources, time, or minutely fractal degree of focus required to soften the blow for all of them.

      • Disc says:

        “Somewhere out there is a person who is shaken and disturbed by the sight of just about anything you could conceive of. We simply do not have the resources, time, or minutely fractal degree of focus required to soften the blow for all of them.”

        Which is why we should all totally bury our heads in sand.

      • Syal says:

        Soon the wolves need giant squirrel replacements, the bear traps must be available as discarded rakes, the watery sinkholes with small puddles.

        This sounds like an awesome game mode.

        I’m trying to imagine Lara headshotting a giant squirrel in slow motion as it leaps at her.

  4. anaphysik says:

    I hope Rutskarn does watch the ep… It *was* pyromaniac <_<

    —-

    Dubstarp

  5. silver Harloe says:

    I always got the impression Sam said Himiko was an ancestor of hers in a “hippie new-age reincarnation woo” kind of way, and not in a “here are my genealogical findings” kind of way… well, up until the ending, where it turned out to be “true”. But by this point in the story, we should’ve discounted her spurious claim to fancy ancestry, shouldn’t we?

    As for her getting over killing rapidly, I think this recent movie exchange sums it up:
    “Made you feel it, did he? Well, you needn’t worry. The second is…”
    “Yes… considerably.”

    • Sabredance (MatthewH) says:

      James Bond is explicitly chosen for being psychotic. What does Vesper call him? One of the lost little boys or something.

      I liked the quicktime event -at least it looked like a qte -where she killed the mook with the bow. That seemed to blend the game and the character pretty well. Killing someone hand to hand is a hard thing to do. It’s not like pressing a button (or holding down a button in Dishonored). Shooting someone is quite a bit easier, both physically and mentally.

      That nice touch aside, I’m still confused. Have we found the plot yet?

      • Michael says:

        The bow qte is come up behind someone, press F to start, and mash E. Later on there’s an upgrade where you’ll just jab an axe in the back of someone’s head for a stealth kill.

        Honestly, the Quantum of Solace tie in game actually had good takedown QTEs…

        Anyway, that said, because of the bow, the silencer for the pistol and the AR, there’s literally only about two or three places in the entire game where this could be useful. And by the time it is, you’re probably going to be playing tickle their brain with the climbing axe…

        And then they throw two QTE based boss fights using the axe… ugh… :(

    • gyfrmabrd says:

      Well, there is some acknowledgement after that scene. When Lara gets Roth on the radio. she says something to the effect of “Whoa, I just had to kill a bunch of dudes!” and he’s like “Poor kid, that must’ve been super hard” but Lara decides to be all deep and meta and replies “The scary thing is how easy it was. ”
      Boom! Ludonarrative dissonance solved!

  6. Robyrt says:

    While these guys are crazed cultists, there’s no reason for them to be setting fire to their own bases on a regular basis. How many ruined temples can there really be around here?

    …Maybe they thought they had one of Lara’s torches, which has no effect on anything you don’t intentionally set on fire.

  7. McNutcase says:

    That chimney crawl is reasonable… until you realise that in the past day, Lara has been stabbed through the kidney (which injury would have killed her by now), had her ankle thoroughly shattered by a beartrap (thus precluding her walking, never mind the acrobatics to get to the chimney) and has a gunshot wound to the upper arm, which while superficial, will be hurting a LOT right now and making her disinclined to use that arm. Also, she attempted that chimney crawl while her bundle of twigs masquerading as a bow was strapped to her back; that’s hurt her back quite a bit from having to grind her spine against the thing, and sliding up the rock face has destroyed the twigs and whatever was binding them together.

    Oh, and it’s ever so convenient she just happened to be wearing a holster. Don’t you go out wearing a holster every day, just in case you need it?

    At this point, any pretense of realism is utterly shot for me…

    • anaphysik says:

      They should have just cut to the chase and had here monkey-climb up the rockface :/

    • Dude says:

      The game is not trying to be real. Your guns magically reload with ammo clips that come out of nowhere. You can carry a bow and a quiver, a machine gun, a pistol, a hiking axe, various artifacts and historical urns and masks and all kinds of things at once without breaking a sweat. None of that breaks when you jump extreme heights and fall face first.

      Even when a game is trying to be “realistic” it’s not really trying to mimic real life in a lot of areas. It is being video game realistic. It is trying to be a good video game with some semblance of realism whenever its mechanics allow for it. That goes for any game with elements that feel realistic.

      • Hydralysk says:

        It is trying to be realistic in it’s story, but it abandons that in it’s gameplay, which is the big problem. Lara gets a spike through her kidney and reacts realistically to it, which is then undercut by her immediately getting up and leaping around once in gameplay. Same with the bear trap. She reacts realistically to getting a leg stuck in a trap (i.e. screaming in pain and falling down) and then once she gets out of it and gameplay starts back up the wound just disappears.

        You can’t have realistic wounds in cutscenes, which then unrealistically don’t hinder you at all in the next platforming/combat segment without the game feeling disjointed.

        I can’t deny that the general mentality is that video games need to focus on fun gameplay and then craft a story around that, but it’s not what I’d say is the right way to go about it.

        If they didn’t make the decision to have TR become Uncharted, imagine what they could of done to make the gameplay fit the story. I think the game would’ve been much better if it was more along the lines of MGS3. That game was still an action game, but you had to treat your wounds in a variety of different ways, hunt food, scavenge for medicinal herbs, and use camouflage to sneak by your foes instead of taking them on in a straight up fight. Those kinds of mechanics would fit this story much better than the run-and-gun platforming in my opinion.

