Gaming 2013 Catch-Up: Tomb Raider
All right, I’m obviously still shaking off some of the gloom that October had me in. It’s hard, but I’m definitely feeling better now than I did at the end of September, dreading the anniversary’s arrival and at the beginning of October feeling like it had happened all over again. I went quiet for the summer, however, that was due to me working 24/7 at my usual amazing summer camp and it being the usual combination of stress and elation. I did play games, though! May was rougher than the rest because my coworkers weren’t there yet and being alone in a place that my brother had previously worked with me every summer had a lot of baggage that came with it: sometimes good, sometimes bad, and either way exhausting.
Right before I headed to camp though, I had finished up my playthrough of the new Tomb Raider which I both wanted to try because I’d heard a lot of good things (despite the controversy) and because it’s a franchise that’s near and dear to my heart even if I was always too chicken to ever really play most of Lara Croft’s games. My parents had a sort of tradition of getting Ross and I a computer game on our birthday, and then another on Christmas (but god forbid we have a gaming console oh ho ho ho) – Tomb Raider I particularly remember because it was one of my first… “darker” games, I guess you could call it? We played educational games like Treasure Mountain, and we played Star Wars games or Wing Commander or Indy racing, but when I held this weirdly shaped box in my hand it was a game that could be scary.
And it was, to me. I saw that you could run into a T-Rex on the back of the box and then proceeded to never get past the first level on my own because I was determined that I would run into that damn dinosaur and I was terrified. But I played the hell out of the training rooms, and I remember Ross and I watching each other play, and cracking up at how we could make Lara swan dive from incredible height only to make her then break her neck because we accidentally (or maybe purposely) missed the pool. And we played that first level over and over once we knew what to do because the worst there was there were wolves and bats. I could handle that. And on level two when we first swan dived off that super tall waterfall and were so close to missing the water at the bottom that Lara screamed I thought we were going to lose it we were laughing so hard. We tried to recreate that over and over for my neighbor who would come over and play but we never quite could. But we BOTH heard it so we KNEW we weren’t imagining things.
Since my birthday is in the summer and this was back when my mom was obsessed with having healthy and productive summers off, we were taking bike rides with the neighbor boys (essentially adopted brothers by then as we were to their family) every morning on the path along the golf course near our house. We’d ride to the end and back while our moms walked and talked. The best part was when we got back to the house well before our moms were done, so we had the free time to have some lemonade and then game. This became a standard. Danny who was two years younger than I was, was way braver than I, and I’m not sure Ross genuinely had the coordination yet (or maybe he was scared too and just didn’t say so), so we’d all crowd around and watch him play the levels I was too chicken to continue. He did eventually get through the whole game, and I felt like I had legitimately participated and helped, but that game was important to me for one BIG reason, and that was that by default, you were a female character. Yes she had huge boobs and was the source of boners ’round the globe for fanboys, but I didn’t care, it was the first game I think I ever played where if you were allowed to be female, you actually SAW the main character. Any others were first person space sims or extremely androgynous kids with caps on so you couldn’t see their faces. No one blatantly and visibly female. Rebel Assault let me actually choose female and then they said she sometimes instead of he, but that was as close as I’d gotten by then. I remember my parents saying that’s why they’d gotten it for me too. I was ecstatic. Not so much so that I wasted money on the rest of the games when I found out I wasn’t going to get the guts up to play beyond level one, but I have a special place in my heart for Lara anyway.
The reboot? Is fantastic. And not even too scary for me to play! (Skyrim’s dungeons give me the shivers, so this is still a valid concern.) The controls are super smooth, and I’d say the one downside is it’s a very short, very linear game to pay the initial full price for, but I loved the story, I loved that they showed how Lara became badass without… completely putting her through a bunch of tropey experiences (there’s some, but I didn’t think it detracted from her character) and I know some were worried that since it’s an “origin” story of sorts they strip her of all her awesomeness to build upon – I didn’t think so. Physically and even mentally she’s still pretty hardcore from the start. I don’t mind seeing her having to learn how to kill a guy and that not being an easy thing to do the first time.
Anyway, old news for anyone current with games, but I did really love it, and it was fun playing a game that also made remember creeping around in pixelated tombs, thinking that T-Rex would be around every corner. Even if you never encountered it until like 10 levels into the damn game. To go with my playing catch-up on my gaming exploits, I’ve updated my Gaming To-Do page. I’m currently working on my bastard playthroughs of both Dragon Age: Origins, and DAII (while forever poking around in WoW, SWTOR, and GW2). It works out nicely that playing the game like a raging psychopath is both honoring how Ross always played things first and very nicely filling out all my incomplete achievements. When growing up one reason I never bothered to force myself to be an asshole to see the other side to the stories was because Ross would do it for me, and I just saw the story vicariously through him. Sort of like how I “played” Tomb Raider through Danny. I miss that.