Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category

This is far from a new game — but I don’t care. A lot has been said outlining the positive aspects of this game, so I’ll spare you the fanboi drool. Instead, I’ll go a different way.
Old though it is (by internet standards), Skyrim is still an oft-talked about title, and watching my lover play it today, I simply could not delay this rant any longer.

1238710_624138890970753_1955178382_n
“Lets dumb it down to appeal to a dumber audience!” – Bethesda

Skyrim is so pretty. And so fucking lame.
Back in my day“, you could wear cloths under your armor and a cloak on top of that.
Instead of one ring, you could wear a ring for every thumb you proudly owned.
Skirts did not automatically transform into pants simply because you were playing a male, and women were allowed to wear pants.
Weapons could actually get worn down by careless use.
Legendary items could be sold for the ludicrous amounts one would expect.
Spells could be creatively customized.
Fast-travel was considered too unrealistic and as such not allowed unless you hired transportation.
Invisible walls were unheard of.
Enemies did not level with you, so you knew better than to rumble with the big dogs on day 1.
If you wanted to, you could permanently kill quest-critical characters (even gods!) thereby actually breaking free of the conventional restraints of the game.
There were no throw-away NPCs with a single line of dialogue — everyone had a story.
You could create spells to fucking FLY!

Then I played Fallout: New Vegas, another Bethesda game, and my desire for immersion was truly realized.
You had to eat!
You had to sleep!
You had to hydrate!
In other words, those countless items of food actually MEANT SOMETHING.

But then Skyrim happened and failed to adopt any of these (for me) vital features that had been built up over the years.
In other words, I see Skyrim as the opposite of innovative progress.

Skyrim is very pretty. It has all the tools for a truly flawless game hidden within its code.
And it fails to utilize them to perfection.
So close. Yet so SO far, that it damn near breaks the whole damn game for me!
I know I’m picky. And thats not a bad thing: I demand the best because I care.
Because if you aren’t “picky” about the things you have passion for, what the fuck is the point!?

Lobotomy
One would have to be brain-damaged to imagine Harley Quinn’s new ‘direction’ as progressive

Any semi-conscious fan would probably agree that art mediums such as comics and video games that are struggling to be recognized as able to ‘effectively convey serious adult themes’ should stay far away from mixing well-established characters and cheesy T&A (thats Tits and Ass, for all you crazy schoolkids)

As it turns out, most actually do not agree, so lets try that opening again:

Any self-respecting human-being would readily agree that sex-fantasy porn should be kept well away from being intermixed with a worthwhile plot and the characters therein. Unfortunately, it seems these ‘hu-mans’ are in short supply on planet ‘Urf’. As such, a great deal of market research has convinced many-a-company that we heterosexual men are little more than simple, lecherous, undisciplined, uncontrollable, sex-addled freaks who cannot possibly play a well-constructed game or read a thrilling tale without demanding that every female even remotely mentioned be promptly undressed (or arguably even worse, dressed up in some absurd ‘sexy’ fashion). I, for one, vehemently reject this fiction. However, following this insulting logic to its conclusion, heroines and fem. villains alike are ‘naturally’ on the chopping block. In this, DC comics and their video game extensions have headily stumbled into the spotlight.

StarfireCheesecake
Which Starfire do you suppose makes a better hero for a child, the first or the second? I know as an adult, I have no respect for the latter incarnation (nor her creators).

There is a great deal of difference between exploring a character’s sexuality in a mature fashion and creating a disgusting parody of the thing. This regression in the way our female heroines are being depicted is clearly illustrated in other gaming generas such as Mortal Kombat, which I have spoken about before at length. The release of DC’s “New 52” reboot of vital characters has created all the wrong kind of hype. Personally, I care about the integrity of both our male AND female heroes, and as it turns out, I’m not alone. From Starfire, to Catwoman, to Harley Quinn, fans who truly love the stories and themes these characters used to pioneer are being sorely disappointed. The much-anticipated game Injustice, will be featuring several classic DC heroines in about as much savvy attire as one can expect to find at a strip club. All respect to women of that profession. Period.
Apparently however (still following this logic), when men think of super-heroines, we think of ‘sexy’ back-flips and when women think of back-flips, they better make sure to keep their costumes unzipped.

women of arkham
Plot-driven, you say? Notice that she is not exposing herself for her fellow characters, but for YOU

Whats that? Catwoman has a background as a sex-worker? Well how fucking convenient! I suppose its actually kind of polite for these current writers to even bother with making a bullshit premise as opposed to just doing it with every female character. Oh no! Whats this…?

Voodoo, the first black female character to get her own DC ongoing series, [is] to open with her stripping on her knees while men throw money at her, because she has a previously established history of being a stripper. But let’s be honest — they didn’t make her a stripper because they really wanted to create a positive and well-rounded portrait of sex workers and how they exist in our culture.

Or did they!?
No. No they didn’t. In fact, this seems to be a pretty consistent theme. Color me a crazy conspiracy theorist, but I’m getting the creeping suspicion this type of bad writing is an excuse to tear down other ways interesting characters and replace them with softcore porn doppelgangers.

classic cat vs new
There is a vast difference between ‘sexy’ and ‘fantasy porn’

OK. Yes, Catwoman has long been established as ‘seductive’. Thats fucking fine! Michelle Pfeiffer did an especially excellent job playing the part live-action. But how pedantic does one have to be to willfully convince themselves there is no difference between playing off a character’s sexuality and objectifying it? There’s a difference between writing a female character as sexually liberated, and writing her as wish-fulfillment-sex-object. This is not empowering for the female readers. This is not empowering for the characters. And this is not amusing to me. This is regressive, offensive, BULLSHIT and it stains everything that this type of garbage is connected to.

