Misogyny Has a New Game: Bioshock

Oct 08 2007

That’s right. Hiding underneath all the accolades and slick marketing lies something much more sinister within — misogyny. Unlike most nefarious games, Bioshock starts off relatively benign. Only when your character acquires new weapons; called “plasmids”, does the misogynistic world of Rapture become embarrassingly obvious. You see, every plasmid comes with a tutorial demonstrating its abilities. In each video, players are treated to watching a poor innocent woman being eviscerated by a patriarchal, plasmid-wielding woman-hater.

References alluding to male privilege are laced throughout; the victim is always dressed as a housewife (misogynists love their women subservient) and overtly feminine, the male assailant is always seen with a smug grin of satisfaction as he overpowers the “uppity” woman. Even the presentation is done in a stylized 1940’s manner, referring to an era in which women were seen as property.

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Is Lair Really That Bad?

Sep 03 2007

When I first read about Lair, writers kept referring to the claim that it would consume an entire Blu-ray disc due to its high-end visuals. Normally, I would worry fearing that style over substance, graphics over gameplay was being given precedent. However, the developer was Factor 5. Their previous games were great fun with the perfect balance of graphics and gameplay. In fact, I was so confident in their ability that Lair took eighth place in my list of top 10 most anticipated games.

As the release date approached, review copies were sent out to critics and then, the reviews began to surface. Mostly negative, highly critical of the gameplay, reviewers wrote that Factor 5 had opted to focus on graphics, leaving gamers with a pretty but unplayable game.

Kevin VanOrd from GameSpot wrote in his review:

You shouldn’t play Lair. Not unless you have some morbid interest in experiencing what is quite possibly one of the worst control schemes ever devised. It’s a shame because as a cinematic experience, it’s stunning to watch. As a game, it’s a nightmare and an embarrassment. It sounds like a fantastic idea: You fly around on a dragon, spewing fire and clawing at other reptiles while generally wreaking havoc. Too bad you’re forced to use Sixaxis controls that destroy the possibility of fun and replace it with the constant need to scream expletives at your television screen.

Greg Miller from IGN had a similar opinion:

It was somewhere in the neighborhood of my fourth pass over a bridge filled with two warring factions and a bunch of evil rhinos that I went from thinking Lair wasn’t that bad to wondering if Lucifer himself pressed this Blu-ray disc in the pits of hell.See, the time had come for my Asylains to draw up a peace treaty with a group of neighboring bad guys called the Mokai, but when the peace process soured, a huge battle erupted and I — Rohn, one of the best dragon-riding sky guards around — needed to make sure our troops came out on top.No doubt, that sounds interesting and fun; however, Lair’s terrible controls and god-awful lock-on system make this a mission worthy of swallowing the business end of a shotgun to avoid.

Still eager to play Lair, I rented a copy, instead of buying and set off to find out if it was indeed as horrible as described. Continue Reading »

Forbes Top 10 List Disappointing

Jul 30 2007

With video games raking in billions each year, its not a surprise to see old school publications like Forbes penning out top 10 lists like this one — “The 10 Most Anticipated New Videogames”.

The only problem is, in my opinion, Forbes is painfully out of sync with most gamers. The list contains tedious entries such as Madden NFL 08 (oh yes, updated rosters leave me breathless) and while I’m looking forward to Guitar Hero III, I just can’t help feeling that better games ended up being robbed.

So, to right a wrong, I’ve decided to come out with a list of titles that I’m anxiously waiting for with baited breath. Some are coming out within a few weeks while others have no announced date in sight. Disagree with my choices? Sound off in the comments. Now the list after the jump.

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Phoenix Rising? No, More Like a Falcon

Jul 10 2007

After Sony’s price drop, all eyes turned to Microsoft expecting a similar response in kind. However Dean Takahashi, Mercury News reporter and friend of Redmond (he worked closely with the original Xbox team for his novel, Opening the Xbox) explains that Microsoft has something much larger in mind for the Xbox 360.

According to Takahashi, Microsoft’s battle plan, dubbed “Falcon” is about preparing chips that will use 65-nanometer specifications, instead of larger 90 nanometer ones now being used. By doing this, Microsoft benefits by having smaller chips that won’t generate as much heat, reducing warranty expenses, additional parts like heat sinks and would be cheaper themselves because as he explains – “use less material and fewer manufacturing steps to produce.”

Takahashi isn’t sure how “Falcon” plays into Microsoft’s larger strategy to win the console war but I can only see this as a move to allow Microsoft to fight “two wars” simultaneously with Nintendo and Sony. Since the Xbox 360 launched, Microsoft has spent over $21 billion to ensure their hegemony in the living room – for them, it seems losing is not an option.

Because of this attitude, I foresee any cost savings would likely materialize as price drops to sway consumers. There’s a reason why Microsoft didn’t discontinue their original Premium when they announced the higher-end Elite. Both SKU’s will be positioned with price drops that let MS go against both Nintendo and Sony in their respective markets and offerings.

Nintendo likely won’t be phased by this and shouldn’t be. With high margins on the Wii and a total monopoly in the handheld space, they’re positioned to easily weather the storm. Sony on the other hand with losing hundreds of millions on the Playstation 3 cannot afford the same luxury. Better luck next time, Sir Howard.

An Unlikely Way to Change The World

Jun 20 2007

From a photo montage done by the New York Times which compares real life players against their avatars. Lucas Shaw, which thanks to his 55-hour a week EverQuest habit may never win a Nobel Prize but sometimes all you need to do to change the world is serve as personal motivation for others.

Via Valleywag.

