Uncanny Marvel NO.

The House of Ideas is overflowing, not with creativity, but with blood.

That’s the image I had in my mind as I stepped timorously through its doors four months ago, and the image I haven’t been able to shake during my visit. It’s an outsider’s view, the sort that frankly I think is hard to convey to anyone who has spent too long living inside that house. Some will argue that inexperience precludes passing judgment. I’d argue ingrained bias precludes rejecting the judgment I pass. Put simply, I had nothing to lose coming into this, and I’ve still managed to lose it.

I continue to meditate on the concept of superheroes. On justice. On hope. On the great responsibility that people who have great power are supposed to exercise.

That was the advice I was given through Peter Parker’s eyes.
But Peter Parker is dead. And Axel Alonso’s looking a lot more like the Kingpin than Uncle Ben.

A well-meaning friend heard about my decision to, for all intents and purposes, sever all ties with Marvel comics, and wrote this blog in an attempt to counter my position. It is the proverbial “don’t let a few bad eggs ruin Easter” argument combined with the notion that the company must offer something worth sticking around for, or they wouldn’t be the top dog after all these years.

I’m going to begin by addressing Avengers Arena directly, more specifically my friend’s comments, because I don’t think he properly understands the extent and the reasoning behind my vitriol. His language makes light of the situation, including Arena as one of several “titles that quite a few fans don’t favor or approve of.” Later, he points out an impending death and notes “I can see why this would make some fans angry” before likening that death of my favorite character to a major change made to one of his favorite characters.

I’ve pointed out a great many unlikable things about Avengers Arena but the one which has infuriated me like no other, and the one which nullifies every pacifying remark anyone has ever attempted to sling at me, is the solicit for the book within the pages of Avengers #1, which explicitly pitched the book to people who believed Marvel had too many teen characters and who hated characters like the Runaways and the Academy kids. This solicit promised that group — of people who do not want to see those kids around — that they would be pleased by Arena.

This is not, my friend, merely a matter of me being annoyed by the book. It is not a matter of my approval or favor. It is not even a matter of fearing for this character or that’s well-being.

It is about a company which, right in front of me and my proverbial “I love X-23” t-shirt and collection of Runaways books, says to the guy who hates my guts “pst, wait’ll you get a load of this.” It is a company which actively promoted its book to non-fans in such a way as to implicitly (but no less clearly) state “if you have invested time, money, and emotion into these characters, you’re about to be really upset.”

It is about a company which has no respect for its readers or their dedication, telling me that they would rather take the favorite characters of a guy who has spent literally hundreds of dollars across many years and many series investing in them and feature them in a slaughterhouse designed to royally piss me off on the off-chance that there are enough haters or ambivalent casual readers to sell a single ongoing title.

This isn’t just a book where Marvel said “well, some of the fans may not like the direction we take this, but it’s interesting and for the best.” This is a book where Marvel said “screw the fans, those characters are disposable.” And I’m sorry, but I don’t actually think anyone else really has a fair comparison. An unpopular narrative decision with your favorite character’s motivations hardly compares to this. At least he was still alive. At least his change had a chance to be redeemed. But what redemption is there for death?

The longevity of comic fan commitment is, if I’m honest, only as intimidating as it is baffling. For in the face of my worries that characters I love would die, the resounding response I got (beyond “who cares”) was “don’t worry, they won’t stay dead forever. Give it five, ten years, and they’ll be back.”

Never before have I encountered such nonchalance towards waiting for a decade or two for something to happen. And yet there it is. Five years ago I was a freshman in college. Five years before that and I was still on the bottom of the high school food chain. A tremendous amount of life happens in five years. It’s a long freaking time. And perhaps if you’ve spent your entire life being indoctrinated into the cult of comic groupthink, then that’s a reasonable period of time to wait to see if the things you loathed are retconned or redeemed.

But I’m an outsider. I’m trying to find excuses to stay in an industry I didn’t grow up in — to decide if this is something I want to make a permanent fixture in my life. And if waiting five or ten years is what it takes for Marvel to finally apologize for something that really hurts me today, then that’s about five or ten years too long. And when I see that something like “One More Day,” perhaps the most mind-numbingly awful event in comic history of which I’ve yet been made aware, which outright ruined decades of character development for one of the most iconic couples in American comic history, has gone six years without being retconned, what hope do I have that the deaths of a few obscure teenagers are going to get the makeover treatment any sooner?