This is not about these women wanting things; it’s about men wanting to see them do things, and that takes something that really should be empowering — the idea that women can own their sexuality — and transforms it into yet another male fantasy. It takes away the actual power of the women and turns their “sexual liberation” into just another way for dudes to get off. And that is at least ten times as gross as regular cheesecake, minimum.

Take as a for-example, Batman Arkham City. I wanted to flow with the hype and like that game, I REALLY did. But every time Catwoman would bob her center-mass on screen or turn gaily around to highlight her ‘curves’, I was completely knocked out of the immersion. Catwoman was not the problem. Her representation was. I don’t mind that she has a tight outfit. Whatever. But the overt pandering was ridiculous! The angles the camera chose to focus on were like constantly being forced to looking through the eyes of a hormone-crazed, knuckledragging idiot (I don’t much appreciate that).
Same for the other prominent female character, Harley Quinn.
Holy. Shit.
Harley Quinn.

classic harl vs new
From silly, sassy, and tragic, to borderline hentai idiocy

Honestly? I could forgive all these other infractions if they didn’t also directly affect Harley Quinn. She’s one of my favorite Batman villains, you see. There is something very likable about her. She is silly and crazy, but in a fun way. She is Powerless, so she has to rely on more human methods which makes her a more interesting character–like Batman (except for that little poison-resistance her girlfriend Ivy gifted her with). And finally, she is tragic. Underneath it all, Harley is a broken, abused woman. Now I don’t so much like that last part as I find it astonishing that in the 90s Batman Animated series, the writers were brilliant enough to come up with something so harsh and compelling (and enraged, that in 2013 that idea is being sold as pseudo-porn). Harley Quinn is, as I see it, DC Comic’s icon for abused women.

madlove
“Oops, I’ve gone crazy!”

Do you see how fucking insane (in a not-good-way) it is to remake Harley into a sleezebag? Can they not tell? Or are they just such cursory ‘fans’, these people, that they just don’t give a shit? How come there are articles upon articles about the sexism done upon the characters of Catwoman and Starfire but nothing — fucking NOTHING — about the shit that they are putting Harley Quinn through. Not in the comic circles. And not in the gaming clans. What. The. Hell.
Question mark.

I get it. Everyone’s costumes used to be a little ridiculously tight. But its a new era. They upgraded Superman’s outfit to make his tights look more like chainmail armor. Batman no longer looks like he is wearing ‘hocky-pads‘ while Harley Quinn…Harley Quinn looks like she lost her costume and now has to fight in her bra, underwear, and stockings. WTF kind of ‘upgrade’ is that!? Its progress for everyone but the females and its BULLSHIT!

Okay. *breaths*
Here’s what I know:

I know I don’t support games/comics/movies with MY money if they go out of their way to paint women up with giant, bouncing cleavage or who solely depict every female in-cast as a useless bag of luggage. As a man, this is directly offensive to ME because thats what the fucking developers seem to think I want–it ISN’T.

mad love
“You’re wrong! My Puddin’ does love me! He does!”

Some would argue that women need to be women.
I’m not really sure what the fuck that even means exactly, but I’m guessing it has to do with Kitchens or some erroneous notion that femininity is defined by the curvature of an ass.
Its not about pretending women and men are different. The problem is that games/films/graphic-novels empower men yet tend to showcase women in the most prepubescent displays. Its crap. Its not true. And it propagates hate.
There are, however, several brilliant titles that do not do this. Those games/shows are good by me and have me as a fan.

Other people seem to think that complaining in any way at all about the end-result somehow obstructs the free expression of the developers.
Well its not about censorship, you fucking profligate. Its about realism. Realism, even in a fictional setting is still important to the overall tone and immersion. REALISM — not a pervasive element in today’s modern entertainment vision. So when I see REALISM, I fucking applaud. Why anyone would support a lack thereof and still consider themselves intelligent, I have not a clue. Entitlement, probably.
Personally? I’d prefer to see more Empowerment:

Others yet might argue that the characters don’t belong to me so who am I to judge.
Yeah. They belong to the fans. My beef is that I don’t think the change to Harley’s character in Batman Arkham Asylum/City, New 52 and now Injustice was made based in actual need but as some desire to appeal to the dipshits in the male audience (CLEAVAGE!) which directly resulted in a back-peddling of realism. I don’t care who made the changes. Nobody is above scrutiny to their fans. Its what keeps people honest and forces dumbass comedians to re-read their gags–its a damn good thing (now if only this also applied to movie sequels). Further, this new, supposedly more ‘gritty’ reboot is all assbackwards since the original versions not only portrayed Harley’s abuse more effectively but also more viscerally and yet she was not sexualized. Its called CLASS people! It makes no contextual sense to rip apart her appearance (and by extension demeanor) in this way.

In fact, I’d LOVE to see a writer or director in a televised interview say something like, “Well we got a lot of pressure to ‘modify’ her original costume…you know, at least unzip her top or something. But we decided to just this one time hold the torch for all the geek-girls out there and say ‘NO! Go fuck yourself, because these characters aren’t going to do it for you.’

