Rise of the Tomb Raider Feels Like A Second Origin Story

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Rise of the Tomb Raider Feels Like A Second Origin Story

If the first one was the origin story, why is this one called Rise of the Tomb Raider? Why do I even bother asking these questions?

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Though I didn't like Lara's origin story, I thought it was done rather neatly, up to and including the following: that on her heroic journey from innocence to maturity, Lara...

Instead of an argument about female writers in games (or, bizarrely, racism if Johnny has his say), can we talk about how Rhianna Pratchett is in charge of her father Terry's legacy? Word is that she will leave the Discworld series alone after publishing this last book, but she's also been involved in multiple TV adaptations of the material. I hope she sticks to video games and leaves Discworld alone.

Also, it bears mentioning that she was also the writer for Overlord, which had a similar problem of a character who should be larger than life ending up as flat and uninteresting.

This new Lara puts Nathan Drake in an oddly positive light. Sure, he's a dick, going around the world trashing cities, killing dudes left and right, all for the sake of riches... But then he's never portrayed as much more than a cocky shithead who always gets himself and his friends in trouble.

The Tomb Raider reboot, in particular Rise of the TB, seems to want to make us sympathise with Lara's plight of going around the world wrecking shit and killing dudes, because of... personal reasons? Not that this couldn't work if it had stellar writing, but the developers are trying to make her this noble, young heroine, which I don't feel goes together well with mass acts of destruction and murder.

Think Rhianna's problem is that she delibirately tries to write something different from her father's work. No humor, no interesting situations, no larger than life characters. It's just sterile. It's hard to be daughter of Sir Terry, I guess, but that doesn't mean that she can get a pass on sloppy writing.

I guess writing ability isn't genetic.

The thing is, while the game attempts to say a lot about Lara by her circumstances and the things around her, all of that is being constantly refuted by the way Lara acts in person. Yeah, she's technically going on adventures of her own free will, but she herself doesn't seem to think so, mouthing off constantly about how this is something she's 'GOT to DO'. That's the classic cheap-ass writer trick for avoiding having to think of proper logic or motivation.

As an INTP myself, I can sympathize with the super-logical person that Yahtzee seems to be...to a point.

However, saying, "I've got to do this," "I need to know," or "I don't have a choice," when those statements are logically wrong when taken literally is not a "cheap writer trick for avoiding having to think of proper logic or motivation." What it is a situation where a person is compelled by an emotion or belief so strong that it FEELS impossible to ignore, even if it technically and logically is possible to ignore it.

For example, if my kids were the captives in Far Cry 3, and I was Jason Brody in Far Cry 3, and I had to do what Jason Brody does in Far Cry 3 to save them. If you asked me, "Why are you doing all this?" I would likely reply, "Because I have to. I have to save my children." Now, do I literally HAVE TO? No. In a literal sense, I'm choosing to do all that because I love my kids and I am choosing to go Far Cry on the human trafficking pirates. But that's not how I would feel in that situation, and expressing it that way would devalue my reality: I love my kids more than life, and I am compelled by that love and by duty as a parent to save and protect them. To say "Because I choose to" may be more logically accurate, but phrasing it that way would devalue that emotion. Me saying, "Because I have to" is characterizing my parental love and duty that compels me to (choose to) save them.

As literary example, Beowulf goes off to fight the dragon in his old age to protect his people because, in his mind, "I have to. If I don't do it, no one else will." This is logically wrong. He is choosing to. He also fails to recognize that the young, strong, and brave Wiglaf has the potential to carry his heroic mantle. But he goes off anyway, compelled by love for his people, his sense of duty to protect them, and his desire to uphold his heroic honor. Then he dies. Is that a "cheap writer trick for avoiding having to think of proper logic or motivation"? No! It's the ENTIRE POINT OF THAT STORY. Beowulf is the archetypal Anglo-Saxon hero, and the poem is an epic tragedy. Beowulf's "I have to do this" is characterizing him in VOLUMES: his honor, his loyalty, his pride, his strength (though it is waning), all of it. Is Beowulf poorly written? You could say no, but, well, you'd be wrong.

