A Body of Work

Be Warned: Spoilers ahoy!

Writing about Playing Rise of the Tomb Raider pt. 3

Another Kind Of Regatta
At the end of last week’s session, I discovered how to give Lara a different outfit. Off came her practical red expedition jacket to be replaced with a grey henley, a light pull-over and vest combo.

On the plus side, the skin-tight henley shows Lara’s figure off perfectly. On the minus, if the game cared one iota about the influence of the weather on Lara she would probably freeze to death before meeting any more Trinity soldiers. As we established last week that the cold has no effect on her, however, the pull-over was pulled on, and on we went with the game.

Figure It Out
Today’s session began in an old Soviet installation, now being used by Trinity in their search for the Divine Source (aka the object or thing that confers immortality).

As Lara progressed through the installation, she killed her enemies with bullet and arrow and, occasionally, by sneaking up behind them and choking the soldiers to death with her bow.

Rise of the Tomb Raider represents Lara Croft as a slightly built woman. She is rather small and her body slender. That got me wondering as to whether it would really be possible for her to kill those soldiers by use of her body strength alone.

Yes, she would have the element of surprise to begin with but it would only take a fraction of a second for them to respond to what was happening, and it takes longer than that for Lara to kill them.

The question is an interesting one but probably also irrelevant on the grounds that the game misrepresents Lara’s appearance. It does this by not showing her as a muscular person, which the ‘real’ Lara Croft would surely need to be in order to all the climbing, running, and one-on-one assassinations that she does.  It isn’t only Lara’s bust that has been toned down in the reboot series.

Signs of the Times
As Lara sneaked and shot her way through the installation, she came across a particular type of Soviet insignia on various walls. In the context of the game, this insignia is the means by which Lara improves her Russian language skills so that she can read more important texts whenever they appear. She reads whatever is on the insignia and her language level goes up.

To make the process of learning that skill more interesting, the insignia contains little insights into Soviet life. So, for example, this morning she found one that praised Russian cosmonauts. This again got me wondering – would real insignia ever have contained text? I think they would have just shown the hammer and sickle. That aside, the insignia are a nice touch, and as atmosphere and human relations are something that this game continues to struggle with (see last week’s post for more) I’ll take whatever morsels it throws at me.

An accent on the Past
When Lara came to the end of a particular area, she got to stop for a few minutes at a camp site while I looked to see if I could upgrade her skills or weapons. While I did this, I was accompanied by Lara’s father, Richard Croft, speaking (in terms of the game’s narrative, Lara is listening to him while she rests at the camp).

I don’t know what year Rise of the Tomb Raider is set in but I assume it is contemporary. But Richard Croft has the kind of plummy upper class accent that I associate with pre-war England rather than the increasingly middle-class one that emerged after the war.

Lest it be thought otherwise, his accent did not get in the way of me appreciating what he was saying, or the character in general. I suspect I am guilty of regarding it from a 2016 perspective rather than first asking myself ‘How did men of his generation and social class speak? Let’s find out’.

Quick Notes

  • As mentioned above, the game still feels a bit devoid of atmosphere; I have to say, though, I didn’t feel it like I did last week – perhaps because the battle scenes were very tense and occupied a lot of my feelings even if not time
  • Lara met another native! A man this time. He kindly gave her a mission of destroying radio receivers. This brought back happy memories of climbing the radio mast in Tomb Raider 2013
  • It is one thing to find a bottle to throw in order to distract soldiers but remembering to use it in a battle situation is quite another!
  • What happened to the Prophet? No mention of him at all this week. The Soviet Union dominated
  • I mentioned religion in my first RotTR post, here is a very good article on how it figures in the game. I don’t agree with everything the author says about real life religion (e.g. “Religions, love them or hate them, exist because they fulfill (or try to fulfill) emotional needs.” Not necessarily. They also exist because their adherents believe in the truth of what they teach. That, at any rate, is why I am a Catholic. And,”In reality, belief systems are changeable things that people alter to suit their personal or societal needs.” This statement would be better, and more accurately, expressed if the writer had begun ‘According to secular belief’.) however, he is excellent when discussing the game.

Playing & Writing about
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Part One
Part Two

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