Finally, people might point out that there are more important issues out there so why even bother talking about something like this?
I say this is more than just a discussion of DC comics. This is a discussion about societal norms and is important. Unless of course, like many ‘gamer dudes’, you enjoy having the community be a sausage-only fest and see the loss of that absolute power as a violation of your rights (in which case, Congratulations! the tests came back, and you are officially everything that is wrong with humanity).

abused harley
Even in that nightgown, Harley isn’t being depicted as titillating but as tragic, hiding the pain behind smiles.

The character that we were shown in the 90s was demeaned and broken. She was sorrowful, yet silly and exciting. Thats what Harley is. She is nuts and a villain yet somehow manages to grasp both a tinge of sympathy and intrigue. There is no reason to inflate her (or for that matter, fucking Selena fucking Kyle’s) boobs. They both worked as they were: Harley – crazy, Selena – seductive. Giving them a slutty makeover has nothing to do with character definition and everything to do with catering to the base of the baser lifeforms among us. Its insulting to the characters, its insulting to the fans, and its insulting to women (especially women fans).
I’m a fan. And I’ve had ENOUGH.

*this has nothing to do with my usual feminist tilt*

funny-pictures-auto-mass-effect-455257
I have a problem with ending Downloadable Content (DLC) for video games. I’m not talking about the endings of DLCs. I’m not even talking about DLCs that come out after the official ending of a game and then carry on an additional story–no, I’m perfectly fine with that idea. I am talking about DLCs that require you to disregard your progress in the main plot and reload to a save before the official ending. This seems like an odd sort of thing to gripe about, doesn’t it? Well thats okay. I’m not the super rad kind of reviewer who always raves angerly (I’ve got plenty of positive articles too!) Personally, I can only think of two games that I really enjoy that do this: Mass Effect 3 by Bioware and Fallout: New Vegas by Bethesda. I actually happen to like the dlcs quite a bit, but they always feel empty at the end, because you know that none of it really mattered much. Unless you are BRAND NEW to the games, these dlcs would have been completed well after you have defeated the ‘final boss’ of each game, which is REDUNDANT. And by then your character is either dead or probably doesn’t give a shit about backstory. But instead of giving you an excuse to continue from the main quest onward, or just give you a whole different character to play with, they force you to reload to before the ending took place in order to experience PLOT CRITICAL missions and stories after the fact. WTF? Why? So many games release additional dlcs but none of them do this to you! Forcing you to go back after you finished the game instead of offering a way forward is anticlimactic as HELL!
Omega6101Mass Effect 3 was the conclusion of a legendary video game sci-fi epic that for those of us who had been crafting our custom characters since the start, were with it for 5 years. The first DLC for this game, From Ashes, was released along with the game itself. The second was a clarification of the famous Mass Effect 3 ending. But after that, they came out with (to date) two more! (not counting the multiplayer packs). Leviathan and Omega are both quite important to the overall plot of the Mass Effect universe, so when I heard they were being released, I reasonably figured (since my character was dead/undead/ascended/unplayable) I would be taking control of other characters. Maybe I would take control of members of my team, or maybe other quest-critical characters all together. This didn’t seem like such a big stretch since you do this several times when new folks come on to you team…you just level them from 1 up to whatever level you managed to reach (60). But instead, they took a page out of Fallout New Vegas (see below) and decided they would just have you reload to hours before the final fight. What? WHY? What the hell does it add except story? Nothing! You don’t see the Leviathan in the final fight! You don’t see Aria doing jack shit in the battle for Earth. Its all exposition! So why the hell would they FORCE you to backtrack like that? You don’t have to be able to travel around and talk to all the surviving characters, so its not like they had to program the aftermath very much. You could just start right up in the dlc, right? Why not? Its pretty much that anyway, except now I play as Shepard and get this empty feeling at the end of each of these (otherways great) dlcs because I know I might as well be playing a ghost and everything I just did, doesn’t really matter because the final fight would have been won whether I did this shit or not. In the Omega DLC you influence Aria T’loak through your dialogue as so many other before her. But since in my mind I’m FUCKING DEAD, why couldn’t this have been an opportunity to PLAY as Aria and influence her just the same? It would have been a hell of a lot more interesting! So instead of allowing you to take a fresh perspective and flesh out some new character and giving Commander Shepard the respect he/she deserves and letting him/her rest in peace, you are forced to reanimate a long forgotten save and zombie around! The result is a watered down sensation of otherways great additional stories.

tumblr_ltw05lhZoj1qe53sso1_500

Fallout New Vegas features 3 story-critical dlcs that were released after most folks have long since completed the main quest. The DLCs are Dead Money, Honest Hearts, Old World Blues, and Lonesome Road all of which are extremely important to the advancement of the main story and would feel much more at home AFTER the chaotic war in the Mohave has been resolved (with additional Gun Runner’s Arsenal weapons cache dlc…which would have been bloody useful BEFORE I fought the big end baddie!) Instead of following in the steps of its own predecessor (Fallout 3) and allowing you to carry on after the climatic battle, they force you to reload to a save that you presumably have before the Big Fight. Why? WHY? Bethesda has shown time and again that this type of shit is not a problem! At the end of Fallout 3, you die. But the subsequent dlcs find a way to bring you back so you can keep playing the multiple awesome stories that they later release. Thats PERFECT! In Fallout New Vegas, you don’t even die, but they refuse to do this. Why? Are they just lazy? Is there too much shit they have to program in after the fight? Bullshit! A few lines of dialogue saying “Good job! You helped destroy the Legion/NCR/House/etc, now on to this mysterious Next Thing!” That would have been just fine! Further, Bethesda is responsible for Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind, Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, and Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, all of which had interesting as hell dlcs released and allowed you to keep on trekking along their massive environments doing quests to your heart’s content long after the official ending. So WTF kind of excuse do you have Bethesda? Why muck up Fallout New Vegas by a single act of laziness?
Because in-spite of the awkwardness of this ‘reload’ bullshit, we still bought these (awesome) dlcs, thats why. They clumsily tacked on some amazing side-stories and we the fans ate it up then grimaced at the taste.

