Feature Article

The Dueling Personalities of Tomb Raider

A Stranger in a Mirror

Her first kill was in self-defense. Splattered with the blood of the man she just shot, Lara collapsed on the ground, emotionally drained. Murder was not part of her archeology training. But moments later, resolved to continue forth, she steeled herself for the dangers ahead. In fact, she relished the bloodshed. There would be more men ahead, fresh prey to hunt. Her fear dissipated, replaced by excitement. Lara began to anticipate the next fight. She was a changed woman. And as she stalked from one camp to the next, her hunger for blood grew ever stronger, until she was more monster than the creep who first forced himself upon her.

At least, that's who Lara Croft was in my most recent playthrough of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. Pressed against tight time constraints, I couldn't explore the vast expanse of wilderness like I did when I first played the game last year. And slinking through scattered groups of soldiers, silently picking them off with my bow while staying out of harm's way, was far too methodical. I didn't have time to waste. So instead, my assault rifle became my right arm. I was the attacker, I was the instigator. Lara defied her narrative growth. She may have mourned her precarious situation when talking to her friends, but once enemies were nearby, such humane thoughts were washed away as she once more stuck her knife in an unnamed man.

The weight of the narrative is placed firmly on noninteractive scenes. It's when we put down the controller that a character's personality and motivations are filled in. What they say during those scripted moments is what matters, right? Well, that would be true in a static medium such as film or literature, but games offer so much flexibility that it's impossible to confine emotional growth to the short time spent watching scenes play out. We are active participants, and it's the choices we make while playing that ultimately determine who the characters really are.

Much of the criticism directed at Tomb Raider centered on Lara's improbable adjustment from stranded archeologist to full-blown killer. Lara became comfortable with her situation much too easily, some argued, so even though she shook with emotional exhaustion after her haunting first encounter, such trepidation was pushed to the back burner in an effort to keep the story moving forward. And though I read such analysis last year, the complaints rang hollow. There is no way Lara was so cold, so inhuman, that taking another's life required no more than a second of contemplation before her years of pacifism were forgotten.

As she stalked from one camp to the next, her hunger for blood grew ever stronger, until she was more monster than the demon who first forced himself upon her.

When I first played Tomb Raider last year, Lara was as far from a killer as a modern video game protagonist could be. An archeologist first and foremost, she spent much of her time combing though the ancient ruins that populated her temporary island home. Yes, you could say that her obsession with old coins was unhealthy, given that friends were held captive somewhere while she picked through decrepit locales. But you can't blame a scholar for caring more about intellectual curiosities than human companionship, can you? Once she found every hidden treasure, she moved forward, but she entered every fight against her will. She fought to defend her own life, not because she enjoyed killing, so my Lara was emotionally strong and still very much a respectable human.

What Lara says is much less important than what she does.

My actions are instrumental in how I experience a game. The binary choices that dictate how story sequences play out in games such as Mass Effect are just one way that we shape who our characters are. But choices aren't limited to being a renegade or paragon adventurer, and we shouldn't ignore how much our own actions dictate the way we view games. Lara's character development is slow and believable if you take your time exploring the world. But it's monstrous if you decide to ignore such extracurricular activities and focus on the killing. Both play styles are certainly correct since there's no wrong way to play a game, and they both make a huge difference in how we view Lara.

It wasn't until I replayed Tomb Raider that I realized why so many people were upset at her unbelievable growth. When I skipped optional objectives and pushed straight through to the next story segment, I was shocked at what kind of person Lara was. What was at first a goofy story suddenly turned dark, as Lara played out the secret murder fantasies that lay buried inside her. Did she plan to venture to this lawless island to hunt men for sport? Was she eager to make use of what seems to be extensive weapon training? What compelled her to master both a bow and an assault rifle? Is she hiding other deadly abilities? All of these questions made me view Lara in an entirely new way, and certainly didn't make me happy when they passed through my mind, but they continually surfaced as I plugged man after man with bullets. Who is this Lara? And why is she considered a hero?

Does Joel fight to live, or live to fight?

