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OK, let me say before I get into the reasons why I just can’t go on with this game, like the depiction of Lara in the game itself, its beautiful. The puzzle solving is not tedious and in many cases ingenious and intuitive, with a great use of body weight and flammability in some cases that I was very impressed by. The scenery is spectacular and conveys truly that sense of being stranded in a wilderness of both stunning, but also perilous splendor.
It did remind me a little too much of Far Cry 3 in a bad way, because the idea of being stranded alone somewhere where the inhabitants are brutal and your life is worth nothing to them, is horrific, and something that no doubt exists, but in my travels there has always been a sense of humanity somewhere. Tomb Raider and Far Cry’s antagonists are devoid of that feeling. Now this is good for portraying to the player a sense of the need to survive against the odds, but in general, its not a pleasant experience, and leaves you with a tabloid headline feeling of that the world is a truly horrible place, which lingers after the game is paused.

The portrayal of Lara is exceptional…and that’s the problem.

In the past, she was Lara, but the line between computer character and something real was comfortably blurred. When she died, it worked because of that.lara17
And this leads me to why I can’t play the game.
Lara is too real. So when you screw up, and believe me you will screw up, some of her death scenes become something verging on watching a snuff movie.

Some are OK, the wolves…pah, falling off things, fair enough, but I went through a succession of these incidents up to a sequence with a fight, a scrabble for a pistol and then Lara getting her brains blown out, the bullet appearing to enter her eye!. And it seems that even though I pressed every button I could when prompted, mashing like a mad person, it happened over and over and over and over again. I finally quit the game after the sixth time because I was feeling the strange compulsion to vomit. It was like I was watching something I shouldn’t be watching.

It was horrible.

I can only imagine these grisly deaths occurring throughout the game and I just don’t think I can take it. Its like witnessing one of Ted Bundy’s wank fantasies. A beauty and vulnerable¬† young girl, being killed in an endless parade of horrific ways. Made ever worse by the realism that Lara is defined by during the story. And here is the thing that confused me. To develop a purely fictional character to such an absorbing extent is an achievement in the computer games world. To make her vulnerable, agonized by self doubt, yet an independent and resourceful female character, to make her even more worthy of the iconic status she already held in the games industry is something equally worthy of note and applause. But I personally feel that to gain all this and then taint it with depicting some of her player initiated demises with such almost misogynistic way, may be cinematic and very much like anything you might see in movies, but is it actually necessary? I think it undermines so much that the character development achieved.

Now I am in no way a conservative, but I play games to escape, not be comforted by something you might read in Take a Break. Yes, I played very little of the content, and maybe my experience is a singular lapse in game play, but it put me off. I’m guessing this wasn’t the aim. In the instance noted above, it is notable for the human interaction. In the past, as far as I am aware, Lara’s deaths lacked cinematic presentation as in this game and that’s the difference. To a player, there is a big difference from Lara struggling for breath and then drowning, or being spiked by a trap…even being chewed up by a T Rex. But close up and personal being strangled to death, or shot at point blank range by a male antagonist during a struggle is way too much for my tastes. Obviously I’m sure this is not case in most people, who can happily go through all this without issue. In which case I worry for the human race, but that’s another issue.

I guess from trailers that this is the ultimate origins story and it is here that Lara discovered what an awesome woman she is, but as a bystander to this, I just don’t think I could personally make it out at the end without serious psychological issues or an desensitized attitude to violence towards women.
Would it have harmed the game to have the deaths blanked out, leaving only sound effects? That would surely have been equally cinematic…well, in films other than horror flicks from the 70’s.
Now, these opinions are hard to express because I know the games lead scriptwriter and was of the opinion that she was very good at her job. I now think she is incredibly good at her job, to the point that she created a beloved character more realistic in the hour or so I played the game than any computer game character I’ve played before. The sad side effect of this being as I’ve noted, making it increasingly uncomfortable to play the game to the point that I can’t. So job well done Rhianna, while I question the people who thought, ‘Hey, this character has been brought to life…lets make her die as realistically as possible too.’

I would have loved to take the journey with Lara, but I think I’ll wait and watch the walkthrough’s on YouTube. My sanity and sense of well being will be safer that way.

Or maybe I will just have to wait until I can emotionally afford the bigboy pants and sense of detachment required to continue with the game, though chances are I will end up living that reoccurring nightmare, kick, bite, scrabble scrabble….bang, all over again.

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