Tomb Raider Writer Halved Lara's Kills For Narrative's Sake Update: No, She Didn't

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Proverbial Jon:
-snip-

To be honest, I think basing the game on tomb raiding would have kind of missed the point of the story... It's about Lara becoming the woman who raids tombs, but as far as she's concerned here all she wants to do is get off Yamatai. Having her spend hours searching for ancient treasure wouldn't have made sense. I'm sure it will all happen in the sequel. And although the narrative/gameplay disconnect was pretty jarring, everyone seems to be making significantly more of it than there actually is.

It's hardly an excuse. If they weren't set out to make an Uncharted clone they could have easily fitted the gameplay to the narrative instead by making it an actual survival/stealth game.

Combat has never been a necessary or wanted part of Tomb Raider, so it's not much good pretending they were strong-armed into it when the latest iteration has way more than previous entries.

There's a dissonance between the narrative and the gameplay because they were unimaginably unimaginative when it came to making the game. That's all there is to it. This is not an example of gaming's limited storytelling abilities versus what writers want to communicate, this is an example of designers wanting to have their cake and watch it slip sensually down their gullet too.

Jorec:

Crystal Dynamics did make something new and interesting. They managed to breathe life back into a franchise that, let's be honest now, hasn't exactly been relevant in the game industry for a while now. Oh sure there were Tomb Raider games but the series had kind fallen out of the spotlight by the mid 2000s.

Does the combat feel kind of like Uncharted? Sure, but you have to remember that you don't fix what isn't broke. Uncharted's combat system was actually good so them using a similar system is a plus in my book.

As for the story I found Tomb Raider to have one of the better stories I have seen in a game in the last couple of years. I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery behind the island and all the hidden documents that expanded on the story of the island were great and worth my time in finding. I honestly can't wait to see what other kind of supernatural stuff they use if they explore another culture's mythology and history.

Could there have been a better focus on raiding tombs? Sure. Could the tombs that were available have been made a bit more expansive? Absolutely. That is perhaps my only complaint about this game is that the tombs aren't expansive enough. I am willing to accept the fact that this is first and foremost an origin story. This is about how she eventually becomes a Tomb Raiding badass, solving the world's mysteries. I have a strong feeling that the next installment in this new series will have a stronger focus on raiding tombs while still maintaining the satisfying combat, explorations and story.

Edit: While I can see why people find it strange that she goes from crying her eyes out and having killed a fellow human being to brazenly killing them by the dozen, I don't see it as that big of an issue. Let's be real here, yeah you'd probably be fucking upset and having to kill people. I know I would. But it's either fight back and not have them kill you or stand there and let them unload into you with an assault rifle.

Sometimes survival takes precedence over morality. If guys are trying to actively kill me I would at least try and fight back. I would probably fail but I wouldn't let them kill me because it'd make me feel upset. There is only so much one person can take before they've had enough.

Xcom's gameplay wasn't relevant from about the same time, Yet Xcom: Enemy Unknown last year very well captured that gameplay style that had its heydays in the 90's and lost relevance in the early-mid 2000's. And it was a big success.

Also, you kind of contradict yourself:

Crystal Dynamics did make something new and interesting.

One paragraph later:

Does the combat feel kind of like Uncharted? Sure, but you have to remember that you don't fix what isn't broke.

I don't know, it's just kind of going one way then the other.

It's just I don't think they really did breathe new life into a franchise they inflated a BRAND that they are using very detached from what the franchise actually was.

Not that I hugely care, Star Wars has conditioned me to franchise corruption and disappointment. I don't care if they are making a mess of things trying to have Lara young and naive yet more bloodthirsty than she'd ever been.

This is about how she eventually becomes a Tomb Raiding badass

The original games didn't need to dedicated and entire game to that. We don't need an entire game introducing a person to being a person who raids tombs. This not some far-out superhero.

The original series had in Last Revelations and Chronicles two flashbacks to a teenage Lara exploring mysticism and ancient sites. But they were just small parts of the original.

Let's be real here, yeah you'd probably be fucking upset and having to kill people.

More than that. I wouldn't be able to throttle and unsuspecting person to death without any hesitation. They are trying to be real and unreal at the same time, it's jarring. I'd just run away to some corner of the island and hide for weeks hoping help will come.

The original Tomb Raider had a very unreal style. It was almost a comic-book like alternate reality, everything was taken to extremes, it's the kind of world where guards in the London History Museum are armed with handguns and shoot intruders on sight. The characters were over the top, it all fit with enjoying he fun without being held down by "this is real".

Sometimes survival takes precedence over morality.

It's not morality, it's simple squeamishness, to squeeze the life out of someone, to not even tremble as you pull back an arrow to bury into a person's skull. I have no moral objections to someone killing a mouse, even myself, yet when I caught a mouse to spite knowing exactly how to kill it... I couldn't do it. To a little smelly mouse.

It's not the fighting back. It's how often Tomb Raider 2013 has Lara killing in Cold Blood.

To be honest I like the shoot outs in this game. I don't see them as being too many compared to other games. What was a bit of a dissapointment was that:

1. It's short. I would love a more RPG-Exploration type thing with Lara keeping action and discovery balanced.
2. The tombs aren't really tombs. The only notable tomb was the one in the main mission, sidequest tombs were very simpleish and very small, the game needed more diverging path ways.
3. Some of the collectables didn't add anything. GPS caches are useless, the relics don't always seem relevant (although I liked them), maps were a good idea but they shouldn't be tomb prizes, they should just be scattered around.

