Tomb Raider EP8: The Colon of Sadness

By Shamus
on Jun 28, 2013
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

I agree with the rest of the cast: The tomb puzzles are where the game felt the most Tomb Raider-y. It feels like a slice of the best part of the earlier games.

The game is at its strongest when it moves away from the shooter stuff and embraces the platforming and puzzles. It’s not that I dislike the combat, either. I just think the game would have been thematically stronger if we had, like, half the fights and a third the body count.

I also like this particular puzzle. It presents a timing obstacle and your first instinct is probably to assume you’re supposed to do it as fast as possible. But the timing is actually really slow. Open the shutters, wait, THEN act. It’s obvious once you see the solution and it’s not hard to execute once you get what you’re supposed to be doing.

Man I wish the game had more of this.

And then a few minutes later you get punched by a guy standing just off-screen and suddenly I hate the game again. I think this “captured in the cutscene” moment needs to count twice, since you get captured by one group in the middle of getting captured by another.

I feel like I’m in this tumultuous relationship with Tomb Raider. One minute we’re holding hands, laughing, and platforming and three minutes later we’re screaming at each other and she’s throwing things at me. I tell her we’re going to break up, for real this time. No seriously. It’s over. Then she starts talking about how she knows about another hidden tomb around here someplace and suddenly I go all spineless.

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202020208Great Scott! 88 comments! If only this post was a DeLorean.

From the Archives:

  1. Gruhunchously says:

    Was Rutskarn advocating weapon degradation at the end there? You can get hanged for that in some circles.

  2. Dave B. says:

    I barely even started watching when I had to come down here and say that the title screen is PURE HILARIOUS GENIUS!

    • The Rocketeer says:

      If Shamus makes the title photoshops, then does this mean that Rutskarn and Josh are the only ones on the crew that aren’t known to endorse cannibalism?

  3. Re: Chris wanting a Fallout game centered around a stable character. I think I’ll let Douglas Adams’ radio play of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy take it from here:

    “Arthur Dent, a man whose planet has been blown up, has been having a remarkable effect on the universe. And the most remarkable thing about this is that the only remarkable thing about him as a person is that he is remarkably unremarkable, in all respects other than that of having had his planet blown up. And this, of course, is the nub of the matter, because most of the things which stir the universe up in anyway are cause by dispossessed people.”

    In a way, wasn’t Fallout 1 kind of what you wanted? You had a “family” in the Vault and tried to save them by making decisions (mostly centered around who to kill) and so on? Most protagonists in video games are either wanderers or have their dependents threatened/removed so they’re freer to act than the schlub who thinks, “this will jeopardize my income/house/kids” or whatever. I agree it’d be interesting, though it’d probably require at least a third more coding in NPC dialog/reactions and game outcomes if that was just one potential play style among ones that include violence, speech checks, etc.

    • Astor says:

      Hah! No, no, no, all I could think about is that he wants “Harvest Moon: Fallout Edition”. Which could be wicked good!

      • Klay F. says:

        I’d play the shit out of Fallout made by Natsume, OR a Harvest Moon made by Obsidian.

        No seriously, this needs to happen.

        • SyrusRayne says:

          Oh my god. Yes. All of the yes.

        • MrGuy says:

          It is a theoretical impossibility “to play the shit out of” a game made by Obsidian. At best, you can only play the shit out of small portions of the game encountered between game-crashing bugs.

          • krellen says:

            I would be really pleased if people would stop making these horribly unfair jokes about Obsidian. Watching Spoiler Warning should be evidence enough that Obsidian games are no more buggy than anyone else’s games.

            • MrGuy says:

              I suppose everyone’s mileage will vary, but I find it totally justified and apt.

              Sure, everyone’s games have bugs (and Josh will certainly find them). For me, playing on my machine, Obsidian’s are by far the worst. Fallout 3 crashed CONSTANTLY post-release, to a degree I’ve never witnessed by a non-beta game. When it did work, certain events would be bugged unrecoverably, some related to the main plot.