        • Tim Charters says:

          Except that the wounds don’t really carry over to following cutscenes either. See, for instance, how Lara’s wounds don’t seem to inconvenience her at all in her fight with the creepy rape guy. I would think that kicking someone with a leg that had been caught in a bear trap a few minutes ago would hurt a bit.

          I think the larger issue is how the different sequences feel disconnected from each other. Lara gets a spike through the gut, is seriously wounded, struggles with everything. Then she climbs out of the cave and the injury is completely forgotten. She steps in a bear trap, is immobilized, needs help to get out and walks with a limp afterwards. Then she sits at the campfire for a minute, stands up and the injury is completely forgotten. Et cetera. I get the feeling that the levels were split up between multiple design teams that had little to no contact between each other.

          And I’m not so sure that MGS3 would be that great a model for this. Making a minigame out of treating wounds might make things more believable in the short term, but it could end up making things worse in the long term by calling attention to how much you get hurt. You can only yank bullets out of your leg so many times before it gets silly. Also, Lara becoming an expert fighter, rock climber, and amateur gunsmith in a very short time is stretching things enough as is without also making her suddenly learn advanced field medicine and wild plant identification. MGS3 had the excuse that Snake was already a highly trained special forces agent at the beginning of the game, but this is supposed to be an origin story.

          • Hydralysk says:

            Some of the wounds do translate from cutscene to cutscene though, the spike through the gut gets brought up like 5 hours later when she FINNALY decides to treat it, but I do agree that the wounds mostly do not carry over from previous cutscenes. However does still reinforce the idea that cutscene wounds are ignored in the subsequent sections of the game.

            Regarding MGS3 I ran out of time to edit it last night, but the way I was picturing it was a complete overhaul of the gameplay. The game I was envisioning was more of a game where you had primitive weapons (bow, blowdart, makeshift axe ect) instead of guns. Make Lara more fragile, have it so that a 20-something archaeologist can’t take on 5 armed guards with a bow and win, and if you get injured have that impact your platforming ability. For example, give us multiple way to traverse an area filled with enemies, but any high path that required jumping would need you to have your limbs healthy enough to do so. If they weren’t you could always try stealthing around the old fashion way, with tall grass and chest-high walls. Since in this fantasy TR of mine stealth is the bigger focus, you wouldn’t have as many instances of Lara getting injured if you were playing well. By taking away her modern weapons and aptitude for combat, I think it would make the story more believable, and I think the medicinal herb knowledge could just be handwaived as ‘When planning my expedition I researched the flora and fauna of the region since we’d be going into uncharted territory’.

            Mind you this is just my fantasy gameplay that I made up on the spot because I feel it better suits this narrative. It would have little in common with the staples of the TR franchise, and people were already complaining they’d changed TR without turning it into a stealth game. I do still contend it would’ve worked better with the narrative than going with the traditional gameplay though.

      • McNutcase says:

        I’m complaining about the higher-than-average amount of ludonarrative dissonance (DRINK!) this game has. The fact that the narrative is itself rather pants isn’t exactly helping.

  8. Brandon says:

    I think it was really bold of the devs to include the creepy rape guy, although I wish they had found a better way to handle it, gameplay-wise. The QTE is really awful, but I guess the intention was to give the player a feeling of agency during the exchange.. so you don’t just watch Lara fight the guy off and kill him in a cutscene, you have to do it yourself. I would have preferred if they made it an un-failable one though, so you never had to try it more than once. Plenty of games do have QTEs like that, where the game will have you do some button sequences to proceed but will give you all the time in the world to press them. The illusion of the ability to fail might have been enough there.

    From an artistic standpoint I don’t think they could have done a better job though, in a weird way.. I mean, a lot of people’s complaints about that scene were that it made them feel uncomfortable, grossed them out, etc.. I’ll admit, I had the same reaction.. I was VERY uncomfortable with it, and was really just glad when the guy was dead and couldn’t threaten Lara (and by extension, Me, as the player controlling Lara) anymore. I’m reasonably certain that “make the player feel uncomfortable” was their primary goal with that sequence though, so in that regard they nailed it.

    Overall I would prefer if game devs avoided stuff like this unless they are prepared to really give the subject the respect it deserves. I don’t feel like Tomb Raider did that, but kudos to them for having the courage to try I guess, and I think they didn’t entirely blow it.

    • It’s a strange contrast against the Fallout New Vegas season.

      “They make a really big deal about him being a rapist.”
      “Who cares?!!”

      In context, it (along with the murder of a prostitute) was meant as “who cares about that crime given that this is the wasteland and there are things like wars and mutants to worry about.” Even so, they were trying to put up reasons why certain characters were evil and failing, where this game seems to try far too hard and goes over into the “not just evil but making us dislike the game itself.”

      • Michael says:

        Honestly, sitting here thinking about it. New Vegas allows the player a lot of moral ambiguity. When it tells you about a character being a rapist, that’s all it does, “this guy is a rapist.” It doesn’t ask you how you feel, what you think of that, or what the implications are. It shows you some of the consequences of that, but otherwise it lets you decide how you feel about it, or even if you feel anything at all.