Well hey, there you go. You make an action game, you have to have action in it, nothing obtuse about that. They could always have made a SURVIVAL game, but no, nobody likes those.

Proverbial Jon:

Treblaine:
Snip

I think I love you.

But seriously, you're completely right. I'm not sure why Tomb Raider 2013's huge narrative/gameplay disconnect keeps getting this free pass from people who simply say: "Well you've got to get the gameplay in somewhere!" Yeah, gameplay, as in exploration and puzzle solving. Not a John McClane style killing spree through a jungle!

Yeah, and I'm saying this as the guy who loves the John McClane style killing sprees through a jungle.

But I can see where it doesn't work, and killing sprees aren't the only thing I love. I can definitely see how what I love conflicts with other things I love. You can't have your sweet with your savoury.

If you want a "jungle killing spree" you need a character like John McClane, you need a Cowboy/Annie Oakley type. And you need a certain approach. And that's at the cost of a really deep and relatable protagonist - in a realistic narrative at least.

Tomb Raider was fairly violent, but it was an interruption to the established gameplay challenge of navigating the environment. The gunplay wasn't "the game". Heck, it was no great disappointment to have a level with no enemies to shoot at all.

PS: have you noticed how games these days see "puzzle" in the most literal sense of having a giant puzzle-box set in a wall and it has a totally arbitrary solution usually based on reading what whoever the designer wanted you to do. The "puzzles" in 90's Tomb Raider were far more often natural obstacles such as high gaps and spike-pits, searching for keys. And the "keys" were rarely so simple as "to unlock a door" but things like circuit breakers to turn off gas supply to a fire blocking your way, detonation key to blow a hole in something blocking you.

Canadish:

Treblaine:
TLDR #YOLO

PFFFT.

Get with the times grandpa. You seriously want me to sit there and have to think and explore when I play a video game? Where's the fun in that? What if I can't figure it out and get frustrated?

You probably just need to take off your nostalgia goggles.

Thanks young whippersnapper, now get off my lawn, it's going to take a while for me to download that video on 56k internet of the 1990's.

image

Treblaine:
The original games didn't need to dedicated and entire game to that. We don't need an entire game introducing a person to being a person who raids tombs. This not some far-out superhero.

The original series had in Last Revelations and Chronicles two flashbacks to a teenage Lara exploring mysticism and ancient sites. But they were just small parts of the original.

The original game may not have needed an entire game dedicated to Lara's beginnings but as they were rebooting the character, that's exactly what they needed to do. When a series or character has lost ground with the audience like the Tomb Raider franchise did, it's best to start over from the beginning.

More than that. I wouldn't be able to throttle and unsuspecting person to death without any hesitation. They are trying to be real and unreal at the same time, it's jarring. I'd just run away to some corner of the island and hide for weeks hoping help will come.

What they showed in this game was that Lara Croft has a very different response than most when it comes to fight or flight. And though it is subtle, it is addressed but it also explains how she survives and rescues what is left of the crew off the island whilst everyone else who got stranded on that island before never left.

It's not morality, it's simple squeamishness, to squeeze the life out of someone, to not even tremble as you pull back an arrow to bury into a person's skull. I have no moral objections to someone killing a mouse, even myself, yet when I caught a mouse to spite knowing exactly how to kill it... I couldn't do it. To a little smelly mouse.

It's not the fighting back. It's how often Tomb Raider 2013 has Lara killing in Cold Blood.

But only as a necessity. Lara quickly realizes that if she doesn't kill those men, one way or the other, they will kill her and all of her friends. They have done this for decades before the Endurance arrived. Mathias journals explained that the only men he kept alive were the ones who would kill without hesitation or mercy. Many of us couldn't do it, but in the game, I understand why Lara can and will.

Pretty much what Treblaine said.

Yeah, I get it, you're rebooting the franchise... so why turn it, of all things, into another generic Uncharted-style shooter?

The original games had you killing fuckall actual people. Sure, you had to fight bears, wolves and dinosaurs, but actual people? They were a once in a blue moon occurrence. And the fact that those games still managed to sell upwards of six million copies each kinda suggests you don't need to focus your game on slaughtering people by the hundreds in order to sell well.

Should have just made a bloody game that focused on puzzles and environmental platforming, then this bloody narrative disconnect wouldn't have bloody appeared in the first place.

But what is a modern videogame without hundreds of enemies to kill? Kinda shows what's wrong with the industry right now...

Treblaine:
Yeah, and I'm saying this as the guy who loves the John McClane style killing sprees through a jungle.

But I can see where it doesn't work, and killing sprees aren't the only thing I love. I can definitely see how what I love conflicts with other things I love. You can't have your sweet with your savoury.

If you want a "jungle killing spree" you need a character like John McClane, you need a Cowboy/Annie Oakley type. And you need a certain approach. And that's at the cost of a really deep and relatable protagonist - in a realistic narrative at least.

Tomb Raider was fairly violent, but it was an interruption to the established gameplay challenge of navigating the environment. The gunplay wasn't "the game". Heck, it was no great disappointment to have a level with no enemies to shoot at all.

PS: have you noticed how games these days see "puzzle" in the most literal sense of having a giant puzzle-box set in a wall and it has a totally arbitrary solution usually based on reading what whoever the designer wanted you to do. The "puzzles" in 90's Tomb Raider were far more often natural obstacles such as high gaps and spike-pits, searching for keys. And the "keys" were rarely so simple as "to unlock a door" but things like circuit breakers to turn off gas supply to a fire blocking your way, detonation key to blow a hole in something blocking you.