              I love Obsidian, but they are, in my view, way too content to release stuff that isn’t ready for prime time, and I apologize to no one for making fun of them for it.

              • X2-Eliah says:

                Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas? One of them is not obsidian’s.

              • Astor says:

                As a fanboy I’m totally biased and I feel compelled to say:
                KOTOR2 had a year of development! That’s just insane.
                Didn’t play NWN2 but it was buggy and I have no excuse.
                New Vegas had all the baggage Bethesda’s love for Gamebryo carried with it. It really annoyed me to see people complaining about New Vegas, especially “professional” journos praising FO3 but slamming NV when they both had the exact same set of bugginess.
                Alpha Protocol was indeed a mess on the technical aspects and balance… but it was still awesome in every other respect.
                DungeonSiege3 is a game they had more time to develop and used their own internal engine, it was pretty much bugfree (even if it was an awful travesty).

                So, I’m not saying they are not at fault here, they are, they got into whatever deals they got all on their own, but quality assurance falls on the hands of the publisher and it’s especially annoying when that publisher forces the developer to develop and release in an absurd timespan. They already have and deserve praise in pretty much every other aspect of their games, so I’m really hoping Obsidian’s upcoming games (Stick of Truth and Eternity) follow on DS3 technical quality so they may finally leave this reputation behind!

              • Yeah, Obsidian did FNV, and that was just using Bethesda’s engine from the first game.

                I got both games the day of release, and F3 had far more bugs than FNV did. I don’t think FNV had any game-breaking bugs in my playthrough (I missed out on Doc Mitchell’s rotating head or the still-living gore-pile NCR troops at Boulder City). F3 had some crashes, but it also had stuff like the quest to help Big Town where you could repair their robots, but there weren’t any ‘bots there to fix.

      • LunaticFringe says:

        Isn’t Fallout: Harvest Moon basically just the creation of Vault City? I’m up for that.

    • Syal says:

      I think Taloon from Dragon Quest 4 did it pretty well. He had a family back home, which you could visit regularly, and a goal of improving their lives by buying a home in the city. I see no reason that wouldn’t work for a Fallout game.

      (The main danger of giving the hero a family is the temptation to make the player escort them somewhere.)

    • Disc says:

      “You had a “family”… …and tried to save them”

      Technically so did the protagonists of both Fallout 2 and 3 as well. They only become something else after the beginning of the story.

      New Vegas is the only one where you’re a purebred wanderer from the get-go.

      • MrGuy says:

        I’ll give you Fallout 2 and saving the tribals of Arroyo.

        Fallout 3 is different. You’re an outcast. You didn’t leave to find your dad, or to save Vault 101. You left because they tried to kill you, and you look for your dad because you don’t have anywhere else to go.

        • Disc says:

          Dad = Family in this specific case. What the motivation to help or go after them is not as important as the fact that the character has set family connection(s) from the start.

          • MrGuy says:

            OK, then I think you’re talking about something different than what Chris talked about in the video, and that the OP referenced.

            The setup there was a person with a stable life in a place, and whose motivation for questing is to protect that, rather than being a wandering “setting things right!” approach. Just “having a family” wouldn’t seem to qualify.

            • Disc says:

              Ok I guess we’re in a misunderstanding here. My original point was that in both games the characters are in a very similar situation at the start. What they do after they get “sent” out into the world is what only sets them apart from that. Whether it’s being willing to sacrifice life and limb to save someone’s life or something as juvenile as to “set things right” doesn’t really matter in the sense that both would be about going on a quest to save what your character would likely hold dear.. whether it’s him or her trying to get over some daddy issues or just wanting to reconnect with his only living parent and see him breathing, which I don’t feel are unreasonable character motivations to have, even if the plot is what it is.

              You’re probably right though that it may not be what Chris originally meant at this point. Guess it’s what I get for overthinking the trope.

