Tomb Raider EP21: The Wheels Come Off

 By Shamus Aug 2, 2013 73 comments


Link (YouTube)

And now we reach the part of the season where I begin to run out of things to say. The puzzle here was good. (I liked it, anyway.) The climbing is great. The combat is too much. The mooks are preposterously numerous and aggressive. Sam is a useless sack of dumb who gets kidnapped from inside the camp by nerdy sleazeball Whittman.

And yet, I really hope they’re making another one. Even better if they’re making one with less mooks, more spooks. Less shooting, more looting! Less rescuing-Sam-because-she’s-a-boring-dunce and more platforming.

We’re in the home stretch now. This season will probably wrap up after another week.


2020201373 comments? This post wasn't even all that interesting.


  1. broken says:

    Just because there is a part referring to Tomb raider, I’m going to link this thing. It has little to no relation to this, but I found it very funny.

    NOT SAFE FOR WORK:

    (with english subtitles for you colonials)
    la vie sexuelles des jeux videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wZPsFWfi3k#at=16

  2. Campster’s comment about starting a Scooby-Doo mystery was probably more apt than he meant it to be.

    Having watched the old Scooby-Doo when I was a kid, my first thought was to object, saying “but the ghosts in Scooby-Doo weren’t real, they were guys in masks.”

    Then I remembered, “oh, right, they rebooted it and now the ghosts are real.”

    See, it’s like poetry, it rhymes…

  3. Ofermod says:

    I thought the supernatural element was pretty obvious earlier, given the bits where the Oni attacked everyone (despite you not fighting them). I guess it maybe just needed the characters to discuss the fact that there are these ancient Samurai-armored Guardians fighting Mathias’s Solarii?

  4. allfreightoncanals says:

    I promise that I was watching full-screen with no distractions. No Reddit. Hardly any Alt+Tabing to other activities. Virtually none of that.

  5. Irridium says:

    If they do make another one I also hope they actually have realistic sales expectations so that it’s not considered disappointing for selling 3.1 million copies and being the fastest selling game in the series’ history.

  6. I don’t see why you guys hate ghosts and elevators. Those things can really lift your spirits.

  7. Nidokoenig says:

    Campster: “I’m texting pretty ladies, I don’t know what you guys are doing.”
    Shamus: “Yeah, right now, I’m texting online and I’m pretending to be a pretty lady!”

    I’ll be in my bunk.

  8. This part was terrifying for me.
    WW2 bunker full of corpses + zombie samurais = shit in my pants.

  9. The whole “fully introduce supernatural elements at the last minute that has been slightly/heavily foreshadowed all through the piece” thing seems to be, from what I can gather, a time honored tradition of this particular genre of fiction. Uncharted, which few people here would dispute is at least an inspiration of this reboot, did this in both the first and second game.

    In the first game, it was revealed that the golden statue of El Dorado actually contained a quick acting mutagen that transformed people into mindless, grotesque zombie like creatures with great speed and fierce melee attacks.

    In the second game, the denizens of the ancient city of Shambala (Shangri-La) harbored a very potent resin that gave those who consumed in a healing factor, great physical ability, and near immortality, and blue skin.

    Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t Indiana Jones do it in a similar fashion as well?

    • Tizzy says:

      The problem here is that the supernatural has been present since almost the very beginning. At the very least since the first encounter with the Oni, which is what? First third of the game?

      So this is not much of a late reveal, is it? I cannot imagine what possessed them. It’s like they initially planned for the late reveal, and then forgot about it. It feels a bit like when you reach the top of the stairs while you thought there was still another step left: very silly.

      Some of the pre-reboot TR games had early supernatural elements as well, but then they didn’t try to shoehorn a late reveal as I recall.

    • Astor says:

      Yeah, the “problem” here is that the game is very heavy handed on the supernatural aspects from the get-go but the characters are slow to accept them. This means that the player ends up feeling the characters (especially the player character) are idiots because they only figure stuff 6 hours after the player did. You can say this is “realistic” behavior for the characters and I largely agree, but I think it’s best to try and keep the player and the characters (again, at least the player character) on the same page – unless you are trying to pull off the ever desired “Citizen Kane of Videogames”, I guess .