Yes indeed, just like yourself I enjoy a broad range of games. I like to have some context for why I'm shooting who I'm shooting, but a relatively mindless gun/combat heavy game is a nice change of pace sometimes. In that regard, Tomb Raider was a mighty fine bullet dodging, scenery collapsing, shooty game.

You make a good point about the puzzles. The original Tomb Raiders were considered action/adventure games and yet they still had more puzzle elements than most games today that actually consider themselves to be "puzzle" games. I honestly think game devs are just afraid that we'll simply stop playing if we come across anything more cerebral than a QTE.

I really miss the original Tomb Raider setup; entering a level and knowing that the entire sprawl was one huge obstacle. A lever you throw now might not help until you've found a key to a door which blocks a room with another lever at the end of a long narrow hallway with spikes. Then the lever triggers a giant rolling ball trap which you narrowly escape only to be eaten by a tiger.

I remember the first time I played Metal Gear Solid and got to the part with the card keys. That stumped me for ages. All the support characters are giving me the nudge wink and saying how I have to heat it up/cool it down and I'm clueless. When I finally realise that it means a significant amount of backtracking my mind was blown. Sounds so simple now but no game would pull it off now for fear of being criticised.

Damn I miss the "old" days!

jcfrommars9:

Treblaine:
The original games didn't need to dedicated and entire game to that. We don't need an entire game introducing a person to being a person who raids tombs. This not some far-out superhero.

The original series had in Last Revelations and Chronicles two flashbacks to a teenage Lara exploring mysticism and ancient sites. But they were just small parts of the original.

The original game may not have needed an entire game dedicated to Lara's beginnings but as they were rebooting the character, that's exactly what they needed to do. When a series or character has lost ground with the audience like the Tomb Raider franchise did, it's best to start over from the beginning.

More than that. I wouldn't be able to throttle and unsuspecting person to death without any hesitation. They are trying to be real and unreal at the same time, it's jarring. I'd just run away to some corner of the island and hide for weeks hoping help will come.

What they showed in this game was that Lara Croft has a very different response than most when it comes to fight or flight. And though it is subtle, it is addressed but it also explains how she survives and rescues what is left of the crew off the island whilst everyone else who got stranded on that island before never left.

It's not morality, it's simple squeamishness, to squeeze the life out of someone, to not even tremble as you pull back an arrow to bury into a person's skull. I have no moral objections to someone killing a mouse, even myself, yet when I caught a mouse to spite knowing exactly how to kill it... I couldn't do it. To a little smelly mouse.

It's not the fighting back. It's how often Tomb Raider 2013 has Lara killing in Cold Blood.

But only as a necessity. Lara quickly realizes that if she doesn't kill those men, one way or the other, they will kill her and all of her friends. They have done this for decades before the Endurance arrived. Mathias journals explained that the only men he kept alive were the ones who would kill without hesitation or mercy. Many of us couldn't do it, but in the game, I understand why Lara can and will.

Quite how does a reboot need to do MORE to establish a character? After the previous 9 games, who doesn't know what the deal is with Lara Croft?

You don't always need an origins story. Burton's Batman didn't need an origins story, just a flashback, it doesn't explain in pointless detail how he went through every iterative stage.

It may have been a short while since the last Tomb Raider (only 4 years since last DLC story of Underworld) but Tomb Raider (1996) didn't have any ground to work from.

I don't see why it's necessary to start from the very beginning when this isn't even the beginning of Lara Croft Raiding Tombs, this is BEFORE the beginning, this is an overly extended backstory. Backstory, not the story.

In the original Tomb Raider canon, Lara's introduction is simply a straight up survival scenario. Her plane crashes in the mountains, and she walks out of there learning self reliance... but not how to kill people in cold blood. And two other back stories establish her introduction to mysticism and exploration, as a student of a famous explorer Von Croy and a chance encounter with a mystical monster on a holiday on an Irish Island.

You keep talking about logical justification for killing. It's one thing to know you have to kill... it's another thing entirely to just, kill. Knowing you have to do it, doesn't mean any hesitation will disappear.

This problem wasn't even raised in 90's Tomb Raider, Lara didn't have to kill in cold blood, it was always reaction to an oncoming and unreasoning threat.

"only men he kept alive were the ones who would kill without hesitation or mercy."

That just establishes the idea that it's abnormal to kill without hesitation or mercy, that this isn't some comic book reality of consequence free violence. I can understand Sam Fisher or Solid Snake killing in cold blood without hesistation or faltering, it's explicit they have advanced military training and we take from association with things like the movie Full Metal Jacket how harrowing training can condition people to kill without hesitation or faltering. It's one think to know practically and morally the necessity to kill, it's another to have the conditioning to do it.

Treblaine:
Quite how does a reboot need to do MORE to establish a character? After the previous 9 games, who doesn't know what the deal is with Lara Croft?

You don't always need an origins story. Burton's Batman didn't need an origins story, just a flashback, it doesn't explain in pointless detail how he went through every iterative stage.

It may have been a short while since the last Tomb Raider (only 4 years since last DLC story of Underworld) but Tomb Raider (1996) didn't have any ground to work from.

I don't see why it's necessary to start from the very beginning when this isn't even the beginning of Lara Croft Raiding Tombs, this is BEFORE the beginning, this is an overly extended backstory. Backstory, not the story.