The point is, a character saying "I have to do this," though that might not be logically or literally true, is a characterization technique. It is a roundabout way of saying, "my sense of curiosity/honor/duty/loyalty/love is so strong that I feel helpless to resist, and I'm not going to, because my desire to follow it outweighs anything else to the point that I feel as though I have no choice in the matter."

I haven't played the game, so maybe the writing just doesn't sell the above idea. That's certainly possible. Or maybe Yahtzee is just an super "enlightened" bloke who doesn't let curiosity/honor/duty/loyalty/love ever stand in the way of logic, but that doesn't make those who do incomprehensible or poorly characterized people, it just makes them people he can't relate to.

Now that I've read to the end of the piece, an additional comment:

I've avoided Thief 4, but I found the writing in Tomb Raider 2013 and Mirror's Edge to be just fine; I cared about the characters and was interested in the plot.

On the other hand, I didn't care at all about James Sunderland's plight in Silent Hill 2 as soon as he encountered the first creepy monster encounter: Dude, you're obviously walking into hell here. Turn around. Go home. Drink yourself silly for a week. Then get some therapy. A note from your dead wife can't possibly be worth all this. Sure, the setting and scenario are interesting as a PLAYER, and as a PLAYER we keep him moving for our sake: to see what happens next and go deeper into the world, but for him as a character? I don't get why he would keep going.

There's no accounting for taste, I suppose.

remnant_phoenix:
For example, if my kids were the captives in Far Cry 3, and I was Jason Brody in Far Cry 3, and I had to do what Jason Brody does in Far Cry 3 to save them.

If Far Cry 3 was about captives, It would end in about 1/3 in.

slo:

remnant_phoenix:
For example, if my kids were the captives in Far Cry 3, and I was Jason Brody in Far Cry 3, and I had to do what Jason Brody does in Far Cry 3 to save them.

If Far Cry 3 was about captives, It would end in about 1/3 in.

Oops! I'm exposed... I'm currently playing through the game for the first time and I'm not very far in.

EDIT: Hence the reason I used it as an example above. It's on the forefront of my memories.

You know I just wish there were more female killers in fiction. Women that are just cold blooded killers that are driven by lust or revenge. Men have gotten that role for too long.

I'm glad Yahtzee got around to making the point that I've made about the new game, though I think it's more complicated than that. More specifically, you could argue that this game is a second origin story, because it has no connection to the first one to start with.

I'll admit that I actually liked the story of the 'first' game (or first game of the reboot, however you want to put it), and I'd never played any of the TR games in the past. I wouldn't call it the most stellar writing, but I did sympathize with Lara's situation, and rather liked where she ended up at the end of the game. To say I was looking foward to the sequel was an understatement.

(Mind you, the whole deal with the Microsoft exclusivity then happened, and since I don't own an Xbone, nor do I plan to get one, was a rather aggravating blow. But that's another subject.)

Recently, however, I was able to watch one of my preferred streamers play the game... and I only got about an episode in before I stopped, since, frankly, it wasn't even the same Lara anymore, in my opinion. This version didn't seem to be at ALL affected by the trauma that went on in the first game, and things were back to, basically, original form from the first game. (And don't get me started on what I can only describe as the abject stupidity of hiding from the bad-guys in the first ruins inside the freaking coffin that supposedly had the artifact...)

So, as I said, and as Yahtzee implied as well, you can basically completely ignore the first game, and it won't impact the second at all. I can't help but think the whole Microsoft exclusivity thing probably didn't help, but there you go.

One could argue that they never will move past a origin story since that requires character growth, which requires a character and personality to start with. Until that basic part is achieved then it never will move on past the requisite origin (which are always dull with most characters). Rhianna Pratchett is ne of the worst writers in gaming at the mo imho, nothing she has written has any flair or charisma. just dull and predictable.

And if you want to push the boundaries of females in games, give me an intimidating version of Natla, frome TR lore(use that term loosely), other than Rhianna Pratchett, Crystal Dynamics and the 3rd Person camera. But knowing the Rhianna Pratchett, she would have to be tragic, wronged by a man at some points....yadda yadda the cliches continue.

springheeljack:
You know I just wish there were more female killers in fiction. Women that are just cold blooded killers that are driven by lust or revenge. Men have gotten that role for too long.