Such ruminations lead me back to my experience with The Last of Us. I have been vocal in my dislike of Joel. Even before the ending scene, I thought he was a loathsome man who, if the story was viewed from another vantage, would be the antagonist. However, much of that anger toward him was based on my life experiences and how I made him interact with the world. His seeming disconnect with his daughter Sarah made me think that he was a neglectful, selfish father, a thought that someone with a different upbringing than I may never have contemplated. I fought the zombies and survivors with such violence that it was clear that Joel enjoyed it. Fights were a bright spot in an otherwise drab existence for Joel, rather than a sad necessity for life in a broken world. And it's hard for me to like someone who relishes killing others.

Dissecting video games is complicated because no two experiences are the same. Whereas my Joel was an emotionally stunted killer, he could be a desperate survivor to someone else. Many thought Lara was a sociopath because of how quickly she got over her first murder, and yet I thought she was a grounded, relatable woman thrust into a terrible circumstance. It's these discrepancies that make games so special. Our thoughts are dictated by every action we take, even if we don't realize that it's happening, so every game offers a unique experience for every person. It's incredible to wrap my head around the infinite possibilities out there.

Written By

Discussion

251 comments
lostn
lostn

"And it's hard for me to like someone who relishes killing others."

The problem is, it wasn't Joel who relished killing others. It was you as the gamer. Only what you see in cutscenes is scripted. Gameplay is your own. There will always be a disconnect. You can't say that Joel was sadistic just because you were sadistic. You could have played much of the game in stealth mode and run past the enemies and then claimed Joel was a pacifist unwilling to get his hands dirty.


You don't have a right to hate a character just because of the way YOU played him. Hate your own style of play.

epictetus1216
epictetus1216

The problem for me was the suddeness with which she became a killing machine. This version of Lara was supposed to be more human, more believable. She's less believable! At least the original Lara had no pretenses about her. She was a badass you didn't mess with. So is this Lara, but they try to connive us into believing she's somehow a delicate flower thrust into a hostile environment. She's anything but!

g1rldraco7
g1rldraco7

Hey Tom wanted to know how you feel about this reboot of Tomb Raider changing Lara's image of being a sex image to a strong independent woman?

DigitalDame
DigitalDame moderator moderatorstaff

Hey everyone, just wanted to let you know that Tom is going to be in the comments today at 1:00 to take your questions and answer your comments about his article. See you all then. 

horizonwriter
horizonwriter

Tom, I can't speak for your upbringing or things that you've gone through but I would encourage you to look at the Joel/Sarah relationship from a place that a lot of us have experienced.


Where you see selfish, I see selfless. I see a father with no one else to help shoulder the weight of family life, taking the jobs that he can get because he wants to be able to provide a better life for his daughter. As a consequence, yes it means that he won't be there a lot of the time when a parent really should be but sometimes life doesn't allow for the kind of parenting people would like to give. I see a man worn out from the grind and stress, kicking himself into action because no one else will. That could be considered a lot of things. I think of it as having heart.


Where you see disconnect, I see a unique relationship. Speaking from my own personal childhood experience, when a parent has to either work a lot or just has really crumby hours they have to teach a child skills that most children don't need or learn so early on. From that upbringing and just generally tougher life that same child gains perspective and maturity that other kids don't have. It's something that can lead to a great bond between parent and child as it tends to foster an "us against the world" vibe, and it has the added benefit of keeping the two closer with less time required to do so. In other words, you just innately get each other better. Since free time is usually very limited in such situations, that can be pretty invaluable.


I grew up with a core group of friends that had similar lives to me and we all for the most part had very positive childhoods and lives, even if we did sometimes have less than we wanted. You could have had a more negative experience though, and if that's the case I could completely see having a hateful view of the Joel character. Granted ,the guy was a prick and certainly falls under the anit-hero label. I have no illusions about that, but where you see a selfish, shady jerk I just see a deeply scarred and emotionally terrified man who's lost a lot and couldn't bring himself to let go of someone that reminded him of a person very dear to him that he never truly let go of to begin with.

Kamina85
Kamina85

Uh, disconnect with Sarah? Did you even play the same game? The opening cutscene made it insanely obvious that Sarah loved her dad, and Joel NEVER got over losing her fully. If you want to criticize Joel, fine, but at least don't twist the facts. Also, who is the protagonist or antagonist has zero impact on the morality of the character. Sure, Joel could be the antagonist, but so could Mario for crying out loud if Bowser was the protagonist of the story. And let's not kid ourselves here, the Fireflies were definitely NOT sympathetic (save somewhat Marlene, but even she had selfish reasons for what she was doing if you pay attention to her journal notes and realize her psychological breakdown).