              • Jeff says:

                In FO1 you have your vault, and in FO2 you have your village, and in both cases you venture out to save them. They’re existing “desirable” conditions – if the problem didn’t exist (water chip/dying crops) then you (the PC) wouldn’t wander off. Hence you have a stable life you’re trying to preserve.

                In FO3, you had a stable life, then your father disappears and you get kicked out in a orgy of potential violence. There’s really nothing left to preserve as you no longer have a home, you’re essentially pursuing a potential future by going after your dad.

                Essentially the FO1/2 protagonists can go home after they find their MacGuffin and resume their life, but the FO3 protagonist can’t do that after they find their Mr. MacGuffin because their home is no longer home (due to said orgy of potential violence).

                The former two can always quit and go home, the latter can’t.

  4. evenest says:

    Shamus, Tomb Raider is like that. She’s the girlfriend that you know is no good for you, but damned if you don’t keep running back to her. I had more of a love-hate relationship with the previous versions, primarily because they handled so terrible. I’d ask Lara to skip to the right with me and she’d tumble headlong over the edge of the cliff. I’d ask her to throw her hook toward a certain loop, and she’d gleefully toss herself down into the arena. I can forgive all the lapses of the current iteration because she handles like a Maserati compared to anything that came before. Does this mean that I’ve been beaten into submission?

    [Hey, when I started my post, there were no comments…or the thread counter lied to me!]

  5. Tim Charters says:

    I never even thought of using the rope arrows on an enemy. Apparently it pulls them off their feet and puts them in an instant-killable state. That might have been useful in some of the hard fights in my game.

  6. Re: Highlander nudity. The only scene I can remember is when Connor MacLeod demonstrates to the detective that’s figured out what he is that he’s immortal by stabbing himself. Apparently, this turns her on and they have sex where you see her topless.

    As for Highlander’s greatness, a lot of that has to be partially due to Clancy Brown playing The Kurgen. He’s just pure awesome. I still love his delivery in this scene as well as the “Don’t ever speak to me” one that follows.

    • Peter H. Coffin says:

      There was also very brief nipples when Ramirez first shows up at Conner’s moldering tower when he was married to Heather. (Movie Heather, that is.)

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Oh,this scene.It makes the intro cave completely pointless.Lara couldve gotten her wound from some ship debris,or in this scene here.*sigh*

    Anyway,what does our residential japan expert have to say about the oni?Cool,or not cool?

    • Gruhunchously says:

      I think they should have rethought the ‘rebar through the ribs’ sequence. The few seconds of shock aren’t really worth the subsequent few hours of strained credulity as we see Lara pull off one excessive feat of gymnastics after another while weighed down by such a heavy injury. I think they should have had it happen later in the game, when the stakes are higher, and given it an effect on gameplay that lasted until the end of the game. And have Lara get some medical attention.

  8. I’ve always hated it when heroes in movies don’t do things that would at least bear thinking about. Even though everything’s covered in filth and gore in that final room, some of those guys are wearing helmets and other protective gear. Were I Lara, I would’ve given at least some consideration to grabbing a helmet or some pads…

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Man,I really love the way they did lara here.The subtle cuts,the dirt and blood on her,its gorgeous.I cant remember the last time I drooled over graphics this much(maybe it was in arkham asylum and batmans cape and armor,which was long ago).

    • Aldowyn says:

      I also really enjoyed the progression throughout the game of her outfit getting more and more messed up. Apparently they only used like 3 or 4 models for her, but the changes come at reasonable times so they aren’t too jarring. Bioshock: Infinite did a similar thing with Elizabeth…

    • X2-Eliah says:

      The subtle cuts,the dirt and blood on her,its gorgeous

      Out of context, that’s a hilariously creepy thing to say.

      • Paul Spooner says:

        Well, it’s kind of creepy even in context. But I’ve got to agree, there seems to be, as Chris says, a “snuff film” vibe to the new TR. Or, more generally, a level of sadism pandering. Laura gets hurt, and feels it, and has wounds to show for it, and it’s all so slick and smooth that you wonder if they could have possibly not known what they were doing here. I’m not sure if this is better or worse than the sexualization in the previous versions. In any case, yeah, I get this feeling too.