        Here we have the game saying, “you need to feel this way, right now. And we’re going to use rape to force you into that head space.” I’m not sure it really works the way it’s supposed to, but, at least to me, Tomb Raider felt a lot cheaper as a result.

        Now, this could be, because I’ve played Spec Ops, and the kind of emotional manipulation that Tomb Raider is attempting fails utterly in the face of The Line, but I’m not sure.

      • Rutskarn says:

        And to be clear: our thoughts in the New Vegas season weren’t, “This guy’s a rapist? Meh, we don’t care.” They were, “What authority is going to crack down on this murder-rapist when the perpetrator *is* a local authority, and under protection of the gangs?” It’d be like if one of the Khans from F1 was covering up the fact that he was murdering travelers and taking their loot. Sure, what he’s doing is evil, but the whole point is that there’s nobody there to stop him. It was transplanting a modern serial-murder-style mystery into a setting that arguably doesn’t support it (we can quibble about how much Mr. House would look into dead prostitutes in one of his hands-off strip casinos).

        Once again: not, “We’re okay with this guy,” but, “We think this guy’s a monster, but don’t really see who else would care that’s in a position to do anything about it.” It’s the standard Fallout/post-apocalypse scenario where there is no established authority to punish evil, and so it falls to the player to act as jury and executioner.

        • Indeed. I don’t want to give anyone the impression that the SW crew was making light of it or saying it’s not a horrible crime. The only point to my post was contrasting how it was presented in two different games and the effect that had on some of the players.

          I do believe, however, that there were racist comments made about robots that were not apologized for and have yet to be fully addressed.

        • Michael says:

          Wait, I thought we were talking about that raider that raped an NCR Sniper… who ARE we talking about?

          • Ah, I didn’t make a large enough distinction.

            In FNV, I was referring to both Cook-Cook, the raider who raped the NCR sniper, and the chem-enjoying weapons/explosives guy for the Gomorrahs, Troike. Troike is held by the family for apparently murdering a prostitute, but given the way that one can pretty much get away scott free with murdering passersby, this seemed a strange thing to worry about being revealed. Again, it’s only strange in the context of the game and not an endorsement of murdering anyone for any reason.

            • Michael says:

              Given I was thinking of Cook-Cook (and couldn’t remember his name), we’re on the same post, and now Rutskarn is confusing the hell out of me…

              On the other topic, the whole Troike plot stunk of cliche by rote storytelling. Given the amount of writing in the game, and given that they were going for a theme, it’s kinda forgivable. But, Gomorrah’s just never worked for me.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I liked that first kill(probably because I didnt die there),and the next fight after it(laras “get away from me” was a really nice touch).But immediately after that it got ridiculous.Stealth killing three guys,then those guys in the ruins.I really wish that there were much less enemies,and that the first half was devoted to you honing your skills against more wolves and other animals,fighting for your survival much longer.But going from “Leave me alone,I dont want to kill you” to super stealthy ninja assassin in seconds is really jarring.

    • RTBones says:

      The ‘wave after wave’ of mooks thing is something that bothered me throughout the game. I *much* preferred Laura as the archaeologist who only fought because she had to, and would have been happy if there would have been some way to climb/jump/tightrope/stealth my way around groups of bad guys.

    • I believe Rihanna Pratchet was asked about that in an interview. She answered that the reason this was is that during focus testing, they found that once players obtained the pistol, they found that the players wanted to use the pistol almost immediately. It’s almost a subtle signal to players that we’re getting into the more combat-oriented parts of the game.

      This is one of the biggest issues with writing for games. A lot of time, the story has to be bent and maneuvered around either already designed levels or preconceived player notions.

  10. anaphysik says:

    Wow, this early section of the game is a rather ‘arrowing experience for Lara!

  11. Sabredance (MatthewH) says:

    Given earlier comments about death in this game, I was expecting much worse when Lara got used for a pin cushion.

    Though the second time she says “oh, no.” and just stands there while she gets filled with wood it was suddenly very funny.

  12. I just want to make a point that Josh kind of tried to make, for any obnoxious misogynist troll that happens to watch this video. Yes, woman are human beings that can get sexually assaulted and games should be able to portrait that sad circumstance like any other medium does, I personally don’t think the AAA market is mature enough for doing that, I mean a rape joke in a mayor console launch? C’mon. This game kind of puts the subject out there, but doesn’t say anything about it. It doesn’t engage in any kind of analysis or commentary on it, just uses it for character development. And that’s just bad.

    • Shamus says:

      What are you doing? Look, nobody even argued the point yet. Nobody even suggested an argument, but you came out swinging anyway. And you’ve phrased this in such a way that people who disagree could infer you’re preemptively calling them a “obnoxious misogynist troll”.

      This is NOT how you begin a rational discussion on a sensitive topic.

      While I agree that rape is best left out of adventure-minded games, I can understand why rapists make such tempting villains. They’re like Nazis: People you can slaughter without guilt or hesitation.

      I mean, if you’re in some generic us vs. them scenario, there’s room for a sliver of doubt: Maybe he’s deluded and thinks he’s fighting for the good guys. Maybe he has bad information and thinks I’m a bad guy. Maybe he’s just another mammal fighting for survival in an environment of scarce resources. Maybe he really IS with the good guys and I’m the one that’s been lied to?

      But a rapist? Pffft. Blow him away. He’s unambiguously evil and we don’t need to worry that we’re doing something we might regret later.

      It’s a crude tool for a simple task, but being okay with it doesn’t automatically make you an “obnoxious misogynist troll”.

