Analysis, Feminism, LGBTQA

Without Sam, ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ Left Me Cold

Rise of the Tomb Raider

[Author’s Note: This is a non-spoilery review of the game! You can read even if you haven’t played or watched it yet.]

I’ve written a lot about Tomb Raider over the past few months. Not only did the adventures of Lara Croft initiate me into games as a child, her pioneering tenacity helped me come to terms with my identity as a lesbian. The franchise was hugely influential in my life, and I honestly don’t know whether I would have come to love gaming as much had her story not existed. You’re waiting for the other proverbial boot to drop, aren’t you? Okay, I’ll cut to the chase: I’m not feeling Rise of the Tomb Raider, and I’m here to discuss a key element in the last game that was conspicuously—and, in my opinion, detrimentally—absent from its sequel.

Last time, we left off with Lara departing from the fabled Yamatai on a passing freighter, shaken from the events on the island, yet fiercely determined to uncover more secrets about her family legacy. Okay, cool. Who doesn’t love a good origin story? The trailer revealed at E3 2014 for the next installment promised a great deal to fans who were eager to continue this journey. Quite understandably, and in a rare turn of events for a big budget game of this caliber, Lara would apparently struggle with the horrors of what she experienced. Rise of the Tomb Raider would be her path toward finding herself, fraught with the struggles of someone who clearly suffers from severe trauma.

To me, this was clearly setting us up for a new opportunity, something that rarely, if ever comes along in the gaming industry: an exploration and reaffirmation of the deepening relationship between two capable women in the face of hardship. Yes, two women. Out of everyone who embarked on the Endurance for that fateful trip, Sam was the one person who understood exactly what Lara had went through. For Rise of the Tomb Raider to feature two leading women who support one another would mean the much-needed end to the hypermasculine, devil-may-care adventurer with no regard for anything but the end goal and his chosen squeeze. I was so ready for this, folks.

None of that glorious potential for a queer exploration between two strong women came to fruition. In fact, in a bizarre turn of events, Sam was removed from the equation entirely. Not to be deterred (because we queer folk learn to scavenge for bait where we can), I kept up my desperate search for any hint of Sam’s whereabouts during my initial playthrough. Maybe if I wished really hard and looted enough, we could contact her over the radio? Find a crumpled up, clearly re-read letter somewhere in Lara’s pocket? Anything?

"Okay so a quick peek to Sam's wiki page showed that not only was Sam not mentioned in Rise of the Tomb Raider, she was last seen in a mental ward because a remnant of Himiko was giving her grief. Such bullshit."
“Okay so a quick peek to Sam’s wiki page showed that not only was Sam not mentioned in Rise of the Tomb Raider, she was last seen in a mental ward because a remnant of Himiko was giving her grief. Such bullshit.”

You’ve got to be kidding me.

To be honest, I’m not entirely surprised that Sam didn’t make the cut for the second installment. Queer characters—and, in particular, queer women of color—are sidelined pretty regularly in games, to say nothing of their shoddy portrayal across mainstream media in general. When I first heard rumblings that Sam might not return, I was immediately reminded of The Last of Us. Riley appears only in a DLC before she’s conveniently eliminated the moment a romance is confirmed between her and the lead, Ellie. Why is it apparently cool for the queer white woman to get a beautiful redemption arc, but the queer woman of color has to sit the rest of the adventure out?

Removing that fundamental piece from Lara’s life is to leave a gigantic, gaping hole in the progression of her character development. On a purely technical level, Sam existed as the literal bridge between two worlds: reality and myth. She was certainly hardworking, but also knew when enough was enough, and she expertly softened Lara’s edges simply by being near her. Sam made Lara laugh and smile for God’s sake, and that’s while they were being hunted by armed, aggressive fanatics. Like the classic boyfriends of old, Sam was the Kirk to Lara’s Spock, the Watson to her Holmes, and together, they would be moreRise of the Tomb Raider could have fostered that connection between two independent, skilled women with a level of finesse that we still don’t see in pop culture … literally ever.

