As you can probably tell from a number of my blogs I have a great love for the character Sam from the Tomb Raider reboot series and given that it will likely be a while before we hear anything on the development of this game as it seems that it seems Crystal Dynamics have put it on the back burner to focus on their up coming Avengers game I figured now is a good time to go over a number of things I want to see in presumably named Shadow of the Tomb Raider. While I have gone over a number of features and story elements that I would want to see there is one elements of the series that I really want to not only see returned but expanded on and that is Lara Croft's best friend Samantha "Sam" Nishimura.
Now why do I want Sam back? Short answer, she's a great character who adds a lot to Lara's character and not just as someone for Lara to rescue. Thanks to the excellent writing of Rhianna Pratchett and Gail Simone Sam went from, Lara's best friend to a badass action girl in her own right.
To better address why I like Sam the best way to do is to compare her to Lara's other friend Jonah.
Quick question, after 25 comics and 2 games what has Jonah done? He hasn't really undergone any real development as a character, he doesn't add anything to Lara's character and hasn't really contribute anything to the series' overall plot. Sam, on the other hand, has grown as a person and, despite a few set backs, her adventures with Lara has helped her become stronger. But Jonah? I think he became a bit more cynical. For about 2 minutes. In 1 cutscene. Before quickly going back to his usual self. But beyond that I can't think of anything and I like Jonah but honestly so far the only thing his really done is help Lara climb a mountain, and she was the 1 doing most of the work, and get captured.
In fact Jonah has been captured just as often as Sam which was pretty much his entire role in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Help Lara climb a mountain, argues with her about going to Siberia, agrees to go with her to Siberia, got captured by Trinity, almost got killed, was saved by Jacob and then showed up in the ending for about 10 seconds and... that's it. That's literally everything Jonah did in Rise of the Tomb Raider and taken altogether it amounts to 15 or 17 minutes of screen time, in a fifteen hour game. And honestly the bit where he argues with Lara about going to Siberia feels so out of character for him
When Sam argued with Lara in the Queen of Serpents arc that was due to Himiko trying to take over Sam in which she likely was fueling Sam's inferiority complex in order to weaken her will. In contrast Jonah's argument seems to have been made just so there was a argument between the two as in every other story in the series Jonah is nothing but supportive of Lara's quest which is pretty much how he acts for the rest of Rise.
At this point it may seem like I dislike Jonah but to be honest I actually do like him. He's nice, supportive and is the kinda friend you want to have around to pick up your spirits either with his cooking or sense of humor and it is nice to have one male character who is on our hero's side who doesn't end up dying in the end. My issue is simply that I just don't think he adds that much to Lara's character and most of what he does add can be done by Sam and when compared to Sam he feels rather shallow and defiantly doesn't seem to be as useful as Sam.
Case in point here is everything Jonah has done to help Lara in her adventures. Shot a few henchmen in A Survivor is Born and Season of the Witch, the aforementioned helping her climb a mountain, saved her from drowning, killing the leader of the Knights of Spore and set up the Wei Mirror to help Sam.
Now here is everything Sam has contributed to the series. Helped financed the voyage to Yamatai, managed to make her way through the Solarii base and even managed to kill one or two of them. Fought against Himiko from entering her body, (as established in Choice and Sacrifice the souls of the priestess were removed with the Wei Mirror so it does pretty much confirm that Sam was fighting against Himiko's attempts to posses her in Survivor). Saved Lara from the leader of the Solarii worshipers. Help create a false identity to protect Kaz in order to repay Alex for saving their lives back on Yamatai. Gave Lara the courage to perform on stage, (a minor contribution I know but I just love that scene in Secrets and Lies ). Helped Lara get to Mexico without being detected to save Grim's brother, though they thought thought it was Grim himself at the time. Saved Lara by stabbing a bull shark in the face while only armed with her necklace, (eat your heart out Martin Brody ). And, as stated in my review of Choice and Sacrifice, had a battle of wills with Himiko, (who is an established Demigod) and Won!
Add to that the fact that each one of these events that Sam was willing to go with Lara to help Kaz when Lara learned she was in trouble has all helped contribute to Sam's character development and, I think, is the reason she has become so popular with fans. If Shadow of the Tomb Raider brings Sam back with all this great character development, and explores her relationship with Lara as much as it did in the comics and gives her a few badass moments like what we got in the comics than Sam has the potential to join the ranks of Ellie, Cortana, Elena, Sully, Varric and Garrus as one of the truly great video game companions.