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OK… my previous post of what could turn into a 15 part blog entry, I was suffering from psychological stress at Lara being killed in what I felt was one of numerously unnecessarily realistic ways.

Well, I really wanted to continue and Hurrah!, I managed to get past the whole bullet in the eye incident (after another 10 times and a handful of diazepam) and continue on. Now of course I’m in exactly the same situation with a wolf in a cave, but I’m guessing this is the way the game is going to be.

But I have at long last and after a bit of research into game creation jargon, I have discovered the reason.

QTE…thats quick time event (QTE)  which is a method of context-sensitive gameplay in which the player performs actions on the control device shortly after the appearance of an on-screen prompt.

For those of you not sporting a long beard and grey hair, its first great success in the computer games world was a game called Dragons Lair, dragonslairtrilogywiiannouncewhich was seen in games arcades around the turn of the century, usually surrounded by a gangs of strapping men in top hats and red uniforms with shiny brass buttons shouting left, right, left, LEFT, RIGHT! Oh damned shame old chap.’

It wasn’t really a computer game par se, but an interactive movie that by pressing the right buttons at the right time when prompted, and injecting a suitable amount of coinage into the slot, you progressed through a disney-like movie following the intrepid main character on his quest to…well…you know…to…oh, I don’t know, it took me so long that by the time I had reached half way through I’d actually grown too old for games arcades, and besides home PC’s had come along so really getting stoned and playing ELITE all night was infinitely more enjoyable and a damned sight cheaper.

The general aim and technique of QTE’s hasn’t really progressed from those days to be honest, except that the graphics have got better. Its a way of sucking you into the gaming world, whether its a movie or an animation. People even tried to do it with porn with the obvious outcome. The main outcome, as it was, and as it is, is what I ended up feeling in my first post, besides nauseous at times. Frustrated! (Probably the starting point and ultimate outcome of the porn QTE version too)

You see, if you don’t hit the button at the right time, you’re fucked. Likewise, if your computer or console doesn’t register the key stroke or button press, you’re fucked. Personally the latter is more annoying, because not pressing the button at the right time is the players fault, while the latter depends totally on the machine, which I’m sure in the history of computer gaming has resulted in both broken keyboards and controllers, either from repeated pounding, (“mashing”), or the player ending up so pissed off that they throw the offending machine out of the window or across the room.

Its a fatal flaw in gaming.

Now TR has been criticized for being too much QTE, and removing control (known as “playing”) from the player, and this is fair enough though I spent my pocket money for at least 4 years on Dragons Den, so I guess I’m not really bothered. But the real bug bear is as noted in my previous blog, the life or death sequences being down purely to QTE. OK, it could be said that the whole franchise has been reliant on moment initiated keyboard strokes to a certain extent, and was followed by numerous other bastard offspring of this original idea (Prince of Persia I’m looking at you here.) But they had a certain player role and often weren’t fatal. In TR2013, its endgame-reload screen stuff, which can be summed up in one word – SIGH!

That wolf has killed me today now 21 times. I decided to count them when I came home from work. I thought I’d persevere, but inevitably got to the point that I thought ‘I’ve been whacking the hell out of my keyboard for ages now, when I could be doing something more productive.’ So I had a nap for a few hours.

I get this feeling from GTA’s games because in the end you always come up against a mission that is a bloody nightmare and requires you to remap your keyboard until you might get it right, which for me is about 5 mins after I’ve uninstalled the game! In the 21 times I tried without success to kick a wolf in the leg today, I remapped my keyboard 5 times.

A computer game shouldn’t make you do this. The challenge should be in the game itself, not the setup.

Which is sad for a game with such a enthralling narrative, emotive level of characterization and sheer rugged graphic beauty like Tomb Raider.

Its like an American coming home with a beautiful new pistol, all shiny, clean and nickel plated with an oiled wooden grip, the wood grain itself a piece of art, and shooting himself in the foot the first time he loads it.



One Comment

  1. Just an update on my TR2013 experience….
    I uninstalled it, and condemned it to my collection of games I spent almost £30 on and never completed because I got to a point where the experience simply wasn’t worth the hassle the game gave me, like LA Noir, Jonathan Wake, Assassins Creed 1 & 2 and every Grand Theft Auto game. The utter shame is that all these games are beautiful, often innovative and for a time enthralling. But all these flawed and frustrating masterpieces can’t hold a stick to things like Stalker Clear Sky, Farcry 1, 2 & 3, Deus Ex (both the original and Human Revolution) and my favourite game ever produced, Skyrim, for playability (and replayability), freedom of choice, sheer enjoyment factor and absorption into the games world. Maybe I am just a FPS nut, but hey.
    One day, the makers of Tomb Raider will sit back and think to themselves, hey, wouldn’t it be great to make a sandbox Tomb Raider game. Until then, despite the touching character development of TR2013, I think Farcry 3, despite its comparably limited characterization, gives you more of everything else, from player freedom to appropriately placed story involvement.

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