Tomb Raider EP7: Oh, Honey

By Shamus
on Jun 27, 2013
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

As I said in the previous episode, I had to bail on our recording session this week. I’m sorry I missed this section of the game in our show. Here is the commentary I would have given you if I’d stuck with it:

If ships always get stranded here, then who climbed to the top of this crazy mountain and built a refueling station here? Also, why would anyone build a fueling station here? Did Lara really need to blow up ALL the fuel? Couldn’t she have made a smaller, safer, and less destructive signal fire?

Let’s imagine the rescue plane didn’t get struck by lightning. Where was it going to land? Why would an airplane be sent on a rescue mission where there is no known airfield? And as others have pointed out: We’re off the coast of Japan. Why is the rescue plane American?

Individually these are not horrible sins. I think the audience is mostly prepared to allow for a bit of slop in a pulpy adventure story. But I think a little attention to detail would have spared me from about five minutes of sustained eye-rolling.

Also, I think the rope arrows are a good mechanic in theory, but this looks ridiculous. Lara fires a rope arrow into a wooden structure and then pulls it down. I’m even willing to spot the game the hand-wave of arrows penetrating and holding unlimited loads. I’m even willing to spot the game a second hand-wave and allow her the unlimited supply of rope that’s always long enough and never needs to be recovered. (We can hand-wave this by saying it would just be tedious to have her reel in and re-roll the rope every time.) And naturally we’ll give a pass to the silly notion that these little arrows could still hit their targets while dragging that much weight.

But even with all of that duct tape applied to the bridge of disbelief-suspension, this is still pretty silly. Lara can’t be exerting force on these lines that exceed her weight. (If she did, she’d just fall over or haul herself up.) Which means these structures require less than her body weight to fall over. Okay, okay. Videogame rotted wood, etc. But if that’s the case, then she didn’t need the rope arrows. She could pull any of these objects over by grasping them and pulling. If nothing else, they should dump the doors that are reachable on foot but can only be opened with rope arrows. That’s just too preposterous.

I’m sorry Tomb Raider. I ran out of hand-waves for you.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!


A Hundred!12112 comments. Quick! Add another to see if this message changes!

From the Archives:

  1. McNutcase says:

    So much hand-waving you broke your wrist?

    It is getting rather silly now. At this point, Lara would have two broken legs from landing off that insanely steep zipline…

  2. Don’t expect to eat anything fancy on that flight because it’s plane food.

    I don’t know how that pilot got to fly a plane. I guess he’s great at landing a job.

  3. Brainbosh says:

    I assume the refueling station was part of the WW2 Japanese base. Although why is there still usable fuel? Do they salvage it from ships?

    I originally assumed the island was somewhere in the open area between Japan and Hawaii, but after reviewing the cutscene where they talked about it, wow, that is close to Japan. Sheesh, if the island is that close, I almost expect they could see it from there.

  4. Spammy says:

    Hooray, Lara’s got a grappling hook! Because really, why not just give her a grappling hook? Those hook-launching cannons are pretty sweet looking, to my knowledge found on ships… They’d have to change their puzzles but a grappling hook cannon would make a pretty sweet tool.

    Also, someone needs to draw Lara opening up a chest and finding a summer bonnet inside. “Oh my, a bonnet! Legends speak of fearsome warriors who wore these when they charged into battle with a berserker fury born of intoxication. I guess it couldn’t hurt to wear it…”

  5. Hieronymus says:

    Hasn’t the U.S. Navy had a standing fleet in the Pacific since the end of WWII?

    It doesn’t seem terribly odd to me that a U.S. plane would show up to scout the area.

    • McNutcase says:

      Possibly, but the US Navy doesn’t use the Hercules. Even though it’s perfectly possible to land them on and then launch them from modern aircraft carriers, they’re simply too big to be practical for naval use. They don’t fold up like all the other Navy planes do, and they don’t fit into the hangar decks. There’s nowhere to store it; it’s a touch-and-go only.

    • rofltehcat says:

      There are also US Army bases on/in Japan and one of them is near Tokyo. Wikipedia says “Camp Zama/Kastner Army Airfield” is near Tokyo, which would put it a few hundred miles away tops. So she’d only need to stay up there for 1 or 2 hours or so without freezing to death!

    • RTBones says:

      A US plane in the area is not a big deal. A C-130 with US Coast Guard markings very much IS, however. Then there is the whole lightening making the plane go all asplodey that is just…silly.