      • Raygereio says:

        but being okay with it doesn’t automatically make you an “obnoxious misogynist troll”.

        In defense of Nano Proksee:
        Once you spend some time looking at the flatout misogynic, and at times really sickening, comments “gamers” have levelled against Sarkeesian and during the whole women-in-gaming thing we have going on, it eventually becomes really easy just to label the whole subculture as misogynic shitheads and be done with it.
        Not saying it’s right, just saying that it can be hard not to do.

        Moving away from that cheery subject:

        While I agree that rape is best left out of adventure-minded games, I can understand why rapists make such tempting villains. They’re like Nazis: People you can slaughter without guilt or hesitation.

        I very much disagree they’re like Nazis.
        When you have Nazis they generally just have the uniforms, have flags with swastikas hanging around and talk with silly german accents. It is a social contract of sorts between the media and the audience that dates back from allied propaganda in WW2 that says when a Nazi is shown, we know they’re the bad guys.
        We don’t have to see the concentration camps. We don’t have to be confronted with the piles of butchered children and what was done with the “undesirables” to understand that the Nazis are the bad guys.

        Unlike the Nazis with their silly swastika flags, a rapist doesn’t have an obvious visual clue to identify him as a rapist. So when you have a rapist, the audience needs to be shown in some way that they’re a rapist before he can be safely written away as a bad guy for who we should feel no pity.

        Once you show that, you are dealing with the topic of rape and sexual assault in your story. And that is not something that should treated lightly for reasons that Rutskarn already went over in the video.
        I was somewhat uncomfortable with the game. A friend of mine had it far worse. Are you familar with a thing called trauma trigger? It’s when you have had a traumatic experience and something triggers the memories of that experience to resurface. Much like for example smelling a certain scent could remind you of the perfume your wife always uses – only less pleasant.
        I won’t go into detail, but suffice to say that my friend has had certain traumatic experiences as a child and to say this scene was uncomfortable for her would be quite the understatment. Bonus WTF points for Whitman saying “just go along with it and do whatever he says”.

        I’m not saying these topics should always be avoided, but it should serve some actual purpose and not be pointless. And all the reason I could come up with for why this scene is in the game are rather bad or pointless:

        Using it to make this bad guy look more bad guy’ish is pretty dumb. We already know he’s a bad guy seeing as he shot a bound and helpless member of Lara’s crew without hesitation or reason. More importantly: the plot doesn’t do anything with the bad guy’s character as the player kills him immediatly after the game jumps up and down and screams “Look at how bad he is!”.

        This is where I stopped playing the game, so I don’t know if the game actually does this. But I’ve read here and there that the game uses Lara getting assaulted as an empowering moment, something that gives Lara the strength to turn into a hardass adventuress. Rape being used as character motivation like that is something that can be seen here and there and it never fails to be not incredibly stupid, insulting and show the writer(s) as completely clueless.

        Lastly there are several interviews with Tombraider’s developers that made me raise an eyebrow. I got the impression that this and other scenes are meant to portray Lara as a victim with the intention that the player would feel sorry for Lara and would want to help her. This was apparently their way of connecting the player with Lara’s character. I won’t go into detail about this because that would turn this already lengthy post into a huge rant about the portrayal of women in videogames and this is probably not the best place for it. Again, it just shows the writers as being completely clueless.

        • Bubble181 says:

          It’s great that *you’re* from a generation who sees “evil Nazis” as a social contract and an easy shorthand for “kill these guys without remorse”; however, having had 3 grandparents in the camps, I assure you, there are still plenty of people out there for whom a Nazi uniform is just as much a trigger as a rape scene is for those victims.

          Not saying I’m personally against using Nazis as the bad guys, or in any way trying to minimize rape or sexual assault – I just wanted to poiunt out that it’s not because *you* don’t cosnider something a trigger, that means it *isn’t* a trigger for someone.

          And in case you’re wondering, I saw Indiana Jones with one of my grandparents and they freaked out *quite* badly. Fifteen years or so ago, mind.

      • You are right. I posted angry at people that just isn’t here. On a sensible subject. I pictured a misogynist guy and I talked to that guy. And after 73 comments he hasn’t appeared yet.

        I’m sorry, I won’t do it again.

  13. Type_Variable says:

    I did that QTE with the rapist for about 5 mins on computer because a) didn’t see the trailer and didn’t know the event was coming, b) playing on PC makes the button prompt keys disappear after their first use so game would flash QUICK PUNCH and I would scramble over my keyboard.
    I hate that scene.
    Also he’s comparing Lara to his sister in russian. Gross.

    And lastly, hello Roth who is fairly important thematically for the game but wasn’t introduced properly to us until now. I would have played a one hour ‘meet the team’ before the cold open if I could.

  14. Chamomile says:

    I keep trying to sanitize this post to make it less political. It’s kind of hard when the subject is rape.

    Regardless, I don’t find the scene terribly objectionable. Lara is in a dangerous situation. One of those dangers is other people, and one of the ways those other people are dangerous is that they will try to rape her. That strikes me as altogether less awful than killing someone; people do in fact recover from rapes and go on to live happy lives, whereas murder has an altogether smaller rate of recovery.

    It doesn’t strike me as a valid distinction that the murder-attempts are less plausible than the rape-attempt. Sure, most players haven’t been violently assaulted by smuggler cultists on a tropical island. How many of the players have been sexually assaulted by smuggler cultists on a tropical island?