Halo 3 vs. Resistance: Fall of Man, An Unlikely Winner Prevails

Jun 19 2007

Like most arguments, this one on the graphical superiority between Halo 3 and Resistance: Fall of Man plays out rather predictably. Fanboys spin, flame and swear while the rest of us lose.

As someone who has both consoles, it’s almost impossible any noticeable difference in their visuals. But it’s not just about the bump mapping or anisotropic filtering. There’s also an artistic quality that’s needed, giving the game a human quality that can’t be achieved with technology alone. FPS fans who’ve played both Half Life 2 and Doom 3 should be nodding in agreement right about now.

So, in the end, who wins?

Resistance looks like a mix of War of the Worlds and World War 2 with bombed out Manchester serving as a backdrop. With most of us tired of Tom Cruise and countless war epics, it doesn’t help the almost monochromic coloring. Instead of looking fresh, Resistance feels muddy and dull.

Compare this to Halo 3 which screenshots look like they’re from “Futuristic Outdoors and Ammo”. Outdoor scenes with alien structures set against pine trees creates much-needed contrast and a visual feast for your eyes. And the gluttony doesn’t stop there — enemies, weapons, pretty much everything enjoys the same treatment and loving care. Even arctic scenes break mold from the usual with generous use of purple and pink.

But that dazzle doesn’t save Halo 3 from its lackluster gameplay. The lack of innovation isn’t surprising, since currently Halo is a license to print money. And with Resistance being equally flat, there’s only one who can save Christmas for all — Valve.

Are You Listening, Microsoft?

May 26 2007

Valve shows that it gets the obvious:

“You buy the product, you get the content,” Team Fortress 2 designer Robin Walker told us. “We make more money because more people buy it, not because we try and nickel-and-dime the same customers.”

“[In multiplayer games] the content you’re playing is being created by the players you’re playing against, so the more people that get into the game, the more content you’re going to have,” Valve’s Charlie Brown concurred.

Valve’s marketing director Doug Lombardi admitted the company had “pretty strong opinions” about how to handle post-release content. “Our philosophy there is, if you buy the product, we put more content out to keep the game interesting, we sell more products.”

“Counter-Strike is number one and has been since ’99 because we kept the game interesting, not because we tried to charge people more, and that’s come back in sales of Counter-Strike,” he added.

Sure, the interview ends with Valve’s confessions that they’re dipping their toe into the pool of in-game advertising. But if two wrongs don’t make a right, I’m sure one of each cancels themselves out.

Some thoughts on Condemned 2: Bloodshot

May 21 2007

When Sega announced they had green-lighted a sequel to Condemned: Criminal Origins. I jumped up and down with the enthusiasm of my kid former self on Christmas morning.

I love to be scared. I’m a big horror fan, I used to explore dilapidated buildings at midnight to scare myself. You get the drift. Condemned served my adrenaline fix, level after level as I brawled with hobos, investigating clues to prove my innocence. Forget about F.E.A.R, Condemned will have you screaming like a schoolgirl.

However, Sega’s press release describes a lot of new fluff which looks like an attempt to reverse on its predecessor’s poor sales at the cost of its unique style:

As Ethan, players will engage in visceral combat using a variety of firearms, blunt instruments and an all-new fighting system complete with defensive and offensive combo chains.

Condemned 2: Bloodshottakes the series to a whole new level by introducing a variety of thrilling online multiplayer modes including deathmatch, which promises to deliver the most brutal hand-to-hand combat experience the first person genre has ever seen.

Bad idea, why speed up the gameplay at the cost of what works? One of the reasons why Condemned was so scary was because it was paced itself very slowly.

Suspense piled up on your shoulders like a heavy sack, your mind wandered scaring yourself and your nerves went into overdrive, thanks to the thick and creepy atmosphere (click the above links for a taste). Now it sounds like Monolith is almost going for Max Payne lite with a combo system.

If changes need to be made to the weapon / fighting system, how about more diversity in both weapons and their attributes? How about the ability to drop weapons from player or AI by repeated strong blows? How about a parry system, similar to Soul Calibur 2? Some polishing to improve fluidity would be a welcome addition, too.

And of course, the online mode looks thrown in without any real thought or respect for Condemned. Online play has always been lacking in the plot department. Condemned is largely driven by its plot and here this feels like another attempt to woo buyers at the cost of gameplay.

That being said, I do remain optimistic as details are sparse; perhaps two player co-op is in the works? Imagine the tension as you communicate with your equally scared partner, exploring together and shitting yourselves when spooked by scripted events exclusive to co-op multiplayer?

Or imagine in one level, getting separated and later on witnessing a scene between your partner and the killer that gives the impression that they’re a turncoat? Use online as a plot device to further the psychological drama in ways that couldn’t be achieved during single player. That’s how you incorporate Xbox Live while persevering what made Condemned chilling.

Are you listening, Monolith?

Original Super Mario Bros Level Reborn in Super Paper Mario

Apr 04 2007


Source: TechEBlog

With E3 Gone, CeBIT Expo Fills In to Satisfy Your Booth Babe Fetish

Apr 04 2007

With no E3 and with its replacement named as family-friendly “E for Everyone” spells out dismal prospects for under-sexed males sick of digging through the booth babes of yesterday at E3 Girls.

Which is where CeBIT comes in. The world’s premier consumer electronics expo shares an uncanny resemble to E3 in the booth babe department, bringing back a familiar warm feeling in the lower regions for many.

As a healthy young male, I don’t mind looking at beautiful young women while oogling the latest technology (or is that the other way around?) but is there a fine line between pandering male interests and flat out assuming we’re all mindless breast chasing bafoons?

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