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For over 10 years, Lara Croft has been one of the most well-known gaming icons, with
her disproportionate figure and dual-wielding pistols. In 2013, the Tomb Raider series was
rebooted for a second time, introducing a darker theme and a grittier universe where
conspiracy and death lurk around every corner. As part of this change, Lara's signature
weapon changes from pistols akimbo to a bow, and it is this image of Lara Croft that is
being used in the marketing of the current series. And it isn't just another ranged
weapon. The bow is an integral part of the gameplay, being used as both a weapon and
a utility tool. How does Lara go from gunslinging to arrow-flinging?
Lara ends up being stranded on the lost island kingdom of Yamatai with nothing but her wits.
To survive, Lara finds a makeshift bow from a long-rotten corpse and immediately puts
it to use to hunt for food.
While I normally leave the analysis for later, I do want to point out that an old branch
strung with an improvised string left in the jungle for hundreds of years is probably going
to snap the moment you pull it back. Avoid ancient bows and lost kingdoms where possible.
As the story progresses, Lara is able to obtain better equipment and upgrade her bow. The
makeshift bow is upgraded to a rather nice-looking recurve bow. Later, Lara receives a compound
bow, which is further upgraded into a competition bow.
With salvage parts, Lara is also able to improve the stats and functionality of her bows, including
strengthening the limbs for damage, using a key ring as an improvised release, and other
improvements to shooting speed and accuracy.
While Lara soon acquires a pistol, the bow never leaves her side. It is her weapon of
choice in cutscenes. Even in gameplay, the bow is used for a range of different purposes.
By combining the bow with a lighter, Lara can ignite her arrows, which can later be
upgraded into a napalm arrow that spreads flames on impact. The bow can be used with
rope arrows to pull enemies from high ground, form ziplines across vantage points and solve
puzzles. Lastly, the player has the option of crafting explosive arrows, coming in the
form of a grenade-tip arrow. I don't think those are competition-legal, though it might
make the Olympics a bit more interesting.
While many games feature the bow as a long-range weapon, Tomb Raider keeps the combat within
close distances. Arrows have a limited effective range, and from the player's perspective
the arrow flies perfectly straight. This allows Lara to use the bow as an improvised single-shot
assault weapon, but with rapid reloading. In gameplay terms, the bow acts as a bolt-action rifle.
Holding the fire button "charges" the bow, with Lara drawing it further back for
increased damage. This is largely unnecessary, as headshots are instant-kills regardless
of power, and you're probably better off shooting quick shots against enemies instead
of slow power shots. The enemies do react to being hit by arrows, so doing follow-up
shots is smooth and instinctive.
At some points, the bow can be used as a stealth weapon. However, enemies who are killed will
alert nearby foes. Lara can sense the threat with her survival instinct and the player
can pick off isolated enemies. Doing so in some sections avoids firefights against numerically
superior groups, though there's never really a sense of Lara being a stealth assassin that
can win the game solely through long-range shooting. The game's cover-shooter mechanics
and weaponry lean towards the action sequences. The stealth advantage is negated by the optional
silencer upgrades for the pistol and rifle, making the bow mostly redundant in combat.
Despite the availability of better weapons, the bow still retains a place in combat if
the player opts to upgrade it, with the most useful upgrade being armour piercing arrows.
This allows the player to bypass enemy body armour and restore the one-hit headshots against helmeted foes.
Lastly, Lara makes extensive use of arrows as melee weapons. She is able to put a premature
end to the ambitions of would-be adventurers by stabbing them in the knee. Unlocking bow
mastery, Lara can execute finishing blows using viscous stabs through the throat.
Lara isn't the only one who is proficient in combat archery either. Most of the inhabitants
of the island are also armed with bows. The AI tends to be pitch these as slow-shooting
grunts, but getting hit by an arrow can take a chunk out of your health.
Now comes the part that many of you look forward to: how much of it is real?
While playing through Tomb Raider, nothing really bothered me. It was a fun experience
and the bow was incorporated into gameplay without looking like something wholly fantastical.
However, as Tomb Raider never featured a bow, many players come out of the game with an
assumption that the things Lara does are plausible. In fact, nearly everything about archery in
Tomb Raider is just outside the realm of possibility.
The way Lara carries the bow on her back is not very practical. While it is possible with
a recurve bow, this would definitely not be possible with a compound bow. Compound bows
have more complex cable systems that you wouldn't stick your head through, not to mention that
the pressure of the string and the blocky riser squeezing your torso would be highly uncomfortable.
The straight, fast flight of the arrow is not possible from the bows in the game. It
may be possible for modern compound bows, but arrows do drop even at short distance.
Pulling back further on the bow does indeed increase the power, though a real bow doesn't
require a charge-up time to get full power.
The stealth-kill ability is impossible to pull off. The string phases through the enemy's
head, and somehow a smaller, weaker Lara can use a bow to snap the neck of a large male gunman.
You can't hold a lighter in your bow hand to shoot fire arrows. Arrow points don't
burn like that. If you have to know, you would need a special arrow head that contains a
flammable material, and there's a high chance of the flame being extinguished in flight.
Grenade-tip arrows wouldn't work. They would be too front-heavy to fly far and would probably
drop around ten metres in front of you.
Even rope arrows wouldn't work. Arrows are extremely light, so having the weight of rope
on the back would simply pull it out of the air. In real life, a similar function is used
in bowfishing, but you couldn't launch an arrow across a chasm to form a zipline.
Most of the upgrades are nonsensical. Having a plaited string or adding a stabiliser would
not increase damage in any way.
And if Lara shot a compound bow like that in real life, she'd probably derail the
string, rendering the bow useless. Generally speaking, recurve bows are more practical
in the field, as a compound bow cannot be repaired without specialised equipment. The
advantage of a compound bow is that it can launch an arrow with higher velocity at a given draw weight.
Everything you see in the game is a typical action movie trope. And frankly, I didn't
mind. It was easy for me to distinguish the liberties taken to make the bow an integral part of the game.
The Tomb Raider reboot has cast a new light on Lara's character, and in doing so has
made the bow the new signature weapon of a gaming icon. While many sections of the game
are better served by other weapon options, it is perfectly viable to complete the entire
game with the bow. It can be challenging, but also offers some advantages. Being able
to use the bow to navigate across the map and access more areas makes it something that
you never forget about, and to the testament of the designers, it never really feels out
of place. Tomb Raider therefore stands out as a fan favourite for its inclusion of archery.
As usual, shoot straight, and aim for your best.


Archery Popshots | Tomb Raider (2013)

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羅世康 2018 年 12 月 5 日 に公開
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