Protect them. #SSEndurance
Protect them. #SSEndurance

Instead, Lara’s father was shoehorned in for the driving motivation of the game, which became more than a little frustrating. At every turn, Lara is either being guided by the blurry flashbacks of Lord Croft or the crackling radio of Jacob, who is—surprise—another middle-aged white dude. Because that totally hasn’t been done before. (Cough, Roth, cough.) Where her father is (and always has been) largely absent in Lara’s life thanks to his debilitating ambition, it was Sam’s absence that felt deeply misplaced. I’m sure we’re meant to assume that Lara inherited her father’s career-driven personality just as much as his stubborn determination, but I’m not buying that she would so easily discard Sam.

In the last Tomb Raider, Lara was ready to abandon her initial search for answers the moment her friends were in danger. Narratively speaking, removing Sam from the story entirely frees Lara from a lot of compassion that made her human, not to mention any lingering sexual tension and deep affection that began to blossom between the two. It’s apparently more important to depict Lara squeezing her hair dry after a swim and scavenging for crafting materials than it is to depict two women approaching something like love. I’m hearing you loud and clear, Square Enix, and I’m not liking it.

We talk a lot here about representation for women in games, but I honestly think we should be stepping a little beyond that at this point. I’m more interested in discussing the relationship between characters who are women, and how that’s portrayed and cultivated over the course of a story. Or not at all, as the case usually is. What really did happen to Sam, anyway? According to the Wikipedia:

“After Himiko had transferred part of her soul to Sam, she began to change and act strange. She begins to suffer from violent outbursts, blackouts, and being very distant. One of the results of which, Sam assaults a man, and ends up being imprisoned in a mental institution.”

Because that’s definitely not something Lara would ever comment on within the context of the new game, nor reason to express any concern—even in passing. Yikes. If anything, it sounds like Rise of the Tomb Raider would have greatly benefited from including Sam’s journey through her own healing process. How utterly revolutionary would a game like that have been? Just picture it: two women learning to trust in their own companionship and seek solace in each other’s company. They’re still capable and skilled, yet that doesn’t diminish the fact that they have a lot of work to do in terms of self-care. Together, they find strength in their shared journey, both for the Divine Source and inner peace. Except Sam was removed from the equation entirely to make room for … something? Not tombs, at any rate.

To eradicate Sam from the narrative is, in my opinion, to remove the fundamental groundwork that the first game worked so hard to establish. And, quite honestly, the first game did achieve some truly wonderful moments. In the Tomb Raider reboot, the relationship between both young women is so strong that it drives Lara through hell and back just to get to Sam. It’s very clear that this affection was intended to stand in stark contrast to most of the men who populate their story (with the exception of Jonah). Where the original games were unequivocally about Lara Croft, the reboot was about Lara’s relationship with another woman—and how that empowered her.

Rise of the Tomb Raider
Excuse me, do you have a moment to talk about queer women?

Without Sam by her side in Rise of the Tomb Raider, we’re just pillaging ancient tombs, looting priceless artifacts, and mowing down faceless NPCs. It’s cold, and I don’t just mean the sunny Siberian weather. Why is it that all “Strong Female Characters” have to be depicted as brutal and heartless in order to be held up as a fine example of writing? Why can’t women be allowed to cultivate loving relationships with other women? If you play the game for long enough, this well-worn writing tool is never more apparent than when you realize who was working against Lara’s father, and who, ultimately, is prepared to sell Lara out in order to get ahead.

There’s a scene (and I won’t spoil!) where Lara, in her admittedly justified fury, almost calls another woman a “cunt” before the word is bitten off. It’s that kind of gendered inflammatory language that pits women against each other, much like “whore,” “bitch,” and “dyke.” We’re creating divisions between us, forcing separation where there could be strength. Plus? It’s completely unnecessary. I’d expect language like that from Konstantin, the lead antagonist of the game, or any one of his faceless cronies. But when I heard Lara wielding it against a fellow woman, I knew Rise of the Tomb Raider wouldn’t be rising above its own internalized misogyny any time soon, and that’s really disappointing.