The criticism of Lara is just ridiculous. She was up against a group of men who had already A) tried to kill her and B) were capturing her friends against their will. How big a body count she gets is irrelevant under such circumstances unless she actually started murdering her friends or innocent bystanders, which she never did. Also, just because Lara had never taken a life before does not automatically mean she was a pacifist before all this, that's just your assumption. In fact, arguing against Lara for these reasons could be considered offensive to specific veterans in real life. Some people have a more hardened, logical view of the world ("I had to kill this person as he was about to kill me and/or other innocent people") and I don't think Lara should be viewed as a monster just because she wasn't mourning the deaths of a bunch of people who were willing to capture and kill innocent survivors.

Talisac
Talisac

Hehehehe having a hard time with 90% of games nowadays ain't ya? It's all about the fun for the gamer buddy, sure, a longer "learning" curve for Lara's killer instincts might be more realistic and even make her more like able to you... But what would it mean to the gameplay? The way I see it, there are zero games out there where this "oh my God I killed a person" vibe is anywhere near reality, the game structure that sells simply doesn't support it... Far Cry 3 had the same idea going on, only the main character wasn't to be seen as a "hero" by the end of the game, but as an everyday kid turned into psycho-killer, one that at the chance of escape actually opts to stay behind for the thrill of the kill, and the while he speaks with that soothing young non threatening voice that made everything much spookier... Lara Croft is always in self defense on the game, everyone there wants to kill her and her friends, we understood that, in her situation she's led to become a commando (for gameplay's sake) and be the strong woman in the team, there's then the over the top amount of enemies, but those can't count for narratives, those are cannon fodder for the gamer and not the character. Just the same, any war veteran will tell you you don't get to face half as many enemies as the soldiers in Call of Duty or BF, and usually at much longer distance. Here's the deal, a war game like war won't sell, the realism of game isn't the realism of real and that's it.

iAnej
iAnej

100 % agree with this , previous games had a lot of tough puzzles they should bring them back and the health 

saving Med kits is awesome and challenging ! and u are actually afraid of just charging into battle without thinking or with no strategy at all..

Stu-pendous
Stu-pendous

This is a wonderfully thought out article and I do agree that video games can be subjected to the same textual analysis we permit other mediums, but in my opinion Lara Croft remains polarising because, historically, her games struggle to cohesively marry gameplay and narrative. One component seems to  be at the expense of the other. While I enjoyed last year's reboot, I did feel that Lara's character overhaul remained tethered to gratuity over proper development. The relentless action sequences were furiously adrenaline-fuelled and thus great popcorn entertainment, but the actual emphasis on Lara building her survival skills was felt ultimately thin. I would very much prefer the next instalment to feature a subtext of psychological scarring from this adventure, even to round off the edges of Lara's archaeological curiosities.

hbignis
hbignis

I think that there wasn't so much actual "Tomb Raiding" in this one because it's Lara's story on how she became a survivor, not a raider. She even says at one point "God, I hate tombs". Perhaps in the sequel that tombs will have a much larger role.

Blankkus
Blankkus

Yeah, the whole hopeless girl on her first adventure didn't make sense to me. So I changed my mentality thinking I am playing a "Rambo" game and this totally worked! "Jane Rambo: The First Blood". Jane is a mysterious girl with killer instincts that some how possess extraordinary survival skills. No one knows how she obtained those skills except the rumor that she lived in the wilderness of Cambodia with her father for a long period of time. COULD-IT-BE-THAT-HER-FATHER-NAMED-JOHN-TRAINED-HER-WITH-SUCH-SUPERIOR-SKILLS? 


Anyways, with this idea in my mind I totally was immersed in the game and I always wanted an awesome Rambo game and  this was the best Rambo game I ever played.

pip3dream
pip3dream

I don't think anyone is arguing that there SHOULDN'T be combat in Tomb Raider.  Combat is part of gameplay loop that is Tomb Raider.  I feel what people are arguing is that for a supposed Origin story of Lara- there are large chunks of Origin missing.  She is supposed to be a defenseless teenager, yet somehow she is a weapons expert in automatic weapons, as well as hand to hand combat weapons- she's proficient enough to take out an entire army.  Did I miss the part where they talked about her going through SEAL's or MI6 training?  There are lots of ways they could of at least tried to bridge this gap of believability.  It's not completely clear how long she's been on the island, so one way would be to make it appear that this game is taking place over a certain amount of time and gradually getting these skills, instead of what appears to take place "over a few days."  
I think this game is really fun, and the combat IS excellent - i don't think anyone is arguing the quality of the gameplay either.  It is just that the quality of all of the elements in this game are so good, that the narrative with these gaping holes just really stands out like open sores.

