Monday, March 16, 2015

Interactive Friction: Tomb Raider (2013): Episode 1: Here We Go Again

Welcome everyone, to the new season of Interactive Friction. After talking about it so much during the Far Cry 3 season, we decided to go into more detail by covered the 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider.

I know it's strange to spend so much time discussing font choices and subtitles, but that something that is so commonly done wrong in games that there are not many examples of well done subtitles. The only reason that is a major pet peeve of mine is that it took me a long time to upgrade from SD to HD when I first got my PS3. Because of the way HD gets downgraded, a lot of text became extremely difficult to read on SD television sets. A lot of that frustration can be easily escaped by just making smarter choices in font and presentation.

We also enables TressFX, and honestly it's not that great. When Lara is just running around, then it's okay. However, when she's more active, it's far too bounce-y, to the point where it's distracting and immersion-breaking.

It is also interesting to view this tutorial in contrast to the "parody" tutorial we just went through in the Blood Dragon episode. The game is really good at using these initial gameplay sections to teach you basic mechanics without patronizing you without pointless pop-ups if you have already played it or other games like it before.

One of the throughlines we are going to explore as we advance this series is how similar Far Cry 3 is to Tomb Raider in terms of the overall story arc. However, Tomb Raider handles not only the transition from scared college kid into hardened warrior significantly better than Far Cry 3 does. It is much more believable and Lara earns her character arc much more than Jason Brody does.

For example, in the first episode of Far Cry 3, we had already made a human kill. Though Jason felt bad about it, the game spent almost no time dwelling on it. In that same episode, we were already acquiring weapons and firing them at animals. At this point, the only kill Lara has to her name is a deer, and she's completely broken up about it. While Jason has already started fighting against people, Lara is still in process of getting her bearings and figuring out how to stay alive, making her feel a lot more like a human being than Jason ever really did. Plus, she has the added benefit the player being able to see her face, giving us a better window into how she feels.

We'll talk a bit more about what else Tomb Raider does to make the transition from normal person to warrior more believable, but that will happen as we progress through the game's story.

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