I’m not the only one who feels this way, either. While this particular article was published before Rise of the Tomb Raider was released, “Why Sam Nishimura Being Sidelined is Such a Big Deal for Lara Croft” sums up my experience playing the game so well, it’s almost prophetic:

“The first game showed a fantastic range of emotion in Lara, a character who developed and drew her tremendous strength and perseverance from her desire to save Sam, her friends, and whoever else she could from torture and death. That is what kept her going, and what led her to perform amazing feats of incredible bravely, to finally be united with Sam, to save her and everyone, and to lead what remained of her crew off Yamatai. Why are the devs trying to strip Sam away from Lara? Why is Sam spoken about on some of the official forums like a weakness for Lara? Sam helped Lara develop into the heroine that she is.”

Lara already had to ~go it alone~ in the first game. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, Jonah traveled all the way to Siberia with her in order to prove that she didn’t have to face her problems like that again. Isn’t it time that we allow women to support one another, too? Or are we fearful that women banding together will become too overpowered? Because, yeah. That’s a thing.

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11 thoughts on “Without Sam, ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ Left Me Cold”

  1. (Warning! This is a very long comment!)
    Hi! I just read this and found it really interesting. While I agree on some of the things you say, I have questions about others. (Disclaimer!: these are just my opinions and thoughts and questions, I’m not trying to be a troll or disrespect your opinion of the game or offend in anyway, I would just like your feedback on what I think).
    Firstly, when you talk about when Lara was about to call another woman a c***, I completely missed this part (I didn’t notice, since I didn’t have subtitles on) and was surprised that you had the respond the way you did. I 100% understand what you are trying to say about women attacking other women. But I don’t think it’s the kind of situation where it matters that they are women? Like I said, I missed this little piece but I can guess who Lara said it to. I mean? Put yourself in that situation? If it was me, that word would be the best/most horrible word I could think of to say to ANYONE (man or woman) who did something like that to me. If you were Lara, would you think “I’m not gonna call her a c*** because she’s a woman”. I don’t think the writers thought that would be a good word to use because the target was a woman, I think they thought it would just be hurtful enough for that situation. They choose it because it would be hurtful to anyone. To me, it doesn’t matter that the target of this word is a woman, she did an evil thing. If it was a man being called something (I don’t think there are any curse words as bad as that that mostly pertain to men but pretend there was) like that, no one would blink an eye because “he deserved it” “he’s evil”. Ana is evil, that’s why Lara would call her that, not because she’s a woman. I think this is a bit more realistic than the writers trying to put in misyognistic undertones, depicting a woman calling another woman a c***. (Also considering the lead writer is a woman, and one who spoke a lot about women in video games and feminism and a lot of positive things about women in interviews, I don’t think this was her intention). Again, this is just my opinion. I’m not asking you to believe it, I just thought I’d weigh in.
    Secondly, about Sam. I loved Sam! I thought she was an awesome character that helped develop Lara’s character a lot and I believe they showed women empowering other women very well with their relationship and I liked that a lot. She was a good contrast to Lara as well. I think it’s a HUGE disservice to her that she’s now in a mental institution. Like??? Are they just trying to discard her character? What’s up with that? I feel like Lara can’t know about this somehow because if she did, I’m sure she would say something. I hope, somehow, they can bring back Sam into the 3rd game. However, it didn’t come as a surprise to me that Sam wasn’t in the second game. When series like this, where there are a lot of characters, have multiple games, lead characters just don’t make the cut into every game. Yes, Sam would’ve been a cool addition to ROTTR, but I think (this is strictly speaking from what I would think the developers were thinking) Sam did her job in the first one. She help develop Lara’s character. What would she do in this game? (Though they could’ve mentioned her a little). It’s mostly a solo game. I think Sam would’ve been out of place if they had just stuck her in this game. At the most, they could’ve had Sam in Jonah’s shoes. That said, I’m not making an excuse for the writers to do that to Sam’s character.
    Lastly, you speak about Lara and Sam being queer. I personally, don’t think Sam was cut out of the 2nd game because she’s gay or because she’s Asian/Portuguese. (Though, it is a fact, not even opinion, that characters of color aren’t nearly as present or not even present at all in a lot of video games, I do agree with you on this sad fact). I could be wrong on that, the game developers could be raging homophobics, but we can’t really say. But the lead writer, I can say, isn’t. Which is why I choose to believe in the best side of these people. The lead writer has even said in an interview that she wishes to make Lara gay (https://killscreen.com/articles/tomb-raider-writer-rhianna-pratchett-why-every-kill-cant-be-first-and-why-she-wanted-make-lara-croft-gay/ this is the interview, and it touches on women in video games, it’s a good read, she’s a smart lady, and she’s the main reason why I disagree (respectfully!) with a lot of what you said)
    Thanks for reading if you did! Sorry it was so long (I’m not sure how this website works, as it’s my first time being here) but if it’s possible I would like to hear your response if you have the time.