Addendum: A third DLC for Mass Effect 3 called Citadel has you visit with your comrades and revives some of the best experiences of the game (it still forces you to load to before the final battle but)…I don’t hate that.

*I will continue to add to this list, so tell me all about what is worthy of induction in the comments.

===================
THE OTHER SIDE’S ARGUMENT
===================

I refuse to address the bullshit, old and tired sexist rants that I have already deconstructed to their ugly cores in other articles. Further, I will not be explaining here why (how!?) I — a Dominant, Heterosexual, Slavic Male find these things reprehensible as opposed to joining my knuckle-dragging, slope-browed ‘kin’ in moronic titillation. Instead I will focus first on the ‘reasonable’ sexist.

While discussing a particularly spot on article, I quoted the author with the following excerpt:

“when games with solely male soldiers arrive in public hands, that absence becomes a form of denial that women soldiers exist. It’s disrespectful to female soldiers and the sacrifices they make alongside their male peers around the world every day.”

Which I happened to think was very astute and rolled against the illusion of ‘realism’ many of the military shooters attempt to portray. Another reason I never touched any of the Call of Duty titles.

__________Pictured: Real life combat soldiers

At this point I received a comment from an individual (male gamer and fledgling programmer) who although professing that the exploitation of women in, and marginalization of women from the art medium of games was unfortunate, was quick to assert that this was the lesser of two evils:

“do you have female soldiers be in the game and be sexualized to the point of being unrealistic, so as to keep it appealing? Or do you ignore them, leave them their dignity, and allow the game to remain a testosterone-fueled adrenaline hit? Female gamers are becoming a larger demographic, but until they get bigger it is a sad truth that good marketing demands sexualized women in games.”

I don’t know about anyone else (and I don’t care), but I personally cannot associate with a bunch of bulging steroid monstrosities any more than I can with absurd walking boob-jobs. For that matter, I do not think it is the sole job of the marginalized to do something about their predicament–whatever happened to people just giving a shit? There are at least a dozen excellent examples of compelling female heroines and games that pop immediately to mind that succeeded because of the heroines, not inspite of them. Not necessarily just the stereotypically ‘tough-chick’ soldiers but compelling characters of all types. My response is the crux of this post, albeit further extrapolated.

*Note, many of the games listed were placed here at the advice of the most hardcore gamer I know, a real-life combat war vet and modern-day hospice worker. Many thanks to her for the invaluable impute. More credit to her at the end.

===========
THE WRONG WAY
===========

__________Not pictured: Games people should have any respect for

The image immediately above are of Mortal Kombat’s Sonya Blade (a ‘special forces’ officer) and Soul Caliber’s Ivy Valentine (an immortal ‘warrior’). I won’t go into detail on my immense disappointment of the oversexualization and deplorable degradation of the character over the decades (even by Mortal Kombat and fighting games standards) of dear old Sonya because this person has kindly laid it all out for us in detail. I will however remark that though I don’t usually play fem characters myself, Ivy’s fighting style is one of the more interesting in the Soul Calibur series (a sword-whip) that requires quite a bit of getting used to execute brilliant combos (as opposed to just the hack-and-slash that usually works for other larger (male) characters). It is therefore a great shame that both of the female characters in these games are degenerating the further the two series continue. Ivy, as I said, is a warrior and so for comparison to the realm of realism (not a pervasive element in today’s modern entertainment industry), I direct you to this fantastic archive.

Unfortunately this type of shit isn’t relegated solely to the sad sad realm of fighting games (which I used to enjoy when the pixels were shabby but now want to break a window every time a ‘female’ character bounces unto the screen). In fact no genera is safe. Lets neatly avoid further delving into the male-to-female fantasy armor debacle thanks to this outstanding article so commonly found in adventure and rpg games (as a dude your armor is massive and impressive, as a fem character your armor is a metal thong). I will just note that according to female combat soldiers in countries enjoying the benefit of such gender-equality, there is no difference in their flak-jackets–in reality, everybody wears the same gear. Realism indeed.

Samus_at_the_end_of_MetroidThere are, of course, more subtle forms of sexism in games. As a single example among countless, lets take Metroid’s Samus Aran. The first game baffled gamers by having them run through the whole game as a super-powered armored mercenary and then at the end revealing the hero was a woman (of course if you beat the game SUPER fast you are ‘rewarded‘ by having the producers shit all over everything they just spent the whole game building by parading the heroine around in a mini fucking bikini in all her pixelated glory).
After that the silent heroine ran a successful franchise until the male producers tried to pump some ‘personality’ into her by completely rewriting her character arc, putting her into a skin-tight blue suit and making her a whiney, crying, baby-obsessed nutball via the ‘Other M‘ series. Talk about backpeddling progress.

