I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m not a huge fan of the cutscenes in this game, but this one is where the game jumped from “annoying” to “infuriating”. This isn’t just a bad cutscene, this is a disaster of a cutscene. This is “Commander Shepard aiming his pistol at Kai Leng and making derpy faces” level of stupid.
Let us count the flaws:
- Lara switched to the worst possible weapon.
- Lara waits and waits. I can understand that a real human being might hesitate in this context, but the game doesn’t give us any clue as to why Lara is standing there like a dunce. Is she scared? Listening in? Waiting for an opportune moment? As far as I can tell she’s just waiting for the most tactically unsound moment to strike.
- Lara shoots one guy and then lets herself get overrun.
- After the ceremony, the bad guy sends Lara away instead of killing her on the spot.
- The fight on the bridge is awkward as hell.
- The bad guys don’t follow up to make sure she’s dead.
Again, I’m not against setbacks. I’m fine with Lara getting captured in a failed rescue attempt, and I’m fine with the bad guys making mistakes and letting her live. But I am against a scene where every single character must act like a moron, particularly cases where you snatch control away from the player so you can make the player character fight ineptly.
How I’d patch this:
The bad guys were waiting for Lara and she blunders into a net, or gets ambushed, or otherwise grabbed by guys. Mattias explains, “Foolish girl. I’ve lived on this island for most of your life. Did you really think you could take me by surprise?”
Now we’ve established that Mattias is smart and plans ahead.
The mooks hold Lara while the ceremony takes place as scripted. Afterward, Mattias tries to convert Lara to his way of thinking. He makes the case that Himiko spared Sam, therefore he’s right. He says that the only way off the island is to do as he says. Lara refuses, of course.
Now we see that Mattias is nuts, but he sees himself as perfectly reasonable.
Mattias orders his men to put Lara in the pit. He tells Sam that Lara will live as long as Sam does as she’s told. Sam gives in because she’s a stupid jelly-spine. (That’s also a fault with the game, but I’m not going to try and fix that here. Although, we could give Sam a bit of initiative by having Sam be the one to offer the deal. “No! Don’t kill her! Let Lara live and I’ll do whatever you want!” Hmm. That’s an interesting idea, although it would require a few edits elsewhere in the story to make it work.)
Either way, now Mattias has a reason for keeping Lara alive – to guarantee that Sam doesn’t try to escape.
I’d add a couple of lines of dialog to the fight on the bridge. Something like:
Mook1: GRAB HER!
Mook2: YOU grab her.
Mook1: (Hesitating.) Did she really kill Vladamir?
Mook2 grabs at Lara. They struggle, and tumble into the abyss together. Mook2 gets spiked at the bottom. Mook1 one calls to his friend, and curses when nobody answers. Now it’s ambiguous what Mook1 is doing. Is he coming down here? Is he running to tell Mattias? Another thing to worry about, but we can justify the lack of an immediate response from the bad guys.
It’s not perfect, and a few more adjustments are probably needed to really make it work, but at least we haven’t dumb-ified both our antagonist and protagonist in the same dang scene.
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Spec Ops: The Line
A videogame that judges its audience, criticizes its genre, and hates its premise. How did this thing get made?
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