Tomb Raider EP22: Diplomacy Shotgun

By Shamus Posted Thursday Aug 22, 2013

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 45 comments

Link (YouTube)

See? I’m not reflexively against combat. I like combat sometimes. When it’s done right. And when I have a specialized shotgun specifically designed for it. And when the cover-based shooting doesn’t have too much cover.

The graphics glitches at the 21 minute mark are really revealing. The holes in Lara’s face let us see the tessellation. I will say her face looks like it has a LOT of polygons. The cheek is a really common place to trim out a few polygons, often reducing the whole surface to just a dozen or so triangles. Assuming those holes are indicitive of the complexity of the rest of the face, then I’d wager just Lara’s face (not including head or hair) has more polygons than the Doom 3 guy we were looking at a couple of weeks ago. It makes sense, since this game is almost a decade newer and Lara needs to be able to emote in close-ups, but still. So many polygons.

<old man voice>Back in my day, that many polygons was our budget for the whole level!</old man voice>

If all goes well, we’ll wrap this game up tomorrow.


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45 thoughts on “Tomb Raider EP22: Diplomacy Shotgun

  1. GM says: enjoy the laugh and hilarious graphic glitches.

  2. Klay F. says:

    *yawn* All those polygons and Lara still doesn’t emote any more convincingly than Alyx. What a waste. Hooray for key-framing I guess.

    1. Thomas says:

      You need more Polygons if the character emotes less. Someone grinning happily you can do with a couple of well placed dots =D. But someone stoically gritting their teeth and swallowing their emotion needs a lot of space to show that you’re not just bad at art

      Of course I assume what you meant is you don’t think Lara emotes subtly or otherwise, but naturally from my answer I generally disagree. (Generally, because she does emotes less as she reaches Action Croft state. That’s the problem with them going all the way to heroine. They just couldn’t stop)

      1. To me, it seems that one problem games seem to have with emotion is that characters have upper lips that are glued to their teeth. I try to notice when they move their lips forward (making an “O” or “U” sound) and most of the time it doesn’t happen, making them look more like animatronics from the Disney “Hall of Presidents.”

      2. Klay F. says:

        My problem is that Lara doesn’t emote at all, at least not like a human emotes. For proof, you only need look at the impalement scene, or the cauterizing scene. She has the same vacant stare all supposedly “next-gen” faces have, paired with the downright robotic jaw movements and rote lip-syncing.

        Alyx, while not exactly perfectly human, emotes much closer to how a theatre actress would.

        1. Thomas says:

          I’m not convinced that’s true though

          This picture of an impalement looks like emotion to me

          This walking through water

          is a different emotion than running from plane (pretty ugly though)

          and up the radio tower we have a nice one of both hope and relief but also weariness

          etc. Whilst playing the game there was never a time when I though Lara wasn’t displaying an emotion whilst she should have been and I felt happy gauging her mental state at any time.

          I’m curious what her face looks like during combat now and if that ever changes

    2. Naota says:

      It’s funny you mention that, because I’ve been playing Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines recently, and I’m amazed by how detailed (and pretty!) the characters’ faces are compared to not only other things in the game, but also to its contemporaries such as Half-Life 2 and Doom 3. The game reuses general face structures here and there for less important NPC’s, but I’m almost certain that Jeanette for instance has a more detailed face than Alyx in raw polygons.

      Does this make them more real or believable than the characters in HL2? Well no, not really, but their expressions and poses are pretty excellent for the era and it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if all games forever looked about as good as VTMB… at least [url=]most of the time[/url].

  3. Duhad says:

    Dose anyone else think that Whitman, especially in the way he died, comes off like a bad guy in a Michael Crichton book? Because in his books there is always one duchy academic, with views opposed to thous of the protagonist who dies in a semi ironic and slightly silly way that has no real impact on the plot apart from them not being in it anymore.
    This seen with Whitman smugly trying to talk to the samurai, then getting violently murdered by them just feels so much like one of thous to me.

    1. Thomas says:

      I know what you mean, I hadn’t realised it before, but you’re right. Crichton uses that sort of character all the time.

      I’m not sure what I would have wanted them do with Whitman, I don’t think pulling a Pritchard would have been interesting here but his death wasn’t good either. I want him to change but not so that he becomes completely nice or is friends with Lara afterwards. Since it’s a dark game, maybe he goes into shock and doesn’t really recover? That would emphasise Lara’s survivor strength

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Whitman, to me, comes off as a stupid evil kind of character. I mean really, “more of the people I work with need to die cause the movie I want to sell the rights to will be more exciting”. This kind of shallow, ridiculous, dumb villain (if we want to call him that) really cheapens a game for me.

