Zero Punctuation: Tomb Raider

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That's what I like about Escapist forums. People here can handle criticism of games they like maturely. Upload this to youtube & the bulk of comments will be death threats & two trolls drowing out everyone's comments by insulting eachother's mothers back & forth.

Arslan Aladeen:
I just saw "I Spit On Your Grave" recently, so it's neat to get that reference.

Cinema Snob fan?

Yahtzee:
[the spec ops PC] decides to use the white phosphorous!

Eh? No he doesn't. It's not optional. Unless you count "stop playing the game" as an option. But then TR has that option too.

I thought the whole point was that she's been forced to develop in an extreme circumstance, to the point that it's almost horrifying the lengths she'll go to succeed and save everyone. "It's amazing how easy it is."

Anyway, I disagree with Yahtzee on this one, which I'll note I have done in the past. Just because he says one thing does not make him an unquestionable god with infinite knowledge on everything.

Also, thanks for the Far Cry 3 spoilers.

BurnedOutMyEyes:

Machine Man 1992:
Captain Walker (i.e. me) didn't decide to use white phosphorus. The developers forced us to use it.

According to them, "you could have just stopped playing the game". Which is technically true. But nobody stops following a story they got invested in just because they can see it will end up going horrible places, so the devs are little more then pretentious wankers.

Anyhoo.
Almost forgot how good Yahtzee's skill with words was. There's probably a reason I've yet to miss a ZP episode.

Truth.

I keep getting quoted by pretentious fucks who conveniently forget that the game asks me to make moral choices throughout the rest of the story. So not only is the game a badly outdated and poorly designed, bland, unoriginal waste of time, it also is inconsistent with it's primary theme's; Is the game about Walker, or is it a critique of the player?

There's no reason it can't be both, but the game is designed in such a way, that it can only be one or the other.

Machine Man 1992:
Captain Walker (i.e. me) didn't decide to use white phosphorus. The developers forced us to use it.

Yes that is correct. However...

Its another way the developers can point to you and say it was your choice, you didn't look hard enough.

Starker:

Dryk:

I really liked Spec Ops but I feel it would've made its point a little better if you could actually turn around and leave like you were supposed to at any point.

Do the other modern milsims give you the option? You are doing horrific things, but the games say it's all for the best, because it's the way to proceed. Now you have the option to witness up close and personal one of these situations where things didn't turn out well. It's showing you there's a disconnect between the things that you do in games and what they are portrayed as.

The game asks these questions not only on the personal level, but also on a wider cultural level. What kind of culture is it that thinks gunning people down or sneaking up to a bloke and slitting his throat is jolly good fun? Soldiers are lauded as heroes, but those that come back from "action" more often than not aren't inclined to talk about what they did or saw.

You, along with Spec Ops's devs, seem to be confusing real life violence with videogame violence. You can't draw cultural conclusions based on some videogame's violence, since, as with violence in movies, it's purely aesthetic. There is no victim and no actual immorality attached to it. What I did, as a player, was play a game, where polygons interact in a way that I may fight entertaining and/or cathartic given my disposition at that specific time. While I was doing that, someone else in the world was actually stabbing someone in the face. You can form a statement from the latter, but not really from the former, at least not a statement of any practical value. Guilt tripping people for playing videogames is completely ignorant, and when you are the one who actually made the game it borders on insane. Or insanely hypocritical and pretentious.

just wait till we get a Tomb raider Uncharted cross over...

I don't get it, Yahtzee. You say you don't like it when a game makes all challenges optional and there's no difficulty, yet you ragequit games like Demons' Souls when it forces you to complete difficult challenges to continue. You can't have it both ways.

I don't think that cutscenes and storylines and arbitrary objectives automatically ruin the feeling of being in control. For example, GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas both had roughly equal amounts of that stuff, but Vice City makes me feel like I'm Tommy Vercetti, and GTA San Andreas makes me feel like I'm just watching the adventures of this separate guy named Carl Johnson. Or Majora's Mask, that game starts with a massive cutscene that seems to never end, but it does such a great job of pulling me into the game's creepy world that it doesn't bother me even a little bit.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Tomb Raider

This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Tomb Raider.

