What Are You Playing Wednesday

Lara Croft with a bow and arrow.

Lara Croft with a bow and arrow.

It is mid week question time again:

  • What games are you playing this week?
  • Would you recommend those games to other Border House readers?
  • What games have you ranting?
  • Are any of those games listed ones that you want to see covered on the site?

Similar to last week, I’ve been playing a lot of World of Warcraft. I also started Tomb Raider. It is beautiful but, in my opinion, far too graphic than it needs to be. I am not sure why it was decided that the game needed to be so brutal.

So, what have you been playing?

24 thoughts on “What Are You Playing Wednesday”

  1. Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance. About three quarters of the way through, going off of overall map completion. Will hopefully be able to finish it soon. Has been fun c:

    Sleeping Dogs. Played some more of this! About halfway done with the main storyline. I tend to do a lot of side stuff, too, mostly because of how fun it is to drive around the city.

    Final Fantasy XIV. Just recently did the fourth dungeon tied to the main storyline. Not in any rush, as I only play with family and would be bored otherwise.

    Kingdoms of Amalur is now free on PS+… I’ve heard a lot of mostly good things about it around here. Going to try to free up some space and check it out XD

  2. Coincidentally, I’m also playing Tomb Raider! I’ll stay story-spoiler free, but I might spoil some stuff mechanically.

    I don’t really agree with you about the game being too brutal – it feels to me like Lara gets injured pretty much inline with the ridiculous feats she has to pull off, and I actually really like the way that her fighting style becomes more brutal slowly, as she gets more experienced and has to fight her way out of tougher spots. I do feel that the Hollywood healing is a bit overt – while Lara does retain injuries for a while, and sometimes becomes debilitated, she keeps on trucking at full speed through an awful lot of damage, considering how realistically it’s portrayed. They do injuries better than most games, though.

    Maybe there’s a case to be made that the game as a whole could have had a lighter tone, but I don’t think I’d have enjoyed it as much. The game’s clearly taken a lot of inspiration from The Descent, (with at least one moment of overt homage) and tells a similar tale of extreme survival.

    I’m also very impressed with the in-game voice overs (the ones for collectibles aren’t as good) and the camera work – they do a great job of telling the story, and for the most part they keep it very action-orients and non-sexual. The main shot that makes me cringe a bit is where Lara contorts herself to shimmy through a narrow crack.

    The environments sometimes let the camerawork down a bit – while the vistas are spectacular, sometimes shots through the underbrush or from underwater showcase the low detail of the textures. With a bit more post-cameras time maybe they could have beefed up those particular textures.

    The tomb raiding, while sidelined and fairly simple, is fun, and the exploration and combat mechanics are satisfying – I’m playing on hard, and I very much feel like headshots, tactical choices and good hand-to-hand sequences are involved in getting through a combat successfully.

    1. Personally, I think of the series as puzzles plus platforming. So the brutality/blood soaked version of Lara just does not work with my concept of the series. When she dies, it zooms on on the brutality of it and makes me literally turn away from the TV. It decreases me enjoyment quite a bit.

      I understand what they were going for, but for me it seems unnecessary.

      But, I am with you that the voice acting is stellar and the environments are absolutely stunning!!!

      1. I can definitely sympathize with you there – the other all had more of a PG presentation, and this version breaks from that pretty sharply.

        I do think this works better with the narrative, though. In previous games Lara murdered humans and wildlife with little provocation and without batting an eyelid, and it always felt a little odd.

        They could have gone a combat-light route and kept the focus on the puzzle/platform element. I’d argue that the approach they took is truer to the mechanics of the original – but I’ll also admit that I’d love to play that other, combat-light Tomb Raider game.

    2. I’m with Gunthera on this. Did you see the stealth kill with pick axe ?
      I understand this is a game about survival but this kind of brutality doesn’t make sense, it’s really is nothing but gratuitous mechanical gore violence for a sake of it.

      1. When they rebooted the franchise, they had to differentiate it from the Uncharted series. If the brutality was missing, people would call it an Uncharted clone, which is ridiculous given that Tomb Raider inspired Uncharted. The brutality doesn’t bother me, but I do love games like Dead Space.

      2. The kills and deaths make me uncomfortable too. I just think that it works with the desperate survival story that they are telling. Thinking about it from that point of view, it could have worked well to make the game camera more shy of the kill animations and death scenes – to highlight that the game understands that they are very unpleasant.

  3. I’ve been playing Hotline Miami. It’s quite violent. What I find interesting, is how in probably all other games that feature violence – Halo, GTA and so forth – is that if you took out the violence from them the game would still function, it would just be very dull. You could still get the maguffin or escort so-and-so to such-a-place.

    But in Hotline Miami, for the most part, the violence is the maguffin. You enter a building, kill everyone and leave. If you removed the violence the game would be going into a building and then immediately leaving. Often, after I’ve killed everyone and the music stops I think ‘Right, what now? Oh yeah – nothing.’ And then I’m left to wander back down four storeys of carnage, noting how, on the way up, I was so distracted with planning how to kill everyone that I didn’t notice just how bloody it was or how many people I’d killed.

  4. I was interested to read about Tomb Raider I’ve had such reservations about getting it and I think I’m going to stand by them.

    I just finished my first play-through of The Cave. I enjoyed it enough that I will play through with all seven characters to find out what each of their stories, secrets and foibles are. The humour is so fun and the first 3 characters I played through with were great (Monk, Scientist and Knight). I often wished there was a shortcut button to gather them all together instead of walking each character through to one spot to be together, which only happens automatically at certain auto save points. Otherwise a fun time filler and great puzzle-solver that often had me lol when I figured out what I needed to do.