Afinati
Afinati

Those are some distinct interpretations there. I guess since I took my time (?) exploring and the like and really bought into the dialogue between Lara and her party, I didn't feel like she was overtaken by bloodlust or anything. Should replay though.

Falzonn
Falzonn

Tomb Raiders gameplay and story are not in mesh.  I sort of understand why this was done.  With an origin story, Lara would have to start of fresh, young, all sweet and innocent; just as she does in the game.  To continue with that character development in any sort of logical sense, the gameplay would have to play out as a survival horror game, but that would never sell would it?  Of course not. Uncharted is popular, better to make it like that instead.  Great if you like that type of gameplay, bad if you cared at all about the games story. 


I imagine this is why mainstream society has a hard time taking games seriously.  If this was a movie or book instead, and was written & acted EXACTLY how things happened in the game, I imagine it would have been panned by every critic for the disconnect between Lara's words & actions.  TR had more killing than some war films.  Of course, Tomb Raider ISN'T a book or movie, so is that comparison unfair?  Surely TR should be praised for at least trying to have a gritty emotional story right?  We hardly ever get those kinds of things in AAA style games.  Well, to I'd agree with that to an extent sure, but if they just wanted to make an action game (which maybe they believed they had to do to make it sell), there are plenty of other ways to have made it work so that it meshed within the TR narrative.  If they wanted to make a gritty, emotional survival story, then they should have just made it a survival game.



geezerdaman
geezerdaman

I was interested in reading this, then i saw it was by Tom McShea.

soulst0p
soulst0p

There's always a disconnect between story and gameplay.  Story-wise, Tomb Raider is about Lara being a "Survivor".  But there isn't quite an analog when playing a video game to the experience of facing the elements, staving off hunger, or pushing past the pain and fatigue.  All the player really does is keep pushing Up on the control pad and hope that the actor portrying the game character conveys the appropriate emotions.  It's much more fun to play in combat situations, and unfortunately, this means lots of random dudes have to die. We have to write it off all the time when we play games.  When a game is designed to have a linear progression where you can't move on until you kill all the enemies, this will inevitably be an issue.   If you want to look at it that Lara is a blossoming serial-killer, then she is a just another in a long line of serial killers amongst video game protagonists.

SPUDIRL3
SPUDIRL3

i was shocked at how small and easy the tombs were but over all it was an outstanding game. i very rarely get 100% completion in games but i did with tomb raider. cant wait for the squeal

pidow
pidow

In TR, she was forced into the unknown when the ship was destroyed.  I strongly believe she did what was necessary to survive by any means necessary, it was just that she had to kill a lot to accomplish that goal of surviving.  The game has a lot of fighting, instead of search for the unknown, encountering puzzles and problems and solving them.  I believe, she fought, as a necessary mean, to even the score for her companions and herself and make her reunion with the remaining crewmembers possible.  I did not play the other game, The Last Of Us, however, this is pending. 

lokar82
lokar82

I think this article misses the fact that there is way too much combat in Tomb Raider no matter how you play it. There should have been way more exploration and tomb type puzzles and way less combat.  The only real tomb raiding was completely optional and it was way too easy.  Calling this game an Uncharted clone is completely appropriate but it shouldn't have been this way.  Not saying Uncharted is bad, but Tomb Raider is supposed to be about tomb raiding.

masterfortesque
masterfortesque

Games truly are more than what they used to be, and at the same time they are less. These days it's all about story, moral dilemmas and exposure of social problems.


I didn't see anything wrong with the character. What was wrong was the frequent QTEs, constant cutscenes, copy&paste combat from Uncharted/Gears/MassEffect/Insert and general "Lets take pieces from other games like documents littered all over the place". And the pacing - Woah! In old games there was very slow and calm explorative pace for the most part, while this new game constantly pushes player forward with the oddest of excuses and the tiny RAIDABLE TOMBS are treated with minor "optional tomb nearby" message. It's like as long as they have a solid story and message, they don't need any creativity or vision.