===========
FEMALE GAMERS
===========

kat-gunn-wcg-ultimate-gamer

___Kat Gunn – World Cyber Games Ultimate Gamer Champion

In the 2010 WCG Ultimate Gamer competition, Ms. Gunn who goes by the tag //Mystik//, faced against 11 gaming elites (male and female) and won. I wish that was all I needed to say, but since most people are still living in the non-existant delusion that girl gamers are mostly nude models or are Fat, Ugly or Slutty, I feel compelled to continue with this woman that I have chosen as example of a real ‘gamer girl’.  Throughout the course of their trials, the competitors faced 8 weeks worth of ‘Challenges’ that ranged from cooperative gaming, to retro, to virtually every genera (games that had not been released yet as well as well-worn classics), including, but not limited to — playing a competitive racing game while having their arms restrained in a straight jackets forcing them to use their teeth, feet, etc. That is just one such example of the televised events. Through it all, Kat triumphed. Her competitors, elites just like her, were regional and national gaming champions in their own right. During the WCG Grand Finals when Mystik faced off against the remaining competitor on a stage in front of thousands of people. Kat lost the first round (Rock Band) but dominated in the second, a fighting game (BlazBlue) as well as going on an all out killing spree in the last (Halo: Reach). Along with receiving several games months before their release, Kat Gunn also took home a Grand Finalist cash prize of $100,000 as well as the immense prestige of her victory.

Not enough? How about 2013 King of the Nerds tv show winner and pro-gamer Celeste Anderson who was crowned the King of All Nerds after facing off against fellow gamers and NASA scientists alike and winning a $100,000 grand prize like Kat Gunn before her? The nerds and geeks of the world have spoken and more and more of our leaders rising up are free of the burdensome Y chromosome.

While on the subject of outstanding fem. gamers, I also recommend Felicia Day’s “The Guild“.

==========
THE RIGHT WAY
==========

1862143-wallpaper_009_femshep6_1920x1200
Welcome to Urf

For our purposes I will separate the various games that have ‘done it right’ into four categories:

1. Where the fem is the Main protagonist.

2. Stories where you can choose to be female if you want and discover entirely unique character sub-plots and voice-acting (as seen in Bioware games). These clearly take a great deal of extra effort to add the female options and yet their popularity alone would suggest it is worth the work.

3. Games where you can choose to be fem if you want but there is virtually no character development (such as Bethesda’s non-speaking heroes). I see no reason at all for these games to not include a female option.

4. And ones with squad play where fem characters are an option (usually 1 of four). There is no excuse to not be gender-blind here, especially since that is often all it takes to draw in a female audience.

Let us begin!

1. Excellent Lead Fem. Characters:
Faith

While Parkour is certainly badass, it cannot (unfortunately) help you outrun bullets

Mirror’s Edge – You play as Faith, an Asian-American traceuse who races across the rooftops trying to save her sister by non-lethally confronting the Big Brother-like government in a very enthralling and unique game-style.

Velvet Assassin – Based off of the real life soldier-hero Violette Szabo who killed many a-Nazi without any ‘sleazy spy’ tactics.

Alice: Madness Returns / American McGee’s Alice  – horror/fantasy games that explore the darker side of the human psyche.

Beyond Good and Evil – in this gaming cult classic you play as Jade as she tries to uncover a government conspiracy and save her planet from an alien threat.

Perfect Dark – play as Joanna Dark and team up with Elivs the badass little alien in this outstanding 64bit fps (I did not care for the sequel).

WET – join Ruby in this fun and funky 3rd person action adventure bloodfest.

Portal games – play this cult classic as the silent protagonist Chell, solving logic puzzles in first-person in an effort to outwit the devious sentient machine GLaDOS.

Metroid – play as Samus Aran, the kick-ass bountyhunter who puts Boba Fett to shame and on the weekends tutors Ripley on alien-killing (obviously this is a good example only before Other M and with the exception of the fucking bikini dance at the end of the first one).

Tomb Raider 2013 – Lara Croft is rebooted in the 2013 game free of the ridiculous male gaze that has plagued her in the past to embark on an Indiana Jones-styled adventure to rescue her friends and (male) mentor set to breathtaking and intense gameplay that pulls no punches.

2. Great Character Development for Any Gender:
bastila vs revan

__An intense prelude to the best glow-stick party this side of the galaxy

Knights of the Old Republic games – Play as an amnesiac turned Jedi in the first or as a Jedi Exile in the second, both games gaving a glimpse of Bioware’s fantastic future character development projects.

Mass Effect Trilogy – I have written about Bioware’s Mass Effect before so I will keep it brief: you play as Commander Shepard, a hero(ine) who’s customized choices, sexual orientation, friendships, and enemies carry over from the first game to the second to the last.

Dragon Age games – Play yet another character-driven Bioware story as the Warden in the first and then the Champion in the sequel as you work to rid the world of a terrible plague through strength, guile, or magic.

Halo Reach – if I need to describe Halo, you have either been killing braincells with copy/paste, gender-biased shooters like COD or are just not an FPS fan, either way Noble Six is the first in-game lead Halo character that allows for gender customization and is worth a play along with multiplayer on Halo 3 and Halo 4.

Fable 2 and 3 – Fable games are fun, customizable adventure titles with you as the Hero.

3. Story-driven, Non-Speaking Customizable Characters:
falloutgirl

_____________________ 100% chance she’ll cripple your ego

Fallout games – play as the Lone Wonderer or the Courier in these massive, open-world, post-apocalyptic, action-rpg games by Bethesda.

Elder Scrolls games – made extremely famous with the latest “Skyrim” (Elder Scrolls 5), these massive exploration action-rpgs are the sword/magic equivalents to Bethesda’s own Fallout series and worth a solid year’s play each (my favorite was Morrowind).

Pokemon games – become the Pokemon Champion in these highly addictive and amazingly popular grind-for-experience games (and if you don’t like them we will HM01 you)!