In the original Tomb Raider canon, Lara's introduction is simply a straight up survival scenario. Her plane crashes in the mountains, and she walks out of there learning self reliance... but not how to kill people in cold blood. And two other back stories establish her introduction to mysticism and exploration, as a student of a famous explorer Von Croy and a chance encounter with a mystical monster on a holiday on an Irish Island.

You keep talking about logical justification for killing. It's one thing to know you have to kill... it's another thing entirely to just, kill. Knowing you have to do it, doesn't mean any hesitation will disappear.

This problem wasn't even raised in 90's Tomb Raider, Lara didn't have to kill in cold blood, it was always reaction to an oncoming and unreasoning threat.

"only men he kept alive were the ones who would kill without hesitation or mercy."

That just establishes the idea that it's abnormal to kill without hesitation or mercy, that this isn't some comic book reality of consequence free violence. I can understand Sam Fisher or Solid Snake killing in cold blood without hesistation or faltering, it's explicit they have advanced military training and we take from association with things like the movie Full Metal Jacket how harrowing training can condition people to kill without hesitation or faltering. It's one think to know practically and morally the necessity to kill, it's another to have the conditioning to do it.

It is actually the well established characters that have been very successfully rebooted within the last ten years like Batman in Batman Begins and James Bond with Casino Royale and so forth. When reboots are done, the characters are being built mostly from the ground up. As a result, it is expected that more is done to establish why the character is whoever they are or will become. No, Burton's Batman didn't need an origins story, but the result of that franchise eventually souring made it relevant that the Dark Knight Trilogy do so to help separate itself from the stench left behind by Batman and Robin. The same was true of James Bond after Die Another Day and Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider: Underworld. But even characters who aren't being rebooted eventually visit their past. The original Lara Croft in Tomb Raider: Legend, Nathan Drake in Uncharted 3, Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade. I'm not saying you always need an origins story, I'm explaining why this particular franchise did.

In this game, Lara isn't learning how to kill people in cold blood no more than she's learning how to shoot. What the killing starts to establish is Lara's natural instinct for survival; how strong and relentless it really is. When Lara first kills several people, she talking with Roth about how she had no choice but to kill them. Roth tells her that couldn't have been easy. Lara's response is it was scary just how easy it was. Like you said yourself, it's one thing to know you have to kill, it's another thing to just do it. What Lara found scary was that she didn't feel that hesitation. That to her, killing was a simple decision even if she has no real enthusiasm or want for it. Unlike the first person she killed for example, Lara never savors killing anyone and as she later on says, the price of surviving is too high. The killing isn't addressed in some comic book reality of consequence free violence which is more akin to Uncharted. In this game, there is a cost. That to me is as far away from mindless shooting or otherwise violence as you can get. What Lara actually learns other than self reliance is self-confidence, sacrifice and learning to trust her instincts. What the killing and losing some of her friends does however is make Lara tough and distant. In the original Tomb Raider, Lara didn't have to kill in cold blood. In this game, she does because of the island's completely cruel, brutal and unforgiving nature. Maybe some people don't like the franchise going there, but it has brought success all the same.

jcfrommars9:

It is actually the well established characters that have been very successfully rebooted within the last ten years like Batman in Batman Begins and James Bond with Casino Royale and so forth. When reboots are done, the characters are being built mostly from the ground up. As a result, it is expected that more is done to establish why the character is whoever they are or will become. No, Burton's Batman didn't need an origins story, but the result of that franchise eventually souring made it relevant that the Dark Knight Trilogy do so to help separate itself from the stench left behind by Batman and Robin. The same was true of James Bond after Die Another Day and Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider: Underworld. But even characters who aren't being rebooted eventually visit their past. The original Lara Croft in Tomb Raider: Legend, Nathan Drake in Uncharted 3, Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade. I'm not saying you always need an origins story, I'm explaining why this particular franchise did.

In this game, Lara isn't learning how to kill people in cold blood no more than she's learning how to shoot. What the killing starts to establish is Lara's natural instinct for survival; how strong and relentless it really is. When Lara first kills several people, she talking with Roth about how she had no choice but to kill them. Roth tells her that couldn't have been easy. Lara's response is it was scary just how easy it was. Like you said yourself, it's one thing to know you have to kill, it's another thing to just do it. What Lara found scary was that she didn't feel that hesitation. That to her, killing was a simple decision even if she has no real enthusiasm or want for it. Unlike the first person she killed for example, Lara never savors killing anyone and as she later on says, the price of surviving is too high. The killing isn't addressed in some comic book reality of consequence free violence which is more akin to Uncharted. In this game, there is a cost. That to me is as far away from mindless shooting or otherwise violence as you can get. What Lara actually learns other than self reliance is self-confidence, sacrifice and learning to trust her instincts. What the killing and losing some of her friends does however is make Lara tough and distant. In the original Tomb Raider, Lara didn't have to kill in cold blood. In this game, she does because of the island's completely cruel, brutal and unforgiving nature. Maybe some people don't like the franchise going there, but it has brought success all the same.

When reboots are done, the characters are being built mostly from the ground up.

That's irrelevant. Equally that is done with new franchises, a character we have never seen before equally they need to be built from the ground up. You cover this as much by recognising the BRIEF origins backstory for main character in Uncharted 3, Last Crusade, etc.

Anyway, Casino Royale didn't show more than 5 minutes of Bond before he became a 00-agent, beyond that it wasn't an origin story, he was 100% Bond after 5 minutes in just starting again. It didn't go back to Bond being a young naval officer.