And you see, that’s the irony of it all. In trying to tell me “this isn’t so bad,” what my friend actually said was “heck, we’ve all had our favorite characters butchered and destroyed; everyone who invests time and money and emotion into Marvel ends up getting screwed over and angry.”

To quote my friend, “But did they survive? Yes.”

Sadomasochism, it seems, is an acquired taste. Despite the inevitability of suffering, people choose to persevere.

And so to the numbers game. My friend points out that 31,000 people are enjoying Avengers Arena.

I’d point out that at its last issue, 22,000 people were enjoying Avengers Academy, the book which directly preceded Arena, and had one of the main characters of that book quite literally blown to shreds in the very first issue of the book he had been used to promote to them. I’d also point out that in less than four months, Arena has lost over 50% of its readership, so a lot less people are enjoying it than thought they would…and I imagine most of those Academy readers — you know, people who bought the book because it had characters they knew and liked in it –are part of the 33,000 people who have stopped reading it.

So yes, people are enjoying it. But more people have decided they don’t enjoy it than have decided they do.

I accuse Marvel of being a bloodbath. Let’s look at some of the other books which are enjoying success right now (as my friend pointed out).

Age of Ultron — a series in which everything is terrible, a lot of people are dead, and all signs point to at least some significant deaths being permanent (or at least “wait five or ten years” permanent).

Superior Spider-Man — a series whose whole premise depends on the headline-grabbing death of Peter Parker, and whose readership largely agrees that its chief purposes are to make life hard for the inevitable return of Parker and to once more make sure that he never gets back together with the woman who was — six years ago — his wife.

Wolverine‘s first issue — as with many first issues — sold well, but released to mediocre reviews. Not that it matters, because plans have already been revealed from Marvel that next year they are killing Wolverine.

Guardians of the Galaxy has sold well but has infuriated almost all pre-existing fans of the series and the cosmic universe in general; even the most accepting among them are having difficulty truly embracing the book. So here again is a series that Marvel banked on attracting new fans with even if it meant completely disregarding all the ones they already had. Besides, there’s a movie coming out soon, and that’s clearly all that actually matters.

And what’s on the horizon, aside from the “shocking” conclusion of Age of Ultron, the death of Wolverine, the continuation of Avengers Arena (along with Hopeless’, as of today, promise that most kids will be dead by the end of the arc)? Thumbing through the solicits, one finds Thanos Rising, “the book so blood-soaked you’ll be glad it’s a mini-series.” No, really.

Marvel NOW is new, and as a new thing it is going to have inflated sales. Just ask the people at DC, who have already had to cancel a variety of underperforming New 52 books and who don’t seem to even be agreed on whether or not they’re actually making substantially more money than before (nevermind the fans who are livid over how many of their favorite characters were either retconned out of existence or distorted so terribly as to defy recognition).

There’s no reason to believe that this moment of prosperity is anything beyond artificial; Marvel knew how to make a lot of money right now, but when the dust settles and all the new fans with no established devotion to the company peter off in pursuit of something new, will Marvel have been wise to have alienated hundreds of thousands of fans across the various corners of its readership? I sincerely doubt it.

This isn’t a matter of whether Marvel has talented people working for them. It’s not a matter of whether they have a rich history filled with incredible, lovable characters. X-23 is still my favorite, even if I refuse to buy the book she’s in.

This is a matter of a toxic, abusive relationship.

Yes, my friend. Marvel’s a talented guy. He makes you feel good. He buys great gifts. He knows how to cheer you up. You’re right, friend, he does “know how to make you smile.”

But he also knows how to beat the crap out of you because it fits his mood. He knows how to take you for granted and ignore you for months or years at a time.

He knows how to never actually apologize, because he knows that you’ll come crawling back to him no matter how badly he treats you. He promises to do better, that it won’t be like the other times.

But of course it will, and you both know it. You both know that it’s impossible to be a fan of Marvel without having your heart ripped out and dribbled up and down the proverbial court like a useless piece of rubber rather than your real emotional core. Yes, you’re right, there are books that I can read right now and love, and that will put a smile on my face.

But you know what? I bought every issue of The Runaways because that book put a smile on my face and made me happy. I loved that series and those characters. And do you know what some of my favorite characters, whose adventures made me happy, are up to right now? Fighting for their lives in a death arena because someone thought that’d be neat.