At best the game was unbelievably outstanding as I was climbing cliffs or solving one of the few puzzles, but then came the wake-up call that smashed my face back into the floor.

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

Um no. Regardless of how you play, the story is disconnected entirely from the gameplay. You cry about 1 murder, but then you immediately go and kill 40 people with a submachine gun, not to mention the people before that all over the place that you throw off cliffs and shoot in the face.

fadersdream
fadersdream

Lara would constantly let out sighs or cries of frustration and regret. She knew something inside of her was dying.


I loved the game, I find a lot of the firestorm to be ridiculous and a bit sexist.

If it were male character making this same transformation people wouldn't care. Drake went from a little boy breaking into a museum to a machine gun toting murderer and thief.


But there is this ever present need for her to revert back to being a delicate flower after each violent exchange. Instead she has converted to a person that will pull the trigger every time until they are free, completely free of the island and it's inhabitants.

Even in the end... she knows she has become something, something that can't go home again.

The game never hides that she is becoming as much a monster as the people she fights, it's the fans that are struggling with it.

Abberon
Abberon

This whole article is just a big self indulgent fart.  Suspend your disbelief for a second and remember that you're playing a video game, and that the psycho-analysis of your protagonist killing hundreds of people is stupid because the mere idea of characters like Lara Croft or Nathan Drake going on Rambo-style rampages is impossible make-believe in the first place.  


From a game design perspective, having Lara/Nathan/Joel stress out about each kill is just not going to work, so it's better to just play the damn game and use your imagination than be that nerd who complains about the contradictions with the characters' emotional states. 

jazilla
jazilla

IT's fine to have both as long as the dialog reflects that based on the decisions you have made. If I stab 15 dudes in the face in the span of 20 minutes and don't react emotionally, I am a psychopath. It would be nice to have a game that reacted to my choices. We just aren't there yet where scripting can feel dynamic.  

youre_a_sheep
youre_a_sheep

Nathan Drake repeatedly willingly entered into combat, made wise cracks moments after a bloodbath, and got a free pass from critics.  In fact it's the reason I hated Uncharted 3; Drake is established within the script as a complete sociopath willing to kill despite not even knowing his own motivation.  Why are we supposed to view Lara so harshly?  She is TRAPPED on an island full of men who want to violate and kill her, possibly in a ritual burning, and she's supposed to hesitate?  She is established by the end as a survivor, not a murderer.  Face it, if the character was Larry Croft, we wouldn't even be discussing this.

ThePlantain
ThePlantain

 lol...tom has daddy issues...at least you didn't become a stripper


....seriously though, this article is reaching...i played both games and the characters never seemed to be 'excited' about killing...get your head checked tom, you appear to have issues for real

RuthlessRich
RuthlessRich

Half Life's Gordon Freeman is a perfect example of this. I've never been quite sure whether the decision to portray him as he was in the original game was an artistic one or just a time/budget constraint but the fact that you never see him and he never utters a word makes him a complete character vacuum that the player fills with their own personality. As a result, Freeman's motives are unquestionable. Why does he act the way he does? For the same reason that you would.

gutsallover
gutsallover

Just came here to say that I love the Apocalypse Now -esque thumbnail/header picture.

azori-quickheal
azori-quickheal

Interesting view Tom,


I've finished Tomb Raider last night. The game is still very fresh on my mind.

I think the developers have done a great job of building Lara; from the awkward circumstance of picking up her first bow, hunting her first elk, and killing her first wolf (man or beast). I think with every game it is important to explore and get a sense for the atmosphere that the developer worked hard to create. I bought her progress. I bought her shivering, her absolute feeling of abandonment and lost hope, and her struggle with being hunted. I bought her sense of exploration and adventure by searching for the lost relics and through the hidden tombs. The time I spent on those side-activities helped me to appreciate her character growth because I was better able to control her and navigate the island. I grew more comfortable with controlling her and that made me feel like she was getting the hang of it all as well. 


I never got the sense of her need to enter a fight. Rather, I always felt like she was on the defensive and only desperate to avoid being shot. That's not to say she wouldn't eventually become all too familiar with her armament and permitted her frustration and anger to take charge towards the end of her stay on the accursed island. But I can appreciate her frustration. After all, her struggle from early on was less to fend for herself and more to rescue those that she felt responsible for trapping in this paradise.

