The Game Boy: Of Tomb Raider and “Torture Porn”

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Morpheus22

This game is on my list to buy! It looks very good with the little footage there is currently and it also looks to have a replayability value.

I've always liked the TR series as a favorite.

 

Also, concerning the emotionalism in the game, This new type of gaming has been in the works and discussed for years now. I don't remember the specifics, but I'm sure someone else can spill the beans.

 

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naxself

I get PO'd at games that don't let me save where I want (i.e., L4D 2) because that means I have to go back and re-do everything. That doesn't add to the tension (well, it might, the first time or 2), it only makes me mad.

The column's point, I think, is that characters should have some vulnerability. I agree with that, but it's a fine line between vulnerability and massive, DRM-level annoyance/anger. For something like Tomb Raider or Call of Duty (kudos to whoever mentioned the nuke scene in MW), vulnerability works because the character is human, and humans are frail. Characters should be able to get hurt, and it should take some time to heal. It does help immerse the player into the world.

But there's a danger, as I mentioned above. One of the ways to enhance the feeling of danger is to have automatic save points. I don't like that; it artificially adds to the play time and annoys the f*** out of me. There's no problem with saving whenever you want because, as a gamer, much like moviegoers, we have to be willing to suspend our disbelief to play games. That's what developers should be using: create a believable world with believable characters and this issue will be resolved, even without seeing Lara Croft pull herself off of a spike.

The idea that death is like the Family Guy character (sometimes, you know, everyone needs a vacation) is wrong. In the games under consideration here, the idea that you are in mortal danger is important, but it's also a two-way street. Developers need to make compelling environments and characters you're attached to while games need to be willing to invest in said environments or characters. Sometimes, you are Rambo; other times, you're not. It's up to the developer to decide what game they want to make and create characters and environments that enhance their ideas.

Good article, BTW. I like it when MPC branches out beyond 300-word previews.

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DDRDiesel

Everyone has their perfect game scenario, and for me, it was Resident Evil 4.  Easily a game I consider to be one of the best, especially on Gamecube.

 

While playing through for the first time, I got so wrapped up in the game, that I lost track of time.  It turns out that by the time I had to insert the second disc and continue the story, it was 2:30 AM.  The lights were out, the night sky was as dark as an unlit basement, and the house was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.  Downstairs.  I didn't care, however; I needed to keep pushing.  I needed to save Ashley.  I needed to find that dirtbag Saddler and avenge the death of Sera.  And by God, if I wasn't able to do that, then I was going to die trying.

I arrived on a tiny island that looks like an old abandoned military facility, like something our Afghan friends could have been envious of.  Nothing too high-tech, but still imposing.  All was quiet, so I decide to be cautious and take the stealthy route anyway.  I go around a damaged building on the right, and notice a Ganados soldier hanging out in the next room.  Quietly, I take him out with my knife.  Oops, that didn't go as planned.  He screams as he goes down, which triggers the guards.  Now, they weren't much of a hassle.  A small gunfight here and there, no problem.  But then the big one came by.  Yeah, him.  Huge motherfucker carrying a chaingun.  Seriously, WTF is this?!  Even zombies shouldn't have this kind of ungodly strength.  I go up a ladder, he doesn't even bother climbing, just jumps right up and meets me face-to-gun on the roof.  Ok, I've got to get away from this thing.  I run down the ladder again, now running around the complex, jumping and leaping over broken walls, dead bodies, discarded weapons, you name it.  Sweat dripping from my forehead, I run around the corner of a nearby guard tower to collect my thoughts and reload my weapons.  While reloading, I realized I had one weapon I haven't even touched since I left the mainland.  The rifle.  Yeah, that one.  The sniper rifle I just upgraded from the merchant for higher power and the ability to take the fleas off a dog's back at 500 yards.  With little ammo left, I couldn't risk missing the shot, so I had to plan it out carefully.  I waited for the giant with the chaingun to walk away, something he didn't do often.  As soon as he turns, I make my move.  Quickly, I take out my rifle and line up the shot with the back of his bald head.  As I squeeze the trigger, I feel the hammer of the gun slam down on the back of the cartridge, igniting the powder, and firing the round straight out of the barrel.  It could not have been more perfect.  I watch the round, as if time itself had slowed down, pierce the back of the soldier's skull (At least, what was left of it, thanks to Las Plagas), out of his face, and down he went.  I checked to make sure that what was in front of me was really a corpse, and fired a second shot right below where the first one landed with my pistol just to be sure.  He was down, the area was clear, and the door finally opened, but I wasn't done yet.

