Wherein I am Annoyed by Sexism


Picture in your mind an auto mechanic. Think of someone who spends their days working around things that are sometimes sharp, things that are sometimes hot, and things that are covered in grease. Picture all of that, and then tell me how well this picture matches your image.

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Debbie Does Dodge

This character is a woman named Cindy. She appears in Final Fantasy XV, and she’s supposed to be a mechanic. I suppose she probably is, but certainly no mechanic I’ve ever seen or picture would be dressed like that. So let’s call her what she actually is: masturbatory material for teenage male game players.

I’m perfectly ok with a certain amount of titillation and erotic content in video games, but come on. This is just fucking insane.

Earlier today, I was also playing Watch Dogs 2: The Pretension, and this character walks onto my screen.

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Not so bad, except that initial view of her meeting the main character in person for the first time was a shot from about knee-height, from behind, and looking up. So, basically, an ass shot.

First, before I get too deep into this, kudos to Ubisoft for making the characters of Watch Dogs 2: l33t h4x0rz, diverse in both gender and race. So ten points to Hufflepuff for that, but minus several million for making the female character the only “sexy” one.

FFXV does the same thing. The main characters are four guys who have been friends for ages. That’s actually a bit of a step back for the series, as they’ve often had gender diversity among the main characters, but whatever. The bigger problem here is that while the only speaking female character I’ve seen so far is dressed like a porn star prior to wearing what most porn stars end up wearing (possibly a pearl necklace? Don’t image search that), while all the guys are just dressed normal. Oh, there’s one that’s got a vest with no shirt, but he’s got so many tattoos, they basically count as clothing.

This irritates me. I’m ok with titilation and eroticism, as said, but make it equal! If you’re going to have a woman dressed like Cindy, then give me an outfit for Noctis that’s about the same level. Or just give me a male version of Cindy.

Game makers would do well to remember that there are a large number of women who play video games, too, as well as a number of guys who are into other guys. It’d be just super-nice if they could give us options in RPGs and the like to pick our gender and the gender of our love interest. Bioware manged this way back in the day with Jade Empire, and has continued to make great strides in this direction.

I guess what I’m saying ultimately is that I’m fine with women being objectified as long as men are, too. Not perhaps the best lesson, but there you are.

Video Game Review – No Man’s Sky


18 quintillion worlds, multiple different animals, spaceships, aliens, and exploration! What’s not to like?

I’ve spent the last day playing my way through the PC version of this fascinating game. It’s amazing, impressive, and borderline tedious, but in a compelling kind of way.

I’ve spent the game on a planet so far. That’s where everyone starts; your own private world. Well, private aside from the aliens, various spaceships, and drones everywhere, which rather defeats the whole, “where no man has gone before” vibe.

You begin with a a spaceship in need of repair. You also need to repair your equipment. That took me only a few minutes. I’ve spent the rest of the time on the planet gallivanting about, scanning lifeforms (don’t forget to scan the tress!), visiting some alien trade posts, and screaming about how low my inventory levels are allowed to be.

This game really channels the old Starflight, and in a good way. Though I’ve barely dipped a toe in, it’s leaving me feeling quite giddy and excited. I’m enjoying the planet exploration so much, I’m almost not interested in getting up into orbit. Almost.

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Badger can into space!

Now can I recommend this game? Well, all the launch day weirdness is past, and I’ve enjoyed it so far, so…yes. Modulate your expectations a bit, since it it’s quite as grand as the makers would have you believe. Nevertheless, it’s quite fun, and I do recommend it to all.

Video Game Review – Lego Batman 3


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Oh, I do love the Lego X game series. They’ve all been quite excellent, but this one really sets the new gold standard. Everything you love about the previous games is here (characters, comedy, collecting), but everything about it is improved.

Let’s start with the plot. Brianiac pops up and plans to shrink the world, as he does. Meantime, the various different colored Lanterns pop up to do what they do. At the same time, Lex Luthor, the Joker, and others are scheming their way onto the Justice League Satellite of Love. Oh, and Hawkman is trapped in a gilded cage.

