Life issues and gaming

Originally posted 2016-08-16 12:00:24.

It has been and continues to be a busy month. Not all of it has been good. I was told on the 1st that I should prepare for the death of my mother. She died during the night. While I am obviously upset it was not unexpected. She suffered from Dementia and had long ceased to be the woman I recognized as my mother. I feel a little guilty that I am not as grief stricken as I thought I would be but the reality of the funeral is still to come. Added to this is the second of my cataract operations towards the end of the month

At any rate life goes on and writing, like gaming, helps. I have been playing ‘Tomb Raider’ on the XBOX360 (The last one before the release of the XBOX one.).

Image result for Tomb Raider 2013

I had been dubious about a game with a female protagonist, not for any misogyny on my part but because I had assumed that this would be an attempt to woo more ladies to gaming and thus would be oriented more to a female perspective.  As it turned out this was not an issue but I didn’t enjoy the game for many reasons.

Firstly there was the gameplay. I enjoy being able to think about a situation and work out the best of several options. If you are to win a battle there should be several ways to do it. This game was very linear, the path was defined for you, no deviation was available. All too often you were simply thrown into a cut scene. These often led to situations where you merely had to move the left stick and push buttons. There were collectibles and challenges but you were thrown from one part of the story to the next and you often missed these opportunities. There was fast travel at camps but, in all honesty, it was way to much trouble to go back just to complete challenges that were ‘Destroy 5 of these’ or ‘Collect 5 of these’

Then, just when you got used to pushing the odd button and killing one or two enemies, there were insane firefights where the programmers totally overwhelmed you with 20 or 30 almost indestructible enemies. This was my main issue with this game.

1 This is set on an Island which is totally isolated from civilisation. The inhabitants have been marooned there for years, some for centuries (Implied). There are Japanese Samurai and I can’t speak for them (I assume their Japanese was acceptable for the period!) but there is only 1 Brit in the role of a main character and the rest are American. That isn’t the problem, my issue is that these people, supposedly isolated, have dialogue that would be more at home in a modern Hollywood film. The speech is littered with vernacular modern Americanisms. Hearing a character shout in a mid western drawl ‘Good work brothers, she’s down.’ Does not seem realistic in context.

2 When you ‘Die’ the game goes back to the last checkpoint and you analyse your attempts so far. Then you ready yourself to try again and…….you have been taken to the next section. This happened two or three times and reminded you this was essentially a computer program. Sloppy programming there?

3 Supposedly tough opponents who will happily survive anything you throw at them with guns and arrows can be taken out, if you get close, with two blows from a simple hand axe.

4. You fight in a tight area where there are no options apart from hiding behind obvious barriers. The AI enemies can drop a stick of dynamite, with pinpoint accuracy, from vast distances. You can sometimes hide and do nothing but soon 5 or more of the enemy will find you within seconds.

Added to this most of Lara’s friends get killed because of her decisions (Over which there is no control from the player. More cut scenes.) and you begin to lose sympathy for her and suspension of disbelief goes out of the window. It becomes more like the interactive DVD films of the 80’s, requiring minimal input from the player and most of the story being provided by long cut scenes.

I will finish the game but I really didn’t engage with it. Given the depth of some games in which the world is well written this tiny island, where you revisit several places again and again, is not realistic. Apart from the firefights, which at least offer a little challenge, the story requires the player to do little. I sat there at one point watching a 10 minute cut scene which merely established where Lara would be going next.

You do find more background story littered around, in the form of diaries from various characters. A traitor is exposed in this way but by the time you find it he has been exposed in the main story anyway.

All in all I haven’t enjoyed this game. I am resolved to play games to the end now but this is more a job than a pleasure with Tomb Raider. I am on the last boss fight and can’t wait to finish and revisit Bioshock or Assassins creed 2. Now that was a well written game.