You know what else put a smile on my face and came from Marvel? Seeing Laura Kinney, the girl who never had a life of her own and was always being used by other people for their violent ends, finally getting to explore her humanity, to make friends, to pursue romance, to stop being a cold killing machine and start having real heart. And do you know where she is now? Fighting for her life in a death arena where someone is trying to use her to kill her friends and has a chemical which can make her do that… because someone thought that’d be neat.

So here’s the lesson I’ve learned: every time I invest myself into getting to know a character or group of characters because they make me happy, I run the extremely real risk that Marvel will kill them off, forget about them, or ruin their character so badly that the name is the only thing that character still has in common with what I had enjoyed.

I get why people need to defend their cognitive dissonance, to delude themselves into avoiding the reality of the situation. But I’m new to the game, and I haven’t put on the blinders yet. My decision here is probably the last chance I’ll have — because if I can get through this series this early into my relationship with Marvel, then they’ll own me for life. I won’t be able to say “no” because I’ll look back and I’ll say “hey, it sucks, but it’s not as bad as the time they took my favorite character and a whole bunch of other kids I really loved and murdered them because The Hunger Games was doing well at the time,” and no matter who dies or what terrible excuse there is for superheroes to fight each other instead of fighting evil, injustice, and (eyes up front, class) greed, I’ll just say “I want more.”

So I’m sorry, my friend, but this isn’t “just one silly book.”

This is Peter Parker being dead, and those with power being completely irresponsible.

This is the House of Ideas, overflowing.

And whether you see it or not, it is overflowing with blood.

Echo Chamber

Hey folks. This isn’t an angry post or a funny post. It’s actually a bit sobering. So…sorry about that. It’s just that, as I’ve browsed my various social networks over the last day or two, I’ve come to a conclusion, one suspected and maybe even previously hinted at but never really directly addressed: despite the profusion of “connections,” in my life, I hardly feel connected to anyone or anything at all; like a plant with a vast root network with tremendous breadth and negligible depth.

Sometimes I’ll visit my blog and, because it has randomly signed me out, I will see it as a stranger would (instead of from my typical administrative perspective). One thing I’ve noticed is that, by merit of my having linked to social networks for publication purposes, the subscribe section hilariously misinforms visitors that over 500 people “follow” my blog. It counts my Facebook “friends,” Twitter followers (bots and all), and even my few “faithful” Tumblr adherents. All are counted as “following” me.

But are they? Not a chance.

I see a lot of surveys go by on my dashboard designed for coping with boredom. They come in a variety of forms but the common denominator is that you provide a list of potential questions, and your followers are supposed to pick a few for you to answer. Alternatively, you provide a list of ways people might feel about you (impressed, annoyed, aroused, etc.) and wait to see what the random people who like and reblog your stuff think about the purveyor of that stuff.

My reaction to seeing those surveys is always the same: I marvel at the notion that there are people, even people with whom I interact, who might actually post those and have someone bother to answer them. Who might actually have a follower in their network who finds them attractive or engaging, who would genuinely be upset if, say, they announced they were deleting all their profiles and going off to live an unplugged life. It’s so foreign to me. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I’m leaving no such impact. I continue writing and posting and tweeting and sharing because I’m getting something from it, not because I’m delusional enough to believe that there are people who read those things and care about them and yet never post, never like, never comment on, and never share them. Those people don’t exist.

My blog, my Tumblr, my Facebook, and to a lesser but still relevant extent my Twitter, are echo chambers. I write under the illusion of impact, but when I drop the fancy machinations long enough to peek out from behind the curtain, I know there’s no real audience to speak of out there. Simply the occasional passerby who may, on rare occasion, toss a handful of change into the guitar case out of pity, maybe even out of the minor sort of pleasure which will be forgotten two blocks and a conversation down the road.

Of course, this isn’t a rant, just a (sad) observation. Aware that most of the people who at one time claimed interest in my life are currently showing nothing of the sort, I can’t help but shudder at the thought of how many of the people I follow have been similarly ignored by me. If I were to count on my hands the people whose lives I’m actually, really, still a part of in a meaningful way, would I even lift every finger? And as for those I’ve ceased to have a real connection with? It’s not so matter a question of if but of who, how many? And are any of them upset by it, the way I know I am about some of the relationships I’ve lost?

I don’t know.

I guess the point is I never will.

