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IRL: Uncharted 3's plane battle

Welcome to IRL, a series of articles where I'll check how some game elements compare to their real life counterparts.

 

mythbusters

what do you mean, this is patented!?

 

For this first part, I decided to take a look at the plane sequence in uncharted 3: during this sequence, the protagonist infiltrates a cargo plane through the front landing gear during take off, then proceeds to a gunfight that leads to the plane's destruction, and finally escapes safely by grabbing a container mid-fall.

 

u3

killed everyone? check. vehicule destroyed? check. iconic pose? check.

 

The cargo plane itself is absurdly large, looking more like it belongs in an alternate reality setting. Meet the real life Antonov 225, the largest plane ever created:

 

an225

 

The plane used in the game is clearly designed after the an-225, down to the twin tails. However, a few key differences show how it was changed for cinematic purposes. First, there is not nearly enough space below it to fit a car, and it would be impossible to access the hold from the landing gear anyway. The main difference, however is the 6 turbofan engines getting replaced by 4 propeller engines. While such a large plane would never be able to fly with propellers, it is coherent with the events displayed in the game: turbofan equipped planes have high acceleration during takeoff, making it impossible for a car to catch up with it, and this type of engine is to be avoided in rough evironments, such as deserts.

 

Sadly, at 6.4m wide, the an-225's hold is not as large as the one shown in the game, which would have made for a much less interesting gunfight. More could be discussed about the freefall part, like how Drake could catch up with the container even though it was probably falling faster, or how he was able to hold on to it when the parachute deployed, but that's another story.

the Dragon's Crown controversy, or mistaking sexist for sexy

The time was WWII. Be it in the factories or the battlefield, women fought their way into recognition, earning their rightful place in society. The world would never be the same.

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Well, turns out the world could have changed a long time ago. Just a few centuries ago, women often held important positions, and would have kicked your ass if you told them they "turned out to be useful after all". How did the old timey Don Draper respond? By inventing the myth of the damsel in distress. Sure, it's not the place to discuss how this influenced our perception of women up to modern times, but it's easy to see a parallel with many sexist ads:

 

test

 

What is missing in this ad? Rosie the riveter clobbering this guy with a monkey wrench. While these ads are pretty horrifying by today's standards, it's hard to believe they were the norm back then. Sure, things changed, but slowly: random acts of violence gave way to the helpless airhead woman, who then became the active, independant woman, but who is still one rank below a man. Unfortunately, the depiction of women in comics and video games didn't do anything to correct this: while Wonder Woman was a strong female character, she was often little more than a showcase of the author's various fetishes, and to this day female characters' most iconic features are a spandex suit and a pair of boobs too big and round to be natural.

 

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plus another random fetish

 

As a 30something, well-informed male, that's something I can no longer ignore. I read too many articles or blogs about women who fell into anorexia, only because every single woman they saw turned out to be a heavily photoshopped picture of an already attractive woman, or a fictional character with impossible proportions. As artist Michael Lee Lunsford recently proved, female heroines don't need cleavage or a skin suit so tight you could mistake them for body paint:

 

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if you can't name any of these characters, try looking at their face for a change

 

sadly, the above picture led to this appalling poll:

 

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which led me to this post's title: Michael Lee Lunsford's designs ARE sexy. The poll itself implied a fully dressed heroine couldn't be.

 

That's what infuriated me in the controversy over dragon's crown: apart from their ridiculous attributes, the characters have absolutely no distinctive feature. Remove her hat and staff, and the sorceress is a color swap of Jessica Rabbit. Without her axe, the Amazon is a bikini clad bodybuilder with implants. And minus the arc and hood, the elf is a dangerously young fashion model. Now look at this illustration from Shikigami no shiro:

 

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The character is fully clothed, doesn't show impossible pose or proportions, and yet is gorgeous. These days, character design seems limited to mensurations and color palette to tell characters apart, even in shows aimed at children.

 

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they are supposed to be 15 yo


The Dragon's Crown designs are not sexist because of the impossible proportions. They are sexist because it's the ONLY distinctive feature of the characters. Apart from the diminutive clothing, the artist didn't even bother to draw different faces: they all have a lascivious stare and a pouting mouth. I don' mean female characters shouldn't be sexy. I think they can be sexy without being insulting to half the audience.

Games and movies are teaching you how to kill... but not in the way you think

Playing the latest Tomb Raider game, a specific trope in the game made me tick, for being unrealistic. No, it's not the fact that an untrained protagonist managed to use military grade weapons and defeat an entire army. Nor is how she survived deep wounds, without bleeding to death or passing out from the infection. The scene was when a character's heart stopped because of a helicopter crash ( which is quite uncanny to begin with), and was saved by the CPR method we all know from our favorite shows: a few chest compressions, then artificial respiration and repeat. Needless to say, the character was instantly saved and healthy. Sure, CPR is never as efficient, but CPR is better than nothing right?