Watch Video

Yahtzee, your next review will be on my birthday. I would like you to seem somewhat happy on my birthday. So I recommend two games, Terraria and Magicka. Have a good week.

Life makes so much more sense to me now I know the document bunny exists.

Yuuki:
I too held off on the QTE in the "rape scene" to see how it unfolded, and turns out he was just trying to kill her just like every other murderer on the island. So the people who condemned this game (and the developers) for that scene will be feeling like a right bunch of sillies now won't they?

Oh wait, they're nowhere to be seen! Gosh, I wonder where they went, I wonder what happened to the controversy...it's so unlike them to suddenly vanish after the game's release like that, never happened before...

Is there any chance the developer's changed the outcome of that QTE once the controversy started brewing? It seems like an easy fix with a few months development time still in hand (unlike Resident Evil 5's 'problems')

Bbleds:
I have to agree with a lot of people this game was very fun, but like was said in the review I was not invested in her emotionally during the gameplay. Though I will say there were some touching moments when she was interacting with her friends (friends by the way that I thought were 100 times more interesting then Lara and wanted to know their story, RIP stereotypical Irishman).

Also something he didn't touch on in the review, did anyone else notice this game suffered from some completely useless skills? Why would you offer me to point out all the optional tombs on the map when the game will do that for me anyways if you get within a mile of them?

Gotta agree with the skill "tree" being underdeveloped. My problem was, even before the game ends, with minimal item hunting, you can max out all the skills. In fact, in my extended post-game run through, 10 minutes in and I've already gotten 2 useless skill points, because I've already bought everything.

That said, I actually enjoyed the game a lot. I wouldn't call the plot brilliant, but it did the job. Plus, parkouring through those levels always felt intuitive.

I think Zero hit it the nail on the head in terms of problems with the game. That said I still think it was enjoyable.

Epic Fail 1977:

Yahtzee:
[the spec ops PC] decides to use the white phosphorous!

Eh? No he doesn't. It's not optional. Unless you count "stop playing the game" as an option. But then TR has that option too.

"stop playing the game" was being subtly hinted at with Spec Ops, and the hint got stronger the longer you stayed in the game.

Tomb Raider, on the other hand, encouraged you to push through, be a big girl, and kill all the cultists. "Stop playing the game" isn't really an option, in terms of the narrative.

had some good points but but the game as such is still fun.
and wrong, in spec ops you dint had the option if you want to use the phosphorous. you had to. in TR at least you had the option if you go stealthy or just shoot down every time you see someone.
yes, the game does have a lot of action but at the same time the character is well explained. but i have to agree that the side characters arent really well explained. especially sam. we hardly know anything about her and she is laras best friend.

Machine Man 1992:

IronMit:

Machine Man 1992:
Captain Walker (i.e. me) didn't decide to use white phosphorus. The developers forced us to use it.

You are not making captain walkers decisions..it's not a role playing game, or a decision based game.

I can understand it gets confusing because you are given the illusion of choice and your brain decides it's a typical choice based game like mass effect or something...but it's not.

That would be like saying; 'the Tomb Raider developers made me kill all those islanders'. It's not a valid critique

And that somehow makes it okay?

Also, I don't remember making you the official Decider of What Is and Isn't Valid Critiques.

It's not a valid critique of the story since whether or not the player has any choice in the matter is a gameplay element not a story element.

romxxii:

Epic Fail 1977:

Yahtzee:
[the spec ops PC] decides to use the white phosphorous!

Eh? No he doesn't. It's not optional. Unless you count "stop playing the game" as an option. But then TR has that option too.

"stop playing the game" was being subtly hinted at with Spec Ops, and the hint got stronger the longer you stayed in the game.

Tomb Raider, on the other hand, encouraged you to push through, be a big girl, and kill all the cultists.

I don't get what difference that makes. There was still no "decision" in either game.

"Stop playing the game" isn't really an option, in terms of the narrative.

True - for both games.

Edit:

Yahtzee could be talking about decisions made by the character rather than the player... actually probably is talking about that come to think of it... now I feel dumb... but anyway, even then it's still an odd point to make. It's not like Lara doesn't make any decisions. Does Yahtzee think characters have to make bad decisions to develop? That'd be, well, wrong.

