Excited about Rise of the Tomb Raider!

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To capture facial performance now they have a mo-cap spray or something that picks up like seventeen thousand points of reference? That’s amazey

You’ve probably heard me play at self-deprecation on the podcast, but there’s hard evidence behind any claim to self-loathing: in my case, I’ve been noticing that a lot of my opinions regarding media are so twisted and opposite (ask me about the resented True Detective Season 2 or your beloved Bojack Horseman), and so when I’m positive about something everybody’s excited about, I still manage to coat my excitement in vindictive ire. I’m one bridge short of trolling up the joint…

But before we get there, some background. I was instantly fascinated by Tomb Raider the moment I laid eyes on Crystal Dynamics’ 2013 reboot. Aside from cool cover art for Underworld, the franchise never really meant anything. But I wanted to play the new one really bad, and ended up holding off for a while because I felt it would’ve just been candy, like of course you’ll enjoy that game, play something you’re obligated to play because of genre, like Ghost Recon: Future Soldier or Deus Ex: Human Revolution

I played those and enjoyed them to the extent I did (Ghost Recon was such a hand-holder, no amount of Steve Blum could save it), but Tomb Raider was a fun adventure game where you get to actually play a female character. That’s a foolproof baseline for some fun. Now, this female character may have a suspicious history, but her sexiness has been updated — the creators still clearly want you to be attracted to her, but I think it’s more about her personality than her appearance. And yes, I say that primarily because she wears pants.

But also — apparently she’s 21 in the first game? I find that hard to believe, because I’m 21, at least for the next few days (happy birthday!), and she looks like an adult — or, a real adult. But I guess 21 is legal, so sexualize away.

Not that I’m one to claim I’m above that scene. I may not be the worst of the worst, but a big part of why I’m so excited for this new game is because this new Lara Croft really is hawt. She had some cool moves in the last game, and was a damn good shot with that bow, but in this one she’s a fucking ninja. She’s all up in the trees, she’s grabbing people out of the water like a crocodile and breaking their necks underwater…

I want to play that character really bad. As was chatted about in one of the endless Mass Effect podcasts (the second of two, I believe), being able to play Shepard meant I could really maximize a character type who is rare in media: female action hero. Shepard could pull robots over cover and punch them to death, and now Lara Croft has some seriously cruel techniques at her disposal.

I’m watching these gameplay demonstrations, just enraptured, and then I see these sourbutts in the comments crying that back in the day shit — ‘they made Lara Croft generic!’ ‘She’s like a psycho-killer now!’ It seems that she used to be more about exploration (raiding), and less about brutalizing every nutsack-toting humanoid in sight.

That’s cool. But I object to the sentiment that the new Lara is unacceptable for 3 reasons:

  1. This new Lara looks like the greatest. I want to be her best friend.
  1. ‘Generic,’ which is one of the words I saw, is absolute steam and you fucking know it. When I hear these criticisms, I don’t know what to make of them because they’re coming from two places. If you’re just P-Other-M-S’ing on this (though Federation Force is the more apt reference), nostalgic for a shorter-short era and sex over violence, that’s cool, but if you’re a jerkhole who doesn’t think a girl can be like Marcus Fenix or Nathan Drake or InFamous or any other third-person shooter guy, shut the hell up! Which be you? Because that’s basically what it is — if Lara Croft is one too many to fit into that club, she’s an outlier for a reason other than quantity. Because you’ll take the next guy sure as rain.
  1. You jerkholes have had like a dozen Tomb Raider games before the 2013 reboot. And I’m sure she’ll be raiding more in this one (one of the loudest criticisms of the first was that the tombs were all optional), but now the action is more engaging and realistic than ‘do a backflip while firing two pistols at wolves/dinosaurs.’

Look, you can’t blame this all on Uncharted. Finishers and violent stealth are the way of the world (also, Dishonored 2 hype-hype-hype), and we just have to be thankful that Rise of the Tomb Raider is slimming down on QTE. Thank God. I played that game on the PC — the only game I ever played on the PC — and so I watched her get skewered on that pole in the river like fifteen times. Then I played it on the Xbox and I didn’t see it once… But either way — those were dumb, don’t be dumb.

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Forest ninja! I’m sorry — kunoichi

So, if you’ve made it to the end of this post and your monitor is free of tomato splat, let me regale you with some personal stories.

Rise of the Tomb Raider, in iterating on a game I enjoyed immensely, is at this juncture the most exciting media property imaginable. I mean, Jurassic World has come and gone (I want to see that again so badly), I’m definitely excited for Metal Gear Solid V, but this game feels like a gathering of everything I’ve enjoyed about media, pieces of which have historically been separate and fucked up in themselves.

Women never get to be this physically violent, and while new Lara is vulnerable and a survivor, as opposed to the iron giants I’m actually looking for, those stealth kills make up for it. They’re a unique brand, and they’re pretty baller (I won’t hold my breath for a Doomgirl who practices the kind of brutality like the new Doom).

It’s kind of like how the movie You’re Next slots in pretty nicely as ‘clever little thriller’ for most, but is like my Bible. Am I cracking up, or is that shit really non-existent in film and TV? And in video-games? Don’t even.

There are so many reasons why this Lara Clobberella is important — for the stock reasons I run through every episode of the podcast: she’ll destigmatize physical female strength (the foundation of all strength, because we’re still animals), because she’s a rare approach to a popular platform that’s been mired in a single pattern forever, because now girls can play a girl in one of these games that’s more than 8-bit and in a browser…

But the most powerful reason is the emotional one. I have the most fun when the game is appealing to all senses, right? If the gameplay is fun (which it is), and if the character is engaging, even in place of characterization by the new standards of cable television, then that’s a head-and-shoulders above the competition. Now, I can’t tell you exactly why I prefer playing women characters (that’s a can’t, not a won’t), but I can tell you a good reason as refutation to those who don’t:

I get that identifying is important, and not thinking of yourself as a gay-o is also important, dude, but don’t you love women? In a purely sexual way — in that, don’t you love looking at women? Aren’t women more interesting to look at than men? Men are so goddamn boring, you see one in the mirror every morning, you see one on TV every channel you see one every corner you turn everywhere you go holy shit!

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Hunters, Hunted

See? Most people can just be happy about a cool new video-game coming along in a few months (I gotta get this jam on the Xbox 360, because I’m definitely going PS4 when I have the dinero, and I’m not waiting another year after I waited the first one!), but I have to go and make it into a big harangue. I just get so mad sometimes, and then I get insecure. Maybe I’m not better than these centipedes, I’m in fact the other side of the same coin.

I’ve said indefensible things on the podcast about women, and it’s difficult for me to draw the line between the feminist and the sex-starved adolescent. Being into girls who kick ass is a conflict of interest that may very well haunt me to the end of my days. Don’t trust a word I say — just buy this game when it comes out. It does not have my seal of approval.

*sigh*, I could just not publish any of this garbage…

But then you might see me on the street (you won’t) and think I look approachable! On the inside, we’re all scumbags.

I love you, Lara!

*sobs*

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