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Thursday, April 18, 2013


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val kendal

just curious, have you played and reviewed the new Tomb Raider? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the 'new' back story Lara


I suppose you have some valid points, in saying she relied on Booker too much, but the amount of anger you put into your writing long before making a tiny concession at the end almost lead me to be a bit off-put by your argument. I would like to argue some points that I feel logically interact with the game world and character as a whole, with some rhetoric interspersed (please read, I don't want to insult you, but offer us a chance to persuade eachother)

What of her inability to fight in a battle? She's read books her whole life, she hasn't practiced fencing or Archery. If the scene where she flips out about Booker killing people for the first time is any indication of her character, I'd say she's genuinely opposed to it until the moment Fitzroy forces her hand by risking a child. Even after she was so hurt by the thought of what she did, and I'm sure she's aware she'd have felt that way had she killed sooner.

As for warping things into the universe, We have a basic rule of it has to exist, and it has to manifest from her feelings. She's not a killer, and therefore is a lot less likely to manifest multiple weapons, as she mostly pulls out cover and vantage points. She is in no way meant to reflect the bad-ass Woman you want to be, because she's not the player. As a secondary rule to her powers, She has a "Siphon" severely limiting her power output, to the point of "one tear at a time." In this case, and the case that she's leaving the fighting up to Booker, it's more tactically sound that he determine whether he wants cover up, or maybe secondary artillery instead. She's not dumb, and I'm sure is versed in tactical logic. She even mentions how capable Booker is in a fight after the Handyman fight in the Finkton shanty town. This, I feel, shows she has the confidence of him leading her in battle.

You mention she lets Booker do the final call for Songbird to Destroy Monument Island. THAT was her home, and Songbird, that was her only real friend. She's already stated she couldn't kill him. It's a real life paradigm of "So your loved one is a zombie, do you kill them?" I'm sure there's misplaced sentiments put in there and she's given a bias based on Stockholm syndrome, but she certainly does not mistake Comstock for a friend. Similarly to the Fitzroy problem, Elizabeth in turn doesn't have the live with the pain of destroying her home, and it's only in a final, knee-jerk reaction to save her own life does she finally pull the plug on Songbird. The amount of despair she feels afterwards is immediately reflected, where off in the distance you see a little sister mourning the loss of a Big Daddy.

There are tons of tiny details all around the world the lend itself to the way Elizabeth acts that going into a game with blinders on prevents you from experiencing. Maybe I'M wrong, but I'd at least like you to see these facts and see if it changes your opinion a bit.

Iris Ophelia

@val I've heard really good things but I haven't had a chance to play it yet for myself. I know last summer there was a lot of concern about the story based on some comments in the press, but all that seems to have worked out from what I've seen/been told.

@Kevinsyel I should be clear that I didn't go into this game "with blinders on". I was excited as helllllll about it, not just looking for shit to complain about. I mentioned how excited I was when the game told me she could take care of herself, for example. I was SO HYPED about Elizabeth. If anything my problem was that I was prepared to put her on a pedestal from the very beginning. I was looking for any and every excuse to adore her, not because I wanted her to be some sort of badass videogame reflection of myself or something, but because I'm just so damn bored of seeing the same handful of women in every game I play.

Again, I still really really like her, but that doesn't make her immune from criticism.

There are always ways she could theoretically help without killing. There are Vigors that function as stuns/crowd control for example, why not use those in incapacitate without killing? And yes, the siphon limits her power, but the amount that it limits her abilities is sort of at the designers' convenience. When she needs to be weak she's weak, when she needs to be strong she's strong. She can still throw open a tear for them to step right into even if she struggled to do something significantly less impressive a few days prior.

If we accept that these things manifest somehow from what she wants, if she wants everyone alive but simply subdued, that should be a possibility. Remember that just about everything about a game is crafted very, very deliberately. If they wanted her to be more active, they could have designed the game to allow that without necessarily compromising on her character's values or wishes.