4. Squad-Play
E3-2011-Resident-Evil-Operation-Raccoon-City-Details-Screenshots-Videos-Available-4

Anti-heroes are too cool to look at explosions

Left 4 Dead games – Zoey and Rochelle are the respective female options for these four-man squad zombie killing games.

Resident Evil: ORC – This game is also impossible to play without at least one fem. character – Lupo, Four-Eyes, and Bertha (or at least one male character). For my full review of this game, click here.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown –  an intensive turn-based strategy game that manages to keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time through flowing cinematics and allows for randomized squadmates of various genders and nationalities.

JSRF – Jet Set Radio Future is a fun, futuristic, racing-adventure game in which you take on a corrupt government with players like Gum, Cube, Rhyth, Boogie, Jazz, Cube (and others) while listening to some outstanding Japanese hip hop.

Borderlands 1 and 2: play this repetitive, offensive, idiot-crowd pleasing crap as either Lilith or Maya while ‘enjoying’ the barest of rpg elements and a none-existent story while mowing down endless respawning streams of identical and moronic enemies. Read my full review of this and Dead Island here and know that this is only included for contrast.

Dead Island – the outstanding trailer failed to live up to its hype and ended up (in my opinion) being as depressingly repetitive as Borderlands, however you do get to play as either Xian Mei or Puma and that kind of ethnic diversity is worth at least a nod.

And thats it folks!
Except maybe Jurassic Park the Game, a quick action story where you play alternatively as Nima and Jessie (a great child protagonist, much like Clementine) as well as various male protagonists intermittently (this part alone merited a mention).  Or hell even some Resident Evil and Silent Hill games where the fem protagonist are a well-written character could merit being added (although this equally well-written article disagrees). Overall, these are the sort of games I look for and can quantify as ‘good games’.
From a moral, and entertainment principle standpoint, I choose to reward the folks that give a shit and are proactive in gender rights, specifically akin to Bioware’s stance where they straight up tell gay-bashers to STFU, or even the great anti-sexism efforts by the executive producer Kiki Wolfkill and 343 Industries CEO Bonnie Ross over at Halo 4.

(many thanks to Deathbydd for introducing me to many of the most badass (and satisfying) games I’ve ever played. Not because I can play as a fem hero, but because the option was there and it wasn’t a farce or some cheap attempt at titillation which was for me as a male, quite a REFRESHING change)). I want female gamers to be proactively made a part of the gaming community, not punished because of their gender by companies who cater to knuckledragging misogynists. I want video games to be taken seriously as a medium and the only way that can really happen is if I put my money where my heart is.

I now leave you with this short vid highlighting the absurd amount of phallic symbols found in games today. Enjoy!

SPOILERS HERE!

This is a music video tribute to DeathbyDD‘s Mass Effect Trilogy custom playthrough with video compiled over the course of five years since the first game’s release as a 2012 birthday present. I have written about Denaveria (DxDD) before here and I think the persona she chose for her character in this trilogy experience reflects the person(ification) she is in real life.

DeathbyDD’s Commander Shepard in-game.

Mass Effect is about a space-faring humanity trying to establish a place for ourselves in the galaxy. It is also about a hyperadvanced synthetic species called “Reapers” that harvests advanced organic life in a cycle every 50000 years then erases all evidence of their existence but leaves some of their technology to be found by the next cycle’s species thereby insuring organics evolve along a route that the machines can predict, control and exploit upon their return. It is a continuous sci fi story spanning the length of 3 games that remembers decisions that you make and relationships that you have and the way your completely customizable character changes and adapts throughout all the stories. An article goes into depth about the social significance of this title here.

Song by H.I.M “Don’t Fear the Reaper”

Happy Birthday, D.

Quick heads up, this review will have nothing to do with any of my usual feminist tilt.

I am seeing the the hype for Borderlands 2 everywhere and I really just need to get this out:
Borderlands SUCKS.
Also, I never properly raved about how much Dead Island pissed me off so there’s going to be that too, because to me these games share very stark simularities. Now please understand, I’m not some grungy wanna-be game critic who will boo every game that floats by, but I feel right down angry that I got suckered into trying them. By ‘them’, I  mean the first incarnations of these games, not any possible sequels.

Seriously though, it made me want to end the misery and blow my brains out.

Surprisingly, even desperate, hype-winded folks who went with it and bought into this shit franchise will admit that the drab single-player is difficult to stomach. But they are quick to site how A-MAZING the multiplayer is. Actually they tend to just say ‘its fun’. Which isn’t terribly inspiring to begin with.

Frankly, I am of the humble opinion that ANY game can be fun when playing with friends. In fact, if thats what I’m about, I will invite some folks and play Mario Karts or any number of online fps shooter clones. Why the hell would I buy a game that offers nothing new to the experience?
(rewsna: t’ndluow i)

While I have enjoyed the comic style graphics of games like JSRF and the post-apocalyptic theme of games like Fallout in the past, the repetitive and uninspired miniquests that comprise this bland apocalyptic sandbox manage to ruin both aspects…and yet aren’t even the worst offenders. I have been known to enjoy grinding (pokemon), endless/pointless miniquests (fable 3), and hordes of identical enemies (every fps ever) but what elevates Borderlands to a whole new level of suck is the same as the worst thing about Dead Island: The NPC quest-givers.

I can live with the fact that NPCs just have one line of dialogue whenever you click on ’em. Thats fine, they can’t all be Morrowind. But the quest givers are the most uninspired pieces of shit I ever met in video games anywhere.
“Hey there boy/girl! You go and fetch me that there McGuffin and i will act like the most ungrateful son-of-a-bitch on the planet and ‘reward’ you with throwaway xp points/credits.”