      • RTBones says:

        To demonstrate, here is a very large plane (747), in a storm, on take-off, that does NOT go asplodey when hit by lightning.

        • Tim Charters says:

          To be fair, this was a magical lightning bolt thrown by the ghost of an ancient Japanese sun goddess. Plus the plane was hit by at least 2 lighting strikes in rapid succession.

          • Paul Spooner says:

            Well, the basic conclusion that Laura comes to, that something un-natural is going on, is upheld no matter where the break with reality lies. Storms don’t come out of nowhere in seconds, Airplanes are not targeted by lightning when nothing else around is struck, airplanes don’t just catch fire when they are hit by lightning, and even if they catch fire it doesn’t mean that they just fall out of the sky. The thing had a pretty clear glide-path to the ocean. So, yeah, there’s no reason that the airplane should crash, which is what the writers are trying to get across with this scene. I’d say it worked!

      • RTBones says:

        To demonstrate, here is a very large plane (747), in a storm, on take-off, that does NOT go asplodey when hit by lightning.

  6. Inwoods says:

    Planes have much longer ranges than helicopters, especially planes like the HC-130.

    It’s often the plane that first finds things since it has the range to run a search pattern; then you send a short range helicopter straight out and back to your target.

    Lara is likely mistaken in thinking the plane intends to land, as many people in her position would be. The plane would likely acknowledge her presence, linger as long as it had fuel, and radio for something that could land and pick her up.

    http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg7/cg711/c130h.asp

    • RTBones says:

      Exactly. Even with Laura’s mistaken assumption about the landing, though, from the top of the tower we got a pretty good view of the terrain in the local area – suitable for an airstrip, it isn’t. The Herc is a wonderful beast of a machine, but you couldn’t even Air America your way out of this one.

  7. Blov says:

    14.30ish

    LARA, THAT IS NOT HOW ENGLISH PEOPLE PRONOUNCE PESTLE. Or how anyone pronounces pestle…

    • ACman says:

      Yes. That made me wince as well.

      That said Cammilla Luddington is pretty damn English and is of the sort of lispy English accent that has trouble with l’s and r’s and w’s.

  8. anaphysik says:

    I’m not quite sure where the island is supposed to be (firstly because the “Dragon’s Triangle” is a fairly vaguely defined area, and secondly because I’m not sure where in it this is supposed to be), but if it’s anywhere near the Okinawa side of the triangle then there should be *extensive* US presence available. (The US has a large presence in multiple parts of Japan, but Okinawa is where the biggest presence is, something like half of the total number of bases.) The US Coast Guard also has a base in Tokyo.

    Still, the rescue attempt probably should have been handled by Japan’s Coast Guard or their Special Rescue Team, perhaps with secondary assistance from the US forces (like, say, sending a fighter out for initial scouting).

    • Josh says:

      From what I’ve gathered, I think it’s supposed to be in the Izu island chain, just south off the coast of Tokyo. Which puts it within a few hundred kilometers of Japan.

      They’re not terribly specific though, so I suppose it could be more remote, but the Izu island chain is the supposed “center” of the Dragon’s Triangle.

      • Psy says:

        Well looking at the Izu island chain most likely it would be Tori-shima that is 600 KM from Tokyo that was inhabited and known for ships wrecking on its shores, the island was mostly abandoned after 1902 after a volcano eruption, there are research stations built after WWII to study weather, earthquakes and the volcano yet from google maps the island doesn’t have a mountain only a volcano, also traces of the old village are still clear from satellite photos and is no where near the volcano with nothing to suggest anyone build anything permanent actually on the volcano itself.

        So in Tomb Raider we are probably dealing with a fictional island like Tori-shima that has a mountain instead of a volcano, where villagers build on said mountain and is a risk to planes for some reason (since Tori-shima is only a risk to boats as the waters near the islands are too shallow and rough for boats to safely approach the island, where there are tourist flights over the island along with scientific flights for expeditions onto the island)

  9. Geoff says:

    I guess the inconsistencies didn’t bother me much. As others pointed out, I never assumed the plane was trying to land, just that it was doing a fly over for a visual so that it could figure out where they were and then send back a rescue helicopter or boat which shows up later, in fact.

    The refueling station also likely wasn’t for boats, but for vehicles from the WWII Japanese Base. There aren’t many but we’ve already come across at least one on the bridge leading into the radio tower. As for whether that fuel would still be any good or not, or at the very least still burn, I’ve got no idea.