After clearing several more rooms with only a couple of guards each, I come across an old abandoned area that appeared to be a kitchen.  After all, it had to be.  There was a stove in the corner, a sink right next to it with shanks of meat hanging from the ceiling.  No ordinary steaks, though.  Rotting, stinking flesh from the bodies of the human victims.  These are no ordinary enemies I'm up against, but animals.  How can anyone seriously eat this?  As I turn away from the hanging meat, I realize something is very wrong.  It's quiet.  Throughout my entire excursion, the one thing I've never had was quiet.  What's going on around here?  Just to be cautious, I pull out the shotgun, lock and load, and move on.  And that's when it happened.

BOOM!  A burning figure explodes out of the standing furnace like an M80 and screams, heading straight for me.  With arms extended, a limping dash, and a severe case of slackjaw, this was a perfect zombie.  Scrambling for my gun, I take the utmost haste in placing the stock against my shoulder, line up the barrel practically in the gaping oral cavity of my attacker, and pull the trigger, blowing his Knight Rider ripoff head clean off his shoulders.  As I watched the smoldering corpse crumble to the ground, I took a minute to collect myself, and make sure there were no more surprises in that room, before eventually heading to the nearest save point and shutting down.

 

Keep in mind that this was in the wee hours of the morning, with my entire family fast asleep.  When that burning body came out of the furnace, it was the perfect setup.  It was dark, quiet, and I was so into the game I felt like I was there.  I felt like I was Leon Kennedy, fighting to save the President's daughter from a cult of disease-ridden zealots.  I don't need any fancy words to tell you how I reacted to that.  I screamed.  Like a school girl walking alone in the middle of the night, I screamed.  I jumped off the edge of my bed with such height, an Olympic Pole Vaulter would have been jealous.  And you know what?  I'm proud to admit that.  I'm proud to admit that there are games that aren't the usual generic pieces of software that follow the same predictable storylines.  Yes, there was a game back in the day that made me squeal in sheer fright, because it was believable.  And I wish there more games now that did that.

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TerribleToaster

 

Know what always got me?

Lode Runner (at least the original).

You really only have one skill and it can't be used in a directly offensive manner.

If you make a single mistake, you die, and at the later levels you have no idea what you need to do without some exploring first. The AI of the guards (who will one hit kill you if they catch you, and can climb out of the holes you make) makes them move in completely weird patterns (at one point they are moving right at you only to stop and turn around and stand there for no reason).

The whole thing made you feel very powerless and the small amount of chaos from the guards made you appreciate it.

 

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Raswan

I wanted to take this article to the cleaners after paragraph one. Halfway through, I was going to give you props but still disagree. By the end, you completely changed my mind. Touche Nathan. Touche.

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Pandesal

Excellent article. That feeling of vulnerablity is what makes some games especially memorable. Rather than some games that put you in the role of 'lol ur the greatest solder out there and you have to fight off waves of enemies on your own; here's your overpowered weapons', I like those moments where you feel like you're losing - bonus points if your character isn't alone - only to at the last moment prevail. It makes winning that much sweeter.

