Tomb Raider Part 3 – Lara and Male Focused Gaming

m_tombraider_03One of the reasons I enjoyed the new Tomb Raider as much as I did (see the review in Tomb Raider Part 2) despite my past with the franchise (see Part 1) is that it subverts and turns the conventions and tropes of the male focused action game on their head. To the point where a lot of people playing and writing about the game keep saying the game is unrealistic because you are playing as a female character. Which is equal parts a mental statement and an interesting one. One that shows how little we have come since Lara Croft first came back on the scene in 1996 in a blaze of glory brought about in part by the girl power craze initiated by the Spice Girls. (Man the 90s were a weird time!)

It seems like every week we see cases of sexism in games, gaming and the games industry. From the whole Tropes Vs Women/Anita Sarkeesian mess, to Metroid Other M completely undermining the character of Samus Aran (one of gaming’s other great female characters), to the insistance in this generation that female leads cannot sell games. It is clear a lot of people in all areas of gaming have a warped view of women and their place as our fictional heroes or their function in a story. It is great to see a game like the new Tomb Raider being made and released with a lot of fanfare and chatter. It is great to see this new Lara being such a strong character with actual motivations and you know, a personality. It is great to see how the game constantly plays with your expectations and shows up the macho gaming tropes for what they are. But it is depressing that this is only happening now. That some people are up in arms about it, crying about misandry (the sexist’s go to defence against feminism, white knighting and anything pro-equality). That people are claiming the game to be unrealistic because it features a woman in the lead doing all these things. In a game set on an island surrounded by magic storms, home to a cult and ancient Japanese mystical warriors the thing that people say is unrealistic is Lara Croft being able to defend herself as well as she does. That is the state of play for female characters in games at the moment. They cannot do what male characters do, no matter the situation. Now that’s depressing.

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Tomb Raider Part 2 – Lara Grows Up

Tomb-Raider-Reboot-Gets-Tasteful-Box-Art

  • Game: Tomb Raider
  • Platform: Multi (Xbox 360 Played)
  • Developer: Crystal Dynamics
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Price: £32.04 (Amazon)

As I said in Part 1 of this look at all things Tomb Raider, my past with Lara Croft and her games it troubled at best. Having never really been a huge fan of the older games (despite playing a fair amount of them) this new game was a very interesting prospect. Doing away with the old trappings of the franchise and trying something very different but similar at the same time. At its core it is still Tomb Raider as we know it, you explore the environments finding hidden objects and collectables, fight bad guys with a small arsenal of weapons and Lara is still the same person. Albeit a greener, more rounded, more interesting character that you actually care for.

The main focus of the game is to bring Tomb Raider a very, let’s be honest here, cheesy franchise with awkward gameplay and a character larger than the game itself into the modern sensibilities of the games industry. So while it doesn’t do anything particularly groundbreaking apart from having a strong female character at its centre which is apparently still surprising thing in this day and age. It gives us the best bits of modern game design this generation all wrapped up in a very entertaining package.

Crystal Dynamics I doff my cap in your direction!

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Tomb Raider Part 1 – Me and Ms Croft

Tomb-Raider-Wallpaper

In this first of a three part exploration of all things Tomb Raider I explore my history with the franchise and how it has always been there wether I like it or not. Part two focuses on my thoughts on the new game and part three is about why the new game is so refreshing and why that is both a good and worrying thing.

I have a mixed past with Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider games. The PlayStation age, otherwise known as the late 90s is the time that defined me as a gamer. My childish attempts to grasp the various genres available to me on the PSOne fed into my tastes and gaming styles today. Lara Croft, the poster child of 90s gaming and the games industry however is very much absent from my best of the best lists and the Tomb Raider games are squarely on the edges of my gaming memories from those years. Don’t get me wrong I still bought a bunch of them and like everyone my age I have memories of running around Croft Mansion locking butlers in fridges and killing Lara in various comical and frustrating ways. Sometimes because the games were annoyingly awkward other times to drown my sorrows.  But the games and the character have never felt quite, right to me.

The games have always had horrendous controls that hinder the player most of the time. You wanted Lara to take a small step to the left but suddenly she would leap off the edge of a perilous drop to her doom…to the right…. The character herself always, even to my childish view of the world back then, felt off. She wasn’t real. She was very much a cartoon to me. She was this impossible creature that was always there on the edges of my gaming leering at me seductively from a promo poster slapped on my wall.