    • Spammy says:

      I’d argue that the introduction of the supernatural is a bit more properly built up in Indiana Jones. The whole reason that people were going after the Ark was for its powers, and that was set up at the start. I’d argue that the scene where Indy finds the burial chamber and they remove the Ark aren’t necessarily supernatural but feel somewhat supernatural. And there’s the scene on the boat that basically establishes that the Ark is supernatural.

      Here though it seems like nobody has made it clear that the supernatural is what they’re here for until nearly the end of the game. So it’s like Raiders if the first two thirds of it everyone was convinced the Ark was mundane and they just wanted to be the best archaeologists.

    • Alexander The 1st says:

      Reviewing what you said about the Uncharted twists which I actually didn’t realise were supposed to be supernatural:

      I’d like to reiterate that I know very little about the Tomb Raider series, having seen some of the gameplay from Legends (Or whichever one was about King Arthur and his underground tombs and such), I was under the impression that the idea is that although the mythical elements *did* exist, they weren’t always what the raiders thought.

      And this goes with Indiana Jones and Uncharted:

      In Raiders of the Lost Ark, they don’t realise that the Ark…well, kills people who open it. Or am I getting my Indiana Jones films mixed up? I should really check at some point, but one of them involved that.

      With Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, the location of Shambala and the significance of resin isn’t exactly clear at the beginning, and for the most part, the people chasing the raiding were doing it for the monetary gains. Only later in the story do they find out it’s more than that.

      With Tomb Raider (2013), the idea that “No one leaves” was brought up near the beginning of the game, and the scene with the airplane crashing implied that it has to be more than just waves that shipwreck everybody, but…

      When you go to the blood cave area, I was actually thinking that *that* was going to be the explanation, and that you were going to come back – I mean, why else did the developers spend so much time explaining the cannibal cave and the natural gas mechanics if not to reveal that it may be based on the methane bubble theory of the Bermuda Triangle? They wouldn’t had set that up only to toss it away 30 minutes later, would they?

      They did. That really irked me, because much like how Indiana Jones used his knowledge that Jesus was a carpenter to realise the holy grail must’ve been wooden, I was hoping somebody on the team would’ve used their knowledge of what they know about the environment conditions to come to a solution.

      I mean really – even just have Reyes say “Look, we blew up the natural gas caves – I wouldn’t be surprised if they were the reason the storms were so excessive. After that helicopter crashed shortly afterwards, there hasn’t been a storm since. We’ll be fine.”.

      *That* was something I was hoping would, at the very least, be brought up. It didn’t have to be correct – they could have the boat they used be tidal-waved back to shore after an initial attempt to leave, for example (Hey – perfect time for Whitman to go missing with Sam again instead of that raid that happened off-screen! Instead of him being Obviously Chaotic Evil, he could’ve been given the benefit of the doubt there.). In fact, do that right after Lara gets the note from the Oni guy, and now we have justification to believe Lara’s got the better thread to work on!

      ~~~

      In short, it wasn’t the late reveal, but the fact that the late reveal was really just what we had no reason to believe was being played straight.

      Kind of like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, where it turned out that yes, the “alien skull” they found earlier *actually was* an alien skull, and not some further thing that would’ve been interesting.

      It’d be like if in Episode IV: A New Hope, Han Solo suggested that the force had a biological component to it, and Obi-Wan said “It wouldn’t explain how we can effect things that are not biological – no, our greatest masters have concluded that there is something more to the force, something unexplainable.

      And then the prequel trilogy, after three movies of “The force is something we can’t quite explain”, explains the force as the work of midichlorians.

      EDIT: Sidenote – I think what sent me further towards this was when Lara says that there must be something more to it after the plane crashes – it was like “Ok, so…when are we going to find out what that other thing is?”

      • MrGuy says:

        Original Trilogy: The force is magic.

        Prequel trilogoy: The force isn’t magic. It’s caused by bacterial agents called midicholrians. Science! Wait – so how do midichlorians work? Oh, THEY work by magic!

      • anaphysik says:

        Even a single Canadian on the team would have helped the supernatural parts of the story, as they could have *easily* ascertained that this was no ordinary storm.

        • Hydralysk says:

          Well Jonah’s sporting the Canadian flag colors, and he’s the first guy who believes Lara’s stories about the storms being unnatural. Does that count?

    • Syal says:

      I think the problem is that when Indiana Jones or Uncharted does it, they add supernatural elements to an existing goal. It’s an addition that doesn’t change the focus or the direction of the story. Indiana Jones was going to find the Ark, supernatural or not. Drake was going to find Drake’s treasure, supernatural or not. So the story adds more elements, and then deals with them in stride.