    I don’t know if it’s that the cast is unaware of how common physical assault is or unaware of how rare violent rape is, but there are actually about as many victims of mugging or other non-sexual (and non-fatal) violent assaults as there are victims of forcible rape (attempted or successful). People talk about how this or that percentage of sexual assaults go unreported, but that’s not a knowable statistic. You can’t know about something that by-definition nobody knows about.

    I mean, the creepy rape guy is kind of gratuitous and doesn’t serve much purpose beyond making Lara’s situation that much more dire, but the same problem runs throughout the entire game. Lara makes a shishkabob out of her liver in the first ten seconds or so of actual gameplay, and she walks it off. By the halfway mark she’s become Rambo. The game would undoubtedly do better if they had handled all of these things better than they did, but the sensationalism directed at this one particular scene is not doing favors to any victims.

    • X2-Eliah says:

      Yes. Well. You know.. rape *might* have far greater impact on psyche and personality than some chav taking your wallet. Just a thought. And if it happens about as often as muggings, well, THATS KINDA PRETTY DAMN TERRIBLE, ISN’T IT?

      Also… “Forcible rape” – what, there are other kinds too?

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        “Also… “Forcible rape” – what, there are other kinds too?”

        Statutory.As in,consentual sex with a minor.

      • Chamomile says:

        Statutory rape and date rape are also things. The latter is bad, but not comparable to forcible rape and usually not as bad as being mugged. The science is unclear on the former, especially since it counts as statutory rape whether the victim is seventeen (and thus potentially not traumatized at all) or seven (in which case the trauma might be more severe than forcible rape of an adult).

        Also, given that you used the word “chav” is it safe to say you’re from the UK? Muggings are altogether more violent here in the United States. Being permanently maimed so some thug can take your wallet is indeed extremely traumatic. You can quibble about how violent rape is more traumatic but when we’ve reached the point where some set of people is risking a traumatic panic by consuming your media, why do we care if one or the other is slightly worse?

        Honestly, the world is ugly, and I applaud media that is willing to admit that. Tomb Raider puts some effort into portraying Lara as a human being with vulnerabilities early on, and the best parts of the game are when her survival is portrayed as a harrowing and horrifying experience, rather than an action-pulp adventure story. The problem with Tomb Raider’s approach to traumatic experiences is that they didn’t go far enough. Lara should’ve come out of this as a jaded, paranoid, and violent sufferer of severe PTSD, someone who, like real people, becomes better adapted to surviving the horrors of a warzone and crazed cultists, but utterly crippled in interaction with regular people who are not crazy. You could have a whole other story about getting over that.

        Instead the game went the way of Rambo, and it’s poorer for it.

  15. X2-Eliah says:

    So.. that first-kill-thing. I don’t much like the reason or setup for it, but I *do* like how it is a very heavy and meaningful moment for the character. You know, as a killing should be. Games have constantly used the mechanism of killing without any regard for the implications of the act (much like action movies of the Hollywood, granted). So finding out that Tomb Raider actually does handle it properly (well, as I said.. the setup might have been different) was a ice revelation for me.

    Except, of course, you proceed right back into the typical game-zone of killing countless mooks and not batting an eyelid. Why couldn’t this game have very very few kills spread throughout the 8 or so hrs, all of them as *heavy* as that first one? Tomb Raider is a franchise that would allow multiple means to *avoid* enemies instead of punching through them, after all.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      And the thing is,this wave of mooks things couldve worked as well,if they went the spec ops route.But nope.Like Rutskarn said,the game constantly tries to both have the cake and eat it.Which is a shame,because it clearly shows that it can do much better.

      And its not a bad game,it really isnt.But it couldve been a great game,instead of just an ok one.

      • Side topic: I’ve never like “have your cake and eat it too.” It feels like a dumb thing to say, even though we all know what it means. I mean, if you have cake, why the hell wouldn’t you eat it? It’s cake!

        • StashAugustine says:

          It’s generally understood to refer to a really big, fancy cake. Think a wedding cake that looks really nice, so nice you don’t wanna destroy it.

          Yay derails!

        • Nidokoenig says:

          It’s because it’s an archaic saying, it’s saying you can’t eat it now and keep it to eat later, which isn’t an obvious sense to us any more.

          • Otters34 says:

            It makes perfect sense and refers to somebody having contradictory impulses, like wanting to both eat a sandwich and keep it around for later, where trying to do both means both impulses are frustrated.

            • Fleaman says:

              It’s non-obvious because the saying’s intended meaning requires the two clauses “have a cake” and “eat it” be understood as the two mutually exclusive possible states the cake can exist in at a single moment in time; the saying is nonsensical if the clauses are read as events occuring in sequence at two different points in time, which is a natural way to interpret it.

              This confusion can be avoided by expressing the saying as “eat a cake and still have it afterwards” or “have a cake you’ve already eaten”.

    • Tim Charters says:

      I don’t think trying to make every single kill as *heavy* as the first one would be a good idea, as seeing Lara go through an “Oh my god, I killed someone” reaction would probably lose its impact after the first few times. Just think about how ME3′s dream sequences turned the kid dying from a brief annoyance in the prologue to “Yes, I get that Shepard is sad. You don’t have to keep telling me that.” Plus, the story does actually try for an “it gets easier” arc, with Lara being a no-frills badass action hero at the end. This becomes most obvious when you get the grenade launcher. “Run, you bastards! I’m coming for you!”