I do really appreciate those of you who are there, who do read, who do share, who do answer. For the last couple weeks I sought in vain to get email feedback on something I’d written, and despite hundreds of “followers” in my own networks and the hundreds or thousands more reached by the few who graciously shared my request with their “followers,” I received exactly no emails. And I fixated a bit on that zero, when I think I ought to have fixated on the names of the few who actually cared enough to attempt to promote me. Even those who by their own admission weren’t personally affected by or interested in the topic, but knew I cared and figured someone they knew might care too.

I don’t really know how to end this post since it was more a stream of thought than anything with a clear point. I suppose all that remains is to say if you read this and felt like I’m taking you for granted, and wish I weren’t, please say something. Seriously. No shame. I’m already saying mea culpa. Give those words direction ^_^

And everyone else: sometimes it’s not the roots that matter, but the flower; maybe rather than focusing on the water I’m drawing in, I should focus on the sunlight I reflect. Not maybe. Definitely.

I saw a group of girl scouts outside our local grocery store the other day, and it reminded me of a lighthearted piece I did long ago on “The Forge,” the name I gave to my writings when I was a teenager, the banner beneath which I actually wrote things which brightened people’s days. I guess there’s a time at which people wanted me in their life because talking with me didn’t feel like a game of Russian Roulette. And I think it’s safe to say I’ve lost that. I’m not blind or deaf. I know my name has become synonymous with a certain degree of belligerence. I know when someone wants a sentence they get a paragraph, and some refrain from starting conversations with me the way one refrains from beginning “the song that never ends;” because they know exactly what it is they’re getting into.

And I’ve just surpassed the 1000 word count. So, point made, point taken. If you need me, I’ll be off talking to myself.

Bioshock Infinite: A Filthy Reflection

It is both impossible and deceptive to attempt a discussion of Bioshock Infinite without raising the matter of racism and xenophobia. The game goes beyond mere representational homage and into explicit commentary: shoving your face in this seedy side of America’s past and making you grapple personally with how pervasive the mindset was and still can be in a society which accepts, overtly or implicitly, the notion that some human beings are naturally superior to others. It comes at a time when America finds itself once more in the midst of an identity crisis, wrestling with whether some of its citizens are treated as second-rate, inferior, or despicable simply because of the way they were born. The honest player looks in this mirror and sees filth: not because the glass is dirty, but because it clearly reflects dirt.

I find it’s not so much the flagrant “preserve racial purity” banners which got to me as I explored Columbia, but rather the minor encounters with NPC’s, be it the girls at the beach talking about the scandalous moment when “an oriental” had the audacity to ask for the time to a mother scolding her son for kissing an Irish girl (spawn of one of those potato eaters) to the black man who apologizes for his cigarette as if enjoying a luxury on his own time and dime were a sin for which one needs pardon. Stand near the bathrooms for long enough and Elizabeth asks why separate facilities are needed for whites and colored people. Booker says that’s just how it is, and Elizabeth naively notes that it seems unnecessarily complicated. Oh, Liz, if only “complicated” could cover it.

This isn’t a game about white guilt. By the time the credits roll, Infinite makes it quite clear that power abuse and treatment of people based on differences is a hardly a one-way street. But to the extent that the majority of people who will be picking up a game with two attractive white people with guns on the cover are probably going to be white people who have enjoyed massive, unearned, invisible privilege their whole lives, Infinite definitely hones in on that angle of its message.

Making a point about America’s sordid past (and, I’d argue, insidious present) is, sadly, not even reliant on hyperbole. While the stylized nature of the Hall of Heroes is starkly offensive, it affords a very real look at how history is written by victors. Blacks, Irish, Asians, Natives, and anyone who treats them as normal, equal human beings, all are portrayed in Infinite according to a model which seems frighteningly accurate for the time, and I find it grimly shocking how some people consider the game itself to be racist for having the guts to just show that racism and xenophobia.

A racist game would have you throwing stones at an interracial couple, nodding in agreement with gossiping white girls on the beach, indignant at the sight of a mulatto on break, scoffing with the socialites at the idea of fair pay and equal treatment. Infinite has you furious, but in a different way: ready to go on a killing spree in the town square not against the Vox Populi with their modified rocket launchers but against the bonnet and briefcase-bearing bourgeoisie whose tongues and tarnished minds are weapons far more dangerous.