      Lara’s goal the whole time has been to rescue her friends from evil cultists, and get off the island. She wasn’t looking for anything, so the supernatural element doesn’t fit in naturally. It’s not an extension of the story, it’s a roadblock that drags the ending out.

      If the supernatural element was that Matthias was somehow causing the storms, it would probably work better.

  10. Tizzy says:

    So… Who wants to bet that there WAS a turret section, that ended up being left out?

    • MrGuy says:

      My explanation for the turrets was that they wanted to boat to look like the one from Apocalypse Now. Which it does with a fair amount of accuracy (including recessed turret in the front, and deck level gun at the back.

      The boat is incredibly similar. Most of the shots are “low angle boat going by” shots of the boat in the jungle interspersed with small groups talking zoomed in on deck, which is pretty fair remake of the cinematorgraphy. They’re going upstream to kill the crazy leader of a cult-like bunch of dudes. More than a few parallels, and I think they’re deliberate. Not done terribly well, just deliberate.

      That, or someone just watched the movie and thought the boat looked cool.

    • Mark says:

      There’s a postmortem on the Crystal Dynamics podcast where they do indeed say there was going to be a turret sequence but it was cut. (Personally, I applaud them for their restraint.)

  11. anaphysik says:

    7:34 – statue man /totally/ looks like ancient-Teddy-Roosevelt to me.

  12. guy says:

    I’d have to say that the supernatural/mundane question kind of got answered when the storm yelled “No one leaves!” and blasted the plane with lighting twice in a row.

    Really, the problem here is that there’s usually a limit to how long you can go between the audience discovering something and the characters discovering something before it gets annoying, and they exceeded that limit by a good while. Even worse, the characters received the information required to draw that conclusion at the same time as the audience.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      Part of the problem there is making the gap between having evidence of the supernatural and deciding it is supernatural isn’t really something we have a sensible frame of reference for. If my options are to believe in unlikely coincidences and maybe something geological(magnets?) as the cause of the storms and lightning, or to believe in a bodysnatching demon, the former has a damn sight more precedent than the latter, and I’d need decades or a face to face encounter with the demon to believe the supernatural explanation, by which standards these people are gullible as hell.
      They’ve set up a realistic world, but it’s still a video game so we’re going to be genre savvy and put on body armour when we see Chekov’s Gun, but if people in-world are as ready to believe in demons as we are, that looks stupid, like Sam would have if she’d acted like she seriously believed she was Himiko’s descendent.

      • MrGuy says:

        So, what you’re saying is that the characters (in game) don’t understand how magnets work?

      • On the other hand, perhaps there IS evidence in-world for weather wielding wraiths. Although, if that IS the case, you’d hope the writers would have telegraphed it a bit better.

        So, ok, you’re right; Either way it’s kind of poorly written (in this respect). If it’s the same as our world in back-story, you’d expect the characters to be more resistant to the idea of malign spirits. If it’s not the same as our world, you’d hope the writers would outline the differences for us.

      • guy says:

        I would say the plane getting repeatedly blasted with lightning by a storm that came out of nowhere in literally under a minuite while a voice bellowed a warning most definitely counts as fairly persuasive.

        • Sabredance (MatthewH) says:

          We’re playing a game. We know foreshadowing when we see it. Lara saw an airplane struck by lightning and thought she heard a voice. Maybe she imagined it, maybe it was one of the Solarii. Lara heard about the Oni, but has not yet seen one -for all she knows the Guardians are some giant animal.

          Reyes hasn’t seen any of this.

          So far, I think the game is doing a pretty good job with the supernatural.

    • Zukhramm says:

      It could be a WW2 Nazi weather machine and a giant speaker. That’s what I assumed (yes, I’m serious!), and the final answer of “not, it’s just actually magic” was really disappointing.

  13. Shamus I am strongly recommending you reconsider your ending credits tagline, assuming you have any control over its content.

    • Humanoid says:

      He does only in a fairly roundabout way, in that he can threaten to reveal the identities of the three guys if his demands are not met?

      Now, which three of these three can it be?

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The thing that bothered me about this reveal about himiko is that you get all the extra exposition in the hidden documents you find,and from those its easy to figure out everything.But because those are optional,they are treated as nonexistent for the main story.