 

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Pentium 0

Agree. And this is also why dragonball and dbz were/are incredible shows. As others have said, Cod4 had some moments and MW2 had a few such scenes like when shephard killed ghost and you see the whole thing through his eyes, not to mention the end scene. Crysis 2 had its moments but I didnt really feel for Alcatraz because he never talked and you dont learn anything about him. Its a shame that this sort of thing is done well in movies that have such a time constraint to develop attachment to characters and fails in games which have all the time in the world. 

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jedisamurai

And that is why I will never play the new Tomb Raider. They took an icon of gaming and turned it into another excuse to abuse women for "entertainment".

Video games are SUPPOSED to be about empowerment. Regarding that change I feel the same way I do about the new James Bond...why did you take the gadget using super spy that I loved and replace him with ultra-violent VULNERABILITY?

Garbage.

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big_montana

So, if Tomb Raider's main character was a man rather then a woman, you would be ok then with the games premise? Hypocrite if you are, and you totally miss the point, being that humans are not invulnerable, and gaming is for entertainment and hopefully you take something else away from the experience as well.

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praack

not sure if that was the point- I thinkthe sumarai one is  a bit upset that as usual the women protaganist is where the vulnarability comes through.

Lara gained Kudo's for being a strong female role in a world of male dominiated IP. now we have a new direction with the reboot- looks like a good one- but on the other hand, if pulled off incorrectly it will display females as weak, unable to fend for themselves etc- all the things that in male IP such as MW, COD and others the male protaganist is always on top of the game.

for myself- I only have two concerns- what will Lara be portrayed toward the end of the game - as a new sword forged in the crucible ? Also concerned about the amount of "pain/torture/vulnerability" as you state - this is entertainment- I tend not to want reality anymore....

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lindethier

I agree with this.

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Gezzer

Put me in the totally agree column.

I find that in a lot of current games you have a high level of investment in your on screen persona. But very little feeling of impending danger of losing all you've invested.

Yeah it sucks when you lose a character or a portion of their development you've spent hours playing. But it sure makes you appreciate them more.

I think the story that most illustrates this for me is while playing the first Majesty. A hero would reach a very high level, then for some reason decide it was going to solo a spawn that was way too high for it. So there I'd be trying to distract with explore or battle reward flags to no avail, then realize it was the spawn or nothing. So I'd hit a reward flag on the spawn and try to attract more heroes to the fight. I swear I'd sometimes be yelling at the screen as I tried to prevent the hero's death.

Majesty 2's grave yard, even being a PITA spawn, made hero death a minor problem which was good I guess. I have to say though I really got into Majesty, a lot more then the second one.

I think that a lot of developers and publishers don't want to make a game that's too frustrating for the majority of players. But some times that frustration is what makes the game more compelling and therefore more addicting as well. The problem is there is good frustrations which can be fun, but bad frustration simply kills any potential enjoyment. I guess it's a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

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Ghok

Hmm, maybe that's something I liked about Far Cry 2. It was kind of jarring to be reminded you were sick and needed to get some medication.

Also, I think it's easy (and perhaps reasonable) to be a little cynical regarding the portrayal of Laura Croft, given the history.

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SleepyCatChris

"Find out why after the break."

 

OT, but why do you guys keep putting sentences like this in your articles? There is no break or "jump", even on the RSS feed on iGoogle.

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ABouman

However, there IS a break or "jump" if you're viewing articles on our home page, where the initial or "teaser" view of the article usually contains only the first few paragraphs.

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Marthian

There was kind of some of this in Crysis 2, there was quite a few scenes of life or death, and also not being able to withstand the weight of the suit. I still remember the Defibrilator to try and stay alive.

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Maktaka

Totally agree.

What was the part everyone remembers in CoD4:MW? Was it taking down that chopper with a stinger missile which was conveniently hardcoded to always fail on the first shot? Or that one mission where you shot some dudes in the buildings? Or was it when you regain consciousness in a crashed helicopter, crawled past the bodies of fellow digital soldiers, and look up to see that giant mushroom cloud, realizing you are a weak, broken vessel all alone in the land of the dead?

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