Regardless, I think Lara has a great character arc by videogame standards (bearing in mind that most AAA games don't have any PC character arc at all).

Epic Fail 1977:

Yahtzee could be talking about decisions made by the character rather than the player... actually probably is talking about that come to think of it... now I feel dumb... but anyway, even then it's still an odd point to make. It's not like Lara doesn't make any decisions. Does Yahtzee think characters have to make bad decisions to develop? That'd be, well, wrong.

Regardless, I think Lara has a great character arc by videogame standards (bearing in mind that most AAA games don't have any PC character arc at all).

It's not an odd point at all. Difficult decisions build character, easy ones don't.

Difficult: Do I use this chemical weapon and kill civilians or face almost certain death?
Easy: Do I try to survive and save my friends or give up and go sulk in a cave (and probably die anyway)?

Not to mention in Tomb Raider Lara is being encouraged and propelled constantly by her friends, and doing anything else than what she does would get her killed along with her friends. For any sane person, there's no choice at all.

Machine Man 1992:

Balkan:

Machine Man 1992:
Captain Walker (i.e. me) didn't decide to use white phosphorus. The developers forced us to use it.

You have to press a button to use it, you make the call. If you were so fucking disgusted with it there always was the option to stop playing.

Oh bog off. That is not a choice.

Are they making a game or are they making a statement? If they're making a statement, then they don't get to charge me fifty bucks for it.

Imagine if PETA charged money for the Pokemon murder simulator game, they'd be laughed off the internet!

http://www.agonybooth.com/video784_Spec_Ops_The_Line_Tactical_Shooter.aspx

You can still play it, the "statement" as you call it is just part of the whole game. The whole point of the game is to show how casualy we use military FPSes to imagine doing things that are pretty fucked up in the real world. The Line never blames the player for being a bad man just because he likes games likes games.

Blood Brain Barrier:

Epic Fail 1977:

Yahtzee could be talking about decisions made by the character rather than the player... actually probably is talking about that come to think of it... now I feel dumb... but anyway, even then it's still an odd point to make. It's not like Lara doesn't make any decisions. Does Yahtzee think characters have to make bad decisions to develop? That'd be, well, wrong.

Regardless, I think Lara has a great character arc by videogame standards (bearing in mind that most AAA games don't have any PC character arc at all).

It's not an odd point at all. Difficult decisions build character, easy ones don't.

Difficult: Do I use this chemical weapon and kill civilians or face almost certain death?
Easy: Do I try to survive and save my friends or give up and go sulk in a cave (and probably die anyway)?

Not to mention in Tomb Raider Lara is being encouraged and propelled constantly by her friends, and doing anything else than what she does would get her killed along with her friends. For any sane person, there's no choice at all.

Can't say I'm convinced by that. I'm not informed on the narrative of Spec Ops; but Walker's case appears to be a dilemma, which is more of a 'test' of character. How does the chosen option of using the weapon OR dying "build" Walker's character?

The option where he lives can certainly affect and change it in the long run, I'll say that.

Additionally, easy decisions can build character. Taking responsibility builds character; even if you get there by taking longer, initially-seeming easier route by running away from it until you find yourself with nowhere left to run and are all but forced to take responsibility.

Walker's decision appears to be between cowardice (which does not build character) or death; whereas Lara's presented decision appears to be between courage (which builds character) or death.

Those old fashioned hard-line disciplinary institutions used to be popular for building character because of this.

Khanht Cope:

Walker's decision appears to be between cowardice (which does not build character) or death; whereas Lara's presented decision appears to be between courage (which builds character) or death.

Why wouldn't cowardice be able to build character?

In honor of the timeless masterpiece Sonic '06, I humbly suggest you name the sections of Tomb Raider, where you are told the play is freeform but in practice it is still on-rails, as Mach Speed Sections. So now you have a damnable colloquialism for this stupid mechanic, just as we have the damnable colloquialism "Quick Time Event".

Cowardice simply does not build character, it is regressive. What that decision does present is an opportunity for the character to develope in how he goes about coping with the trauma. He can use that experience to either regress or develope.