You'll love Drakengard 3 then.

Uhm, if I just add "because the voices are telling me to" after every "I've got to" Lara says, will that fix things somehow?

Infernai:

springheeljack:
You know I just wish there were more female killers in fiction. Women that are just cold blooded killers that are driven by lust or revenge. Men have gotten that role for too long.

You'll love Drakengard 3 then.

Unlikely, because you'd also have to play Drakengard 3.

slo:
Uhm, if I just add "because the voices are telling me to" after every "I've got to" Lara says, will that fix things somehow?

Maybe it's some kind of meta genius. She "HAS TO" because she's a marionette controlled by a god manipulating her actions with a video game controller. She has no choice, really. She can't go back - there's invisible walls....

Shannon Spencer Fox:
(Mind you, the whole deal with the Microsoft exclusivity then happened, and since I don't own an Xbone, nor do I plan to get one, was a rather aggravating blow. But that's another subject.)

You know it's just a timed exclusive, right? It'll be out on PC and PS4 sometime next year.

remnant_phoenix:
*snip*

I think you're missing the thrust of Yahtzee's argument. We all know that, technically, Lara doesn't *have* to do these things. The point is that by sticking her with an emotionally loaded legacy quest Lara is prevented from developing the character's traditional devil-may-care attitude, going on globetrotting adventures and looting ancient ruins for love of money and the fun of it. Lara still isn't raiding tombs because it's something she *likes to do*, she's doing it because it feels like something she is *obligated* to do, and that robs her of a degree of agency.

This can all be easily explained by the publisher's will, which is something more or less along the lines of; "Hurr dur, more of the first one! More! Better graphics! More fragile woman sounds and animations...MORE!! Do not change a single trait or technique...it is the will of Squeenix. Heed our demands or suffer the dire consequences of no funding...MORE!!"
While a deep, low hum begins to emanate through the pitch black above... the start-up grind of Microsoft's vast, cataclysmic machine, growls menacingly at Rhianna, who stutters her trembling reply, "y-y-y-yes, u-uh-of course...i'll j-just, sorry, what? N-no, it's ok, i g-g-g-got this. P-p-please let me go after?"

...

"We will be watching closely, Rhianna..."

Oh balls...doubly posty. Must stop using windows phone, they take these things to heart. ;)

Thanatos2k:

slo:
Uhm, if I just add "because the voices are telling me to" after every "I've got to" Lara says, will that fix things somehow?

Maybe it's some kind of meta genius. She "HAS TO" because she's a marionette controlled by a god manipulating her actions with a video game controller. She has no choice, really. She can't go back - there's invisible walls....

That's worse.

I need some meta to make her feel more like this:


Since I'm going to skip the story part completely, just as I did with TR2013 and Thi4f.

remnant_phoenix:

On the other hand, I didn't care at all about James Sunderland's plight in Silent Hill 2 as soon as he encountered the first creepy monster encounter: Dude, you're obviously walking into hell here. Turn around. Go home. Drink yourself silly for a week. Then get some therapy. A note from your dead wife can't possibly be worth all this. Sure, the setting and scenario are interesting as a PLAYER, and as a PLAYER we keep him moving for our sake: to see what happens next and go deeper into the world, but for him as a character? I don't get why he would keep going.

This one's actually pretty explainable, but possibly spoilers if you didn't finish so I'll tag it

OT: I do feel a little bit like Rhianna Pratchett has a hit n miss style with her storytelling in these games. Can't speak for Rise but Tomb Raider itself felt a little... I dunno. Sterile is a good word but there was stuff happening, Lara did have established goals, motivations and kinda flaws. I think my big problem is that this whole style would work if the story wasn't intended as a character piece. Like, without the focus on Lara as a person developing and doing shit, the fact the characters are bland is made up for by the pretty interesting plot. Same with Thief 4, Garrett was pretty dull as a character but the actual conceit wasn't too bad, the big dilemma was he didn't ACT like Garrett and the focus was very much on him rather than the city. Maybe Rhianna Pratchett is just writing games in the wrong era, actual chain of events she's pretty good it's just doing characters.