  10. Tim Charters says:

    Chris: I assume that the reason you play wanderers in Fallout games is because having a home, a family, a steady job, responsibilities, and stuff makes it harder for you to go out and explore this big world the designers created. Or at least that’s the main reason in Bethesda’s games, though I’m sure there were elements of that in the originals too.

    If you have to stay in one place and work on the farm to feed your family, you don’t have much free time for adventuring across the wasteland.

  11. anaphysik says:

    Well, after all that exposure to puns, it seems Chris has finally quacked.

  12. anaphysik says:

    Wait, you get xp from eating things? Damn, I gotta be pretty high-level by now!

    • Tim Charters says:

      That’s nothing. If you get the right skill, you can get salvage from animal corpses and build a muzzle brake out of rat bones.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Heh,yeah.The first thing I did in a new area was to harvest all the plants and exterminate the animals.Even once I upgraded everything to the max.Thats the hoarder in me.

        • Weimer says:

          That’s just Shiva, the Destroyer in you. No wonder the goddess whatshername is miffed. Bloody mortals keep damaging mah ecosystems!

          Damn, now I want a game where the protagonist has multiple arms though. MDK2 Had the robot dog but that’s about it.

  13. anaphysik says:

    “Hey, we’re being stalked by a bunch of demon-ogres that will disembowel and eat us! Let’s just ignore that and go try to kill that murder-machine of a lady, instead of letting her solve the oni problem for us.”

    • MrGuy says:

      Also, after losing like a HUNDRED GUYS trying to take her out, we’ve finally figured a way to take her down that works – throw explody things at her from a height, then blow them up. We’re in an elevated position. Maybe we should try that again!

      Nah, I think dropping slowly on ropes, then charging the shotgun-wielding killing machine head on is the plan. Good plan? Great plan.

  14. anaphysik says:

    Lara should befriend one of the nicer ogres, maybe one that could view her as his little sister.

    Naturally, she would call him oni-chan.

    BADUM-TISH FOREIGN LANGUAGE PUN FUCK YEAH

  15. Jacob Albano says:

    Aw man, Rutskarn’s Bodies pun went totally over everyone’s head and it was so goooood.

  16. Gruhunchously says:

    …since nobody else has said it, I’ll go ahead.
    ahem…SPOILER WARNING IS PEOPLE!

  17. Ofermod says:

    I actually used to play a magic item saleswizard in D&D fairly often. I’d basically just adventure to get the exp needed to craft more items/level up to learn new spells/feats to craft new items. It was actually really fun.

  18. Windwalker says:

    Adding that bugged out radio tower scene to the end of the credits is pure brilliance. I still laugh at that every time…

    • Hitchmeister says:

      The thing is, that bug looks so cool I was prepared to praise the developers for including such a unique artistic visual effect until I realized Josh was saying “oh no” because it’s not supposed to do that.

  19. Coyote says:

    Given the banter, I’d say that Chris and Mumbles need some sort of joint project STAT.

  20. AdmiralCheez says:

    I’m looking forward to the upcoming adventure film, Larry Craft in The Colon of Sadness. Coming soon to select theaters.

  21. Spammy says:

    Is it just me, or does Lara’s face always look off in animation? Like her eyes are squinched too tightly and there’s not enough movement around her eyes or lips. It’s sort of like the problem Alan Wake had when character weren’t being lockjawed, almonst no one was moving their face enough in a believable manner.

    And then I start thinking about TF2 and how Valve apparently figured out faces in 2007 and they’re looking worse today in AAA games. And that makes me sad.

    • Aldowyn says:

      Faces only look right in TF2 because of an uncanny valley effect. The cartoony textures and such lead you to expect equally cartoony animations.