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  2. Hey, there! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I’ll try and keep my response on the shorter side, as I think this is just one of those situations where we have differing opinions on the game/how the characters were handled. That’s completely fine, as I understand everyone has a different experience when playing a game.

    1. I definitely should have clarified a bit, and for that I apologize! I don’t think Lara Croft The Character had no reason to use gendered slurs, because yes, I totally understand why she might be upset. What I was discussing was the failing on the part of the writing team, and how, very often (if not literally all the time), a lot of these missteps happen because we don’t always recognize our own internalized hangups. It was unnecessary and only furthered the ~women hate women~ trope.

    2. Agree to disagree! My whole post above was my attempt to explain why I think Sam’s character was absolutely crucial to the second installment of the reboot, and why I feel that the game stumbled hard because of her absence. If I didn’t convince you, that’s totally fine, but all of my points still stand.

    3. I have two links for you to read! “Closeted Damsels and Heroic Gal Pals: Life is Strange and Tomb Raider” by Maddy Myers (http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/05/closeted-damsels-and-heroic-gal-pals-life-is-stran.html). In it, Maddy references a quote from the interview you cited, and clears up a lot of the confusion surrounding it:

    “A lot of folks interpreted this one quote as confirmation that Lara Croft was in the closet—except that’s not quite what Pratchett said. […] In other words, just because Lara has a female best friend who ends up cast in a damsel-in-distress role, the two women are just friends. Write all the fan-fiction you want—in the end, Lara will remain single.”

    If you’re interested in learning more about queer-baiting in popular media, I recently wrote an article called “Trash Ships: A Lament for Every Unconfirmed Queer Character” (https://femhype.com/2015/11/07/trash-ships-a-lament-for-every-unconfirmed-queer-character/).

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  3. Man, this is disappointing on a whole host of levels — I’d been trying to avoid spoilers for the game until I could get it on PC (soon, I hope), and it’s very sad to hear that Sam won’t feature in it at all. Sam was a driving force for me in 2015’s Tomb Raider — a character I deeply loved, and was really looking forward to spending more time with.

    In my on-again-off-again love affair with the Tomb Raider franchise, I’ve often felt hamstrung by Lara’s inherent “lone wolf” nature. Tomb Raider games are extremely stressful for me for a myriad of reasons: I’m not particularly good at them, and the borderline slasher porn death sequences really upset me; I don’t like fighting or killing animals, even virtual ones; and I’m not very adept at puzzles. I’m very fearful in them, especially when I’m left alone. (I started the series with Tomb Raider: Legend, where I was accompanied throughout by — at the least the voices of — a pair of NPCs named Zip and Alister, who I still miss.)

