Shoot It, Don’t Spray It

Be Warned: Spoilers ahoy!
Writing about Playing Rise of the Tomb Raider pt. 11

Today’s session was action packed. Far too much so for my panicky liking. Lara, however, was up to the challenge and managed to fight her way to the cusp of a potentially exciting new development in the story.

The game started peacefully with me trying to work out how to cross a fast running water course so that Lara could raid the catacombs of sacred waters. This required tying rope to a water-mill post and then firing a rope-arrow into a boat a short distance away. The water-mill then pulled the boat towards it. That, however, was just the beginning. After boarding the vessel, Lara had to quickly shoot another arrow into a rope-post on an island, which – by its unexplained turning – then pulled the boat towards itself. And on the other side of that island, the whole process had to be completed again from the start…

… except that, I eventually reached the tomb on the other side not by firing an arrow into the second boat, but by using the first. I’m sure the game makers’ intention was for the second boat to get me to the other side of the water course but my method worked almost immediately whereas by following the script, so’s to speak, I only got Lara killed multiple times as a result of not being quick enough with my last arrow shot (to a turning rope-post on the water course’s far side) or after falling in the river and being swept away.

What was interesting about the water course is that despite the fast current and the presence of a water fall at its opposite end, when the boats cut loose from the rope-posts, as they invariably did (hence the need for quick second shots), they did not tumble over the water fall but rather, drifted across it to an area of still water. Game logic.

***

Leaving the catacomb, Lara returned briefly to the geothermal valley before heading into an area called the Acropolis. It is here that the rest of the session took place with Lady Croft fighting her way past various bands of Trinity ne’er do wells intent on her destruction.

The first area that she came to was the hardest to negotiate. The Trinity men were well tooled up, had the numbers and didn’t panic like me. Stealth was the name of the game for this one – almost. It got me past the first group of soldiers, but never past the last man in the sector. Once he saw Lara, all hell broke loose.

Not willing to take on the men behind her, I decided that a charge forward was the best policy. So, Lara killed the three or four men nearby with a liberal spray of gunfire, and – before the first group could catch up – ran for dear life – straight into a tunnel, and straight into another band of Trinity evil doers. This could have been very messy. Fortunately, between Lara’s SMG and pump-action shotgun, the nest of vipers was wiped out. A great relief. When Lara ran into them I felt just like Han Solo on the Death Star when he and Chewbacca ran into all those storm troopers.

I am proud to say, however, that unlike Han, Lara didn’t retreat. At least, not this time. Retreating can be a very effective weapon. Later on, for example, she came across more soldiers. Between her and them were only wooden crates to hide behind. They have a tendency, however, to break quite quickly when shot at; so, I had Lara draw the soldiers on, and then, as the enemy came forward, retreated to behind a stone wall and took each man out as they came into view. This is a tactic I have used several times, and while it is certainly not the most heroic one, it is definitely the most life-saving and progress-achieving.

***

Speaking of which, as Lara progressed, so did the fight for Kitezh; one minute it seemed like the Remnant were in charge, the next, Oh, lord, here come more Trinity gunships. Stealth and spray were the order of the day.

The session ended with Jacob telling Lara about the Divine Source. It contains, if you please, a fragment of God’s soul. Now, it takes a severe suspension of disbelief when stories talk about fragments of human souls – how on earth can you divide something that by its nature is indivisible – so talking about it in relation to God demands a truly mighty effort not to roll one’s eyes. God has a soul? What god is this, exactly? The Christian one? That can’t be so – the Remnant must be pagans of some description. I can’t remember what the Prophet was. The game is, I expect deliberately, vague about religion despite it being central to the story’s narrative.

Anyway, Jacob clearly didn’t want Lara going after the Divine Source but on account of the help she has given his people let her anyway. It would have been quite a moment, however, if he had made her his enemy. That was not to be and Red Head Girl, his daughter, even gave Croft a useful object (a spool? It flashed up on the screen and then disappeared too quickly for me to read), as Lara headed off on the next phase of her mission to find the secret to immortality. This will take her into a cathedral. Will we find anything there that shows more clearly the Remnant’s religious faith? I wouldn’t bet on it but I can’t wait to see what the church looks like.

Playing & Writing about
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine
Part Ten

Apologies if I have misremembered any of the game’s narrative (feel free to correct me if I have); I write short notes as I play the game but rely on memory for the rest

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