    I haven’t finished the game yet, so I don’t know what all gets explained and what doesn’t, but it was my assumption that the island hasn’t always stranded ships there. One of the Japanese letters implies that they came to the island specifically to investigate the storms as a possible weapon, but it felt like they had a way on and off the island safely. Maybe that turns out to be complete crap and is contradicted later, but by this point in the game (and still where I am at in the game) this all seemed reasonable to me.

    I also liked the rope arrow mechanic as a method of tearing down new entrances, taking down barricades and creating new zip lines, but there was definitely a moment of eye rolling at the ridiculousness of it.

    • Tim Charters says:

      One of the Japanese WW2 logs said that 2 cargo ships got sunk trying to get to the island, but the rest got through. Which would seem to imply that the storm thing was going on back then, just not as bad as it is today for some reason. Other people have speculated that the storms might go in cycles, or the Japanese scientists did something to anger Himiko while there were studying her. But I don’t think the game ever offers an explanation.

      • Humanoid says:

        I just assumed global warming was at fault.

        • MrGuy says:

          Actually, it is.

          Global warming is contributing to a rise in wheat rust , which is a natural source of LSD. This is slowly making its way into the food supply. Game developers eat this tainted wheat in developer-friemdly foods ranging from donuts to baja chicken wraps. This causes game developers to write crazy non-sensical plots. Also, it causes them to think quick-time events are a brilliant idea.

          Is there any coincide that the sensibleness of video game plots is decreasing every year? Wake up, sheeple!

      • rofltehcat says:

        Wasn’t it related to her age/state of body decay? Somehow I got the idea that the worse her body gets, the more out of control the storms get?

        Or maybe they just awakened her or failed to kiss her feet?
        Maybe both? Tried to kill her but only damaged/enraged her?

        • Lovecrafter says:

          IIRC the scientists tried to weaponize her, which understandably pissed her off. Then they tried to destroy her, which didn’t exactly lighten her mood one bit.

      • ? says:

        Quite simple explanation for why storms are getting much worse now: Himiko knows she has a viable new host on an island, so she focuses on destroying any means of escape for her. With Japanese Fleet she might lured them with relative safety to come and go, until they got either too nosy about islands secrets, or they brought enough resources to start rebuilding her empire. She has an agenda of her own after all.

  10. Tim Charters says:

    Like others have said, the plane was probably there to do a quick fly-over, confirm Lara’s position, then radio back to base so that they could send a helicopter or boat. Also, maybe drop some supplies, but I’m not sure if that particular plane is equipped to do that. From what I’ve heard, planes generally are used to scout in rescue missions, since they have a greater range than helicopters and can move faster than boats.

    As for the refueling station: The Japanese built a whole bunch of other stuff, including several bunkers, bridges, and some pretty large coastal defense guns (well, maybe the guns were brought in by ship, but they still had to build the facilities for them). If they could bring all that stuff in, a refueling station and pipelines doesn’t seem that implausible to me. Though I’m not sure why they would build one there, of all places. The only possible reason I could think of would be to pump fuel up from the docks on the beach (where ships could drop it off) for generators, vehicles, and stuff. But I honestly have no idea whether that would be more or less efficient than just laying down some unpaved roads and having trucks drive the stuff up. Or putting the generators on the beach and running power lines up the mountain.

    Also, you have to wonder whether the fuel would still be good, or the pipes would still be intact after 70 years, but technology still working after a ridiculous amount of time is such a staple in this genre that I’m perfectly willing to give this game a pass on that. At least the environment artists did a great job of making the ruined bunkers look believably degraded.

    In any case, starting a signal fire like Lara did seems like a pretty dumb idea. A far more sensible solution would be to just gather some wood in a pile and create a bonfire, maybe sprinkling a bit of the fuel on top of it to get it started faster.

    • SKD says:

      It was a USCG SAR plane. They are meant to get out to the area, fly a search pattern, and circle survivors/castaways until they can be picked up. To assist in their purpose they carry emergency supplies and at least one or two emergency rafts that can be dropped if needed. Depending on the situation they often will carry rescue swimmers who can be parachuted in to provide first aid and other assistance.

      As for the signal fire, the sensible thing would be to build a wood pile and throw on some fuel to accelerate the ignition. However, IIRC she was in kind of a hurry at the time and didn’t have time to leisurely prepare a signal fire in the traditional way.