James Bond for the first 40 years never needed to do any origins movie at all.

One film, just a single film after Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace lost the plot. Why? Well a terrible script and conflicted director. The franchise almost died again till they pulled a hail mary turn to get Skyfall made and made right.

And Batman Begins... not really as loved as The Dark Knight that didn't dick around with 2/3 of the movie being Bruce Wayne slowly working towards the Batman we all knew was inevitable.

Burton's Batman didn't need an origins story, but the result of that franchise eventually souring made it relevant that the Dark Knight Trilogy do so to help separate itself from the stench left behind by Batman and Robin.

No. Burton simply didn't want to make another Batman film, and key cast members wouldn't return without Burton and it ended up in limbo, they wanted ANYONE who would be willing to follow Burton's Batman... follow it with anything.

How did he possibly leave because he didn't start the series with a long tortuous origins story. The point is an origins story is unnecessary and detrimental when it totally obstructs what it's supposed to be about.

how strong and relentless it really is

The problem is this isn't special to her as an individual, this is something anyone will respond to as everyone has an instinct to survive. This is effectively just putting her into a warzone and making her a guerilla fighter.

But Tomb Raider isn't about "survive whatever is thrown at me" it's a sense of adventure, curiosity and daring for personal achievement of obtaining rare artefacts because she likes them. You can tell she likes them as she puts them on display in her secret drawing room.

What Lara found scary was that she didn't feel that hesitation. That to her, killing was a simple decision even if she has no real enthusiasm or want for it.

That doesn't sound like a mystical adventure and exploration game.

That sounds like a war game, it sounds like something out of Red Dawn or something.

Unlike the first person she killed for example, Lara never savors killing anyone and as she later on says, the price of surviving is too high.

So different from the original Lara Croft that it doesn't bear even being the same character.

Lara took the wild west attitude that if you draw on her she'll shoot without remorse and just make a witty quip about it. She's not the type to shoot someone in the back but she take a "they're just thugs" attitude to those who attack her.

In both aspects they are opposite. Classic Lara was reluctant to kill in cold blood but never repentant. This Lara doesn't hesitate to kill in cold blood, yet is torn by guilt. And it doesn't explain why she has this ability to kill without hesitation or faltering, it simply states she does. Yet is affected emotionally afterwards.

In the original Tomb Raider, Lara didn't have to kill in cold blood. In this game, she does because of the island's completely cruel, brutal and unforgiving nature.

And what does that have to do with a magical feeling of exploration and discovery? This is depressing melodrama. This is plot for the sake of plot. This is the writers trying to write them out of a corner of deciding to have such combat in a game that built itself not on combat but on exploration, discovery and environmental challenges.

Why is this even here??! This is so different it deserves a COMPLETELY new brand name. It's not even a preface to Tomb Raider franchise that they use the brand name of.

Maybe some people don't like the franchise going there, but it has brought success all the same.

It isn't even the same franchise any more. It just has the same Trademarked brand for the title, with a single character name carried over.

I don't care. I'm not buying "Gears of Tomb Raider". I'm going back to play through the original 5 games and custom levels and expansions.

Treblaine:

jcfrommars9:

It is actually the well established characters that have been very successfully rebooted within the last ten years like Batman in Batman Begins and James Bond with Casino Royale and so forth. When reboots are done, the characters are being built mostly from the ground up. As a result, it is expected that more is done to establish why the character is whoever they are or will become. No, Burton's Batman didn't need an origins story, but the result of that franchise eventually souring made it relevant that the Dark Knight Trilogy do so to help separate itself from the stench left behind by Batman and Robin. The same was true of James Bond after Die Another Day and Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider: Underworld. But even characters who aren't being rebooted eventually visit their past. The original Lara Croft in Tomb Raider: Legend, Nathan Drake in Uncharted 3, Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade. I'm not saying you always need an origins story, I'm explaining why this particular franchise did.

In this game, Lara isn't learning how to kill people in cold blood no more than she's learning how to shoot. What the killing starts to establish is Lara's natural instinct for survival; how strong and relentless it really is. When Lara first kills several people, she talking with Roth about how she had no choice but to kill them. Roth tells her that couldn't have been easy. Lara's response is it was scary just how easy it was. Like you said yourself, it's one thing to know you have to kill, it's another thing to just do it. What Lara found scary was that she didn't feel that hesitation. That to her, killing was a simple decision even if she has no real enthusiasm or want for it. Unlike the first person she killed for example, Lara never savors killing anyone and as she later on says, the price of surviving is too high. The killing isn't addressed in some comic book reality of consequence free violence which is more akin to Uncharted. In this game, there is a cost. That to me is as far away from mindless shooting or otherwise violence as you can get. What Lara actually learns other than self reliance is self-confidence, sacrifice and learning to trust her instincts. What the killing and losing some of her friends does however is make Lara tough and distant. In the original Tomb Raider, Lara didn't have to kill in cold blood. In this game, she does because of the island's completely cruel, brutal and unforgiving nature. Maybe some people don't like the franchise going there, but it has brought success all the same.

When reboots are done, the characters are being built mostly from the ground up.

That's irrelevant. Equally that is done with new franchises, a character we have never seen before equally they need to be built from the ground up. You cover this as much by recognising the BRIEF origins backstory for main character in Uncharted 3, Last Crusade, etc.