I’ve been told that last year’s Django Unchained is required viewing for anyone who wants to have a modern conversation on the state of racism in culture and media. I’ll add Bioshock Infinite to that required list. The fact that a game like this can be made — and made so well — is a sign of the times for sure. Years ago, Ken Levine brushed off the naysayers who called what he makes unworthy of the title “art,” and proceeded to design a masterpiece. It’s one of gameplay, of narrative, and of mental provocation, but perhaps most importantly it’s a masterpiece of social commentary, too.

Tomb Raider: Where the Survivor Stumbled

Let’s get the full disclosure part out of the way up front, shall we?

  • I love the new Tomb Raider.
  • I’ve never played a previous Lara Croft game.
  • I have 100% campaign completion on Normal, am going back through for my Hard playthrough, and recently bought a few cables so that I can play multiplayer with voice chat over PSN.
  • Nothing I’m about to say precludes my resounding recommendation that people go buy and play this fantastic game. It tells a great story, it’s set in a breathtaking environment, has some fantastic, memorable music, and is just a ton of fun, particularly if you’re the sort of person who feels compelled to find and collect anything that causes an incomplete fraction to pop up on your screen when you find one of it.

But in the wake of news of “disappointing sales” and a flood of unhappiness and ranting following the announcement that no single-player DLC is planned for the game, I think it’s worth looking at what happened and considering why.

The number one problem I have with Tomb Raider is that it is too easy. I say that not as a long-time fan who misses the challenges of older games, but as a platformer aficionado who has tackled extremely challenging and hazardous tombs in, say, several Assassin’s Creed games over the years (tombs which aren’t even fundamental to the franchise’s story or branding) and found that the most difficult moments in Tomb Raider were a cakewalk when compared to other games it can’t help being held up against. I had to work far harder to achieve full campaign completion in pretty much every other platform/exploration-driven game I’ve ever played (going back to PS1, say).

That’d be alarming even if this weren’t called “Tomb Raider” and if the franchise’s core fanbase hadn’t fallen in love with the challenge of each tomb. So while I think any fans who pass on this game because of its representation of Lara are simply making an incredibly ignorant decision, the fans who pass because of the lack of challenge? They have a point. It may be a great game, but it isn’t the type of game they wanted to play, not the type of game Tomb Raider used to feel like.

So here’s my “review.” If you played Tomb Raider for Lara, pick this up. If you played Tomb Raider for the sense of mystery, discovery, and adventure, pick this up. But if you played for puzzles that could stump you for hours, and if your sense of achievement is tied to the difficulty of overcoming extreme challenge? Then maybe this isn’t for you after all. And I think the extent to which that may apply to a lot of people who loved Tomb Raider in the past is rather sad. But beyond that, I can’t think of many reasons not to play this game.

While all that may seem a bit unrelated to the backlash over DLC, it honestly isn’t tangential at all. The campaign established a great toolset and delivered progressively harder tombs as Lara combed Yamatai, and I don’t think I was the only fan who not only hoped but took for granted that a “challenging tombs” pack was going to come out sometime soon. We were prepared to pay extra money for the challenge that was blatantly missing from the game. And then we found out it wasn’t coming…ever.

I attended the Tomb Raider panel at PAX East this weekend and the difficulty of the game (or lack thereof) was brought up. Crystal & Square recognize the outcry, and acknowledge the more rudimentary challenge level of this game. While what was said doesn’t necessarily excuse them (or the lack of DLC), it’s worth mentioning here. Two culprits were pointed to, each with its own merit.

The first is the tone of this Tomb Raider in contrast with past games. 2013’s Tomb Raider is rugged and real, powered by emotion and character rather than action and diversion. The story maintains a rather constant urgency and that’s a tone which is difficult to maintain even in the best of games. While diversionary romps through hour-long tombs may make sense for Ezio (especially if he hasn’t reached the next narrative waypoint to guide the story along), Lara is in a very present battle for survival and rescue. In terms of “gamey” mechanics, it simply wouldn’t make narrative sense for her to meander off into dark and dangerous dungeons while her best friend is in real danger of being sacrificed, or while she herself has not developed an affinity for crypts as of yet and would just like to be home in a warm bed. Sure, as the game goes on we begin to see the “old” Lara surface and a confidence emerge which ensures future games will have to up the ante. But in terms of this story? Extensive tombs really just wouldn’t have worked.