Its one thing for a game to have asshole characters. Thats FINE! Its a whole other thing for a game to be comprised exclusively of people that seem to fucking hate your guts while simultaneously never doing a damn productive thing while you’re around to see.

Fallout 3 had you meet Moriarty, a dude that was kind of dick very early as part of the main quest (if you chose to run with it), but if you wanted to, you could hit him over the head with a police baton and throw his twitching corpse over the railing into the swamp of radioactive goop people were praying to below his esteemed ramshackle establishment.

No, I’m not saying every game needs to have disposable NPCs. I’m saying a game shouldn’t have a population made up of 99% of invincible douche-bags that are simultaneously your only means of progress through the game. WTF? In what twisted mind is being surrounded by ungrateful bastards considered ‘fun’?

And another thing…”Why”? Why am I doing this? Okay, in Borderlands its some vague promise of treasure, and you are a bounty hunter so it SORT of makes sense that the thankless population give you these shit quests, but in Dead Island it doesn’t even make sense for you to be running around. I mean, yes, you are trying to cure/escape a zombie plague, and the combat was certainly more engaging than anything Borderlands ever came close to, but once again: THE QUEST-GIVERS!!

Why do these low-lives hiding in their respective churches/lighthouses/evil laboratories be folks my obviously self-sufficient character want to associate with? Is it because the silent blank-slate of my character is drawn to the sound of repetitive voices? Or better yet, why does he/she buy the excuse ‘You clearly look like you can handle yourself so go fetch me A. B. and C. while I sit here and smoke a fat one. Run along, bitch! I ain’t not-paying you so you can not-die by zombie!’

Again: WTF? Where is the motivation? Fine, these games don’t have a good (or any) plot. Thats…Okay? I guess? But at least give me a reason to give a shit! If I want to murder the people I am forced to help more than I want to kill zombies/bandits/giant insects (but then don’t get to do that) then I am having the opposite of fun. Its not suspenseful. Its not entertaining. Its mind-numbingly fucking insulting!


I can’t help but think these games are trying to tell me something…

Literally, both these games, Borderlands and Dead Island would do better to just not have any NPCs at all. I mean that. I probably wouldn’t be writing this angst filled rant had it just been as simple as that. Its not that I relish simple games. I LOVE story-plot. Mass Effect series jumps prominently as the most recent to mind. But if you HAVE to give me a mindless hack/slash/run/gun fps with some backhanded attempts at customization–I don’t care how great the trailer that suckered me into this game was–please, PLEASE do me the mercy of not bashing me over the head with quest-critical, invincible douche-bags.

But from what I am hearing, this hasn’t changed ANY with the release of Borderlands 2. And it probably will not change with any subsequent release of Borderlands 3, 4, 5 or Dead Island Zero: IN SPACE!
Oh, and every desperate, hype-driven gamer who keeps pumping money into franchises that reward the industry for backwards, shit monstrosities? Yeah. You’re not helping make the gaming world a better place.
So fuck you too.


Zombies you say? Eeeeeeeeexcellent!

So….Okay. First post…about…video games?

I guess so.

Huh.

Oh well. I’m going to have to give the random fiction musings its own section.

Moving right into it!

Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City…people complain about it. Gaming sites have given it low scores. Me? I LIKE it.
I enjoyed the Resident Evil games. I played up through RE3. This one…was never meant to be a continuation but rather a look back to the events of the second Resident Evil through a fresh perspective. That fresh perspective through the eyes of a group of Umbrella strike team sociopaths. (Huzzah!)

People seemed excited about this prospect at first. And then they got angry. Apparently when they heard ‘fresh perspective’ they thought ‘exactly like the other games’ and therefore were disappointed. (aww!)

That is like the equivalent of Pokemon fans getting to play as Team Rocket (the antagonists) and then complaining about how un-Pokemon it is because the game is in first person view and not the aerial view they love so much. Now before I get stoned at the Raccoon City square for somehow managing to loosely link those two widely different genera together, please allow me to attempt to sneak back to the point that I expertly lost a handful of fragmented sentences ago.

First, and let me be clear; the game is not without its faults.

For one, I take issue with the targeting. Even with a fully upgraded “Assault” class, one perk of which is increased accuracy, the reticle still flails madly. Even the lazar-guided pistol weaves like our expert agents are shaking a soda can in the off hand.

Next, when your teammate gets infected and becomes a zombie (oh no!) you you must then euthanize them…and promptly revive them again.
Who knew it was that simple to get rid of the dreaded T-virus!?

I have to admit; thats pretty lame. It completely ruins any fear of infection.
In my opinion the game should punish you severely for losing a teammate in this fashion. Maybe if they just got shot and got down on a knee and you revived them — OK. But full on zombie-attacking-you and all you have to do is stomp on their head and hold a button for a few seconds to bring them back seems like a highly anti-climatic conclusion to the dreaded undead plague. Unless they casually failed to mention that Umbrella’s soldiers come equipped with the secret of resurrection, this breaks up the immersive(ness?) of the gameplay substantially.

But really, aside from the objection of weapons accuracy that every shooters suffers from to one degree or anther, that is LITERALLY my only major gripe with the gameplay.

Ah yes, the gameplay. Now we can get to why other people take issue with this game.

They don’t seem to like that its a squad based, third person shooter bereft of the tension that our usually lone Resident Evil impromptu heroes subject us to.