I should pay more attention to who writes video game stories. Good lord this lady is terrible. She should write daytime crime dramas for Fox or something. She'd fit right in.

Ah, the ever loyal Mirror's Edge fan surfaces. If only! If only they had dropped the entire story. If only they had stuck to the best thing about the game - parkour. Okay, parkour message delivering.

And stopped shooting at unarmed messengers! Gads, what a stupid premise, poor execution and the promised sequel has even better combat. If only EA would completely disappear. Maybe an executive retreat on the tops of buildings with oddly place red boards leading to nowhere. Yeah, that might work.

No Xbone, so no Lara Croft Rises From The Murky Depths Of Gaming To The Lower Highs Of Mixed Message Feminism for me. Or whatever the hell they named it. The move a few meters and play the cut scene killed the joy from the first game and I never finished it.

Now that I've mentioned a woman working in video games, feel free to turn the comment section into the inevitable kneejerk gender politics debate and get yourselves banned.

...Odd. We're over 20 posts in, and this hasn't happened yet.

Aw man, and I just made popcorn, hoping to enjoy the fireworks...

That is the funny thing about Reboot-Lara: by technicality she IS a better-written and more complex character, but she's just not interesting or compelling. She's got NOTHING in terms of charisma and for all her supposed depth, her motivations are pretty basic and lacking in agency. Fact of the matter is that NOBODY wanted a Lara Croft origin story because that's not the point of her. And for all the update they have to the character, she's still uninteresting and is utterly trounced by tons of far more complex, sympathetic, and unique women in gaming such as Aya Brea, Tifa Lockhart, Lenneth Valkyrie, Elly van Houten, Samus Aran, the women of Persona, etc. If this is as good as Pratchett can get it's clear she's never going to have a truly great character written.

Fun fact: Rhianna Pratchett actually has an account on these forums.

I wonder if she'll hear about this article.

Zhukov:
Fun fact: Rhianna Pratchett actually has an account on these forums.

I wonder if she'll hear about this article.

I had a job interview with a man named Robert Brockway. Turns out, not the same guy from Cracked.

OT; You can't have character development in action game, not really anyway. As an action game, the whole objective is to go from A to B to C and destroy anything and everyone in your way. This is why Lara's evolution from a simple girl to a hardened adventurer is flawed, there was no real development there. Development implies choice. If they had made the change gradual, making the first third of the game combat optional and increasing the encounters difficulty to the point where killing is no longer an option, then we might get the sense that she is a changed person. But instead, in the first 20 minutes, she has put arrows through the faces of (now, heh) faceless mercs. No development, no appreciation for the kinds of change such actions can force on a person.

Yep I miss the old Lara who did stuff because she was rich and bored.

Tomb Raider is taking "realism" too seriously. Swims for 1 minute = panting like crazy, climbs 30 seconds = panting like crazy.

It's like everything is dangerous. That or Lara likes being dramatic I guess, its like Lara is socially awkward and thinks of herself as a literal videogame protagonist.

I can't help but think this portrayal of Lara is part of a larger trend in video game design that punishes us, the players, for just playing through these things.

Adam Jensen:
I should pay more attention to who writes video game stories. Good lord this lady is terrible. She should write daytime crime dramas for Fox or something. She'd fit right in.

If I'm reading all the hate for Rhianna Pratchet correctly, the Tomb Raider series needs a new writer. If it has to be a woman, may I suggest someone form the world of comic books? How about Gail Simone? She wrote at least the first arc of the Tomb Raider tie-in comic books for Dark Horse, and she has time to write Red Sonja for Dynamite and maybe Secret Six for DC. I know for sure she's not writing Batgirl anymore.

Thanatos2k:

Infernai:

springheeljack:
You know I just wish there were more female killers in fiction. Women that are just cold blooded killers that are driven by lust or revenge. Men have gotten that role for too long.

You'll love Drakengard 3 then.

Unlikely, because you'd also have to play Drakengard 3.

slo:
Uhm, if I just add "because the voices are telling me to" after every "I've got to" Lara says, will that fix things somehow?