      2. Duhad says:

        I like your last idea. Kinda of have him play up what an experienced anthropologist he is and have him talk down to Lara when she starts trying to take charge. Then when *poop* go’s down properly and there friends start to die off like fly’s, Whitman would not be able to properly coup with how horribly wrong everything was going and either brake down or just leg it.

        Hell, if you need Sam to get captured then you can have her go off to try and save him and get caught. It would not help with Sam being kinda of a moron, but attest she would be acting proactively and get caught TRYING to be a hero like Lara.

        But no… Whitman of all people captures her, AGAIN and then dies just off screen because the writers did not need him and the designers did not think he would make a good boss fight.

  4. Thomas says:

    There are a couple of checkpoints in that big fight, but they’re oddly placed to the extent you might not even notice. For example, when they charge you after the explosives trap that Josh fell for, that’s a checkpoint. So you fight a load of mooks in an area, die and then when you respawn there’s a load of mooks in the area. But they are actually different mooks from a different phase of the fight.

    My favourite strategy for that bit was kneecapping them with the pistol and then using the execution finisher (I’d started with the bow like Shamus but I found my pistol was a bit stronger and had a quicker rate of fire, also I enjoy that execution the best. I hadn’t seen the rifle one before, it looks really silly)

    I found it interesting that you’re not invulnerable during the execution animations. That’s not the normal design choice.

  5. Hitchmeister says:

    I like the idea of the Diplomacy Shotgun and other similarly themed weapons, like the Barter Longsword, Perception Dagger and Charisma Mace.

    1. TheUnHidden says:

      A healing chaingun?

      1. Thomas says:

        That could work in a game. It’d be an interesting take on playing medic if you’re trying to snipe-heal people from a distance or run up to them and give them a shotgun blast of health.

        1. Abnaxis says:

          Both Borderlands games have a class that can heal with whatever gun they are using when you shoot a teammate. When there’s an especially chaotic fight happening, I’m known for saying “$!&* IT!,” pulling out a rocket launcher, and letting loose a rain of fire and explosives from the end of it. It has the dual benefit of both healing my teammates and hurting whatever it is they’re fighting at the same time :)

          Also, there’s a crossbow in TF2 that heals your teammates based on how far away they are when you shoot them with it (though to be honest, it’s usually infuriating when I do heal someone with it because it usually means they blocked a sweet shot I had lined up).

    2. Tohron says:

      Melee artillery?

      1. Humanoid says:

        Nuclear artillery and, er, sordid gun.

          1. Close Range Boredom says:

            Pfft, Davy Crockets are playthings compared to the original. This, this is nuclear artillery.

  6. droid says:

    If the door stops it from going down the hole, how is it still freely swinging? I would expect it to be resting on the door.

    1. Corpital says:

      If you look at the gate as Josh stand before it, you see it is quite bent after the cage crashed down on it. And the spikey thing broke off. And magic happened to the chain.

      What amuses me more and without fail every time is Lara pulling something towards her without anything happening. Then suddenly the object violently accelerates toward her. Guess I’m easily amused.

      Also why is Lara not capable of climbing down something? That wall around the gate didn’t look THAT hard to climb down compared to others, but nooo. Jump down 10metres and break your fall with your face.

      1. Nytzschy says:

        What amuses me more and without fail every time is Lara pulling something towards her without anything happening. Then suddenly the object violently accelerates toward her. Guess I'm easily amused.

        That’s due to Isaac Newton’s lesser-known Fourth Law of Motion, which states:

        Except Laura Croft.

  7. Akri says:

    Yay, more Spoiler Warning! Today started out rather horribly (4am phone call saying a family member had been rushed to the ER for a heart attack. Don’t worry; he’s doing ok, and should be going home tomorrow). So it’s really nice to be able to end it on a nice, lighthearted note.

    Also, I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who got stumped on that puzzle. When I finally figured it out I felt really stupid for being stuck for so long :D

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      Yeah. It’s one of those puzzles that are easy in hindsight, but very tough when you’re doing it initially.

      I felt like such a moron after spending 10-15 minutes on this.

      1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        After two weeks, I feel like I need a “Last Time, on Spoiler Warning.”