    Tomb Raider (2015) was very hard for me to play, for these reasons among others. But Sam gave me a reason to move forward. I was very scared, and very frustrated, but I had to keep going because Sam was out there — just as scared as I was — and she needed my help. The scenes in the game that I liked least were those in which the path to Sam was the most unclear. I felt like I had a real connection to her, like she meant something to me. She was clearly the girl Lara loved, and not in a “because the game tells me so” sort of way — Lara and Sam had chemistry, compatibility, *context*. Lara loved Sam, and I understood why. I loved Sam too.

    I’m *really* bummed she’s not going to be in Rise of the Tomb Raider for pretty much all the same reasons you are. It’s also not the first time in the series that Crystal Dynamics has utterly failed to capitalize on established relationships in previous installments. They want to talk about Lara’s family SO BAD that they leave all her other meaningful relationships out on the front porch, and that kinda cheeses me off. :/

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    1. Without spoiling the new game, I can say that, unfortunately, it has all of what you don’t like about Tomb Raider games with the added bonus of getting to know the NPC enemies before you obliterate all of them. I didn’t find an appropriate place to really discuss this within the context of my review (because Sam!!), but it was deeply, deeeeeply unsettling to me in a way that wasn’t in the last game. If you try to stealth any of the action sequences (which I made an effort to do, if only to avoid violence), you hear the dialogue between NPCs that humanizes them. They’re friends with each other, they’re worried about their safety, and they’re following Konstantin’s orders because they believe in a holy cause.

      tl;dr—If the intent was to explore Lara’s PTSD in Rise, I didn’t get any of that? It felt more like she’d become a serial killer, not that she was “surviving” any chaos she didn’t create for herself. Seriously, Jonah was like, the only redeeming quality of this whole thing, and he was (predictably) sidelined the entire time until the very end. (It was interesting, also, that Jonah was depicted as weak when he couldn’t bring himself to execute another character. That was no accident.)

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  4. Interesting thoughts. I haven’t played Rise but it is a bummer to hear Sam doesn’t feature at all, as she was easily the most rounded out supporting character in the first game. However, I think you’re trying to interject a romance in an area where there just wasn’t one. Sam being gay is news to me, in fact one of the documents you find in TR1 has her talking about trawling nightclubs with Lara and her surprise at the “cute boys” they found. Why can’t there be a strong friendship between two females without people trying to ship something? I definitely agree it’s a shame Sam has been sidelined because there really should be more strong female *friendships* show in media – but that’s not with the ulterior motive of having them hook up.

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    1. Thanks so much for the comment! Just to clarify, I’m not looking for Sam and Lara to “hook up,” merely for a game that allows them to explore their relationship with each other. Not all queer stories require anything sexual in them! (There’s asexuality, demisexuality, aromantic, etc. Lots of potential to explore strong bonds between women!)

      As a queer woman myself, it’s very important to me that I discuss queerbaiting and erasure across all video games. I’m definitely not against platonic friendship between lady characters (in fact, I love it!), but given the speculation surrounding Lara/Sam during the last game, the rise in queer visibility in games as of late, and the simple fact that I personally ship them, my experience of ROTTR was soured all the more, which is why I discussed this aspect of it.

      That said, I’m totally not against their friendship in general. Any connection between them is better than nothing! Which is … what we got. :/

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  5. To be more clear, after an examination of the comic series bridging the two: Sam is currently locked up, yes, and also barely speaking to Lara – the primary reason for their relationship deteriorating being that Sam is afraid to tell anyone, including Lara, that Himiko may have been successful in possessing her at some point.

    Lara, unsure of what to do or how to reach out to her, decided to write and account of their time on the island that had her ridiculed and labelled insane, which was what led to the point of the second game – Lara needing to prove that she’s sane, both to herself and to the world at large . . . in that sense, I do understand Sam’s absence. In person. But in spirit? Why didn’t Lara mention her? Jonah? And where the hell was Reyes?

    I can accept their absences for this game on the point of understanding that we may see them again in the future – I’m totally okay with this franchise letting stories and arcs rest for a bit before coming back to them – but if they don’t come back to them at all, I am going to be severely disappointed as well.