      The problem is that it gets too easy too quickly, especially if you’re an aggressive player like Josh. I was quite a bit more cautious in my own playthrough, and I really tried to sneak up on guys and take them out without their buddies noticing. I think I spent at least 2-3 times as much time to get through this section, so seeing Josh casually off guys in rapid succession with arrows to the head is really something.

      But I definitely agree that substantially reducing the number of enemies would have helped bring the gameplay in line with the story. The game seems to have around 300-400 enemies in total (this estimate was based on achievements), which was apparently already a compromise, with original plans calling for twice that number. I think the game could have gotten away with reducing it another 60-80% without major gameplay changes, especially if most of them were “backloaded” in the last half of the game as the action ramps up. All they would have to do is have fewer fight sequences and guard patrols, and maybe make the enemies a bit stronger or Lara a bit weaker to compensate.

      It might also help to expand on the stealth gameplay elements and adding ways to avoid enemies by either sneaking past them or successfully escaping from them after you are detected. That way you have options besides “arrow to the head” or “choke them with a bow” when you encounter an enemy.

      • X2-Eliah says:

        reaction would probably lose its impact after the first few times.

        Yes, well, that’s kinda exactly why I said that there should only be very few enemies in the entire game. You would never get more than that “first few”, and they wouldn’t be chickens in a row, 2 minutes after each other. And making it emotionally impactful does not mean having to reuse the same animation or dialog.

        • Nimas says:

          Spent the entire game wanting this. It would have helped so much I think, to expand the stealth play and the survival mechanics, and the story would have greatly benefited from not having a goddamn clown car island worth of bad guys.

          I think one of the biggest problems was the fact that being a Tomb Raider game meant that they couldn’t deviate even more radically from the initial Tomb Raider games then they already did with this compromise.

          • Wedge says:

            I think it’s even worse than that–it’s the AAA games industry’s pathological inability to break away from “shoot all the things” as the basic unit of gameplay. I’m reminded of TUN’s video about violence and how every game needs to be centered around a ridiculous turkey-shoot, even when it does not serve the themes of that game’s story or mesh at all with the game’s other mechanics. TR is just game #18974536 on the list of games that were designed by taking a generic meatgrinder simulator and adding a story on top of it, instead of starting with a story and working out how the gameplay mechanics can service that story.

  16. RTBones says:

    This episode also highlights on of my nits with the game -

    As Laura approaches Roth pre-cutscene, you can clearly see the bow over her shoulder. Cutscene, and there is no bow. Post cutscene, aaaaand its back.

    I realize that the devs didnt want to make more than one cutscene so they show her without any weapons equipped during it, but it would have been nice if out of cutscene they had a way to let the player know which weapons was equipped without the drastic graphic change. I spent more time looking for my thought-to-be-lost bow than I did paying attention to what was going on in the cutscene.

    • X2-Eliah says:

      I don’t get this. What does it matter if it is a cutscene or not? The cutscenes afaik aren’t pre-rendered, they are in-engine. So why not just take the player model that’s already there, and done deal?

      (or are the cutscenes actually pre-rendered in this game, similar to, say, DX:HR?)

      • Tim Charters says:

        If I had to guess, I would say that it is to make things easier for the animators. That way they don’t have to worry about Lara reaching out to grab something and having her arm clip through the bow.

        And I can confirm that apart from the beginning and maybe the epilogue, the cutscenes are not pre-rendered. If you use an alternate DLC outfit, it also apply in all of the cutscenes, so they clearly use Lara’s ingame model, at least. Though this can lead to some problems. For instance, if you have an alternate outfit on when Lara falls into the river of blood, she somehow doesn’t get any blood on her.

        • Raygereio says:

          If I had to guess, I would say that it is to make things easier for the animators. That way they don’t have to worry about Lara reaching out to grab something and having her arm clip through the bow.

          Yep. It’s the same reason why in the whole Mass Effect trilogy characters would equip weapons they didn’t use or even had on them in cutscenes.

    • Michael says:

      Honestly, on the weapon front, the thing that really weirded me out was how gear would swap out based on what was equipped. The pistol’s always visible, but the bow, shotgun, and AR trade out depending on which you’ve currently got selected, instead of getting socketed to different points on her outfit.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Yeah,but come on,max payne came out quite recently,so the technology of displaying the correct weapon in a cutscene is fairly new.You cannot expect every game to have it.We arent living in the future,you know.

        • Michael says:

          I could have sworn this actually was a feature in the previous Tomb Raider games… not Guardian of Light, but the original Core games and then the first Crystal Dynamics reboot… though, I never played very far into the first reboot.

        • Timothy Charters says:

          The problem isn’t technology so much as how to place all those weapons on the character’s body without it looking ridiculous. Mass Effect has had all weapons visible on your body from the beginning (except for the hyperspace inventory in the first game), but that’s because it’s set in the future and you have power armor and weapons that fold up when they’re not in use.

          By the end of this game, Lara has a pistol, a compound bow, an assault rifle, and a full length shotgun, but she’s still wearing the tank top and torn up pants from the start of the game (unless you have a DLC outfit). And she’s rock climbing and doing a bunch of acrobatics while carrying that stuff. Fitting all of those guns on her outfit without it looking silly would be very difficult.

