GHoF: Tomb Raider vs Uncharted

ghof

Yeah, this week I’m not going to do a fancy introduction in the style of Bruce Buffer, because frankly both of these series deserve better. You can’t really announce these two, to the squared circle like a boxer. They need something with more class and refinement. Let’s be honest would you announce Indiana Jones as you would Mike Tyson? Hell no! Indiana is a bad ass in a totally different way; he finds treasure and punches people in the face. Tyson just punches people in the face (and rapes/beats women but that’s another matter). This week in the Gaming Hall of Fame we are going to debate which is the superior action adventure treasure hunting game. Will it be Tomb Raider or Uncharted? Representing Lara Croft (and her ample bosom) is Matt and representing Nate Drake (and his not so ample bosom) is Ian.

Tomb Raider vs Uncharted

Matt: So I’m starting this off this week. In light of my recent losing streak in these blogs I’m going to fight tooth and nail for this victory, because it’s getting a bit embarrassing. First thing is Tomb Raider started it all. Now I’m aware that this doesn’t automatically make it the best, but it is a starting point. When I first played Tomb Raider it was like nothing else I had ever seen. It had an actual story, big boobs, interesting characters, big boobs, exotic locations and big boobs. Did I mention Lara’s boobs? Because I’m going to mention them a lot. But seriously, Tomb Raider was a great little game. Then there was a sequel. The sequel was even better, the story was better and the locations where more exotic, plus Lara’s breast were rounder and less like triangles. You get to fight Yetis and Dragons. Also at the end Lara disrobes but then says “Don’t you think you’ve seen enough?” that’s a ending that leaves you wanting more, literally and you got more, another game that is. Anyway I need to get to the point before this just becomes a Tomb Raider blog. With each game the Tomb Raider franchise changed and adapted and became more. Sure at the start the controls were a bit odd and difficult to use, but that’s only to today’s standards, at the time they were fine. Sure across the series the quality has slipped a bit, and people want more from games nowadays. To be fair to the franchise they have adapted to this with Underworld which gained positive reviews and the reboot tomb raider (due out today) which also gained positive feedback. People will say the Lara is the new drake, in fact tomb raider issued a tweet with the hashtag newdrake, but hay Drake was #newlara so its #fullcircle (I’ll stop with the hash tags now). Any way that’s my intro. I’ll let Ian rip it apart now.

Ian: I totally agree that Tomb Raider started it all… oh wait, that’s a load of nonsense. Funny how Matt wrote the intro talking about Indiana Jones, a person who collects treasure from ancient civilisations in exotic location, just like Tomb Raider! Ah but Indiana Jones is a film! Ok then, Pitfall. Or how about Metroid? A game where a woman explores strange and exotic locations using platforming to collect items, solve puzzles and uncover mysteries. “Tomb Raider started it all” (Matt Husselbury, 2013). Lets clear that up straight away, Tomb Raider started fuck all. Rant over. We can now talk about the sheer fantastical excellence of the Uncharted games. You can tell just how good these games are when I tell you developed them; Naughty Dog, my favourite game developers of all time. So if both Tomb Raider and Uncharted are set around the idea of exploring ancient civilisations in order to uncover treasure/unravel a mystery then what makes Uncharted so damn good? Everything. Lets start with the characters. Nathan Drake is perfectly played by Nolan North (all actors do both voice as well as motion-capture to really bring the character to life). Drake isn’t your typical action hero, sure he’s a bit cocky and arrogant but things don’t always go well for him and when this happens the writers do an amazing job of making you want him to pick himself up and win. Then there’s Elena, the love interest. The difference between her and the girls of Indiana Jones though is that she isn’t just there to be the T&A, she’s a fully realised character in her own right and can more than hold her own in a firefight or in an argument with Drake. The romantic relationship between Elena and Drake is one of the biggest hooks of the series, why? Because it’s so well written. Uncharted 2 ends with Drake having come incredibly close to losing Elena in battle. The final cut scene is classic Uncharted, Drake helps Elena out of the tomb and they finally share a kiss that we’ve been waiting two whole games to see. Elena asks out of 10 how scared Drake was at the thought of losing her, “4” replies Drake. “A 4? You were at least an 8! So what’s a 10?” “Clowns” replies Drake.  Its little moments like this that makes you really invest in the relationships between characters and ultimately brings a sense of humanity to the otherwise unrealistic (though completely fantastic) adventure. And then there’s Sully. Oh how I love Sully. Sully is Drakes mentor and father figure in the series. All I’ll say is that with his silver mustache and amazing one-liners, when he lights his cigar you know he means business. Name me one other character in the Tomb Raider franchise (without looking online) that is anywhere near as well written as any of these three.