    I know we can’t hope for as much as them making Lara/Sam canon, because in what world would any developers have either the balls or the creativity to do that when they could rake in both conservative christian people’s and queer people’s money at the same time – I don’t think they’d ever risk upsetting half their straight demographic like that, even to strengthen the storytelling of the series as a whole. But what I do feel safe in hoping for is at least to see them rekindle their ‘friendship’ and get Himiko out of the occasion once and for all.

    Seriously, though, if I could get some games that aren’t awash in a literally painful amount of heterosexuality, that sure would be nice.

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  6. Great stuff and thank you for your analysis. I for the most part agree. Sam is such an important character, a critical part of what makes Lara, Lara not to mention the only family that Lara has left. I can understand them sidelining her in Rise but the main problem I had was the lack of reference towards her. We get a recording that mentions her but that’s it. That bothers me a lot. Instead the majority of the game is spent listening to Lara whine about how she can’t let her father down. I just wanted to yell at Lara, “Your daddy is dead, get over it but Sam is alive and you’re letting her down. Do something about it!” I get it though, she has her own issues to resolve and a past that she can no longer run away from. I just hope that with Rise she can put that all behind her and move on. Jonah even mentions something along the effect of her not wanting to stay still or her not paying attention to those around her who care. So that really does lead me to think that she’s got a lot to sort through but when she is done…she can deal with the present…aka Sam. If Himiko doesn’t wreck havoc on Sam first though of course. But Sam really is important and if they continue to ignore her then all of the personal development Lara went through in the first game won’t matter…it’ll make no sense. I just hope they don’t decide to kill her off or leave her in that asylum to rot. I ship the two women but could care less if Lara is a lesbian or not…I just want her to get her best friend back. To have a different motivation for going on adventures besides her dead father’s tarnished legacy. Also where is her mum? Finally, why is Jonah still around? I love the guy but found his presence in Rise unnecessary. Especially when he goes to Siberia with Lara. Really? Because he would do that after Yamatai? Why is he even in London with Lara? Must be a comics thing.

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  7. I’ve just finished my first playthrough of Rise and while I knew going in Sam wasn’t going to be part of the story, I still felt her total absence from the game jarring. In the Reboot we see on countless occasions just how much Sam means to Lara, which was followed by the Dark Horse comic series in which Lara states on several occasions that Sam is the “most important thing in the world” to her.

    Sam’s not an archaeologist and I don’t expect her to be going out shooting up Trinity goons alongside Lara, but as Rhianna herself said, Sam’s still very much a part of Lara’s life even after her incarceration. Yet to hear Lara’s complete lack of reference to her friend seems oddly out of character, given her near-obsession with saving Sam in the first place.

    I have to believe Sam returns in the post-Rise comic series currently being penned by Mariko Tamaki, otherwise the entire “Himiko returns” angle that the first series has been gradually (but clearly) building up will end up being the biggest red herring in comic history. I would dearly love for Sam to return in the third game (seems that at least a part of it will take place in Rome, could Sam not at least accompany Lara there?) but would still be happy with flashback cutscenes.

    Bottom line, I equate Sam with Lara’s lingering grip on her own humanity. She grounds her, she brings out the best in her, and she’s the one person (in both reboot games) that has been able to get Lara to smile from the heart.

    When I finished Rise I sat there for a while trying to describe my feelings, when I finally realized they were oddly absent. The game was superbly put together, with an interesting story, layered protagonists, gorgeous visuals and musical score, but in the end, I felt it lacked the emotional punch of the previous game.

    We’ve seen how much Lara has lost in her life since the first game; Sam’s all the family she has left. Yes, she’s not biologically related — but Sam’s as much family to Lara as any blood relative could ever have been.

    Was it really necessary to rip her out of Lara’s thoughts as well?

    Bring her back, Mariko. Make it right.