ScoopMeister:
I don't recall Yahtzee saying he thought this game was an 'overrated piece of shite'.

You're right, that was me.

Epic Fail 1977:

I don't get what difference that makes. There was still no "decision" in either game.

If you're talking in-game decision enacted through a specific game mechanic, then yes, you're right. However, Spec Ops' developers have explicitly stated that they never took away your own personal choice to turn off the game. That's where the cognitive dissonance comes in: as a gamer, you expect any form of choice to be given to you as a sort of if-then-else decision branch. The lack of any such branch has conditioned us to forge ahead, that you keep ignoring when the game is actively telling you to stop playing.

Tomb Raider, on the other hand, is not trying to tackle anything so deep. It's a story about hardship and triumph over adversity. There's no decision to be had other than to play Simon Says with the QTEs or line up the baddies' heads with your bow's targeting reticle.

Khanht Cope:

Blood Brain Barrier:

Epic Fail 1977:

Yahtzee could be talking about decisions made by the character rather than the player... actually probably is talking about that come to think of it... now I feel dumb... but anyway, even then it's still an odd point to make. It's not like Lara doesn't make any decisions. Does Yahtzee think characters have to make bad decisions to develop? That'd be, well, wrong.

Regardless, I think Lara has a great character arc by videogame standards (bearing in mind that most AAA games don't have any PC character arc at all).

It's not an odd point at all. Difficult decisions build character, easy ones don't.

Difficult: Do I use this chemical weapon and kill civilians or face almost certain death?
Easy: Do I try to survive and save my friends or give up and go sulk in a cave (and probably die anyway)?

Not to mention in Tomb Raider Lara is being encouraged and propelled constantly by her friends, and doing anything else than what she does would get her killed along with her friends. For any sane person, there's no choice at all.

Can't say I'm convinced by that. I'm not informed on the narrative of Spec Ops; but Walker's case appears to be a dilemma, which is more of a 'test' of character. How does the chosen option of using the weapon OR dying "build" Walker's character?

The option where he lives can certainly affect and change it in the long run, I'll say that.

Additionally, easy decisions can build character. Taking responsibility builds character; even if you get there by taking longer, initially-seeming easier route by running away from it until you find yourself with nowhere left to run and are all but forced to take responsibility.

Walker's decision appears to be between cowardice (which does not build character) or death; whereas Lara's presented decision appears to be between courage (which builds character) or death.

Which is no decision at all. But it seems we're no longer talking about decisions. Of course, I agree with you that any ordeal can build character, but being forced into a situation doesn't in and of itself say anything about the path which you actively choose to walk. And because it's a game and not a book or movie, the choice is somehow more important than the ordeal - which is why it feels like Lara is going through stuff and I'm just watching. Not once did I feel involved in her rollercoaster ride, which I might have if I had been asked to make some meaningful choices. I am not 100% familiar with Spec Ops, but it seems to me that is what sets the two games apart even if in Spec Ops it didn't quite work out in practice.

romxxii:

Epic Fail 1977:

I don't get what difference that makes. There was still no "decision" in either game.

If you're talking in-game decision enacted through a specific game mechanic, then yes, you're right. However, Spec Ops' developers have explicitly stated that they never took away your own personal choice to turn off the game.

Er, yeah. Thank god they explained that, right? I mean I would never have known that I could turn off a videogame if they hadn't explicitly stated that I could. They're geniuses!

This is fair enough. I'm not yet able to judge for myself how effective or ineffective the narrative in Tomb Raider is, but lets just make sure that if we are criticising it, then we are doing so with the right reasoning.

I have to disagree with the whole A man chooses, A soldier obeys, part about Spec Ops. I saw the thing coming from MILES away and really had no say in whether I would use the stuff or not.

Some philosophical wankers will tell me that it is supposed to mirror the characters experience of "having no choice", but even when using the mortars I have no power over how many I shoot and who I kill with it. I COULD just scare them away and circle around whilst they are in disarray and chaos, but the game gives me a game over unless I complete the sequence. I could have also stealthed the camp, three thief games and a perfect ghost on both Deus Exes and Dishonoured on the highest difficulties should tell you that if given the extremely difficult and almost impossible option of stealthing it I would have welcomes it. But there was no choice.