Got all that?

The controls for flying, especially, are vastly improved in this game game over Lego Batman 2. Like flying in the overworld areas is no longer a massive chore. Even better, you no longer have to look around for a changing station for Batman and Robin, as they can change into their alternate suits at a moment’s notice. Further, you get to use the B button as a context button for various different tasks, including instantly changing into a different outfit.

That last point I cannot stress enough. It is so darn useful! It’s nice to be able to swap on the fly without having to get taken out of the story.

Now I did see a reviewer who mentioned they had problems with their controller. I didn’t have any problems with mine, except when I tried to do two-player with a friend and his controller wouldn’t respond. A reboot of the game fixed that. For the record, I’m using a wired 360 controller.

Beyond that, there are about 175 unlockable characters, including Shazam (Captain Marvel), all the various Lanterns, Batmite, and several special surprises that I wouldn’t dream of spoiling here. The number and variety of characters really shows how aware this game is of its history. In addition, you get stuff from the 1966 Batman TV series, you hear the Superman theme when Superman flies, and, happily, the Wonder Woman theme when Wonder Woman flies.

Really, I cannot think of a single problem with this game. I loved it completely, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Video Game Review – Watch Dogs


Now we see what happens when Assassin’s Creed and Grand Theft Auto hook up for a one-night stand: they give birth to a bastard child known as Watch Dogs.

In Watch Dogs, from AC maker Ubisoft, you play a hacker whose sister, and her family, were murdered by some mysterious bad guy as a way of getting said hacker to back off an not interfere with their Deep and Sinister Plans ™. Left unexplained is why they didn’t just kill the hacker, but games like this aren’t generally known for their lack of plot holes (hello, entire Assassin’s Creed franchise!).

The game play is smooth, and familiar to anyone who has played Assassin’s Creed or GTA. There’s some slight variation in the controls and, sadly, you don’t seem to be able to climb up every building in creation, then drop down and assassinate them, but you can’t have everything. What you do get to do instead is go around and hack into everything. And I mean everything. Soda machines, power grids, traffic lights, possibly toasters…if it has a computer chip and an internet connection, you can apparently hack it.

Now this can cause some problems for you. I tried hacking traffic lights and the like while in a high-speed police chase. This did not end well for me, nor for the four or five people I ran over in the process (sorry, guys!). I’m also unclear why causing a power outage in a baseball stadium causes light figures to explode and power outlets to spark. Apparently this universe’s version of Chicago managed to develop pretty much all the same technology that we have, except, alas, for the circuit breaker.

But speaking of Chicago, the whole city seems to be lovingly rendered for your amusement, and it looks just gorgeous. The whole game does, really. On my PC (which is what I’ve been using to play), the graphics are just amazing! Textures on cloth, reflections, etc, everything looks wonderful.

On the other hand, the sound. I have very good speakers. I have them turned up all the way. I have the volume on my PC turned up all the way. I could barely hear any of the dialogue. I went in and adjusted the sound settings in the game, and there was no real change. So I think we might have a glitch. Hopefully this will be fixed via a patch sometime soon.

That minor complaint aside, this really is an impressive game, and I look forward to logging many, many more hours.

Video Game Review – Goat Simulator


So you say you wanna play a really pissed-off goat? A description that I am sure describes all goats, but the one you want needs to have super powers, like a really long tongue, and an indestructible head? Boy, have I got a game for you. In Goat Simulator you play a goat. You go on a murderous rampage. And…you’re a goat. That’s about it, really. There’s no story, there’s no boss, there’s no real goals. All there is, is a goat fueled by grass and murder.

And I'm all out of grass.

And I’m all out of grass.

As this goat, you go along kicking, headbutting, and destroying a small town. You get to blow up gas stations with your mighty legs! Your headbutt is so strong, you can blow up semi-trucks with it! It’s even rumored you can headbutt the sun into death (not actually a rumor, just a lie).