  11. Tim Charters says:

    I actually wasn’t bothered that much by the zipline. I think it goes back to presentation. Sure if you think about it, going down a zipline that steep should absolutely have killed her or at least broken her legs. But while you’re playing it, she just rolls to the ground, dusts herself off, and gets back up. It doesn’t really draw attention to how bad it should have been (contrast with the spike through the gut and the bear trap), so it’s pretty easy to ignore and move on.

    Though if you think about it, you also have to ask the question of who built that zipline in the first place. I have a hard time imagining some random cultists getting several hundred foot of rope, dragging it across the winding path to get to the radio tower, climbing up to that point, then attaching it, for no real purpose. Couldn’t they have at least made it a mooring cable or something?

    On the villages: besides the shantytown, most of the non-WW2 stuff is presumably the ruins of ancient Yamatai. I have my doubts that wood buildings could stay intact for so long, but again that comes up so often in adventure stories that I can’t bring myself to criticize it here. If Raiders of the Lost Ark can have all of those perfectly working traps in a centuries old Mayincatec temple, some wooden villages built on the side of a cliff is nothing.

    As for why it started collapsing just when Lara got there, well a plane did crash a few hundred feet upslope from it, and a bunch of debris fell off the cliff just above the village. That can’t be good for the structural stability of the place. Though it is awfully convenient that it waited until Lara hopped onto it to start collapsing.

    Shamus: If you can’t buy the rope arrows, just wait until Lara gets the magic rope ascender that can generate enough force to rip apart steel doors. Even though no matter how much torque that thing puts out, it can’t exert a greater force than Lara’s weight without pulling her towards the other thing.

    But yeah, I generally agree that the rope arrows got to be a bit much. Like in this episode when Josh yanked down that supporting beam. If the platform can support the weight of 2 men just fine, there’s no way that Lara could have pulled one of the main support beams down. The mechanic would have fit a lot better if it had been limited to you pulling small stuff that you can’t reach. And while the “shoot an arrow next to a post to create an instant zipline” idea is kind of cool in theory, in practice it felt just like tedious busywork that could have been easily replaced by just having a zipline already there.

    • Robyrt says:

      To be fair, the “instant zipline” ability is used to good effect in the later levels, where you have to choose which zipline you are creating out of several possibilities. Of course, having it an arrow that you pull down is pretty silly, as is your infinite rope arrow count – it doesn’t even decrease your arrow supply by one, even though you have like 40 arrows.

    • Trix2000 says:

      To be fair on pulling the beam out from under the enemies, the forces at work (both supporting the men and the force she applies to break it) are in different directions, and her pulling perpendicular to the normally applied gravitational force exploited a weakness in the beam.

      Of course, that’s a very specific amount of material strength/force/whatever, so there’s still a degree you’d have to hand-wave it. At least a little plausible in my mind.

  12. ehlijen says:

    So I’m getting the impression that what we see in the game isn’t reality, but rather an exageragated impression as Lara might get it?

    As in ‘oh god oh go that’s a tall radio tower!’ when it’s really like 5m or so. ‘I’m going too fast, too fast arhg’ when the zipline was probably a more sane 30 degrees in reality? ‘Can’t get all the blood off my hands!’ when really she killed 3-5 dudes top?

    Or am I just being a game apologist? While in most games this would just be game for gaming sake, I think it could fit in here with such an intention…though I guess unless the game gives us a peek at actual reality now and then it doesn’t really count or work that way…nevermind.

    • So this is like Alan Wake, except in the end it turns out Lara is insane?

      It’s like a more violent form of “St. Elsewhere.”

    • Will says:

      Nah I think this is brilliant and works just fine. We have a peek at actual reality, it’s called reality, it’s ok.

    • daemian lucifer says:

      Is this the real life?Is it just fantasy?

    • Asimech says:

      One of the creators, I think it was the writer Rhianna Pratchett, said they moved combat to an earlier location because they figured it was better for the players even though it was worse for the story. So I don’t think that’s the intended interpretation of events.

      A lost opportunity, if you ask me.

      • Dasick says:

        I hate to sound like a broken record, but….

        This stuff happens all the time. Games hurt stories and stories hurt games. Because a story is tied to a set of rules and goals and loose gamestates, and because a game is tied to a rigid sequence of scenes, compromises are inevitable.

        If they went ahead with what was better for the story, then the core mechanic would be underused for far longer. I guess you could do just keep throwing point-n-click puzzles at the player, like what TWD did, but in terms of gameplay, that’s not terribly exciting. Even a very bland combat system has more strategy to it (manage ammo, choose cover, manage distance, choose weapon etc etc)

        • Asimech says:

          Or, just maybe, they could pair the story off with mechanics that fit the story or a story that fits the mechanics.