Now with Lara Croft in Side Quest Raider the same thing applies. There really isn't much here that the characters consciously do or when they consciously refuse to do it the narrative just forces it onto them. See the many take control away from the character sections.

Think the chase sequence in ME3, a vanguard instantly breaks the narrative there with his teleport ability. Games just seem to be in a battle of story and gameplay right now where the story wants something to happen that if given full control the player would have prevented through gameplay. It is a real disconnecting experience in most games where things happen despite your efforts see also rubberbanding in GTA and other games.

The first person to tell me that is life and somethings are just beyond our powers should really think about what he is saying. In the game I am jogging ahead of the person I want to catch but am completely unable to catch them. Unless you live in some weird alternate reality where destiny creates magical shield walls around people that is not a scenario that would actually happen in life.

I just thought up another example. It is one of the most hilarious ones, namely Max Payne in Max Payne 3 getting shot in the arm and acting wounded for an entire mission, yes in a game where you can see exit wounds in your chest a shot in the arm is what disables the character for about an hour of in-game time. It was one of the funniest sections in the game, but narrative wanted it to be tense and exciting.

"I think they hit something important in my arm, unlike all those organs in my abdomen and chest. Especially those lungs that are known to survive multiple perforations without any trouble."

GryffinDarkBreed:

His point, sir, is this blatant misandry is something we shouldn't rightly stand for or allow to happen without bringing it up with the developers. If the roles were reversed and it was a male and all he did was kill endless waves of females, the game would have been protested left and right. Was it intended to be hateful? I doubt it. This is kinda like how Resident Evil 5 wasn't intentionally racist against African people. It just needs to be pointed out to the developers that they need to keep this stuff in mind. Maybe sprinkle in a few female baddies in here and there.

A valid argument, but it's not really fair to condemn Tomb Raider for it, because the sin's not really this game's. It's one of the most prevalent double standards in video games in general (and pop culture, for that matter.) Mooks will always be male. gender diversity in a faceless army is nigh nonexistent. Likewise, any instance of a lead character killing a female character will always be a point of high emotion, because killing a woman is inherently "worse" or more immoral than killing a man. There are alterations, but they're few and far between.

it's even a tv trope: "Men are generic, women are special"

the only reason it seems to be an issue for people in this game is because the lead is a female. While there may be misandrist overtones in the narrative itself, since misandry is the first thing mistaken for feminism by action movies (second to sadism, a' la "I spit on your grave,) the fact that Lara is fighting armies of exclusively male mooks in a video game isn't misandrist, it's just a video game standard, with the only difference being the gender of the person doing the killing.

Proverbial Jon:

ScoopMeister:
So how would you improve the story then? There is character development- she starts off unsure about herself and her abilities, has a load of shit thrown at her, and becomes a survivor (confident, strong, determined, blah blah blah). And her being 'reactionary' is the whole point of the story, so I'm not entirely sure what your problem is on that front.

How would I improve the story? I'm glad you asked actually; I've been giving this some thought for a few days now:

Of course, that's all just my opinion.

Wow... You really have given it some thought, haven't you? Well, that all does sound pretty cool (although I'm not so sure about the giant Sam/Himiko boss fight idea). Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the game and I think a lot of the criticism it's been getting is needlessly exaggerated. But, there we go. Opinions will be opinions.

NearLifeExperience:

ScoopMeister:
I don't recall Yahtzee saying he thought this game was an 'overrated piece of shite'.

You're right, that was me.

And yet you implied that he agreed with your analysis.

...I hope that wasn't an attempt at humour there.

DarkhoIlow:
Although I always enjoy my fair share of Zero Punctuation every week, I will have to disapprove with you Yahtzee.

I enjoyed the game myself and I'm glad they did this reboot, the previous ones were quite bad actually (except for maybe Underworld or Legend), but that is debatable.

With that said, I'm glad Lara's back even though the game felt rather Uncharty at times, overall a good game.

This is only reflecting your gameplay preference here; underworld and legends were primarily shooters and threw out the exploration and puzzling bit to the back seat like this one, so i'm guessing that's why the older ones were quite bad for you.

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