Your prized escape from the death traps of reality, a dream vacation, it’s all just an escapement until you fall for another death trap. This time, it seriously intends to take your life. What would you do? How will you survive? How long will you survive? OK, chill, we give you some cool gadgets and some ammunition, won’t it suffice? No?! Well, maybe survival is something that you are born with, and it comes as naturally to you as it comes to breathing. Today we focus on the two greatest survivors from the year’s video game stories – Jason Brody (Far Cry 3) and Lara Croft (Tomb Raider). What binds them, what separates them, as lead characters, as game changers, as survivors.
Let’s start with the award winning action title of 2012 – Far Cry 3. Frontman Jason never saw it coming on Rook Island, he was there chilling with his pals (so-called) and his siblings. Until a mentally unstable pirate king, Vaas, shot a bullet through his brother Grant. He saw life and death in two separate entities back then. Death creeping next to his brother’s dead body, and Life, which needed him to run, run deep into the forest. The good thing about bloody good video games is that it makes you get into the skin of the character, right from the first scratch, till the time he makes you believe that you two can really take on 50 enemies. After all, action games are a test for two, you at the controls, the character at the mercy.
Given the dramatic debut of Far Cry, people asked a lot from Far Cry 2, and that’s where it failed in my opinion. Even though the open map of FC2 asked you to scavenge day in day out, yet the lack of something special marred its true value. With Far Cry 3, Ubisoft wanted redemption. And that is clearly visible in the plot and the character build up. It doesn’t focus on Jason’s father or how Brody came to earth (getting a hint of Assassin’s Creed 3?), the game straight takes you to the plot. A couple of gunfire and you’re on your own. You vs pirates, vs animals and vs a lot more that Rook Island has to offer.
Jason Brody is a complete failure; in the words of Vaas, he is “chicken shit.” He’s just another American tourist who realises the true essence of his living as his desire to avenge for his brother’s death and fight for his loved ones. Initially trained by Dennis, and charmed by Citra, Jason Brody becomes the true warrior that is ready to be crowned the next Rakyat idol, thanks to his daring spirit and resilience. Within the course of the game, you learn how to use guns, how to craft syringes, how to hunt animals for their hide, and of course how to hunt pirates whether they like it or not. The reason why Jason Brody is the benchmark of character building is the fact that Jason would grow along with you, as a warrior. He will get inked with responsibilities. He will learn new moves as you tread on the path of the Rakyat, he will move at a gentle pace towards the plot. He will never hesitate killing people, however, being a little American, he does yuck at slicing animals. Brody knows how to handle glam and all that shit, he will continue to help the people around Rook Island with their minor tasks. Brody knows how to adapt to the terrains and wilderness of Rook Island, he also knows how to adapt to the times. And the truth says it all, Jason survives, Vaas dies.
In the early 2000’s, when I was officially introduced to the temptress called Lara Croft, I got banned from sitting in front of the PC. It wasn’t because of the language or the violence; it was because of Lara’s voluptuous self. Today, playing Tomb Raider, and reliving the start, it feels quite the opposite of what I felt back then. This time, I was not staring at Lara Croft, I was her. It was long since people like Nathan Drake usurped Lara from her righteous throne and took over the mantle of being the ultimate treasure hunter. With Square Enix in the front seat, Lara outdid what she could have previously, and as a matter of fact, Tomb Raider became one of those rare games that I just couldn’t stop myself from playing.
Lara, in the beginning, is anything but a Croft. With the memories of her father, she sets sail for the lost Japanese island of Yamatai along with a bunch of other archaeology colleagues and the ship mates. With a strange storm slicing her ship into two, Lara realises that she is tied upside down in a hallway full of dead people. That’s when the survival story of Lara Croft begins. Tomb Raider is not a massively open map game, however, it gives you complete freedom of how you can use your map to your benefit. Unlike most open map adventure games that will obstruct your screen with a complicated mini map, Tomb Raider lets you do the discovery. You open chests, retrieve old letters, articles, objects and if you strike lucky, you get to enter a secret tomb, unravel its mystery and go home with experience. You save games by discovering camps. Lara has her friend Samantha at the clutches of a gang of people who worship Himiko, the dead Queen of the island. The one, who still spiritually controls the ways of the island.
Like I said previously, Tomb Raider has much to offer, and the beauty of it lies in the fact that you need to find it all by yourself. Lara gains XP over the game and she learns to use the bow, shotgun, rifle, handgun. She can upgrade them too. At first, you nearly feel sorry for Lara, way more than what you felt for Jason. She doesn’t bathe in the glory of her kills, she would ask the gang members why would they want to kill her, every now and then. After all, she is just a curious university graduate who has no idea what this island and the rulers want out of her. And thus, she would break down, cry, lament, and do stuff that your girlfriend would normally do. (On that note, I wouldn’t mind having Lara as a girlfriend) But that’s Lara in the beginning, towards the end, as you go through the major cutscenes and upgrade your combat, you find a different Lara who would every now and then reminds you of the busty, manly Tomb Raider from your 2000s. Now that’s what I call eat the cake before the meat arrives, err great character development. The story build up is more than great and will keep you glued, as Lara’s acrobat and combat will defy your expectations and more than please you as you near a dramatic end to this reboot.
Jason Brody is blessed by the Rakyat ancestors, in no time, he becomes the face of their survival strategy on this pirate infested island. He does have a caring bunch of friends. And a lot of inland fame. However Lara Croft has a bunch of friends who doubt her at times, and that’s what keeps her going – her own curiosity. She is at war with the spirit that rules the island and has nothing in the world that can stop her from saving Sam, not even a hotter male version of Citra. The beautifully laid out character build up and the slow but steady combat/speciality upgrade makes the two almost lost soulmates. Playing as a robust man has its benefits, especially when you know how to craft special syringes or arrows, but playing as Lara beautifies the reason why you are a human being. He’s the tough guy, she’s the relic geek. Heads up to both the creators for giving us two masterpieces of epic survival.