          • Asimech says:

            I think I should expand: Ehlijen’s impression was a case of “fitting the story with the mechanics”. If the makers had set the story to be “as Lara remembers it due to shock” and to communicate this to the player they would have played sound clips or short scenes that would establish this as “what she tells to the shrink” there would have not been a compromise.

  13. Decius says:

    Nobody noted the many ways in which a person with a rope can easily exert a net force much higher that they body weight? (starting with bracing oneself against something solid and ending with a block and tackle) Granted, Lara doesn’t actually use any of those methods, but they are available to her.

    • Allan says:

      I was about to say something similar. I don’t think it’s impossible at all to exert more force than your own weight, otherwise how would people even move? Not that it really helps since I imagine long before you got to the requisite force to pull a building over, you’d have passed the force required to just pull the arrow out.

      • LassLisa says:

        The issue is exerting more force than your own body weight and NOT moving.

        Although entirely worth note that plenty of folks can, say, bench more than their own weight; a rope could help you get leverage that you wouldn’t have if you were trying to just pull the door down with your own hands.

      • Decius says:

        Good point- you can’t exert more *work* on something else than it exerts back on you, but you can exert work in two directions at once. If you are pulling -down-, you have limits based on your weight; if you are pulling at an angle, you have a limit based on weight and traction, with complex vectors (upward component reduces your force on the ground, which reduces traction).

      • Trix2000 says:

        Actually, depending on the bow, you could get a LOT of force into that arrow to make it more difficult to get out. Not sure if the makeshift bow would be strong enough to do so, though (the compound bow maybe).

  14. Mumbles, not only should the plane crash part have hurt, I’m pretty sure Lara shouldn’t have had any elbows left after running them over the ground like that.

  15. Sabredeance (MatthewH) says:

    Charlie Bronson’s always got rope. And he always uses it.

  16. My first thought when I saw the Mortar and Pestle was “How is she going to wear that?”

  17. hborrgg says:

    So you tie a 10 lb rope to your arrow and that totally works without the arrow popping out or breaking when you try to climb it?

    Is the game trying to work towards some sort of “it was all a dream” twist? Because it feels like there’s an awful lot of dissonance going on here.

    Also, I like that the tower scene made it into the credits, that was really pretty.

  18. anaphysik says:

    UGH. I hate the ubiquitous “run away from the fast moving object, in the direction it’s travelling in” action scene. Sometimes it’s justified, like in Indiana Jones where the boulder is specifically designed as a trap and the trap’s designers have made sure that there’s no room to maneuver around it. But in most cases? RUN TO THE SIDE, YOU MORON. Don’t outrun (hint: you physically shouldn’t be able to), DODGE!

    In fact, in this specific case, actually running /towards/ the falling plane would have made more sense (preferably towards it to get to a more open space, /then/ to the side (you would still need to worry about falling debris after all)). An extra advantage of this is that you’d be moving towards terrain you already know, not running into the unknown (and thus falling down a slope and nearly falling off a cliff).

    • daemian lucifer says:

      To be fair to lara,she is in an area enclosed by cliffs and completely covered in flammable material.

    • This bothers me as well. While it wouldn’t really apply in this situation, I think it’s much better to have something sentient chasing you – so if you go round a corner, it too shall follow.
      I think part of the problem is that it highlights the arbitrary linearity of the sequence (and, in fact, of the whole game).

    • RTBones says:

      This bothered me too. Of course, I was already put off by the scene because of the silliness with the airplane. Going all Happy McSlidey just added to the angst.

      I know the scene is there to add a little bit of tension after the tower scene. That sort of game play, however, just doesn’t work for me. It comes across as being lazy on the part of the developers, IMO.

    • Zukhramm says:

      You can’t dodge something if you don’t know how it’ll fall.

    • Trix2000 says:

      I think a proper term for it would be the ‘Prometheus Escape’.

  19. Velkrin says:

    Chris: Just do what I did to remember the names of the NPCs.

    Roth – Rothschild, since he has a fancy English accent.
    Jonna – Because he’s built like a whale
    Sam – Lara says her name all the time.

    Then you get into the ones I don’t remember – Computer geek, angry black woman and guy who is probably going to betray you because I’ve seen a movie before.

    • daemian lucifer says:

      Oh yeah,theres a computer geek in this game.I completely forgot about him,even though he has a heroic death scene.