Maybe it's some kind of meta genius. She "HAS TO" because she's a marionette controlled by a god manipulating her actions with a video game controller. She has no choice, really. She can't go back - there's invisible walls....

OK, if we're going full breaking through the 4th wall, IMHO, NOTHING tops the fight with Psycho Mantis from Metal Gear Solid. The opening cinematic for that in MGS: The Twin Snakes made it weirder.

remnant_phoenix:

The thing is, while the game attempts to say a lot about Lara by her circumstances and the things around her, all of that is being constantly refuted by the way Lara acts in person. Yeah, she's technically going on adventures of her own free will, but she herself doesn't seem to think so, mouthing off constantly about how this is something she's 'GOT to DO'. That's the classic cheap-ass writer trick for avoiding having to think of proper logic or motivation.

snip

This so much. That one was just petty and purposefully ignorant of what was happening. There's so much to criticize about this game's story, you don't have to nitpick, yathzee!
For example the "Mysterious, neboulus organization" as the enemy with the "Because my dad was interested in it"-motivation.
And not to forget both the bad guys and the good guys being idiots *Cough* Hiding in crypt *Cough*

Maybe old Lara Croft wasn't as complex a character, but maybe uncomplicated is the right way to depict the main character of an escapist adventure fantasy like what the Tomb Raiders were. We're naturally more interested in the world, the architecture and the quest for hidden treasures than we are in our viewpoint character and how much her splintered ribcage hurts.

Yes, finally someone gets it. Tomb Raider was better when it wasn't ALL ABOUT LARA. This reboot is as self-centered as it gets.

remnant_phoenix:

slo:

remnant_phoenix:
For example, if my kids were the captives in Far Cry 3, and I was Jason Brody in Far Cry 3, and I had to do what Jason Brody does in Far Cry 3 to save them.

If Far Cry 3 was about captives, It would end in about 1/3 in.

Oops! I'm exposed... I'm currently playing through the game for the first time and I'm not very far in.

EDIT: Hence the reason I used it as an example above. It's on the forefront of my memories.

So get ready for some dumb shit

Rhianna Pratchett AKA "The Script Writer Woman".
Known offenses: Ruined multiple (former) successful franchises with plot full of contradictions, nonsense and general lack of common sense as well as staining her father's legacy.

While not questioning her writing abilities one has to wonder, what were they (publishers and developers) thinking?
Continuously hiring her again and again, fail after fail - massive critique both from regular users and reviewers alike, any sane person with an ounce of common sense would not step on the same rake again, right?
Either they are deliberately trying to ruin their games via bad scriptwriting or she's 'in bed' with someone upstairs.(has relatives, friends, admirers or really are in bed with somebody)

I'm done.

Vladimir Eremeyev:
Rhianna Pratchett AKA "The Script Writer Woman".
Known offenses: Ruined multiple (former) successful franchises with plot full of contradictions, nonsense and general lack of common sense as well as staining her father's legacy.

While not questioning her writing abilities one has to wonder, what were they (publishers and developers) thinking?
Continuously hiring her again and again, fail after fail - massive critique both from regular users and reviewers alike, any sane person with an ounce of common sense would not step on the same rake again, right?
Either they are deliberately trying to ruin their games via bad scriptwriting or she's 'in bed' with someone upstairs.(has relatives, friends, admirers or really are in bed with somebody)

I'm done.

In her defense, I don't think it's all her fault. If the main problem is ludonarrative dissonance, then its not only the writers fault, but also the ones who had to mesh it with the game. There were parts of the 2013 Tomb Raider that I really enjoyed, I thought it was done really well how one moment she is freaking out about killing a deer, then she gets a machinegun and goes all Jon McClane "I have a machinegun now motherfuckers!" But then it all falls apart when she is forced back into "scared little girl box," then back out of it to triumphantly climb a radio tower, then back into it next time she is thrown into a cutscene where she has to hide scared from one dude. Don't know how much you can blame ludonarritive dissonance on one writer

Haven't played the new one yet, but seems kind of shitty if they are still doing that

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