    • My theory about the eyes is that there’s often far too much effort expended in making eyes look real that isn’t reflected in the faces and facial animation. It’s kind of why the trailers for the Yogi Bear and Smurfs films were so odd-looking to me (apart from being atrocious in and of themselves): They put these hyper-realistic eyes in characters I could see weren’t real. That’s just my two cents.

      One other thing, though I haven’t looked at this game closely enough to be sure, could be lip sync. In the Mass Effect series and in other games, I’ve noticed a tendency for the upper lip to seem glued to the character’s teeth/gums. This doesn’t allow their mouths to come forward as one would expect when they speak.

  22. hborrgg says:

    I tried Nondricking in Fallout 3 and it didn’t really seem to work. There isn’t really that much in the way of renewable resources to live off of (especially resources that aren’t well guarded), and the game tosses raiders at you so liberally (with guns) that you can’t travel more than a couple dozen meters without becoming a murderer.

    Skyrim did it really well though, I installed a basic needs mod and worked as a migrant farm worker, picking people’s crops for them and avoiding quests until I was eventually able to buy the house in Solitude.

  23. StranaMente says:

    While seeing how the story evolves I continue to be baffled by all the people that praise Rhianna Pratchett work.
    Even if you want to handwave her previous games as “rushed” (see Mirror’s edge), the story in this game and all the contrievances are really bad.

  24. I’m going to be uncool and technically hypocritical for a moment and say that I dislike how the game gives you experience for killing chickens. At first I thought Josh was just being rude and then seeing the game incentivize the player for killing chickens by giving them experience points made me kind of uneasy.

    The part that makes me hypocritical is that I’m currently on a polo-pescatarian diet. That means chicken and fish. But my excuse is that I eat chicken to survive with nutritional value and protein. I’m a former vegetarian, blah blah blah. I think eating is a valid reason for killing animals, and it seems like it’s implied that Lara eats the eggs or chicken meat later, but then should it be shown with her carrying a dead chicken by its feet on her belt to base camp and roasting its body? It just feels like an implied mechanic that doesn’t add anything to the game other than trying to explain what she eats on the island, when they could just have her pick berries from bushes as well (Maybe they do have berries, I haven’t played the game). Perhaps add another platforming segment by having the berries be at high points on the map.

    I know that near the beginning, there’s a point where she kills a deer. And they try to build it up with a cutscene with her thanking the deer for its meat and trying to make it sentimental. But it’s similar to her first murder of a human, where she is in shock, then does it 50 more times as if she’s inhaling oxygen.

    Another game that does this is the original kotor where you can deliver the pets to the water planet or kill them individually for 1 experience point each. But that game had a morality system, which meant that it was suppose to show if you’re light side or dark side, blah blah blah. This game is just flat experience or no experience. Hitman Absolution actually has a system where if you shoot 5 birds in the air, then an ice cream truck will run a guy over in the desert of South Dakota (Youtube it). There are plenty of games where you even get achievements but no form of experience or enhanced gameplay for killing animals. which form of animal cruelty do you think is better?

    Lets see if we can crack this egg and hatch some ideas.

    • Shamus says:

      Sorry this comment of yours got caught in the moderation queue. I see you tried 5 times, and the stupid thing kept eating them. I also see that you had 2 very slightly different versions of the comment. (Probably trying to get the filter to let you through.) I’ve approved this, the most recent.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Actually the game doesnt give you xp for killing animals,but rather for harvesting materials from animals and plants(except maybe for wolves?I forgot if killing wolves gives you instant xp).And the harvested materials are used for making better guns.So yeah,its a pretty nonsensical gamey part of the game.Also,there is a limit to the amount of wildlife that you can harvest in an area.Once you hit that,you get barely anything from them.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      Well, it seems this topic hinges on the morality of slaughter. That is, is it intrinsically wrong to intentionally kill another creature, whether animal, human, or whatever? If so, then it doesn’t matter that you do it for a good reason, it’s still wrong. If not, then we have to ask what aspect, motivation, or situation could make it wrong, and then figure out if the game is incentivizing this kind of behavior.