These critics seem blind to the empowering perspective this ‘Delta Team’ of hardened killers is supposed to impart to the player. I don’t think this is the game’s fault so much as it is some sanitary objection to change in this offshot of their usual horror genera.

All these critics stand united in a puritan grievance against a game that is SUPPOSED to do something different. They hold hands and congratulate each other on how well they can rip down something out of the norm.

Well done!

Asshats.

It would not bother me if they simply said ‘hey look! I don’t like how this squad based game operates!’ Ok. Fine. There are better squad based games out there. For one, this game doesn’t allow you to order your computer-controlled team around. AT ALL. That would be a genuine issue (one that I am fine with given that I never had an objection with the actions of the AI.  ((and I only ever played it on Professional (((the hardest difficulty))) yet I had no issues with this ‘problem’ they keep bitching about)). Instead these fanboys moan about how not-suspensful the playstyle is.

Well YEAH! This is not a lone police officer with five bullets sneaking around an office building solving puzzels while giant monsters that take a shotgun to kill crawl outside the nearby window. That game is Great!

But that is not this game. Nor should it be!

This game is more like Left 4 Dead meets FEAR set in the beloved RE franchise. It is reminiscent of Left 4 Dead in the playstyle but with a wider selection of weapons and unlockable customizable character specific traits, and FEAR in that ‘I just plowed through an army of super soldiers and now I’m scared of that creepy little girl stalking me in the dark who is immune to my bullets’. Except they replace Alma (creepy little girl who breaks up the super powered vibe of FEAR with some Fear) with Resident Evil zombies, infamous monsters and beloved characters. (wow that was long winded. Oh well. Deal with it.)

Next they complain about how its ‘too hard’. And how even though the game isn’t punishing enough in certain areas (like the zombie teammate thing–and I agree on that), but according to them, its TOO punishing on others…like general combat. They say it becomes too overwhelming and some bosses and soldiers you have to fight through are just too damn tough. Well boo-fucking hoo! I don’t remember RE2 being a breeze. This game, though not the same creepy crawl as the originals–more fast-paced–is still Resident bloody Evil at the end of the day. I had to die quite a few times playing on the toughest difficulty, but guess what? I made it. And not with any heaving breath either. It got frustrating here and there, sure, but  mostly because I was searching every nook and cranny for cameras and data pads in order to score extra experience points in-between getting bulldozed by Mr. X.  How exactly can these purist gamers claim the game is not suspenseful enough while simultaneously bitch about it being too hard?

Okay look, I’m not some wanna be MLG flaunting his shit. I get how a ‘horror’ game can be suspenseful and a ‘shooter’ can be frustrating yet just as rewarding. So…what the hell is the problem? Hone some fucking reaction time.

Also, I really enjoyed the multiplayer.. The only complaint I heard there was that you couldn’t get the player that you wanted. Okay, yeah. You just have to jump to it and then select which character you want. This, obviously, encourages the player to level and experiment with the other classes. What alternative is there? Everyone playing as Lupa/DeeAy? What kind of shit game would that be? Plenty of other multiplayer games take the power away from you as an individual (like voting on a map in Halo Reach). You don’t always get what you want. Its part of growing the hell up. Deal!

Next, they complain about the characters themselves. They claim to ‘love’ the cameos from the usual cast, but find the super psycho umbrella strike team ‘bland’ and ’empty’.

Personally, I find the strike team refreshing. You make of these characters what you will. I found them instantly personable. Lupa is a wicked leader who while still a cold-blooded killer actually cares about the well-being of her team. Bertha is a sadistic doctor and something-something pain killers. Four Eyes is a sweet looking scientist who utterly lacks empathy and loves fucking with genetic codes and viral strands…for fun. Vector is kind of dick but badass as an assassin. Beltway is the classic big bruiser-blow ’em up guy who has a at least one prosthetic limb. And Specter is some ex-KGB creep who I never played with.

Also, they are nicely rounded character selections. Whether playing as the evil USS or comparatively goodly Spec Ops the character selection is evenly split with interesting female and male characters each. I approve of that, for certain!

These aren’t the empty Bethesda characters of Fallout or Elder Scrolls that you just ‘fill in’ with whatever you want to imagine but actually have no personality in-game (perfect for what they are). These are lightly fleshed out ideas that you have no real control over. You never get to know them. But you get to share their experience while in the badass setting of Raccoon City!

These characters did not NEED to have a backstory spelled out for me in order for me to care for their psycho lives. They were badass. Evil. And compelling in all the ways that decent bad guys are–not needlessly cheesy (unlike the heroes).

If these people (critics) really miss RE2 so much, maybe they should just go play that. The gameplay in RE: ORC has flaws, and the story is simplistic to the extreme, but it shines in its remake of the atmosphere — an atmosphere that you are usually terrified of suddenly becomes a joyful playground that you dominate: take THAT zombies-who-I-was-afraid-of! Whats more, they revisit all the best parts of that timeline and do it well to the point where I feel bloody sorry for the Leons and Claires who had to crawl through those levels with limited ammo and ALONE.

In other words, everything that makes RE ORC different is that it empowers people who have likely already experienced the thrill of the horror fest and gives them some bloody-good-time-VENGEANCE!

 

Addendum: I realized I left out one more valid concern about this game: Its lack of local multiplayer. Unfortunately, despite its many strengths, this game tries to screw you out of mulitplayer with your friends (unless they too chip in to buy a disk..and bring their own console). Only online multiplayer, in other words. Sadness!