      When you think about it,this game is worth playing simply because of lara.Im ok with that,since Id rather have a good protagonist and a bunch of bland supports than the other way round.

  20. anaphysik says:

    DOUBLE UGH. A dude with a shield, facing completely away from you, and Lara doesn’t even think to take him out! She KNOWS these guys want to kill her (after all, she just murdered tons of them). She KNOWS the pilot is on her side. This isn’t even a ‘what’s going on here!’ thing, it’s just an ‘I’m really slow for no real reason, as though this was back at the beginning of the game, before I became a killing machine.’

    It’s also just plain stupid and dumb from a writing perspective, because it simply negates everything she’s spent the last forever doing. I mean, /at least/ let the pilot get a few dying words out, or say there’s a boat coming or some shit!

    (Besides, we know from the archaeological posse that the writers weren’t bothered about including WAY too many characters in the game. Would it have been so wrong to let the pilot be an actual character instead of a plot device?)

    • daemian lucifer says:

      What we have here is the classic case of ludonarative dissonance.From the storys perspective lara is still not supposed to be a “ZOMG killing machine” at this point(that happens when you get the grenade launcher),yet the gameplay so far suggests that she is.This is why having to worry just about animals and starvation up to this point wouldve been much preferable.

      • anaphysik says:

        But it’s not just the strict gameplay of ‘shootin’ tons of dudes.’ It’s also all the combat taunts and environmental things saying that Lara’s a total half-psychopathic badass. She shouts near-bloodthirstily at gangs of gun-toting dudes, and they’re /scared of her/. Certain parts of the writing team were very deliberately playing her up as über-competent during the preceding sections. It’s not ludonarrative dissonance, it’s like videonarrative dissonance XD (not gameplay vs narrative, but cutscenes vs narrative).

      • Weimer says:

        In fact, this could have been Lara’s first human victim! Maybe the rapist russian man would find the pilot before Lara, shank him and try to feel her up, giving us (and Lara) double the reason to shoot his ass.

  21. anaphysik says:

    @Rutskarn: Of course, your players could have just dropped a couple hundred gold on scrolls of spider climb and be done with it <_<

    (EDIT: Let it be known that I prefer dangerous-to-scale cliffs to ‘lol magic.’)

    • daemian lucifer says:

      But you just know that they would probably save such scrolls for a more dangerous cliff that may come their way in the future.

    • Rutskarn says:

      A trio of relevant points:

      1.) This was not a planned, but rather an emergent encounter.

      2.) They were a broke Level 2 party in a low-magic campaign.

      3.) Despite this, I feel the need to point out, they managed to kill a night hag and her pet tiger by the end of the session.

    • Zukhramm says:

      Do people playing these games use all spells? Because if I ran one, I’d definitely make a list of some that would simply not exist in my world.

      • Everyone has “house rules.” Ironically, they can work in the other direction, making spells more powerful, depending on the rules version/campaign.

        Our group seriously thought about beefing up or altering some of the low-level wizard spells because often the choice for the caster was provoking an attack of opportunity from a foe by using a single-target attack or giving your fellow party members splash damage from an area of effect attack.

  22. Chamomile says:

    I don’t find it particularly difficult to just assume that some of these things are gameplay abstractions. Do you think the game would be better off without the rope-arrow mechanic? Or if you had to wait while Lara recovers and recoils the rope every time? Or if your aim were thrown off by the added weight? I find it entirely reasonable to just assume that Lara totally does deal with that in “reality” but we don’t have to put up with it because it would kill the pace of the gameplay.

    • Klay F. says:

      But the game is trying to tell a story about a Lara that is fragile and wounded at first. Why the hell even bother with all that intro BS if we become unstoppable the moment we get a single weapon?

      • Asimech says:

        Rule of Perceived Fun. Can’t deviate too much from established video game tropes/clichés, as they’re what’s “fun” (in the narrow sense of power fantasy or similar).

        • Klay F. says:

          I get that, but the game didn’t start out as a power fantasy, why did it feel the need to turn into one? I know the default Pratchett response is, “Well gamers expect gunplay and action.” or whatever the exact quote is.

          But no, I’ve never bought that. You don’t get to write a story, then shirk the responsibility for how its written off onto the consumers of your story. Screw what players “expect”.

          • PhoenixUltima says:

            (I haven’t played the latest TR, and in fact I only played like 5 minutes of the original because the controls were so godawful, so I’m going mostly off second-hand knowledge here. Someone slap me if I’m wrong.)