      For the moment, let’s assume that killing should be avoided unless you have a “good reason” for it, which I think nearly everyone would agree with. But then we just differ on what qualifies as a “good reason”.

      You kill (indirectly) and eat animals to stay alive. So, self preservation an acceptable reason to kill. We don’t make too much of a fuss over Laura killing her would-be rapist assailant, so maintaining some level of personal normative state is also an acceptable justification (unless it was some sort of execution for his crimes, which will take us way off topic). Would killing an animal for its furry pelt to stay warm be okay?

      Anyway, where I’m going with this is, once you say killing is okay if you can justify it to yourself you could easily walk up Maslow’s Hierarchy and arrive at killing chickens for weapon upgrades. One could go a whole lot farther than this as well, and with humans instead of animals, and arrive at some rather unpopular ideas. It all hinges on what kind of “good reasons” we’re willing to approve.

    • Humanoid says:

      “Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be XP.”

      Apologies to Woody Allen.

    • Chamomile says:

      This strikes me as being kind of overly nitpicky. Lara needs to eat. She is not a vegetarian and needs protein to maintain the level of physical bouncing around she does (especially when she’s played by Josh). The game spares us the irritation of heading back to a camp and cooking each individual chicken, because that wouldn’t be any fun.

  25. Mimir says:

    Man, having Mumbles back is great. she adds humour, and gets the other hosts to be a little more playful too. i wish she would rejoin the cast permanently. these last few series have had a little too much analysys and complaining, and too little puns and mumbles jokes

  26. swimon says:

    “I just think the game would have been thematically stronger if we had, like, half the fights and a third the body count.”

    The state of the video game industry in 2013 people.

  27. MrGuy says:

    It’s always a good clue that “this segment isn’t as interesting as you might have hoped, game developer” when the Spoiler Warning cast is talking about things that have nothing to do with the action that’s currently taking place.

  28. Duhad says:

    Am I the only one who saw the bit where Lara wakes up in the body room, upside down, after being knocked out and hearing a roar of some terrible monster and just thought, “Quick! Use the force to retrieve your light saber before the Wampa comes back!”

  29. I can’t decide what weapons are my favorite, but I do live the shotgun. I actually thought the first iterations of the assault rifle and the shotty were more interesting and make-shift than their later counterparts because… they kinda turn into guns we see in every other shooter. I liked the older models.

  30. Asimech says:

    01:45 Sounds like Chris ruffled some feathers there.

  31. Chamomile says:

    Wouldn’t it have been easier to make the reward for raiding a tomb just a big pile of XP or salvage?

    In fact, I poked around a walkthrough to see if pistol parts or whatever could be bought with salvage, and it looks like in the PS3 version of the game, the reward for raiding tombs is always a bunch of XP, salvage, and a map. And it’s kind of weird that you can find a map of GPS caches in an ancient Yamatai tomb, but at least having a map of the area makes plenty of sense. You can hand wave it as there being some kind of sensible pattern to where you would want to stick a GPS cache, and with a map Lara can figure out where people would stick them, or whatever. To be honest I don’t even know what a GPS cache is, but there’s really no explanation for the weapon parts thing that doesn’t descend into comedy.

    On the other hand, when it does descend into comedy it’s really good comedy.

    • Chamomile says:

      Oh, and I forgot to mention this in my first post, but it feels really weird to see Lara doing the whole “get captured” sequence here when she’s gone already gone all Rambo. Now granted, real people are always vulnerable to prepared attackers and you could structure a narrative about how even the most badass survivor can be easily overwhelmed by even moderately competent enemies with numbers and advantage of surprise. But they aren’t telling that narrative because Lara has already Rambo’d her way through an entire building full of people.

  32. Jamas Enright says:

    (Yeah, late comment, only started watching after playing it myself.)

    When that large Oni turned up, I thought ‘large person, dragging a large impractical weapon… it’s Pyramid Head!’

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