Matt: I’m not arguing with you that Uncharted is a great game, your slightly weird fanboy obsession with Naughty dog aside. In fact I love Uncharted it reminds me of everything that I loved about the Tomb Raider franchise. I also agree with you that the games have aged. You didn’t say that but everything you said about the characters and settings is making the point, that by today’s standards the game isn’t up there. The thing is this is a 4 dimensional argument, we aren’t saying that by today’s standards Tomb Raider isn’t good, I’m saying that in its time it was a trail blazer. Without Tomb Raider there would be no Uncharted. Tomb Raider was enjoyed by so many that it became a pop culture phenomenon, everyone knew who Lara Croft was. It spawned two (pretty poor) movies, hundreds of fans films, numerous sequels and awesome Lara Croft Cosplay girls. Tomb Raider transverse games and became pop culture. In fact the Tomb Raider movie is the highest grossing game to film adaptation ever. So yeah, Uncharted does have more developed characters, but Tomb Raider did what it could at the time, and did it well. Sure the quality has dropped, but I’m sure if Uncharted was 10 games in, the quality would drop too. Plus Tomb Raider is under a reboot right now and the new game is getting great reviews. Granted they took the format of the Uncharted games, but this time you get the bresticles of Lara Croft. On top of that they have also made an effort to delve into her story and explain why Lara is Lara. Tomb Raider has evolved. New Lara is now the model for new Drake, such is life.

Ian: Tomb Raider isn’t under a reboot right now; it’s under its second reboot in 7 years. Why? Well when Tomb Raider: Legend (the first in the reboot trilogy) came out sure it did some nice things, I even remember thinking the game was ok but it didn’t do anything nearly as well as it needed to, and that was an Xbox 360 game so lets not have any of this “its 20 years old nonsense”. The new Tomb Raider (out today!) looks so unbelievable not because it’s a return to form for Lara, it’s because in terms of gameplay it looks like Uncharted 4. You make the good point about things needing to be taken in context of the time they were released; this is very true especially when compared with videogames (an industry centered on technology and advancement). So lets look at the PlayStation 2 era of games. Core Design released Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, a game so truly awful that Core Design not only don’t make Tomb Raider games any more, the development studio was actually closed. Angel of Darkness had immensely clunky controls (PS2 remember, 3D games weren’t new) and terrible level design with an even worse camera. In this game Lara still controlled like a tank. Whereas take something like Ratchet and Clank or Jak and Daxter, the developers have fully embraced dual analogue control and as such they brought 3D exploration games into the 21st century. You’re also right that Tomb Raider is now on its something like 10th game, but that isn’t a good thing. Tomb Raider is a series set firmly in the 1990’s, has changed developer and is now on its second reboot (that’s right, we’ve has 3 ‘first’ games in the series). I talked in a previous debate about why Naughty Dog were such a good studio, it’s that when a series has come to the end they let it go gracefully, before it runs out of steam. Tomb Raider ran out of steam years ago, and funnily enough the only reason people are excited about the new one is that it copies ideas from a developer that embraces the new.

Matt: Firstly, the reboot thing isn’t as bad as you make out. The developer changed, and so did the direction. Secondly Legends is the third most critically acclaimed game in the series. It was Tomb Raider returning to form. Now I do agree that Angel of Darkness was a bad game. It just didn’t get it, it was very behind its time and failed for its sins. But don’t make it sound like there isn’t a dud in the Uncharted series either. Uncharted fight for fortune received average reviews and was essentially shameless cashing in on the popularity of the franchise. All they did was took the magic the gathering card game, changed the mechanics of the card game and put it on disk. I know it wasn’t Naughty Dog, but it is an example of the series not ending gracefully. Every company will milk the cash cow while they can, it’s a principle of capitalism; so don’t give me this high and mighty Naughty Dog crap. If Uncharted 4 will make money they’ll make it (even though the story was nicely wrapped up). If Uncharted 5 makes money they’ll make it, or a 6th, or 7th ect. It doesn’t matter that they don’t have a story they’ll just keep going. And yes people are excited about new Tomb Raider, because it looks like Uncharted, but that’s what the genre has to be in this time period. Copying success isn’t a bad thing; it’s a good thing. Tomb Raider took the principles of the Indiana Jones franchise and made a game, Naughty Dog built on it and refined it for a new generation, then Crystal built on the Uncharted games. The modern car engine only exists because someone built on the original design. Modern computers exists because someone developed smaller computer chips. The argument we are having here is an argument that many music fans have with cover songs. Is it possible that a cover can be better than the original? Truthfully it’s possible; Nirvana’s cover of love buzz is better than the original Shocking Blue version, most things covered by Jonny Cash are better than the original, the Run DMC version of walk this way is better…ect. You know what these are though Ian? Opinions. The thing is these are all opinions. Truthfully both Tomb Raider and Uncharted are great games, and are each the leaders of their generation.  Equally both will be superseded, but such is life. We will have a #newindi, a #newlara or a #newdrake (I know I said I’d stop with the hash tag thing, but it’s too fun). Neither game is perfect, but both are great. It’s up to the Judge now though to decide who is better.