 

Well, it's not. The CPR method shown in the game is not only not recommended by the authorities, it also HURTS the victim's chances to be saved. Even when done properly, CPR has little chance to save someone on its own: its main purpose is to preserve the victim while waiting for an ambulance. So, the first thing to do when facing a cardiac arrest is not to perform CPR, it's to call for help. How is it different from games where players only have to pick up health pack, or magically regenerate health? CPR is not some gameplay mechanic, it's a real life feature, and life saving one as it is. when shown in a media, it should be performed properly, or not shown at all. The saddest fact? Specialists have spent decades explaining why the "hollywood" CPR was harmful, but it still appears in a 2013 game. So if you want to be a real hero, get real training.

 

source:

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation

the PSP is a surprisingly handy USB controller

As a gamer and a traveller, I sometimes come upon conflicts between my two passions. My idea of fun often involves sitting in the dark in comfy clothes ( one of the remnants from my jobless time) playing video games and wasting time on the internet. But sometimes, I give up this comfort zone and go to the other end of the world for a few weeks. Of course, being a geek, I wouldn't leave without a safety, which is a netbook and a PSP, which leads to the current conflict: anyone who played super meat boy or they bleed pixels on PC knows they are almost impossible to play without a controller.

So here I was, pondering if I brought my gamepad along, adding a substantial volume and weight to my backpack (yes, for budget travelers, every gram counts). And then it hit me: what if the PSP was used as a gamepad? A few minutes of search later, I came across a nice plugin for PSP called Fusa Gamepad 0.3, which makes the PSP detected as a gamepad. it is entirely configurable, and makes clever use of ALL buttons, even Wlan! The lack of second stick is overcome by using a button, which makes the PSP stick used as the second one if this button is pressed.

There are plenty of other plugins, to display the PSP screen on a TV by USB cable, use the PSP as a secondary PC screen, customize the welcome screen... which leads me to ask, why didn't Sony implement these features from the start? The PSP is an awesome system, but it's too bad to rely on hacks (something Sony obviously never intended) to use these awesome features. Considering the price of gamepads (see the SteelSeries Free Mobile Controller Review), I hope sony will offer similar features for the Vita.

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How much Prey is there in Prey 2 anyway?

Last week's news reporting Prey 2 as canceled came as a surprise, considering its praised predecessor, and parts of the game itself shown in an advanced, if not finished state, indicating the core game was completed. The lack of multiplayer, almost mandatory in action games these days, might be an important part of the equation here, as companies gradually push their business model from selling packaged products to services: judging from the different trailers and demos, considering how poorly prey 2's mechanics would have translated into a multiplayer component, I wouldn't be surprised if producers decided to can the project rather than release a single-player only FPS. fortunately, games like Deus Ex Human Revolution and the recent Batman games proves them wrong. About the original prey, the final product might not have fully satisfied players and reviewers after the almost 10-year long expectation, but it featured striking visuals, a mature storyline, and innovative game mechanics that predated portal's by a few years. Personally, what amazed me the most was how the game environment (the planet-size spaceship) felt alien: the ship was partly organic, its maintenance was performed by abducted humans and aliens alike, and the original game mechanics (gravity manipulation, portals, shrunken environments...) really felt like strange alien technology rather than puzzles distracting from the main experience. it even managed to blend an alien invasion with native American mythology without turning the story into a joke, which is an achievement by itself. Which brings me to prey 2: the different gameplay videos made clear the new protagonist is a bounty hunter, roaming what looks like a futuristic city, and capturing fugitives with alien devices. Considering the original villain in Prey was some sort of supremacist entity, abducting entire civilizations to feed an unstoppable war machine, I find it hard to believe a place like Prey 2's setting would exist in the same universe, with all alien species coexisting in a limited space. It suddenly feels more Mass Effect's Citadel (great game, still), where the greatest difference between aliens is the head design, completed by some cultural differences and old feuds, but still very close to our own human civilization. Sure, an open-world game in a completely alien world would be unthinkable, but Mass effect was at its best when developing these alien cultures, something I feel is missing from Prey 2 , where all aliens exhibit very human-like behavior. Another missing key element is the 'spiritual plane' featured in the original prey, which was revealed to be a higher plane of reality accessible by aliens, and of seemingly great importance to them. Prey's storyline was not just a cliche alien abduction, but also a coming of age where Tommy had to embrace his heritage and come to understand his grandfather, which fit surprisingly well in this kind of game. Sadly, the only reference to the original prey so far is the vague promise of Tommy making a guest appearance, without any element from the backstory. So far, Prey 2 feels like a mashup of recent games, with a universe close to Mass effect, a gameplay similar to Deus Ex Human Revolution, and the Prey license slapped on it to make it sell. It still looks like a great game, and I look forward to playing it... which sadly might never happen.