Anyway, Casino Royale didn't show more than 5 minutes of Bond before he became a 00-agent, beyond that it wasn't an origin story, he was 100% Bond after 5 minutes in just starting again. It didn't go back to Bond being a young naval officer.

James Bond for the first 40 years never needed to do any origins movie at all.

One film, just a single film after Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace lost the plot. Why? Well a terrible script and conflicted director. The franchise almost died again till they pulled a hail mary turn to get Skyfall made and made right.

And Batman Begins... not really as loved as The Dark Knight that didn't dick around with 2/3 of the movie being Bruce Wayne slowly working towards the Batman we all knew was inevitable.

Burton's Batman didn't need an origins story, but the result of that franchise eventually souring made it relevant that the Dark Knight Trilogy do so to help separate itself from the stench left behind by Batman and Robin.

No. Burton simply didn't want to make another Batman film, and key cast members wouldn't return without Burton and it ended up in limbo, they wanted ANYONE who would be willing to follow Burton's Batman... follow it with anything.

How did he possibly leave because he didn't start the series with a long tortuous origins story. The point is an origins story is unnecessary and detrimental when it totally obstructs what it's supposed to be about.

how strong and relentless it really is

The problem is this isn't special to her as an individual, this is something anyone will respond to as everyone has an instinct to survive. This is effectively just putting her into a warzone and making her a guerilla fighter.

But Tomb Raider isn't about "survive whatever is thrown at me" it's a sense of adventure, curiosity and daring for personal achievement of obtaining rare artefacts because she likes them. You can tell she likes them as she puts them on display in her secret drawing room.

What Lara found scary was that she didn't feel that hesitation. That to her, killing was a simple decision even if she has no real enthusiasm or want for it.

That doesn't sound like a mystical adventure and exploration game.

That sounds like a war game, it sounds like something out of Red Dawn or something.

Unlike the first person she killed for example, Lara never savors killing anyone and as she later on says, the price of surviving is too high.

So different from the original Lara Croft that it doesn't bear even being the same character.

Lara took the wild west attitude that if you draw on her she'll shoot without remorse and just make a witty quip about it. She's not the type to shoot someone in the back but she take a "they're just thugs" attitude to those who attack her.

In both aspects they are opposite. Classic Lara was reluctant to kill in cold blood but never repentant. This Lara doesn't hesitate to kill in cold blood, yet is torn by guilt. And it doesn't explain why she has this ability to kill without hesitation or faltering, it simply states she does. Yet is affected emotionally afterwards.

In the original Tomb Raider, Lara didn't have to kill in cold blood. In this game, she does because of the island's completely cruel, brutal and unforgiving nature.

And what does that have to do with a magical feeling of exploration and discovery? This is depressing melodrama. This is plot for the sake of plot. This is the writers trying to write them out of a corner of deciding to have such combat in a game that built itself not on combat but on exploration, discovery and environmental challenges.

Why is this even here??! This is so different it deserves a COMPLETELY new brand name. It's not even a preface to Tomb Raider franchise that they use the brand name of.

Maybe some people don't like the franchise going there, but it has brought success all the same.

It isn't even the same franchise any more. It just has the same Trademarked brand for the title, with a single character name carried over.

I don't care. I'm not buying "Gears of Tomb Raider". I'm going back to play through the original 5 games and custom levels and expansions.

Casino Royale wasn't about Bond simply acquiring 00-agent status which was why they didn't show more than five minutes of him becoming one. The movie instead went about Bond's first mission as a 00-agent and events that helped mold him into the cold, calculating agent he is. James Bond for the first forty years never needed to do any origins movie at all... until it did. It just took him longer than Tomb Raider. Batman Begins' success led to The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises giving a far better send off to the franchise than Batman and Robin which killed the franchise. What Burton did or didn't want to do doesn't alter the fact that the franchise soured. Their failure to follow up his success led to the franchise being rebooted. That said, those movies were still nevertheless reboots. Rebuilding the characters. Bruce Wayne's choices in becoming the Batman. James Bond's choices that at one point had him resigning the MI6 to being a permanent employee as a double-0. The point I was making was that an origins story for Tomb Raider wasn't unnecessary. Quite the contrary especially with all that Uncharted nonsense. One can criticize how they went about it certainly but the game in terms of sales and critical acclaim did the opposite of falling flat on it's face. I can't see how that's detrimental.

Lara's reactions were indeed special to her as an individual. For the first time in centuries, someone made it off that island alive. Even the Sun Queen who managed to trap everyone whoever got stuck on that island until they died didn't survive one relentlessly determined Lara Croft. It's not that no one else ever got trapped on that island, they just never made off alive. At least until Lara Croft showed up. Tomb Raider is about Lara Croft in my opinion. A strong willed, intelligent, resourceful woman who happens to be an archaeologist. She doesn't make witty quips about who she killed. I wouldn't call them jokes, just assertive responses. The strength of Lara's instinct to survive is what explains why she has the ability to kill without hesitation or faltering. It doesn't state it, it shows it. Even before Lara killed someone for the first time, the game shows Dr. Whitman reacting to the mercenaries the way most of us would whereas Lara tries to fight. If we got hit in the face with a gun from a clearly dangerous looking individual saying not to move, we wouldn't. Lara does. It's that same fight or flight response that leads her to kill the way she does.

