Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Tomb Raider box art verdict and immersion-destroying hair.

I don't usually bother commenting on gaming news on Well-Rendered because as you might have noticed, I tend not to write about very recent releases. About once or twice a year, I'll buy something on release day and end up writing about it a couple of weeks later, but the rest of the time I tend not to get round to playing something until it's been out for at least six months.

"That trailer was lame."

I also try and avoid news about games I'm really interested in because I fear the hype machine that claimed me and forty of my hard-earned pounds back in 2010 with the release of Final Fantasy XIII. If I really want to play a new or upcoming game, I'll ignore it for a few months, then start reading blogs and reviews by people whose opinions I trust. That way, I generally manage to avoid disappointment.

There are exceptions though, and you can probably guess that one of those exceptions is Tomb Raider. I follow the official Tomb Raider tumblr blog daily, not just for news, but also the lovely and varied selection of fan art and development nuggets from Crystal Dynamics. Now would be a good time to say how much I like the tumblr blogs for Square Enix studios such as Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal that provide such a fun feed for fans (no alliteration intended), an approachable and varied mix of fan art, Q&A sessions, studio insight and news. It's smart community management, basically, far better than a sporadically updated news page on a flash-heavy website.

The new Tomb Raider box art.

Anyway, I've been quite excited about the box art for the upcoming Tomb Raider game, and now that it's been released, I'm happy to say that I like it. I wasn't too keen on the grubby headshot that did the rounds when the game was announced because, well, I just didn't believe in her hair. Take a look.

Worst. Hair. Ever.

Why is it all short at the back and sides? It would have been messed up by the shipwreck, but not cut off, which means her hair was short in those places in the first place and I just don't think the kind of woman who'd go to the effort of having such long, well-conditioned, swishy hair would have it cut in such a ridiculous way. Role-playing is important to me, and that hair really threatened to get in the way of it.

Actually, Elena Fisher has something similar going on: if her hair's long enough to go back in a bun, she shouldn't have those weird Lisa Simpson spikes at the nape of her neck. Look:

Why does Elena have some kind of hair valance?

The other Uncharted woman, Chloe Frazer, also has immersion-destroying hair because it's not really tied back in any way that would facilitate adventuring, it's just sort of loosely gathered, like an eighteenth-century curtain or something. It looks like it would be really annoying, and keep falling in her eyes during gun battles. I guess it was chosen because practically tied-back hair would look too much like Elena's, a higher ponytail or braid would make her look too much like Lara Croft (she's already a brunette with combats and boots), and loose hair would look too impractical.

At least the style she has makes a slight nod to practicality, even if it doesn't follow through. Still, I always want to tie it back properly for her with a good-quality hair elastic and maybe a clip for her fringe.

Surely this hair would get in the way? It's a bit Monica-from-Friends circa 2002, and the Friends girls always had really unconvincing hair.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Lara. More recent publicity shots have played down the stupid haircut, which I'm really happy about.

I like the new box art, I think it's a good balance between the series' new identity and a classic pose, where she looks capable and determined, if not confident. Yet. I'm really beginning to look forward to the game, if only because it looks like it's doing something new, not just within the series, but within games in general.

In the meantime, I've signed up for NaNoWriMo. One of the instructions it gives is to tell people you're doing it so it's harder to quit halfway through, so that's what I'm doing. I'm still not terrifically optimistic about my ability to write 1,600 words every day (i.e. 1,600 more words than I currently do), but you know, they don't actually have to be any good. That's the point. Like Hemingway said, "write drunk; edit sober".

That would explain why I'm so good at my job.



  1. Enjoyed the last two posts. Good luck on the NaNoWriMo! I wish they had that for writing music (self-deadlines are so hard to keep).

  2. the hair is fine I don't see your problem with it.

  3. I have long hair and you get shot bits at the back that don't grow. The higher your pony tail, the more prominent they are.

    In the original Tomb Raider promo pics, her hair did look a bit like a Mullet, short on top and long at back, but I think it's just the way it was drawn in that particular image.

  4. Thanks Gary. Not ever having written music, I'm not sure what the process is, but at least with writing, it is helpful to separate the composition (flinging down words as they come to you) separate from the editing (going through said words, identifying gaps, logical leaps and broken arguments, doing research to fill them in and tidying up the prose). So NaNoWriMo is a good discipline for getting the former done, since that's usually the bit that people actually struggle with.

    ff, I'm glad it didn't trouble you. Perhaps I have OCD, or have watched too many 80s movies.

    Anonymous, maybe Elena has the same difficulties as you. To be fair, it's far less prominent in Uncharted 3 (where that picture is from) since the graphics are pretty good, in Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, there was a lot more of the "Lisa Simpson" about it. I think you're right about that image, it was drawn strangely, to look like a mullet.

    I'm glad you both felt strongly moved enough to comment about the hair, it shows I'm not alone in finding this stuff important.

  5. I have just seen the new box art and I love it. I think it captures the determination of old Lara and the vulnerability of the new.

    As for the hair I thought of the same thing when I first saw that picture. There are a few girls around here with hair like that and it certainly does not tie back so well or fall like that!