A thing about a game is that it is fun to play. And it is good. But you should know that I have a business background and so for me, games are also products. As a writer I am torn between two perspectives. As a gamer I have fun despite the flaws, I enjoy playing games. At the same time, I am also more than just a gamer. As a student of marketing and finance, my perspective takes other factors into consideration.
Let me state: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is a good game but I’ll use it for my example. It is a good game, but I am hesitant to say that it is a good product. It must also be taken into account that price is one thing and value is another. As a video game journalist I was given the opportunity to review this fine game made by Crystal Dynamics. And, I am grateful for that opportunity. It is my duty to report the truth, and to give credit where credit is due. But in that extent I failed. What began as a review became this opinion piece and I have my Associate Editor, Case, to thank for that.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light succeeded on many levels. It is fun to play. And there are many things that are done correctly. But this is the part where I am torn between my two perspectives. Because although this game is fun, it is not immersive. Let’s look at what I mean by that in detail.
The video game industry is in shambles. It is difficult for me to talk about. There are a number of things going wrong. For instance, there are way too many sequels being made. If Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light isn’t a sequel, I would not be able to tell. It takes the series in a new direction. So that is a good thing. It’s a sequel, but it isn’t. There is value there but it is hidden.
Let us take this a step further and analyze this from a business perspective. I am torn when I play this game. And I am saddened. I weep for this game. And for the industry itself. They are diamonds in the rough. And with a little more polish they can shine so brightly. I am torn when I play this game. And because I am divided between gamer and businessman, I am not fully immersed in the experience that is Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. There is something going on with this game that is not allowing me to fully dive into it. I am divided between player and businessman and I need to reconcile these two perspectives.
The problem is that you cannot speak about one thing without speaking about something else. We talked about the industry and there are still things left to be said about that. And, we talked about immersion and about value. We talked about my business perspective and now I was about to dive into the gameplay. Remember this started out as a review. And now it has evolved beyond that. But I could not do it alone or on my own. I need help and I needed perpective. And that is what we need more of. It is difficult to talk about.
We need to take a second to take all these threads of thought and to dissect them one by one.
Let us go back to the industry. My next point was to speak about Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and the story line. It is corny. There I said it. I’m sorry. But, it is true. And now there are two points to talk about. One is Hollywood and society. And the other is the video game industry and how these two things relate.
Hollywood is also corny. I don’t think I need to give you an example of this. It is almost a known fact. Storylines are unrealistic. And not only that, they are also void of value. I will give you an example.
Let us compare two fictional movies like an Indiana Jones based movie and something like a Dan Brown book based movie. But before that, let’s use a parallel example with games instead of movies. Let’s use Assassin’s Creed and Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. This is where it gets complicated. Now look at all four examples at the same time. My brain has already shut down, and that is what it feels like to play some of today’s games.
The truth is I am saying things that make sense. On some level, you know that I am making some kind of sense. But there is a lot going on so you cannot really tell. And when I play Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light I know that it is fun but there is also something else going on. There is something that is getting in the way of the experience. The game requires a bit of polish so that I can be immersed in it.
So you have Assasin’s Creed and you have Dan Brown on one side. And on the other side you have Lara Croft and Indiana Jones. Let us agree that all four of the participants of this example are what you would consider “successful”. The difference in value comes in the content of these four examples. And now we are back to speaking about the industry.
In the context of the video game industry, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light has a fine story. There is nothing wrong with it. It is unmemorable to say the least. But that is ok in the world of the gamer. But that does not mean that there is any value in the story. And this is where my examples come into play. Dan Brown and Assassin’s Creed had something to say about the actual world. There was a history lesson somewhere in there. You got a movie and a history lesson. Or, you got a video game and a history lesson. The stories were fictional, but they were not based on fiction. The stories added value to the movie or the games. And, I feel that the story behind Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light does not add any value to its gameplay. And by extension, I do not recieve any value when I play the game. At most, I am just killing things. And as a person I am saddened. As a gamer I enjoy a challenge. But sometimes a challenge can difficult. And sometimes a challenge can be frustrating.
This game is too frustrating and it is not challenging enough. What I am talking about is the programming itself. I am sorry. But I had to say it. The game is a fine piece of work. But imagine what it would have been like without the constraint of a budget. Or imagine what it would have been like without the constraint of a deadline. I am sure that the game becomes more challenging on harder levels. But I played on a normal difficulty. And I am sure that given enough time and money, the game could have been tweaked and playtested just enough so that “normal” would have felt natural.
Instead it feels forced and rushed. And that is how I played the game. I forced and rushed my way through it. I tried to beat it as quickly as possible. And then I tried to beat it again and I failed. I Imagined what the game could have been and it just made me angry and confused.
And now I am reviewing my article and I am reviewing my revisions and I am rewriting my rewrites. So to end this on a positive note I will leave you with this.
With video games we have the possibility to imagine a perfect world. We can create a utopia if we so choose. And not only that but we can interact with it. We can even live in it. Video games are a reflection of the people who make them and the society that those people live in. We can chose to rewrite the world in our own perfect image or we can choose otherwise. This is what I choose to believe. There is good in society and there is bad. And as much as we try we cannot make utopia. We were born of the world and we must live in it. You take the good and you take the bad. We cannot deny where we come from. But we can recognize that there is light and that we must guard it.