            The thing is, Tomb Raider as a series has been a power fantasy up to this point, and Lara Croft in particular is the archetypal Badass Action Grrl, dual-wielding uzis against rival treasure hunters and ferocious wildlife in a variety of ancient trap-filled tombs. And so, as an origin story, Tomb Raider (2013) was charged with the task of taking Lara Croft, as a character, from “I’m scared, I can’t do this!” to “Risking my life to murder people and get ancient treasures is RAD!”

            You’re right that not all games should succumb to the temptation to be a big badass power fantasy, but for this game and this character, it really was an inevitability.

            • Klay F. says:

              I’m not demanding that the game make Lara super vulnerable for the whole game. I was sold on this game from the devs talking about how they were going to show Lara before she becomes a Terminator-level death machine. They completely failed to do this. The most emotional cutscenes in the world don’t mean shit if I just turn into a Terminator during gameplay.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            “But no, I’ve never bought that. You don’t get to write a story, then shirk the responsibility for how its written off onto the consumers of your story. Screw what players “expect”.”

            That only works when you are the sole creator of the work,which she was not.

            • Klay F. says:

              Yet she was the one they trotted out to explain why the game turned from something unique into Nathania Drake, instead of someone like the lead designer.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Thats PR for you.And really,what do you expect her to say “Yeah,I wanted to make this,but my boss told me that I can do it his way,or no way at all”?

          • Asimech says:

            I have no answer that isn’t frustrating and dependant on the developers or publishers being stuck in their habits.

            No, not that kind.

      • Chamomile says:

        Well, okay, yes, but I was talking about the rope arrow. Which is a mobility upgrade. It’s not that you’re wrong, it’s that I don’t see how what you said has to do with what I said.

    • Shamus says:

      I specifically hand-waved the points you brought up, I specifically said the mechanic was good, and I even said what I thought was the ultimate problem. You’re saying exactly the same thing I said, except you’re saying it as if you’re arguing with me.

      ?!?!?!?!

      • BeamSplashX says:

        Shut up before you say anything else I agree with, Shamus! My views are offensive to me!

      • Chamomile says:

        Okay, sorry, my first post was missing some key information. I’ll clarify: I don’t understand why these things would count against the hand wave limit in the first place when everything Lara does is entirely possible, and the game is just allowing you to skip a few steps in the process in order to avoid killing the pacing.

  23. Weimer says:

    Oh man, the mandatory “Dangerous Shit Coming From Behind While We Slide Down A Hill” sequence! Innovation! Excitement! Pointless Spectacle!

    Urgh. I’m sorry, it just feels like every game ever has to have one these days.

    Now when I think about it though, the only game I remember right now which had it was Dead Space 3. Of course that game had bigger problems than stupid non-gameplay sections but whatever.

    • The Rocketeer says:

      Silent Hill Downpour had sequences that were basically the same thing.

      And yes, I really resent them, too. It’s just another kind of QTE; a cutscene that you can fail, rather than actual gameplay.

  24. Eric says:

    “Did Lara really need to blow up ALL the fuel? Couldn’t she have made a smaller, safer, and less destructive signal fire?”

    Explosions are cool.

    “Let’s imagine the rescue plane didn’t get struck by lightning. Where was it going to land? Why would an airplane be sent on a rescue mission where there is no known airfield? And as others have pointed out: We’re off the coast of Japan. Why is the rescue plane American?”

    Because it needed to have a thrilling heart-to-heart with Lara (and the audience) before tragically being hit by lighting. Which is cool, because explosions.

    “But even with all of that duct tape applied to the bridge of disbelief-suspension, this is still pretty silly. Lara can’t be exerting force on these lines that exceed her weight.”

    Obviously it’s an indication of how physically and emotionally strong Lara has become. In times of crisis, remember that an adult can exceed his/her physical ability by ignoring pain response. What, physics? What’s that? Explosions are cool.

    “I’m sorry Tomb Raider. I ran out of hand-waves for you.”

    I ran out of hand-waves the second I decided this was a hack story written by hacks who were unable to decide on something as basic as the tone and realism of their story and game world. So about halfway through the first episode.

  25. Ace Calhoon says:

    “Lara can’t be exerting force on these lines that exceed her weight. (If she did, she’d just fall over or haul herself up.) Which means these structures require less than her body weight to fall over.”

    This is not actually true, in the general sense. The human body is capable of generating more force than it’s own weight… Weight lifters are often capable of doing so.