I suppose I come off angry about it because the more I think about her, the more frustrated I get with how she's handled. I do have a lot of positive things to say about her as well, but I've already written about them in the other article I linked. I already wrote my article about the bird, now it's time to write an article about the cage, you know?

Aliasi Stonebender

Given the hints that (a) vigors are newly introduced and (b) somewhat based off plasmid technology (meaning that in the long run, they're probably as hazardous as splicing plasmids for one's sanity) it's probably for the best Elizabeth NOT use them.

Also, as for Elizabeth's varying power levels - isn't that a bit like someone who has walked around all their life with weights on their arms and legs building up strength and then finding how very strong they are when they finally have the weights removed? Elizabeth is working out her powers to a far greater extent while with Booker than when she was in her tower, it makes sense she'd get better over time.

Similarly, her ability to open tears is based on her emotional wants. She wanted to see Les Miserables in real life, and you get the "Vox Populi revolt" time, you want to get the airship, so she smooshes two timelines together so you can get the guns they want, etc.

That's not to say it's perfect by any means (vigors do remain the biggest 'wha?' in the game, there because hey it's a Bioshock game and you need some magic powers) but I think it's important to note that Elizabeth is not a hardened killer; Booker is.

Kim Anubis

I just wish I could play a female character rescuing the handsome leading man instead of the other way around. I don't know if men get tired of rescuing damsels in distress, but I sure do.

Jo Yardley

Sounds all very cliche indeed.
So the boy does fighting, she does reading and doesn't like violence... but when a child is hurt her mother-instinct or something kicks in and she suddenly gets a bit involved?

Yes that would annoy me too.


Why should Elizabeth fight? Why does the fact that Elizabeth DOESN'T fight mean that she's less worthwhile as a character?

Elizabeth doesn't fight because she doesn't want to fight. Elizabeth doesn't fight because she doesn't want to kill people, and she's happy to let Booker do that for her. And by the time she DOES want to kill people, Booker intervenes to handle it for her. Because really, you're right - Elizabeth is a damsel in distress. But you're not saving her from people who want to hurt her, not really - you're saving her from herself.

There is without a doubt a dissonance between the gameplay and the story. I don't disagree that Elizabeth could stand to open tears autonomously in the way that she gets you weapons autonomously, or that you should be able to engage with her more fruitfully outside of the cutscenes so that the transition back and forth between them is less jarring.

A lot of that seems to be what you're complaining about. Elizabeth does things to engage Booker in the story when he doesn't necessarily need to be there at all. But now that you've noticed that, that you've noticed it's Elizabeth who involves Booker in occasionally irrelevant decisions, why are you arguing that the problem is that Elizabeth is too submissive and should take a part in the combat when this is literally Booker's/The Player's central contribution to the entirety of the game?

As for Old Elizabeth - Booker-as-Comstock does create a catalyst for her to behave in the way that she does, in the same way that Elizabeth-as-Anna creates the guilt that motivates Booker to behave in the way that he does, in the same way that Rosalind/Robert enables the entire game to take place. When you judge her for having an influential character inspire some of her actions, you're holding her to a higher standard than you hold all of the other characters, and you're denying her the agency she certainly has. When she summons Booker to this dystopian future, reaches out a hand to him, and shows him what she's done, she is not helping him - she is helping herself. He is simply the agent of change. There is nothing passive about this scene just because she isn't raining fire down during it.

Similarly, during the ending - she asks Booker's permission because it's his LIFE. Why shouldn't she ask permission to murder him? Why does it make her a better character to kill someone she cares about without giving him the chance to understand? How would that be at all consistent with everything we know about her? What dimension does it add?

I'm not saying there aren't problems with Elizabeth, but they aren't the problems you seem to think they are. Many of them come down to the problem of trying to work with an incredibly powerful character in the narrative, while also trying to involve the player in a story that increasingly belongs to Elizabeth. Perhaps she should have been the main character - and I'd certainly love to see that take - but you would wind up with similar complexity and a very different game.

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