    And that bothers me in all the games that have extra exposition on the side,but ignore it in the main game.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      Very much this. It was something that annoyed me greatly in Alan Wake because there the existence of the script pages was essential to the plot but which pages the player collected wasn’t, so they couldn’t reference any except those that the player was forced to find. I know that the fact that what was written was unavoidable was largely the point but I would like to see the devs explore this theme more: have the characters try to work around the script, struggle against it, attempt to use the foreknowledge, fail most of the time and maybe have it work cleverly in one instance or something.

  15. The Rocketeer says:

    I guess it doesn’t matter to the final product, but was Himiko some sort of body-snatching supernatural entity initially, or a mortal sorceress who developed a body-snatching ritual? I thought it was the second, but whatever.

    Also, are the Oni undead? The giant ogre one is, apparently, but the normal sized ones all just looked like regular dudes to me. Additionally, they’re fully sapient and seem to have kept what passes for reason among fanatical feudal cultists, so if every Kou, Shin and Hachi had access to that kind of longevity, why did Himiko need a body-snatching ritual?

    And if the Oni aren’t immortal or undead, well, I don’t even know where to begin with that.

    • guy says:

      After enough body jumping, the question of the original nature of the entity kind of becomes moot. It doesn’t seem to be firmly established either way so far. I guess requiring a ritual instead of just being able to body surf at will would tend to imply she originally had her own material body, although not necessarily a human one.

  16. MrGuy says:

    Did anyone else want the note to read something like “Whosoever pulleth out the sword from this mook is rightwise born Queen of all Japan” or something?

    Also, who commits seppuku by driving a sword through their body and into the rock behind them, pinning themself to thaat rock? I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works…

    • guy says:

      I’m pretty sure he’s also dressed wrong. They’re supposed to have a simple white robe.

      • The Rocketeer says:

        If you’re a bad enough dude to drive a sword through your armor, you can commit seppuku however you feel like.

      • Sabredance (MatthewH) says:

        We could invoke “2000 years ago, things were different than 400 years ago.” Or maybe he was just overcome with grief and fell on his sword. Backwards. Into a rock.

      • Grudgeal says:

        Not to mention using his own katana to do it, which would be unwieldy, clumsy and also quite overkill. Traditionally seppuku was performed with a knife, and the katana was used by the second to sever the head.

        Mind you, if you’re in full battle armour and the battle’s gone against you, well, you’ll just have to accept a rush job I guess…

      • Sorry, but on this island you can get wrecked ships, crazy machines, ghosts, traps, physics-defying rope arrows, endless supplies of dudes, and candles that stay lit forever. What you can’t have is any kind of laundry service or stain removal, so get used to it.

  17. MrGuy says:

    Great moments in dialogue: “I’m not asking you to believe, Reyes. I’m asking you to trust.”

    I’m pretty sure that’s not how synonyms work.

    Worse moment – Reyes’ thinking “Well, that makes sense. I’m in!”

    • The Rocketeer says:

      I personally love the mook who yells out, as the crowd closes in on Lara at the ritual earlier, “You killed our friend and now we’re gonna kill you!” It’s so extraneously expository for the moment.

    • Sabredance (MatthewH) says:

      Makes sense to me. “You don’t have to believe me, just trust that -whatever I’m thinking -it won’t get you killed, and help me.”

      I can see how not believing would make trusting hard, but not impossible.

      • Syal says:

        Also, those aren’t quite synonyms. Trust conveys a sense of action that belief doesn’t. There are a lot of things I believe that I don’t trust (mostly with regard to safety equipment, especially parachutes).

  18. Akri says:

    And yet, I really hope they’re making another one.

    It’s already in development

    There’s also going to be a movie, which will probably star Camilla Luddington.

  19. Michael says:

    I keep forgetting to ask, wasn’t Sam a character in the comics?

  20. Apropos of nothing, that stupid walkie-talkie on her belt keeps bugging me. Thanks to the bright golden faceplate, every time I notice it, it looks like a badge and I wonder where I missed the plot twist where Lara became a homicid(e/al) detective.

  21. Yeah, I wasn’t sure where this game was going up until Lara finds the general. I kept waiting for a twist that never came, then thought, “Oh okay. They’re going with magic after all.” I’m still not 100% certain how I feel about that, but I suppose it gives it almost an Indiana Jones quality. I think the original creator was aiming for that, no?

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