        I think there was a cliff. And an outhouse. And something about a letter that it would be really great if we had a radio…

    1. Nic says:

      Laura of Lar Craft

      1. ehlijen says:

        Lark Craft, the ultimate practical joke smith.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I like it how motivated Josh became to reach the next checkpoint before the crash so he solved the puzzle immediately.

    1. Trix2000 says:

      I was impressed that he made the jump on the first try. It took me a bit of time to figure out how you were supposed to arrange the stuff for the jump, and even more trying to time/land it properly. I don’t know why, considering most of the rest of the game didn’t give me trouble aside from one or two of the tombs.

  9. Nytzschy says:

    “Rutscan” is a technique in FPSs used for immediately finding the most lethal pun for any given situation.

  10. MrGuy says:

    I think I’m speaking Japanese, I think I’m speaking Japanese, I really think so.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    What about makeup shotgun?

  12. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Since this season is at the finish line and suggestions for next one will inevitably start coming in at about this time I’m gonna start the trend by putting down “Remember me” as a candidate for a season at some point. It’s a relatively short game, with combat that doesn’t drag horribly and some pretty cool puzzles, it looks rather pretty, it had a lot of narrative potential and was advertised as touching on some very deep issues (such as the nature of identity in light of memory), premise on which it completely failed to deliver instead putting in a lot of faux-depth, pseudo-philosophical statements and simplified morality.

    Oh, and on top of that it had that whole “publishers did not want it cause the main character is a gurl” controversy going.

    1. Bruno M. Torres says:

      Well, I think they will play The Walking Dead: 400 days. But you can do it in 4-5 episodes.

      Yeah, Remember Me would be a good game – in an “Alan Wake is a good game for Spoiler Warning” way. There is a lot of good ideas poorly implemented there.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Exactly, I think it would work really well because it had a lot of potential and actually made some pretty high promises, then failed to deliver spectacularly.

        Also, I think it’s way shorter than Alan Wake, or at least it didn’t drag nearly as much.

  13. In regards to the Oni/Stormriders being an invincible combat force, it helps to keep in mind that said reputation was earned before the advent of firearms.

    I mean, the Roman Legion is probably pretty awesome unless you’re studying their techniques from inside an M1A2 Abrams.

    1. Grudgeal says:

      Oh, I don’t know. If Civilization has taught me anything it’s that tanks are highly vulnerable to iron age warriors with pointy sticks.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      True.But if you rely on melee and arrows here,psycho lara can still slaughter this whole army with ease.

    3. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Hey, we still study their tactics -both in and out of our tanks. What is a tank, after all, except an exceptionally mobile testudo -and what is an APFIDS round except an exceptionally fast pilum?

      What is a machinegun, except a method for delivering a legion’s worth of gladius strikes at once?

      On the scene itself, this is the first time in the game I’ve been tempted to get it. I’m one of those dirty cover-based shooter game players (though I agree with everyone else that ME3… needed work), and I usually a swarm of hand-to-hand fighters is not much fun. But the Oni here looked like an interesting twist on the CBS.

    4. MrGuy says:

      I’d like that argument better if they didn’t seem to set them up IN GAME as the feared uber-warriors.

      We’ve only really glimpsed the Oni in cutscenes to this point in the game, but they were definitely presented as “Woah – you do NOT want to mess with these guys!” Just a scene before, it was implied the only way to get past these guys was to slip by them when they were killing someone else.

      Then you actually fight them and they turn out to be just random mooks, easily vulnerable to the same weapons the cultists on the island already demonstrably have.

      It doesn’t make sense that they are seen BY THE CULTISTS as walking death warriors.

      1. What in the game makes you think the cultists are a good source of reliable information? :)

  14. BeamSplashX says:

    I was expecting Rutskarn to say “This reenactment of Cortez’s expedition to South America has been brought to you by the NRA.”

    It looks like something was gumming up Lara’s face polygons at the end.

  15. Will says:

    Actually, if you want to have the hero fight an “Invincible enemy” in a video game, and have it not screw them over (most of the time when I kill something in a video game, its simply out of a need to navigate the area without constantly losing hit points)…then the best way to do that is have all the enemies killable as normal, but capable of auto-reviving.

    An enemy that won’t stay dead could truly be a threatening presence, in both the narrative and the gameplay. If you don’t hurry up and take advantage of your enemies’ temporary incapacitation to move forward, you could be overwhelmed by the sheer doggedness (and numbers) of your enemies.

    Of course, it could come off as silly depending on how often the attacks would (or do!) rip them to pieces….

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