Ian: Fight for Fortune? That’s the biggest criticism you can come up with? It isn’t even a game, its add-on dlc for Uncharted Golden Abyss. Be gone with your criticism of Fight for Fortune, its like criticising a new multiplayer map for Call of Duty, its not a game. Secondly, no they wont keep just churning out Uncharted games, The Last of Us (the NEW game by Naughty Dog) is a clear indication of that. Lets deal with your point about things building on top of each other; ok, I agree. But you have to admit that by your own logic there is one great Tomb Raider game and 4 (including the PS Vita game) great Uncharted games. This isn’t an argument about which came first etc, it’s about which series deserves place in out Gaming Hall of Fame. The reason Tomb Raider made its way onto front pages of gaming magazines, why it got tones of merchandising and why films were made from it is because of Lara Croft. In the 1990s a female lead character in a male dominated industry stood out, put a male in her place and the games would be niche. In fact I’m so confident in Uncharted that I’m going to close my argument here and let you have the last word. The Uncharted series is simply a master class in video game design; great characters, locations, music and most importantly gameplay. Tomb Raider keeps getting churned out because people still to this day comment about Lara’s boobs. If you want to look at boobs on a screen then go look at porn, not only is it free but also they’re real boobs, not polygons! If you want a truly magnificent series of games that are there for the sheer joy of play then I highly recommend you go pick up the Uncharted games, you won’t be disappointed!

Matt: Great I get to close up. There isn’t one good tomb raider game; there is one tomb raider game you like. That’s the difference. Tomb raider 1, 2 and 3 are all great, Tomb Raider legends is also pretty good too. You are so blinded by your admiration of Naughty Dog that you fail to see any flaws in your “perfect” games. The characters aren’t as three-dimensional as you make out. Drake is just your cliché action hero; he’s a bit cocky and things don’t always go right for him *cough* Indiana Jones *cough*, Sully is just your sidekick. Sure he’s pretty badass, but he’s not exactly anything ground breaking. Then you have your strong female lead. You know the independent woman, who isn’t going to be behind any man. I’m sure we’ve seen that before. I also want to address one more thing; “Elena asks out of 10 how scared Drake was at the thought of losing her, “4” replies Drake. “A 4? You were at least an 8! So whats a 10?”, “Clowns” replies Drake.” (Ian Dutton, 2013) You use this as a point to explain why we get invested in their relationship, but even this doesn’t show a three dimensional relationship. All they have done is retold the “I love you. I know” scene from Empire. This is a developer who “embraces the new” (Ian Dutton, 2013) does. Nice and new. You may ask why I have waited this late to bring these points up? Well it’s because they are actually my closing argument. Ian refuses to except faults in uncharted, because he admires them too much, much like I refuse to admit fault in Kurt Cobain. So summing up my actual point is that both tomb raider and Uncharted are great games in their time. I just feel that Tomb raider contributed more to gaming. Entering the Hall of Fame isn’t about your technical skill it’s about your impact on the game. Without Tomb Raider there would be no “perfect” uncharted and for that point Tomb Raider should be in our hall of fame. If my reasoned and mature argument isn’t enough here is some Lara Croft bikini shots, because you can’t beat a bit of pixilated flesh.

Ian: Ok, turns out I’m not letting you have the last word. I’m more than willing to note negative points about Uncharted but this is a debate. In court you only acknowledge negative if the opposing side brings them up. You haven’t been able to come up with any negatives about Uncharted from a gameplay perspective at all! Ok you don’t like the characters, well then skip the cut scenes and play the game. The game that you can’t find a single flaw in.

Jack: Ok firstly I need to moan about the length of this debate that I’ve been asked to judge. Ok Ian and Matt we get it you both like games now stop shouting at the Internet.

Now one point I need to clear up is that Lara Croft has boobs, we all know that and Matt clearly is a bit hung up by them. I almost don’t want to say this but Matt you do realise she is a character and her boobs aren’t real right? Ian’s point about the characters in Uncharted I do buy into though, especially the humour. The quote Ian used did genuinely make me chuckle as did the YouTube click he’s provided that I recommend you watch. So (and I can’t believe I’m saying this but) jokes beat virtual boobs.

I always believe in leaving your audience wanting more. For instance I prefer Blackadder to Only Fools and Horses. Which is why I find it irritating when things are constantly reinvented and ‘back to their best’ (which they never are its just marketing hype). Tomb Raider was a good game at its time I don’t think either Ian or Matt would disagree, but Ian is right when he says its better to let things die gracefully rather than flogging the dead horse (see what I did there, no? Ok fine back to the debate).

The whole argument about who came first and who wouldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for who is pointless. The fact is they both exist who cares how they got there and they should be judged in isolation as to which is the best game. As for Matt’s YouTube clip I am irritated that I had to sit through 5:06 of video (6 seconds over our limit btw), which was clearly designed by people who clearly have too much time and their considerably hairy hands and have never seen a real woman before. Never mind the fact that her hips are the same width as her shoulders and her waist is roughly the same size as her neck that was the more pointless thing I have ever watched. It is for that reason and that reason alone that I’m awarding the Hall of Fame Honour to Uncharted regardless of any points that have been made above (even though I would have decided the same way anyway).

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