    The question is how much can you brace yourself, relative to the direction of force? If the rope is directly above your head, you’re maxed at your weight (unless you have some kind of stirrup, I guess). For a door located directly below you (assuming it’s at the base of a pit narrow enough to straddle), you can exert force bounded by your muscles, and weight doesn’t factor in to the upper bound.

    The ideal is probably a door at, or slightly below your level, with a small hill or lip of some kind between you and the door. You can brace yourself against the lip, get some gravity assist by using your body as a counter-weight, and still be able to bring your full leg/torso muscles to bear.

    “Okay, okay. Videogame rotted wood, etc. But if that’s the case, then she didn’t need the rope arrows. She could pull any of these objects over by grasping them and pulling. If nothing else, they should dump the doors that are reachable on foot but can only be opened with rope arrows. That’s just too preposterous.”

    Given a tall, relatively stable object that is weak at its base, it is actually easier to knock it down by pulling from the top than pushing from the bottom. Torque and leverage, etc.

    IF you hand-wave the rope, and the arrows, a “real” person who is free to navigate the environment, create rudimentary pulleys out of trees, find places to brace, etc., could definitely exert more force with the rope than without.

    But would that make for a better game? Should Crystal Dynamics have created a “rope arrow physics engine” and turned every single one of these doors into a puzzle? Hm, that could actually be kind of fun, although you’d need to come up with a way of communicating the solutions to the player.

    What about making each rope arrow only work from a single, pre-baked spot, and having each one have its own (expensive) custom animation? That… Doesn’t really sound fun or cost-effective to me. I’d rather embrace the abstraction.

    • Dasick says:

      I get annoyed when people get annoyed with video game logic too. Gameplay is abstract, you could just as easily replace the entire thing with a bunch of cubes and lines and the game would still work (so long as you know all the rules). Hell, Go is the greatest game ever and it’s a bunch of stones on a board. And it’s not like you can simulate real life 1:1 anyways, not with out current level of technology.

      But I also like to judge things by the goals they set out to accomplish. Now, this is a poke in the sky, but I’m gonna guess that with every single strand of lara’s hair being a physics object, and the gritty and ‘realistic’ (LOL) story layer, they tried to go for simulation. And they failed on that front, really really hard, so it’s appropriate to grill them for it. I don’t know what they should have done, but it’s generally a good idea not to try things you know you can’t accomplish.

      • Ace Calhoon says:

        The thing there, is that the rope bit is more realistic than pretty much anything else in the game.

        TressFX is nice and all, but it’s an option on the PC (and is it even available on consoles?). And even with it enabled, TressFX is very much an artists interpretation of hair. It definitely behaves differently than the real thing.

        The story is pure pulp, about an immortal magical empress ruling over a cult on an island in the Pacific. An island protected by magic.

        The heroine is easily larger than life, able to jump great distances, free climb, and pull herself up on ledges after being impaled through the abdomen by rebar.

        The heroine can get shot. By bullets. A lot.

        The island is populated by hundreds of guys, most of whom are killed at Lara’s hands.

        There are doors that are opened by using a specific firing mode from a specific gun.

        After some number of “failures to simulate” you’ve just got to ask yourself if that’s what they really set out to do in the first place. And maybe you like gritty simulators, but that doesn’t mean that everything has to be one :-P

        Also: Using a rope as a tool to pull things more effectively is still not unrealistic ;)

      • Zukhramm says:

        If gameplay is abstract, it should be presented as abstract. Go does that, Tomb Raider does not.

        • Paul Spooner says:

          Indeed. The “more realistic” graphics and animation implies the audience should use a fairly literal mapping for in-game presentation to implied actions. For the level of abstraction required to justify the rope trick the gunfights, explosions, etc should be much different. Of course, this quibble extends to the “salvage” mechanics, injuries, etc. It’s one of the disadvantages to graphical improvements becoming apparent in many modern games.

        • Dasick says:

          Sorry I’m a bit late.

          What I mean is, all gameplay is abstract. You could, for example, replace all of the models in Qu3 with cubes and spheres, and you would still be able to play it, if you know the rules. In fact, you might be able to play it better in certain instances because you can see the hitboxes more clearly, and that matters a whole bunch. Dwarf Fortress is one of the most simulation-y games, and it’s being represented by ASCII characters. Gameplay isn’t in the controls, or the sounds, or even the rules – it’s the interaction with the ruleset, and that’s pretty hard to present literally.

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>