          Bloodrayne from 2002 had a cheat code that made all of your weapons (which typically included a half dozen pistols, SMGs, and rifles as well as a bazooka) visible on your character model at all times. With this code on, the game runs fine,and there aren’t even that many obvious clipping errors, but it looks ridiculous.

          That’s not even mentioning ammunition. In addition to a bunch of assault rifle magazines, shotgun shells, and grenades, Lara also carries around dozens of arrows without even using a visible quiver at any point.

          • Michael says:

            The quiver is visible in this episode. Whenever she has the bow equipped, the quiver is socketed to her back. I think it only visually holds about seven to ten arrows, but it is there. Though it does vanish when she equips anything else. Rather weirdly, the belt the quiver is mounted on is persistent and remains throughout the game.

            I certainly understand the argument, and it’s normally completely valid. Just, in this case, nearly every other major piece of gear Lara picks up gets added to her character model. The axe, pistol, rope, ammo capacity upgrades, and radio all get added to her model as the game goes on.

            And then your main weapon blips in and out of existence. I kinda think it’s so you can tell which weapon will actually equip when you pull one. But, with the rest of the persistence in the game, it feels weird.

  17. Cynicism Overwhelming says:

    8:36 I think marks the countdown to this season going full Bioshock.

    It marks the point where the game you’ve been playing ends, and the ‘real’ game starts.

    Up until this point, the gameplay and the story/cutscenes are pretty much in step. Even if you think the writing isn’t good, it’s at least mostly consistent in itself between the idea that Lara is young, inexperienced, naïve, etc. and the gameplay of gathering food supplies and jumping around the environment while being relatively light on combat.

    What becomes clear a couple hours after Lara gets her first gun, is that the writer and the gameplay designer aren’t working on the same game. Cutscenes continue to portray Lara as barely able to handle the situation she’s been thrust in. The constant blindsiding that Shamus loves to mock (with good reason), “screwing up” her relationships with the other members of the crew (to put it lightly), going against the instincts of the jaded player who can see that what’s really needed is for Lara to start with the head-shooting.

    Right to the end, there is a *very* gentle curve of turning Lara into a much more weathered, hardened character. I’m sure if you found a YouTube video of all the cutscenes stitched together, it would probably be oddly choppy, but at least show a consistent character arc for our protagonist.

    The gameplay however is… not so well paced. At 12:57 we hear Lara say how easy it was to kill. Which is odd, considering how little she’s willing to do it without your finger on the trigger. From here on out, we’re basically Halo/Duke Nukem/Far Cry/Uncharted. Definitely Uncharted. Guns on each of the D-pad buttons, some grenades, and a lot of mooks between us and the end of the level.

    This disconnect will keep getting more pronounced as time goes on. I think the game broke for me when you find Grim again. Well, the story did anyway. In that sequence, we get a fairly large area to explore (I think it took me around 30 minutes to get through the first time) where each section has 3-4 mooks to blow away. This is bookended by a pair of ‘stand your ground’ style fights in which you mow down oncoming hordes. Grand total, I think my bodycount for that section was well over 100. Following this, we get another cutscene where Lara is reluctant to use violence to solve her problems.

    But that’s ok, as Roth shows up to help. He’s going to provide covering fire as we cross a heavily guarded bridge. That sounds nice, as it’s always good to have help from friends. I was a little disappointed though to find out that this ‘heavily guarded’ bridge had *maybe* 7 guys on it. This was where I finally had to stop trying to connect the game I was playing to the movie I was watching during level loads. The writer is still trying to portray Lara as a reluctant warrior, while the game designer long ago turned us into a whirlwind of vengeance and arrow headshots.

    And this will get worse. Combat sections will get longer, and longer. That’s how games work; you ramp up the difficulty by putting those breathers farther and farther apart. So we’ll end up with a story that’s diverging farther away from the game with every room of bad guys turned to kibble, and even those bits of story that the crew can comment on will be rarer and rarer as the season goes on.

    I expect that by the point that Lara is screaming death threats at the top of her lungs with her newly aquired grenade launcher, we’ll have decended completely into bile and nitpicking the odd angle of sun off Lara’s hair or how her accent is from the wrong part of the UK.

    ‘Would you kindly’ buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

    • Tim Charters says:

      I actually think that the story and gameplay are a closer match in the later parts of the game than they are in the early parts. In the last missions, both the gameplay and story are pretty much telling a pulpy adventure story of Lara Croft, action adventurer, trying to rescue her friends from crazy cultists and undead Samurai. Really, you could argue that the last cutscene/QTE before the epilogue is less incongruous with the gameplay than any others in the game.

      • Peter H. Coffin says:

        That they’re closer together at the end is exactly the point. The cutscenes progress in that development arc, but the gameplay doesn’t. Or at least, it’s really difficult to see how it could; Josh’s playstyle is very straight-ahead psychopath under normal circumstances, but in DX, it was at least clear that making your goal of escape was entirely possible without a near 100% deathcount. This game looks like there’s a lot of point mostly your choice is simply whether you’re going to kill the mooks quietly or noisily, even up here in the first hour beginning. Especially after that ruins fire with Lara escaping the Russian, where it seems like you can only sneak past about maybe a quarter of the dudes, and once you get armed up, the designers didn’t bother much with the “go around” option.

      • Cynicism Overwhelming says:

        The story may be pulpy at that point, but the game had long since become Gears of War. Presumably the only reason Lara didn’t get any power armor was because nobody thought to put that sort of treasure in the tiny tombs (which seem to be there mostly for nostalgia’s sake).