Despite being the game about nothing other than a goat whose woman done him wrong, and now he wants revenge (or something like that), this is an incredibly fun game to play. It’s a sandbox game, and normally those are pretty “eh” unless they’re the Sims. But in this case, oh, my. There’s so much to do. You can blow up a gas station (earning a MICHAEL BAY message), murder a few hippies, or get hit by a car. Speaking of, the ragdoll physics aspect of the game is really well-executed, and is actually an essential part of the game. You can basically turn your goat into a ragdoll/dead goat corpse at pretty much any time. When you do, you can do some pretty interesting things, like go down a water slide, or play around on skateboard ramps.

The other fun bit of mayhem in the game is the goat’s tongue. It’s big. Like several times the goat’s body length. And he uses it. Oh, does he ever. Using your tongue, you can basically pull things around, thus enabling you to create a pile of hippie corpses, if that’s your thing (and it totally should be).

The graphics and sound for this game are very basic. Think “early Playstation 2” basic.

Now this is a fairly simple game. There is almost literally nothing to it beyond mayhem. There is no complexity. There is no plot. There is nothing but death. As such, I suspect it’s not going to have a lot of legs for long-term play. It’s also got some rather spicy language, which parents, who would otherwise be ok with their kids going on a goat-based murder spree, might have a problem with. But you know, if you’re looking for short-term fun, or want a game you can use to amuse your friends with while ingesting the intoxicants of your choice, you could do far worse than this one.

Goat Simulator is currently available on the PC through the Steam Network.

Video Game Review – The LEGO Movie Video Game


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The LEGO Movie Videogame does, in every way, live up to the potential shown in the previous LEGO games. You have all the same silliness, the same kinds of puzzles, and so, so many things to unlock. So, basically, if you like the previous LEGO games, and want more of the same, this is for you.

The plot is, as near as I can tell, the same as in the movie. There’s a world of LEGO that’s inhabited by Emmet, a normal, ordinary guy who finds out that he’s “the Special”, and goes on a quest to save the world from the evil Lord Business. Along the way, he meets the likes of Batman, Abraham Lincoln, and every recent Morgan Freeman character rolled into one, and learns that sometimes building outside the instructions is ok. As a special added bonus, all the characters are voiced by the actors from the movie, so you get Morgan Freeman, Will Farrell, Liam Neeson, etc.

And…that’s about it. You’ll beat the main game with about 35% of the actual game completed, and spend the rest of your life unlocking items and characters. Not that that’s a bad thing. You’ll probably also have a lot of fun, because, come on, LEGO video games are, lately, quite awesome. Oh, and I hope you don’t mind the “Everything is Awesome!” song from the movie because it’s going to be your new best friend in this game.

This is an excellent video game for anyone from about five years old on up. I’m forty-one and I still enjoy it, as well as the other LEGO games. The fact that I’m quite into LEGO, and have been since I was a kid, helps in this. But regardless. It’s a fun game, and I highly recommend it.

Video Game Review – Lego Marvel Super Heroes


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Lego Marvel Super Heroes is now here! Now, I’m a sucker for a good Lego game, and fortunately pretty much all of the Traveler’s Tales Lego games have been quite good. I’m pleased to report that this is no exception.

Yes,it’s more smashing objects, completing missions, smashing objects, unlocking characters, smashing objects, collecting studs (for the curious, this time you get “True Believer” because of course you do), and smashing even more objects. It’s a formula that works, and if this game lacks any sense of real innovation (though there are actually times when it benefits you to have the Hulk turn into Bruce Banner), it makes up for that with a good sense of fun.

In the game, our heroes deal with Doctor Doom and Loki, who have teamed up to recover Cosmic Bricks left by the Silver Surfer. Within the first mission and cut scenes thereafter, you see not only those three characters, but also Sandman, the Abomination, the Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Maria Hill, Agent Coulson, Nick Fury, Captain America and Mister Fantastic.

The game is good clean fun, and suitable for ages six and up, roughly. The violence is far less than what you’d get with the average kids cartoon, and the puzzles may baffle the youngest players, but the older ones will do just fine.

I’m overall extremely pleased with this game. TT continues to prove that they really “get” the various franchises they work with and that they understand what makes Lego so much fun.