Overall, this game was excellent. Many memorable screenshots and a fluid game play that made you want to continue in your search for everything this game has to offer. Despite my love for true sandbox games, this -narrow- sandbox felt like it couldn't have been made any other way. 

platinumking320
platinumking320

Whoa Nelly. We got it bro. We got it. 

Actually, I thought your last article pretty much highlighted this problem.

Ok so The Lara Croft dissonance is a  issue, but lot of the game community noticed. And hey 'baby steps' you know. It'll get there. All in all she did good. I think here could've been a larger article to talk about many action characters in 'gritty' stories that could use a little more human conscious polish.

For every Solid Snake or Wei Shen there are always a bunch of inconsistent avatars that still end up . But overall I think this Lara is successful.

Is the frustration coming from the fact that this chapter of her life is now closed, and theres no longer a chance to polish this gameplay part of her character, now that only the warrior archeologist remains?


Look at it this way. Cloud Strife is an icon, but I've got friends who couldn't stand how sephiroth broke him down. They screamed at the screen. 'man up!'

hussam403
hussam403

I only agree in the part he said about Tomb Raiding. Yeah there should be more puzzles and things to do about tomb raiding. But everything else was none sense. its a great game and all the mechanics is just fitting. This is not skyrim for crying out loud.

DzhekBauer
DzhekBauer

Not a bad article, but come on, is it not obvious? Well "duh", also you could have left the controller in the beginning of the game and say:"Lara also could be a scared little girl, who dies in the beginning of the game and never manages to achieve anything", or you could jump of the cliff and write:"Lara couldn't cope with her murdering another human and she killed herself". It reminds me of an ages old video review of GTA Vice City which I saw on Russian TV, there the reviewer said: "It is a story of cold-blooded killer Tony Vercetti who enjoyed taking prostitutes to his car, having sex with them, and than murdering them with a baseball bat". But there is not a single moment in the actual game narrative where a thing like that happens, game never tells you to kill prostitutes, but you can if you wish so. So yeah, gamespot, I don't know what do you want to say with that article, ofcourse it would be cool if a game could adapt its story for every player, but it seems impossible.

TomMcShea
TomMcShea moderator

@g1rldraco7 Oh, that was the only way that Tomb Raider could exist in 2013 (and beyond) without being an embarrassment. Crystal Dynamics did a remarkable job of crafting a smart, capable, fascinating woman that showed games don't have to cater to sexist demands to be popular and fun.

Sindroid
Sindroid

@lokar82  I pretty much agree, but she is just a young chick, and not a fully fledged explorer yet. However, having played ALL the TR games since 1996, she should raid the tombs more and solve puzzles. The first game had all the focus on just that. All you killed was bats, bears and tigers and a few people.

But i agree despite i liked this game..Yeah Square, give us the deep complex, haunting mysterious tombs back.

fillup0
fillup0

@Grenadeh  Not to mention that it's basically a shit rip off of Uncharted. This game ruined Tomb Raider.

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

@fadersdream  Drake didn't make any of that transformation in-game. He was killing people 100% of the franchise until U3's flashbacks and then proceeded to kill everyone that breathed afterwards as well. So that doesn't apply. In TR you go from being an innocent student to Guts from Berserk within 5 minutes.

grove12345
grove12345

@fadersdream  the new farcry had a few moments where the main character was changing due to all the killiing he was doing

Falzonn
Falzonn

@AbberonThat is indeed how I played TR.  The gameplay and story didn't mesh, so I tried to gloss over it as much as I could.  But does that mean we should ignore the issue?  The devs & pubs get a free pass because it's just a video game.  Video games shouldn't be taken seriously in this regard because... it's just a video game so it doesn't really matter?  Despite how the game was promoted?  Way to set the bar low.

Tao_and_Zen
Tao_and_Zen

@Abberon Couldn't have said it better myself. Indeed it is the game designers who force the behavior and transformations of these characters. As you say, it's a video game, not a biography.

lostn
lostn

@RuthlessRich Well I find Gordon very hard to believe as a character. He was a scientist, not a military trained killer. But he smokes all comers, even military vets and black ops without breaking a sweat. Where did he learn to do that? The game just never bothered explaining how and simply said, that was you, not him. It would not work in a movie.

