Episode- 72 Lara Croft VS Nathan Drake
It’s time to dig into Season 4! Get it? Dig in? Because… because they’re treasure hunters…
Right, well, we started off with one of the most popular requests we’d seen, Lara Croft VS Nathan Drake. I’d always wanted to do this one, but knew it would be pretty tricky to pull off a fun battle sequence. Lara and Nathan can’t just fight each other, they have to duke it out over some lost treasure!
Surprisingly, this is one of our worst received episodes (in terms of likes versus dislikes on YouTube’s website, at least) and some of the criticisms are honestly a bit confusing to me. There are two main ones I see over and over.
First, the death blow was apparently considered a cop-out. Specifically, the fact that the helicopter blade is what deals the final blow by impaling Nathan on the ground. I don’t really understand this criticism. I mean, I would if the death was completely unrelated to the fight, but Lara was the one who destroyed the helicopter, sending Nathan to the ground and breaking his back. She had already won by that point. The impalement was just a creative way to end it, because I really didn’t want the final blow to be something as boring as a gunshot to the head or something simple like that. It’s not like this is the only Death Battle to do such a thing. These characters are all about grand adventure and expansive vistas, so I wanted that to play a major role in the fight.
The second major criticism that I have trouble understanding is the one that argues that our main argument for Lara’s fight was the line “luck always runs out,” implying that Nathan only lost because he wasn’t lucky enough. I would certainly agree that that’s a lousy argument for a Death Battle victor… but that’s not what it was. That line is literally preceded by nearly 3 minutes of Wiz and Boomstick explaining how Lara is stronger, tougher, and smarter than Nathan. I dunno, I guess it could have been presented better, but it’s strange to me how this idea of luck running out became a sticking point. It’s not like Nathan has Domino’s superpowers or anything.
A criticism that I definitely agree with is that there’s some janky cuts in the fight. Nathan pulls out his rifle while Lara has his pistols trained on him, Lara shoots the grail and blames Nathan for it, and Lara magically gets a motorcycle from… somewhere. This was a project that was riddled with technical problems, mostly because of how many set changes were involved. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but I want to say it took 4 to 6 hours just to render 1 second of animation inside that temple. It was a much rougher process than we expected, and when some shots kept having render problems after 3 or 4 attempts, some things had to be prioritized. For example, there were a few shots made for the beginning of the fight where Nathan drives up to the temple in his jeep and sees Lara’s motorcycle parked by a wall. He shouted something to the effect of “Hello? Anybody here?” as he entered, which explains why he seems so talkative to nobody in the final cut. Thankfully this sort of problem is no longer an issue these days!
Part of the reason why this happened was because this battle was really different, and a lot more complex, than our other animated fights. This wasn’t just a battle, it was a chase. Similar to Solid Snake VS Sam Fisher, the characters’ goals in this animation was first and foremost to get a specific object. Unlike Snake VS Fisher, Lara VS Drake featured multiple sprawling set pieces and a collapsing fortress! It may not have ended up exactly like we planned, but it was exciting to see it finally come to fruition.
-Ben B. Singer
P.S. There’s a ton of fun Season 4 episodes to cover! Which Season 4 episode are looking forward to seeing covered here, and what would you like to know about it?