Tomb Raider: A Second Opinion

There's nothing wrong with differing opinions on video games, despite the protests of the gaming community.

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Let's be clear: I'm excited for the new Tomb Raider. When Lara's darker, grittier, and more vulnerable persona was unveiled at this year's E3, it struck a chord. Perhaps it was because I'd been burned by her more recent, less than stellar outings. Or perhaps I was simply trying to eke some kind of excitement out of an E3 press conference that, by any standards, was as dull as dishwater. Regardless of the reasons, when I saw my esteemed GameSpot colleague Laura Parker had written up her thoughts on a demo of the game, I--like many Tomb Raider fans--was very keen to read it.

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And a great preview it is too, one that makes some fine points about the hype surrounding the believability of Lara's new, more vulnerable persona, or lack thereof. But it's not a preview I entirely agree with; judging by the comments on the piece, many of you didn't either. And you know what? That's a great thing. Opinion, particularly on such a subjective subject matter as games, should be celebrated.

But the sad truth is it's not. We crave reassurance that our favourite franchises are good games that are worth our time and cash, or that a new, heavily hyped IP must be the greatest thing since Mario. And god forbid anyone who dares to challenge the mighty Metacritic average and post a conflicting review score. Mediocrity, it seems, is celebrated throughout the gaming community.

Take this comment from Unstable_Fury:

"This kind of wild speculation and posturing is better suited to the more blog-centric news sites. @Lauren Parker and @Gamespot staff at larger: are you trying to be a legitimate and objective news site or a sensationalist opinion blog? This article isn't worthy of our attention because it seeks our attention (and site traffic). I see it as yet another article in a sea of articles floating around out there trying to capitalize on the controversy K*taku originally started." -- Unstable_Fury

I'm not trying to single out Unstable_Fury with that quote, but it is indicative of how the community at large reacts when an opinion that doesn't agree with its own thrown out there. For the record, no we aren't trying to be a "sensationalist opinion blog", whatever that might be. But we do celebrate opinion. We are, after all, individuals here at GameSpot. Every writer, editor, and video producer, has his or her own tastes that should be shared, and not hidden behind some generic corporate brand.

"We should disagree, and we should call each other out on our opinions, but not at the expense of our own integrity."

I could pull out other comments too, like "Sigh whats up with these terrible editors pushing their own agendas?", or--even worse--comments like "Sorry guys but how can I take an article about a videogame seriously when its done by a woman?". That's not sharing an opinion, that's just being a sexist dick. It's that kind of talk that discourages open, and constructive debate about our favourite games. We should disagree, and we should call each other out on our opinions, but not at the expense of our own integrity.

For the record, having played the same demo as Laura, I really enjoyed it. I liked the bombastic introduction where Lara ordered a hulking great ship and its crew into the unknown. I liked the subsequent crash, and encountering the crazed, bloodthirsty locals for the first time with its nods to Heart Of Darkness. I liked the grim-feeling I got when I hunted a deer, and pulled it apart to retrieve the juicy meat within for survival.

I loved the shooting, with its smooth cover-based mechanics, weighty guns, and gory aftermath that really made you think before pulling the trigger. I loved the environments, which were beautifully detailed and gorgeous to look at. But, most of all, I loved the story. I loved what Crystal Dynamics have tried to do with Lara's character by exposing her delicate beginnings in the world of archeology, and the struggle she faces in killing for survival.

Sure, from what I've played so far, Tomb Raider it isn't a perfect game--nothing is--but I'm still excited. I'm excited even having read Laura 's excellent critical preview. And that's exactly how it should be. We're all different. One man's trash is another man's treasure, after all; the sooner we embrace that, the sooner we can get back to enjoying games and articles, rather than simply bitching about them.

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