What does Lara having to kill have to do with a feeling of exploration and discovery? Not sure why you're asking this question, even if it was rhetorically. There is exploration and discovery in the game as well as third person shooting. Simply having one aspect in the game doesn't mean the absence of another. This isn't depressing melodrama, you don't leave the game depressed. This isn't plot for the sake of plot. Everything the game does and shows moves it forward. This is the tone of the game focused around Lara Croft becoming the strong willed, intelligent, resourceful woman who happens to be an archaeologist that she always was but didn't realize yet. Again, the killing isn't about showing strength. That's one thing that makes this game different from most third person shooters. Where she shows strength is when she survives.

Although this has provoked some interesting debate, it's not actually true. The journalist who interviewed me made a unfortunate typo in the original Kill Screen article and put 'halve' instead of 'have'. As a contract writer (and not, say, the head of the studio or project) I simply wouldn't have the power to make that kind of a call on combat.

Hope that clears things up.

Rhianna

I love how several people confuses Pratchets role as the lead writer with that of the lead game designer. She was tasked with writing a story for a 3rd person cover based shooter so that is what she did. Now when she talks about some of the problems that she had with writing that story, one should try to respect that she did not have much of an influence over the game mechanics nor was she allowed to deviate too far from the original Lara. Given these rather narrow constraints I think she did a decent job.

Should the reboot have been something other than a 3rd person shooter? Probably but that was not her choice to make.

jcfrommars9:

Casino Royale wasn't about Bond simply acquiring 00-agent status which was why they didn't show more than five minutes of him becoming one. The movie instead went about Bond's first mission as a 00-agent and events that helped mold him into the cold, calculating agent he is. James Bond for the first forty years never needed to do any origins movie at all... until it did. It just took him longer than Tomb Raider. Batman Begins' success led to The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises giving a far better send off to the franchise than Batman and Robin which killed the franchise. What Burton did or didn't want to do doesn't alter the fact that the franchise soured. Their failure to follow up his success led to the franchise being rebooted. That said, those movies were still nevertheless reboots. Rebuilding the characters. Bruce Wayne's choices in becoming the Batman. James Bond's choices that at one point had him resigning the MI6 to being a permanent employee as a double-0. The point I was making was that an origins story for Tomb Raider wasn't unnecessary. Quite the contrary especially with all that Uncharted nonsense. One can criticize how they went about it certainly but the game in terms of sales and critical acclaim did the opposite of falling flat on it's face. I can't see how that's detrimental.

Lara's reactions were indeed special to her as an individual. For the first time in centuries, someone made it off that island alive. Even the Sun Queen who managed to trap everyone whoever got stuck on that island until they died didn't survive one relentlessly determined Lara Croft. It's not that no one else ever got trapped on that island, they just never made off alive. At least until Lara Croft showed up. Tomb Raider is about Lara Croft in my opinion. A strong willed, intelligent, resourceful woman who happens to be an archaeologist. She doesn't make witty quips about who she killed. I wouldn't call them jokes, just assertive responses. The strength of Lara's instinct to survive is what explains why she has the ability to kill without hesitation or faltering. It doesn't state it, it shows it. Even before Lara killed someone for the first time, the game shows Dr. Whitman reacting to the mercenaries the way most of us would whereas Lara tries to fight. If we got hit in the face with a gun from a clearly dangerous looking individual saying not to move, we wouldn't. Lara does. It's that same fight or flight response that leads her to kill the way she does.

What does Lara having to kill have to do with a feeling of exploration and discovery? Not sure why you're asking this question, even if it was rhetorically. There is exploration and discovery in the game as well as third person shooting. Simply having one aspect in the game doesn't mean the absence of another. This isn't depressing melodrama, you don't leave the game depressed. This isn't plot for the sake of plot. Everything the game does and shows moves it forward. This is the tone of the game focused around Lara Croft becoming the strong willed, intelligent, resourceful woman who happens to be an archaeologist that she always was but didn't realize yet. Again, the killing isn't about showing strength. That's one thing that makes this game different from most third person shooters. Where she shows strength is when she survives.

Just because it did do something doesn't mean it has to have done something. You never explain why Bond suddenly needs an origins story after 40 years. You can't just say "it took longer" anything that could go for 40 years hardly shows any necessity.

The mess that was Schumacher's Batman even then did not necessitate an origins story.

At no point do you establish that rebooting necessitates an origins story. I remind you Tomb Raider has had THREE starts before this Tomb Raider (2013).

First: Tomb Raider 1996
Second: Tomb Raider Legend 2006
Third: Tomb Raider Anniversary 2007 (Originally a prequel to Legend, then apparently a complete reset again)

No point was there any burning necessity to devote even a small portion of each series to origins.

I see origins as lazy writing, and inability to establish a character without literally having to go back to their literal beginnings and follow then step by slow tedious step.

An "origins story" is not a flashback to some important part, like "oh, that time a criminal killed my parents", it's devoting a whole story to a step by step process BEFORE even getting to the story, as in the actual Spiderman fighting crime has to be put on hold, Lara Croft can't be going on a globe trotting tour of Tombs to Raid just yet.

The point I was making was that an origins story for Tomb Raider wasn't unnecessary.

Double negatives don't help with clarity,

the game in terms of sales and critical acclaim did the opposite of falling flat on it's face.

You can't use that to justify everything. That's not explaining everything, that's just saying a whole load of other people have the same stance as me. Gears of War has good reviews and good sales, but is it not a reason I should enjoy it.

A strong willed, intelligent, resourceful woman

I see these descriptions as empty platitudes, what kind of protagonist is weak willed? What Kind of protagonist is dumb? What kind of protagonist isn't resourceful? There is more to say about Lara Croft than such platitudes. None of this seems to be at all relevant to where Tomb Raider came from or who Lara Croft actually is, going beyond the platitudes.

