Rise of the Tomb Raider Feels Like A Second Origin Story

Yahtzee Croshaw

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Rise of the Tomb Raider Feels Like A Second Origin Story

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

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Johnny Novgorod

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

... loses her mentor/father figure as well as the two boring white ponces from the crew (coincidentally named "Whitman" [white man] and "Weiss" [white, in German]) while siding with the tough-as-nails ethnically diverse survivalists Reyes (who is black), Jonah (who is Samoan, I think) and Samantha (who is of Asian extraction). Talk about subtlety!
 
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Instead of an argument about female writers in games (or, bizarrely, racism if Johnny has his say), can we talk about how Rhianna Pratchett is in charge of her father Terry's legacy? Word is that she will leave the Discworld series alone after publishing this last book, but she's also been involved in multiple TV adaptations of the material. I hope she sticks to video games and leaves Discworld alone.

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

Casual Shinji

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

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

maximalist566

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

remnant_phoenix

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

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

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

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

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

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

remnant_phoenix

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

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

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

There's no accounting for taste, I suppose.
 

remnant_phoenix

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slo said:
remnant_phoenix said:
For example, if my kids were the captives in Far Cry 3, and I was Jason Brody in Far Cry 3, and I had to do what Jason Brody does in Far Cry 3 to save them.
If Far Cry 3 was about captives, It would end in about 1/3 in.
Oops! I'm exposed... I'm currently playing through the game for the first time and I'm not very far in.

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

springheeljack

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

Shannon Spencer Fox

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

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

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

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

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

The Purple Grape

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

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

Infernai

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springheeljack said:
You know I just wish there were more female killers in fiction. Women that are just cold blooded killers that are driven by lust or revenge. Men have gotten that role for too long.
You'll love Drakengard 3 then.
 

Thanatos2k

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Infernai said:
springheeljack said:
You know I just wish there were more female killers in fiction. Women that are just cold blooded killers that are driven by lust or revenge. Men have gotten that role for too long.
You'll love Drakengard 3 then.
Unlikely, because you'd also have to play Drakengard 3.

slo said:
Uhm, if I just add "because the voices are telling me to" after every "I've got to" Lara says, will that fix things somehow?
Maybe it's some kind of meta genius. She "HAS TO" because she's a marionette controlled by a god manipulating her actions with a video game controller. She has no choice, really. She can't go back - there's invisible walls....
 

rgrekejin

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Shannon Spencer Fox said:
(Mind you, the whole deal with the Microsoft exclusivity then happened, and since I don't own an Xbone, nor do I plan to get one, was a rather aggravating blow. But that's another subject.)
You know it's just a timed exclusive, right? It'll be out on PC and PS4 sometime next year.

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

Neurotic Void Melody

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

...

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