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Weekly Link Storm

(Image Source)

It’s been a quiet week around here for me as I have been mainly looking for jobs and relaxing. (Next week will be more productive I promise!) I will make up for the lack of actual content with a bumper bag of links!

So here’s your Sunday afternoon entertainment:

Get Into Games 2012 – Edge

Edge magazine’s yearly guide full of advice and helpful tips on how to get into the industry. This is mainly for people considering starting a degree course in a games industry related field but it does have a few pointers for those of us currently looking for work.

Square Enix will only remake Final Fantasy 7 after it betters original with a new Final Fantasy – Eurogamer

Thank god for that! I’m all for HD remakes and re-releases, in fact I am currently enjoying the Metal Gear Solid HD collection, but for Final Fantasy VII I will make an exception.  For Square like Yoichi Wada says if they were to do it, it would break their franchise. Simply because they still have to surpass it. SquareEnix know that if they announce a remake of FFVII no one will pay attention to FFXV whenever that rolls around.

Camilla Luddington portrays Lara Croft in new Tomb Raider game – Eurogamer

I’m linking to this for a couple of reasons:

  1. It is not often that you see the announcement of who is playing a character in a video game be big news.
  2. Luddington isn’t bad on the eyes. (I’m a man I can’t help it!)
  3. I find it incredibly funny that the women best known to me for this piece of trash is now playing one of gaming’s most iconic characters.

Fortnite Unveiling At Comic Con – GameInformer

Even though little is known about Fortnite I am looking forward to seeing more. Mainly because it is Epic showing they can do more than just grim’n’gritty shooters and iOS fighting games. The concept interests me too because I am a big fan of co-op play.

Batman Revisited, Part 1 – The Big Picture

In the run up to the release of the Dark Knight Rises, Movie Bob over on The Escapist is taking a look back at the Batman films from Tim Burton’s first stab right up to Batman & Robin. 

Dishonored’s two lead designers talk about magic, “breaking” the game, and amoral power – The PA Report

This preview/interview for Dishonored fleshes out a lot of the gameplay focuses for the game along with the design methodology. Mainly embracing when players break the game in interesting ways and adjust the overall experience accordingly. Interesting reading.

Power Creep – Extra Credits

This week’s Extra Credits is all about Power Creep and how it effects online games. It goes for the MMO angle but it applies to many types on online games, especially shooters with levelling and unlock systems.

SimCity Social is a collection of dirty tricks pretending to be game play – The PA Report

Oh EA, why must you do this with your Facebook games? Good, fun and engrossing gameplay should keep the player in the game and spending money. The payment system shouldn’t prevent them from enjoying the game!

Meet The Pyro – Valve

‘Nuff said.

Source Filmmaker – Valve

Along with Meet The Pyro, Valve decided to unleash their in-house editing suite upon the world, for free! It looks incredibly versatile and fairly easy to use. I’m looking forward to seeing what people come up with. I might also have a play around with it myself at some point!

The 25 Greatest Spider-Man Stories – IGN

A great list of the best the Spidey has to offer for readers and fans. It has a lot of modern classics on there which is refreshing because a lot of these types of lists for comic books never go past the 80s.

Gender Inclusive Game Design – rumirumirumirumi

Shared by rumirumirumirumi on the game design tag on Tumblr this PowerPoint Presentation is well worth a read. I wish I knew this existed when I was doing all my work on Core Female Gamers earlier this year!

The Most Important Character in Mass Effect 3 Never Even Showed Up Until After the Credits – Kotaku

This article sums up my feelings towards the various endings for Mass Effect 3 fairly well. Lover, hater or inbetweener I would suggest reading it.

A Day in the Life of Max Payne – timtimfed

As a long time fan of the Max Payne franchise this video had me laughing a lot!

Super Mario World Camera Logic Review – shauninman

A good look at the camera system for Super Mario World. Before watching I recommend trying to remember how the camera works. Then be prepared to realise how much work and thought has actually gone into it!

Rezzed

Finally I thought I would share the details for Rezzed, the PC and Indie Games Show that is happening down in Brighton on next Friday and Saturday (6th-7th July). I will be going on the Saturday and looking at all the Inide games on offer and hopefully chatting the people behind them. Borderlands 2 and Aliens: Colonial Marines might get a bit of a play too.