Saturday, April 6, 2013

Tomb Raider 2013 - Treasures

Tomb Raider – Finding What Was Once Lost

It is now April 2013, years ago I remember when Toby Gard promised he would never focus on humanity vs violence. It was his “Achilles heel” with the original TR back in the day. I kept up with forums all over, seeing what other gamers perspectives were towards the new redesign of the series. It was then I read what my friend Meagan Marie said about Lara’s new adventure. What captured my attention most is that it was someone I knew taking the helm of representing a treasure in storytelling. My heart just skipped a beat, a lot like BT’s “Movement in Still Life”.

With the inevitable change of control, Crystal Dynamics was actually a part of Square-Enix. Many community members from both sides were horrified, and others were excited. Usually partnerships are never reckoned with fervor. It felt a lot like that regeneration within the series Doctor Who. We know its coming, but we don’t know what to expect when the character finds out his identity is a fresh face, ready to face anything in his way.

I can’t believe it was so many years ago, I read in an EGM that Megan went from being graphic designer, editor, to the new TR team’s liason or PR (I like the credit team liason a bit more, its down to earth, which is who she is.) But Lara? Hmm, no one’s ever dared to rewrite her entire origin story. So a compromise is made, and a certain fantasy author becomes the voice, and they soon represent to the media, and gaming community that it’s a whole new world.

Finally playing a few hours into the new TR, I feel close knit, and sometimes astonished that the story pulls you in, never wanting to let go. It becomes are part of your dreams, as if you want to explore every turn, wondering what’s on the other side. But like all things, there are limitations, some areas can and can’t be crossed. What does irk me, is crossing the line between running and gunning, to also taking a stand against an island full of cultists. At first its about Lara venturing out within uncharted territory, only to find out that her team is no longer alone. But the deeper the grip it becomes on her, it feels like this island is taking place within Konami’s ™ Silent Hill series.

Silent Hill is a sleepy town, lost in fog full of mysteries and lost souls. Where lost dwellers find out their true selves, and the missing part of their life may take theirs. Although TR takes place on a lost island filled with misfits, it actually gets darker seeing how Lara’s personality also begins to change. Beginning to hate herself, and no longer wanting to fight but just get home.
But there is a downside, in the past Toby Gard never favored violence. Like other games taking on a mature state, TR has become a bloody action adventure tale. Sometimes I honestly felt a bit frustrated, where some places you just want to explore and be left alone. Only to hear the sounds of voices, trampling the earth with gunfire, and you have to defend yourself. I forget that this is not the same TR I got into years ago. I understand defiance within storytelling, BBC’s ™ Doctor Who also keeps that design in mind. The Doctor: a traveler only wanting to learn from others, sometimes winds up trapped having to fight others to stay alive.

Reading various gaming forums, not all gamers were happy. Some even put up key words that would make anyone blush. When storytelling has to change with the times, it always meets challenges. I think the developers always took that to heart, knowing that it won’t be everyone’s remarkable chapter in entertainment. But does it cross a line?

Barriers are often crossed with our imagination; Lara Croft is a fictional character that could be anyone in real life. Man or woman, teen or adult, gay or straight. I have been reading Russell T. Davies book about his years with the Doctor Who series. Within the book, it covers discussions of being a storyteller and what obstacles he faces every day. Sharing his ups and downs with very few friends, just to continue exploring what else his mind is capable of. I think that is what Jodi Picoult also had to face with writing the script for TR, it takes a character out of her natural element, only to find out who she has to potential of becoming to be, a human or warrior.

Oddly enough I just popped in Ke$ha’s album in my player, Warrior. Humble theme, but the album is just amazing. Thought it would be fitting to mention within my last paragraph above.

Back on track, this new TR should make people think A) “what if I was here?” , B)“what could I do?” C)“would I run or fight?” Taking the helm of a fictional character and making her feel like a real person. Pain, anguish, fright, or excitement. I even feel bad when I make a bad decision, although I played my rented copy of the game on a 9” mini screen. It still gave me a connection, an emotion of regret for turning left, instead of right. It is truly how a game is meant to be felt with its audience.

I wrote this entry because I could only fit so many words with a review. I have been a TR fan since the beginning and cannot wait to see where these new adventures may go next.

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