Tao_and_Zen
Tao_and_Zen

@hussam403 I rationalized the absence of true tomb raiding as being due to her youth and inexperience. There is combat in the other Tomb Raider games, against both human and non-human opponents, so she had to pick up shooting skills from somewhere and for a reason. This game was a prequel to all the others, as well as being much more about survival. It made sense to me that she wasn't spending much time exploring caves and tombs. She was forced to fight for her own life and the lives of her friends.

DannyC_pt
DannyC_pt

@DzhekBauer Loved the humor. But I'll tell you something... "my" Niko Bellic had serious issues, that guy spent like over a 1000 dollars on prostitutes. Sick bastard...

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

@fillup0 @Grenadeh  You do realize that Tomb Raider invented the archaeological third person shooter, right? Uncharted owes its existence almost entirely, as far as games go, to Tomb Raider - movies and books if you expand to include Indy, everything by Matt Reilly, the Librarian, and many others.


Oh I see what you mean. Yea it's basically Square Enix going "Uncharted's successful let's take Tomb Raider and then just mash it into an Uncharted mold but with  more open world and more platforming"

lostn
lostn

@Grenadeh The only way to prevent that disconnect is to never start her off as someone inexperienced to killing in the first place. No origin story. If it's going to be an action game where the hero starts out never having killed anyone before, and being shaken up by the experience, there is going to be a massive disconnect between story and gameplay. 

If ND made an Uncharted prequel set where Nathan Drake is just starting out heisting and adventuring but has never killed anyone before, they will run into the same problems TR has. 

RuthlessRich
RuthlessRich

@lostn @RuthlessRich  He has mysterious past that I like to think may have involved some secret military training, but who knows? The game doesn't say he HASN'T been trained. Maybe we'll find out in HL3 if such a thing ever comes to exist. The G-man comments that he has a natural talent for survival and he also has the HEV suit which allows him to soak up wounds and push himself harder than a normal man.


Perhaps it wouldn't work in a film but I (and Tom McShea in his article) was making a comment about how games can do things with storytelling and characters that other media can't. If it were a film then of course you'd have to see him and of course he would have to speak. On the other hand, something that games (to date at least) struggle with is showing the gradual progression of innocent people into killers. Good examples are Half Life (if you assume Freeman had no prior training or combat experience), Far Cry 3 and, of course, the new Tomb Raider. You can't very well have every moment of violence being a gritty struggle with the hero's own conscience because that just wouldn't be fun. And this links back to the point of the article: your perception of the character depends on how you control them. I tried playing Half Life when I was about 8 years old and didn't very far. THAT Freeman was a useless wimp. Now, my Freeman (and yours by the sound of it) is violent and ruthless and knows how to handle himself because that's how I play him.


My passions ran way with me a bit there but I'm loving the discussion =D

fillup0
fillup0

@Grenadeh  Even then, the new TR has barely any platforming and puzzling when compared to it's predecessor.

lostn
lostn

@RuthlessRich The game also doesn't say that he ISN'T Jesus Christ incarnate. You can suppose just about anything based on what evidence ISN'T there. 

Where I disagree with you and Tom is in my ability to segregate story and gameplay. To you guys, the character is defined by your actions as a gamer. This works for me in RPGs like Mass Effect, Witcher, KOTOR, Dragon Age and other RPGs with morality systems. 

But for games like TR or TLOU, the character is defined by the scripted dialogs and cutscenes. Anything you do in gameplay doesn't count. This is how I see it. Otherwise everyone has a very different interpretation of the same character. 


In the case of silent protagonists like Gordon or Link, which have few cutscenes where you lack control, nothing can be concluded about the character at all. If the game designers didn't give them any character, they don't have any. What you have is pure gameplay.


So in TR, when I get my first weapon and become a world class sharpshooter immediately, I simply see that as not canon, and a liberty of game design that you have to forgive. The real Lara at that point is still the frightened and vulnerable girl who hasn't come to terms with the situation she's been thrust into yet. Not the alpha predator of headshot island (who the natives fear more than she fears the natives) as Gametrailers describes her as. You guys see her as sadistic and enjoying slaughter because that's how you played her. I don't see it that way, and I played her much the same as you.