        Even in the final cutscenes of the game, Lara is still reluctant to sucker punch people with bullets. I may be forgetting something, but I’m pretty sure that it’s only in the very last scene before the epilogue that shows Lara pulling the trigger without the player’s help. So it takes to the end of the game for ‘Cutscene Lara’ to catch up to where ‘Gameplay Lara’ is in this episode.

        If you want to argue that the end of the story and the game line up better, I’d have to say it’s only because the game couldn’t figure out where to go after turning Lara into a cover-shooter action dude and stopped to let the story try and catch up.

  18. bucaneer says:

    Ok, so pop quiz: you come across a net bag containing a wooden crate which may have something you want in it. It hangs loosely on a branch or something. You have a pair of functioning arms, a sharp pickaxe, a quiver of sharp arrows and a torch. Do you:
    a) take the bag off the branch and loot its contents
    b) cut the bag open with the sharp tools at your disposal
    c) set the bag on fire, thus freeing the wooden crate which remains unscathed because that’s how fire works

    Bonus question: you enter a short tunnel. Its walls, ceiling, floor and support beams are all made of wood. In front of you, a pile of wooden rubble blocks your way forward. You demonstrably have excellent climbing/jumping/parkour skills, which you used to get to the tunnel in the first place. Do you:
    a) leave the tunnel and climb around to get to your destination
    b) try to move some of the rubble allowing you to pass through
    c) set the rubble on fire and then stand two meters away waiting for it to burn down completely

    • Zombie says:

      Obviously, c is the correct answer both times, because FIRE IS AWESOME, and there has to be torches in a Tomb Raider game; how else are we going to look like Indiana Jones or The Mummy? Be scared of snakes? Kill Nazis? Awaken a omnipotent god-like being with the power to kill just about anyone it meets? Oh wait………

    • Tim Charters says:

      The correct answer to the first one is d) shoot the bag from a distance with a flaming arrow, which cleanly destroys the net (even though the arrow would be far more likely to hit the box), causing the rotten wooden box to fall 40 feet onto sharp rocks, which doesn’t damage it or its contents in any way.

      The correct answer to the second one is d) shoot a flaming arrow at a pocket of natural gas, setting off a large explosion that destroys the rubble without injuring or even deafening you while you stand 10 feet away, because that’s how explosions in confined spaces work.

  19. GM says:

    I know this is unrelated but would buying The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition be recommended? ,i ask because 66% off on steam.
    I´m mainly thinking of how it plays,is it dull or is it fun?

    • Weimer says:

      The Witcher 2 was.. okay at gameplay standpoint. The combat is like enhanced Diablo; you’ll click at an enemy to hit them. If you want to make a lot of damage to them however, you’ll have to time multiple clicks in specific patterns to execute combos and critical hits. I’ve forgotten if the combat changes drastically from that when the game progresses, but I remember being tired of combat in the end.

      The one feature I hated was the potion system. You’re supposed to drink potions in advance to – for example – get poison resistance or some health regen. But the problem is you can’t drink potions while in combat so if you didn’t drink the right potion, off to the load screen with you!

      There are some choices that change the story dramatically, so the game is good for multiple playthroughs on that department.

      I’m not a particular fan of the game or the series, but 7 euros is a steal for Witcher 2.

    • X2-Eliah says:

      I loved that game. Fun and great story. Get it.

  20. Gilfareth says:

    Josh’s ‘Oh yes’ in the description immediately made me think of the good old Deus Ex: The Recut.

  21. Okay yeah. That scene with the Russian guy at the beginning of the episode? THAT was where I kept dying when I was complaining about the circle QTE back in the comments of the first episode. Not figuring the stupid thing out, constantly failing, watching Lara get brutally choked over, and over, and over. I was not having any fun. At all.

    Yeah I generally agree with what Chris is saying about all the characters being introduced, pulled back out, and not getting to really know any of them. In some cases, it’s really a shame, because I would’ve liked to have seen more of Grim, Jonah, or Alex–or Roth especially perhaps; however, I could at least see that Roth was important to Lara, and I guess that’s enough. As far as figuring out who was who though, I didn’t actually have any trouble with that.

    Whoa, wait! Roth (and German officer) was the Medic from TF2??? Now I need to go back and listen to that document again!

  22. Sixneat says:

    Just an observation: that rapist is much worse than a rapist. He is a complete psychopath. He objectified every single person in that scene, and did not hesitate to execute prisoners on a whim. He also seem to enjoy it.
    He, and the whole scene, is a complete nightmare, of the worse kind.
    I think they did a good job producing that terror, thus making us, the players, rightfully uncomfortable.

    So why are we discussing the part of the sexual assault and not the repetitive mindless murders? Are we that insensitive to murders and extreme violence already?

    On a side note, I think that his proposed plans for Lara helps explaining his actions better for various reasons: 1) he under-estimates Lara for being a woman (he immediately killed the men, right?) – a grave mistake; and 2) he lets her run away to begin with, because he wants to continue later on. Why didn’t he shoot her in the head right at the beginning, like he did to the other guy that started running? Why leaving her on the floor, untied?

  23. Heaven Smile says:

    7:46 – 7:49“I do not want to fight a rapist in a videogame”

    Someone has not played “I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream” it seems.

  24. Rick says:

    Best episode so far!

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