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  8. I am very confused in all of this crap, so I just want to say that Tomb Raider would NEVER be the same without Sam. I just think that without the main character’s best friend, the plot line, the story, and the main idea would never be the same. I also want to say that I really think that it is cool that you guys have so many great pictures of them together. Thanks!! 🤗

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  9. I know this was posted an age and a half ago, but I really procrastinated looking up Femhype again. I just really want to shout my torrid opinions of Rise to people who know where I’m coming from, instead of going “You know, it’s a good game, you stinking SJW.”

    I loved, loved, loved the first reboot. I’ve always been a fan of the series but never really got into it until the reboot. I played it like three times and read loads of fanfiction and S.S. Endurance is one of my biggest otps of all time ever. I spent a lot of time thinking about Sam’s role in the game and how that could have been expanded in so many ways. I hung onto news about the sequel like fleas on fur. As the release got closer and closer, however, I realized that things were looking a little… actiony.

    I got the game the week it released, along with Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and Fallout 4 (there was a deal at Target to buy two games and get a third free). Syndicate ended up being the best of the set, and it was the game my sister got, while the other two were for me.

    Rise of the Tomb Raider. Ugh. I mean, you sum up a good deal here, but I got it in Tennessee and ended up waiting until we moved to Alaska, moved out of the temporary housing, and got a job that I decided to power through the rest of the game. I beat it purely because I wanted to free up space on my Xbox One and any game was a reprieve from work. Rise, fundamentally, is a superior game to the first one. Better combat, slightly better progression, better environment interaction, some really good puzzles, interesting combat setups, great outfits, great exploration and item collecting, and all that extra end-game junk. I just didn’t want to do any of it.

    The game feels hollow, like it doesn’t have a soul. Every cutscene just devolved into “where’s the source?” “Stop Trinity!” “My poor father and our stilted relationship!” And, of course, no mention of Sam in sight (I have a similar problem with Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst but to a lesser extent). I had such a hard time dragging myself through the story, I had no energy for side things as much as I enjoyed them. Lara herself felt stripped of her emotion, and the game kept making excuses for her being a raging serial killer. You find those audio recordings that kept characterizing the goons in Trinity as dangerous sociopaths that need to be exterminated for the betterment of society. Because, you know, it’s logical for there to be an entire organization that’s existed for thousands of years that has no women and not a single person that acts like a normal human being.

    The previous game explained everything. The men there were stranded by Himiko’s curse and followed the villain because they either feared him or were as crazy as he was. Those that didn’t abide were killed like the women that got stranded. All the women died because they needed to be ‘tested’ as viable vessels for Himiko. Listening to the conversations of the enemies, they borrowed books from each other, fought over cigarettes, talked confusedly about their leaders plans, and debated whether or not they should really be in the conflict at all.

    By contrast, Rise just feels like another romp through headshot-lane i.e. Gears of War or CoD. I expected more from Tomb Raider, I really did. Jacob was a complete disappointment, but I was thankful he died in the end, and I really wish they’d done more with Konstantin’s character. He had the potential to be so much deeper. Jacob’s daughter had a lot of potential, and we got a little glimmer of her personality, only to save her life once and have her go “Ok, sorry for doubting you, go get the source and I’ll see you never; ttyn.” I loved running around the tundra and its network of caves and abandoned mines, finding those snippets of Soviet history and before. But as the story dragged on, I stopped caring. It was almost like all the progression made in the first reboot was completely forgotten.

    It was never about her dad, or Trinity, or the ‘source,’ or any of that. The reboot was about Lara and her emotional development. We already have two whole Tomb Raider series about her fighting corrupt organizations and find dangerous artifacts. This was going to be a turn for the series, a much-needed modernization. I just didn’t expect it to end after the first one.I got better characterization and female representation in Sunset Overdrive.

    I don’t know if anyone’s going to read this, but I just needed to say all of it. I’ve rarely been more disappointed with a game. And that’s without going over all the reasons why this game would have been a thousand times better with Sam.

    Liked by 1 person

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