Everything you describe about this game doesn't at all set up Lara as an explorer, it sets her up as a guerilla fighter in some dirty island war. Exploration and mysticism are so tangential. Tomb Raider is about adventure and wondrous discovery, not harrowing death and suffering. This doesn't sound like anything she would like to return to.

This isn't depressing melodrama

Yeah, I bet it's cheery and down-beat having a teenage girl crying about the guilt of killing people.

I don't know why the writers would put themselves in such a situation unless they felt obliged to have high levels of violence in spite of how the game was hardly set for that from the ground up.

That's one thing that makes this game different from most third person shooters. Where she shows strength is when she survives.

That's hardly unique as the protagonist of third person shooters survive as well. Of the few third person shooters where the protagonist doesn't survive, it's not from their lack of "strength".

If she comes out of this and "happy to have survived" is the only thing she experienced was "glad to survive" then she won't seek out such danger again... as you can "survive" very well working a white-collard job in England and never going on holiday overseas. At least, not without contrivance.

Conclusion
Tomb Raider 2013 is an origins story that doesn't even begin Tomb Raiding and doesn't establish that Lara would seek out such things, but is completely at odds with any kind of adventurous theme and sets up the franchise as some kind of Guerilla Warfare simulator, and the entire plot is not even about the character wanting to get something on the island, the only important thing is that she got off the island. So why would she ever want to go to another dangerous place if her great accomplishment was leaving?

This is another Uncharted or Gears of War style blast em up, which is fine, but the tone seems awful. You need a certain gung-ho tone for a game about ranking up Rambo level body-counts and have to realise how that is totally at odds with wondrous exploration later.

Leather_Raven:
Although this has provoked some interesting debate, it's not actually true. The journalist who interviewed me made a unfortunate typo in the original Kill Screen article and put 'halve' instead of 'have'. As a contract writer (and not, say, the head of the studio or project) I simply wouldn't have the power to make that kind of a call on combat.

Hope that clears things up.

Rhianna

Hmm, clicking through to the article, you can see there is no talk of any 'kills getting halved'.

Might want to tell the OP that if you haven't already:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/profiles/view/Karloff

But if you have already, never mind.

Thanks for posting here.

I guess most of your control over the writing is in the cutscenes. I'd really like it if writers had much more control over the combat and other gameplay aspects, but from my limited experience with games development such a thing can get pretty complex.

53 - They've corrected it now, but the story is still bouncing around. And yes, I largely worked on the cut-scenes and Lara's journals. There was also a lot of character building/world building beforehand. John Stafford, the narrative designer on the project, worked on the in-game stuff. Writers are not likely to to get agency over things like combat unless they are in-charge of a project. However, you're always trying to balance the needs of gameplay and the needs of narrative, plus the needs of the player for the game to be fun and engaging. Narrative doesn't always win such battles.

I liked the new Tomb Raider. I'll be honest, I LOVED the new Tomb Raider. But it wasn't what I was expecting.

My problem with it is it was afraid to be different. It was too shooting and action heavy - which not only contradicts the narrative, but also felt out of place. The game could have featured some impressive platforming with all the mechanics it introduced, and had some unique survival elements. But the game never goes anywhere with it - and at times, blatantly contradicts itself.

Remember, in the first hour or so of gameplay, how you had to keep your fire going? That was interesting, and made you think before performing an action. That first big puzzle of "get the explosives near the wall then detonate them" was fantastic - but after that section, you don't see any more attempts at anything like that. Then, they go even further and just ALLOW you to light torches anywhere, at any time, for any reason.

When you had to shoot the deer for food, that was pretty amazing. "Oh, shoot animals, get food, eat. That;s cool." Except that's the only time shooting animals is mentioned - every other time its just for experience. I even invested in the "find rare animals" talent - and never really used it because it wasn't worth it.

It wanted to be too much like Uncharted instead of being itself. It tried the platforming thing in every other one of its current generation games and failed. They didn't fail because the set pieces were unrealistic, Lara was unlikeable, or it wasn't shooter intensive. They failed because they were hastily thrown together, stagnant, and hard - and not enjoyable hard, hard as in the game went out of its way to make sure things were as obtuse and out of the way as possible.

And your Tombs during this game seemed to have Platforming down. Carefully timing jumps, level switches, etc. There was no leap of faith bullshit, and climbable areas were easily distinguishable (and if they weren't, Survival Instincts).

The new Tomb Raider felt like a combat game that was designed to discourage shooting. The guns, for most of the game, felt weak. Multiple shots from an assault rifle did nothing to most of the jungle people - it was easier, and more reliable, to shoot arrows at them then try to blow them away with an assault rifle or shotgun. And they didn't want you to take cover - every major encounter had some guy throwing molotov's at you to flush you out. It seemed as is the game was telling you "try and run your way out of the combat", while simultaneously holding your hand and FORCING you to shoot the baddies. It was jarring, and it felt good, but it happened far too often - instead of feeling natural, it felt like the developers screwed up and just went with it.

It was a good start. But if they develop the IP, I'd like to see it go further. Make survival part of the game. Make it non-linear. Allow us to take on objectives and exploration in any way we want to. Give us some platforming - without making it as redundant or bad as your previous titles. Doing the exact same puzzle twice to pull two levers is not fun. Leaps of faith are not fun. This new Lara is fun. But needs work.

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