When you consider past Tomb Raider games, you’ll notice more of an emphasis on fun and fantasy, elements which while not absent from this game are definitely (and intentionally) subdued. Seldom does a moment arise in the new Tomb Raider where your suspension of disbelief is broken: Yamatai feels real, the danger feels real, and part of you wonders if that dangerous island isn’t actually out there, amassing shipwrecks and downed planes and populated by a manic and lost cult. Every tomb feels like just that: a tomb, a place actually used by real people who had a real purpose for the environment. The challenge of traversing it feels practical because it wasn’t created to be challenging, it just became challenging as traditional footpaths and the like eroded and decayed over time. In much the same way as a person who drops a ladder needs to find another way down from the roof, Tomb Raider‘s challenge isn’t overtly gamey. It makes sense contextually.

One panelist pointed out how in previous games the difficulty stemmed from mechanics like having to pull a lever in one room which seemed disconnected from the door that lever opened in some other room. We’re used to this in games, but if you think about it, no actual person would ever develop a system that complicated for getting into a room. Believability and difficulty are ever at odds in these tombs and in this particular case, with narrative in mind, I actually appreciate the thought that went into the design of each one.

And the second point, which is so obvious it’s almost surprising, is that you didn’t need to use survival mode to get through the tombs. I’m sure there are SOME people out there who figured everything out easily enough without that aid, but anyone who complained that the tombs were too easy after having used such a blatant newb-friendly crutch should re-evaluate whether the game lacked challenge because it was inherently too easy, or because they opted for the path of least resistance. The goal of this reboot was to open the door for a new generation of players to a franchise which had become stagnant and rather esoteric, and to the extent that accessibility precluded forced difficulty, the onus may be said to be on players for challenging themselves if the standard experience proved too simplistic. This mirrors my own thoughts on Final Fantasy XIII‘s auto-battle system: sure, I wish the fighting had been more complex and demanding, but I could have chosen to mix up my fighting and made battles more interesting of my own accord; my decision to do otherwise can’t really be laid at Square’s feet.

So perhaps you can understand and appreciate why the game’s core tomb set was easier than it might have been. But that level of forgiveness is trumped by the absence of DLC — an admittedly more “hardcore” product insomuch as casual players aren’t likely to seek it out — and the knowledge that people who wanted to buy more Tomb Raider content in the spirit of the original Tomb Raider were deemed less worth developing content for than the ostensible multiplayer crowd definitely stings.

This, then, is the second major issue I have with Tomb Raider, and that’s its focus on multiplayer. Now like I said, I look forward to playing multiplayer. I have heard decent things about it, and it sounds like it’s got an interesting twist on the typical formula. But the fact remains that no one is going to buy Tomb Raider on the basis of it having a multiplayer mode, robust or otherwise. And while the people who do play will obviously need a fresh supply of content to keep them hooked instead of wandering off to play other games, it seems a bit more balanced approach would have been appropriate.

I’m not going to repeat the (now trite) complaint that single-player games are having multiplayer shoehorned into them and that development costs are being taken away from making a better single-player product because of it. There’s some merit there for sure but I don’t think the issue with Tomb Raider was that not enough time was spent polishing it. If difficulty is my prime concern and it can be explained for non-resource-related reasons, then obviously something more is at play.

In this case, it may simply be the failure to recognize that reigning multiplayer champions like Halo and Call of Duty are simply not going to be usurped. Variety is great but the popularity of such stalwart mainstays suggests that the reason people keep buying and playing them is more to do with how they don’t change than with how they do; familiarity, rather than freshness, seems to be driving those mind-blowing sales.

So to come along and expect, as Square clearly did, that a game-changing multiplayer might make Tomb Raider more of a hit — and to back that assumption by developing multiplayer-exclusive content — seems a rather foolhardy decision. And it’s a shame, because you know they realize that too. A cursory glance at the backlash reveals a rather clear message: We don’t want more multiplayer. We didn’t even really want it in the first place. And the money we would have given you gladly for other content, you’ll never see, because you’re not making that content.

Tomb Raider is a great game, and hopefully the beginning of an extraordinary new life for the Lara Croft franchise. It would be tragic for the “poor” sales to preclude further games with this level of excellence being made, and on that basis alone I reiterate my encouragement to go buy yourself a copy. But I sincerely hope that, now that the origin story has been told and a “survivor has been born,” Crystal and Square learn from their mistakes here and deliver a follow-up which will live up to the bar they’ve set while thrilling the disgruntled fanbase that just wants to be forced to think a little harder. Just cater to the masochists and introverts.

We are gamers, after all.