    1. I really really really enjoyed Tomb Raider, and I am not a huge action gamer. It is brutal and graphic, but I guess that didn’t bother me. It only made me angrier and eager to survive/murder the “bad guys.”

      1. For me, not playing the game us mostly about the controversial “scene” that was fiercely denied by the games creators that I suspect was hurriedly changed in-game to turn out differently. If I could put a nice comfy khaki shirt with rolled up sleeves on Lara, and maybe turn the gore off like you can with some games, I might feel a little different about playing it. I so badly wanted to play and love this game. I still want to!

  5. Cheers for bringing up Tomb Raider, since I’ve been meaning to ask about it …

    I have been considering Tomb Raider myself, but I too have some misgivings that have stopped me so far. Gore I can handle though it does nothing for me in terms of “yeah awesome!”. However, when it is lingered on or even fetishized, especially with female characters, it disgusts me — and I’m not sure if and how much the game crosses the line here. The footage I’ve seen of Lara killing enemies was not that bad, but seeing even one of her death scenes was … squicky.

    Still, the real showstopper has been what everyone here probably remembers all too well: that PR guy who talked about how Lara would be raped. I know that developers probably have very little to say when it comes to marketing most of the time, and sometimes it really shows, but … for that guy to think braying about rape was acceptable, someone screwed up beyond belief. And even if that could be chalked up to an ignorant PR tosser trying to make the “target audience” of sexist hetboys go “HEH HEH KEWL!” for the game, I also remember actual devs going on about tearing Lara down each time she gets up, and making her vulnerable, and all that nonsense that no one would ever say about a male action here. The BS about expecting players to want to protect her instead of identify with her was by a developer too I think?

    Mind, I do think that more “humanity”, including vulnerability, would not be a bad thing for many game protagonist … but it is telling that it is done to a woman, when “we” already have next to none of the pure “power fantasies” badass action heroes that men take for granted. So even if this is the “origin story” of a pretty sheltered, barely adult not-yet-action-hero … I don’t know. I don’t feel entirely comfortable supporting the game after everything the PR and devs said. :/

    How did other folks here deal with that issue? I’ve re-read all articles here that touched on it, and there was some definite praise for Lara’s kick-assitude and the fact that no one specifically gives her crap for being a woman. Still … I wish there had been more respect for the character, for the lack of a better word, when the devs and the PR team talked about it. And acknowledgement that not every player is a sexist hetboy.

    1. On the dealing with it ? Well, to a degree if you want enjoy the game that have otherwise very satysfying gameplay it can be atributed to “ludonarrative disonance” ( this term, i know…). Start of the game is awful in every department anyway and that’s where most problematic things happen: on the rails, QTE, awful cutscene, QTE etc. Later on it looks generally like this: game is quite easy, especially in the platforming department, nothing like earlier games, so when i’m controling Lara, i would say things goes even smoother then PoP(2008), jumping, runing ,climbing all in sync, but when cutscene appears, it is Lara hiting deck hard, again , again and again. So my dealing with it was generally that cutscenes don’t make too much sense anyway.

    2. To me, what was worse about the rape comment was that it wasn’t by just some PR guy, but the game’s producer or something like that (in an interview). He approached it from a really weird way too (because women need trauma like rape to develop and become relatable!). It was just all kinds of gross.

      I’m with you though. I kind of want to give the game a shot now after having seen people talk about it here (and elsewhere), but everything before the release just left such a horrible taste in my mouth (and seeing some of her deaths doesn’t help), I don’t know if I feel like trying.

  6. Sorry for the sort-of wall of text there. *cough* To answer the article’s question: Terraria, now that the 1.2 update is finally here. Starting fresh with a new character in a new world is slooooow going if one does not specifically rush it but likes to explore. :p

    Also, some more GW2 but I am starting to burn out on that one again.

  7. Hello, new here, although I’ve been reading the blog for a while.

    I just grabbed a used disc of Red Dead Redemption since I found the trial interesting enough. I didn’t own a PS3 when it came out and wasn’t a member when it was on Plus so I thought I’d try it now. While I don’t particularly (or not at all, for GTA games since GTA2) enjoy Rockstar games, I thought this might deserve some attention. So I guess I’ll be checking that out.

    I’m still playing Far Cry 3. I’m very slow, cautious and explorative when it comes to shooters. Yes, I’m the mechromancer who opens each and every loot box in Borderlands 2.

    I have minor guilt about abandoning my village in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. I did so, because it became a chore. There, it’s out now. It’s not like you mildly insult AC and expect to not get a few sour looks. It’s OK though, I know I’d be giving one. So I think it’s time I take AC out and put the Layton cart in. Oh, how I love me some Layton action.

  8. I beat the main storyline for Rayman Origins. I am one tricky treasure away from opening the Livid Dead section. I really enjoyed this game.

    I am making progress in GTA V. I have not been able to get on GTA Online due to server issues.

    With it being October, I plan to play Dead Space 3 and try Amy. I know people weren’t in love with Dead Space 3, but I want to find out what happens to Isaac Clarke. I know Amy is a train wreck, but I got it on sale. I love Halloween and horror. Dead Space 3 is going to sound amazing with my headphones on.

  9. I’m mostly playing Pokemon White lately. My husband and I want to start X and Y together next week, and I want to beat the Elite Four before that. I’m coming up on Victory Road, though, so hopefully I can squeak past the Elite Four within the week.

    I’ve also been working on my second playthrough (the True Vault Hunter mode) of Borderlands 2 as the Assassin. However, I think I overdosed, because I haven’t felt like playing for about a week. But soon, my pet, soon…

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