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Indiscrimi Blog

Women in Call of Duty Multiplayer

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Back on the 14th of November, 2012, I wrote the following in my Black Ops 2 review:

"...I would like to take this opportunity to make [a] point that I feel needs to be made: Where are the women? I see enemies in front of me; they're all dudes. I see my allies around me; they're all dudes. I appreciate that the people who make these games don't want to show women being violently murdered, but there's a point where covering your ass becomes disrespectful to the women in uniform who do the exact same job as the men of the armed forces.

Have you noticed that all the helicopter and jet pilots in these games are women? This is a trend that goes back as far as Halo 1, if not further. It's because developers want to have female characters, but they don't want to put them on the ground, in harm's way. I call bullsh*t. This is something the industry needs to fix immediately."

And now, nearly a year later, we have this:

http://kotaku.com/why-female-soldiers-were-finally-added-to-call-of-duty-1142063196

I don't believe for a second that someone at Infinity Ward read my post, but it seems that at least one of them was on the same wavelength as I was. You may now be in awe of my prescience.

Why Pacific Rim Sucks

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It feels kinda mean-spirited to write this - I've never gotten enjoyment out of shooting fish in a barrel - but I've already written my previous post and I cannot resist to temptation to bookend my thoughts, so here it goes.

So, my friend (the one from the previous post) and I finally went to see Pacific Rim last week, and we sat around mocking it well into the night. I intend to relate a few of our better barbs to you here. But before I can start shooting, I ought to familiarise you with the target somewhat.

In the near future, a rift opens at the bottom of the Pacific ocean and monsters start coming through. At first, there is only one every few months; then it's every few weeks. During the course of the movie, they start coming through two at a time every few days, and so on. In response to the attacks of these monsters (named Kaiju) the governments, industries and militaries of the whole world club together and start building giant robots (called Jaegers) that can go toe to toe with the monsters and beat them down.

But at some point, the decision is made that continuing to build and deploy Jaegers is too costly and work commences on a wall. A wall to stop giant monsters. A wall to stop giant monsters that encircles the entire Pacific ocean. A wall to stop giant monsters that encircles the entire Pacific ocean and that collapses at the very first instance that a giant monster attacks it.

Meanwhile, a veteran Jaeger pilot, Generic Expendable Black Man #1, is put in charge of that which remains of the Jaeger programme, which consists in its entirety of: the Expendable Chinese Triplets, the Expendable Russian Couple Who Are Connected To Arms Dealers, the Totally-Gonna-Die-Heroically-In-The-End Australian Dick, the Hero, and Nerdy Asian Sidekick Girl. In Generic Expendable Black Man #1's capacity as commander of humanity's token rearguard action, he decides to mount a last ditch assault on the rift, and his plans are not even slightly re-evaluated when he loses half of his force in one battle.

Where do I begin with this? Well, I think I've pretty well covered my reasons for hating the characters; no point in lingering there. So how about that f*cking wall? How exactly is building a wall more cost effective than building robots? And even if it is more cost effective, why build it around the entire Pacific ocean? Why not just the rift? Or better yet, build a dome over the rift. Make the dome five kilometres thick; let the Kaiju squish themselves in there and rot.

In the movie, it becomes very clear that the Jaeger programme's standard operating procedure is to deploy one Jaeger to deal with each individual Kaiju. Maybe this is a result of having to protect so much coastline with limited resources. Still, the solution seems obvious to a gamer such as myself, and I shall make the solution obvious to you using the universal gamer language:

You're playing a competitive online game. It doesn't matter whether it's Call of Duty, League of Legends or Starcraft. You are part of a three person team, and you have to protect three objectives: San Francisco, Ho Chi Minh City, and Sydney. The enemy team has only ONE member, and they always spawn in the same place at a predictable time. Every time they spawn, they get tougher (higher level, more perks, whatever) and you can no longer guarantee that a member of your team will always win in a one on one fight. Also, if you lose, you are permanently banned from playing online games, because humanity with be wiped out.

That's right. The finest military minds that the human race has to offer cannot figure out the concept of "spawn camping". My friend put it best when he said, "this is called a chokepoint. Give me 300 Spartans and 150 robots. Problem solved." I mean, the rift is only 50 metres wide. 50 metres! You don't even need robots to deal with the Kaiju, just launch a missile at it when another one is due!

The whole premise is made more ridiculous when it is discovered that the Kaiju are in fact alien invaders trying to take over the earth. What the hell kind of battle plan is "send one guy and wait eight months before sending the next"!? It is discovered that the Kaiju want earth because we've made it just toxic enough for it to be comfortable for them. Well, if they have a liking for livable-yet-toxic planets, wouldn't that mean that they would have to face a technologically advanced race every single time that they try to move in somewhere new? And even once the humans successfully close the rift, what's to stop the Kaiju from just opening a new one and trying again? WHY THE HELL DO THE POLITICIANS THINK THAT BUILDING A GIANT WALL WILL HELP? WHY DID GENERIC EXPENDABLE BLACK MAN #1 AND TOTALLY-GONNA-DIE-HEROICALLY-IN-THE-END AUSTRALIAN DICK BLOW THEMSELVES UP WHEN JAEGERS ARE EQUIPPED WITH ESCAPE PODS!? WHY WOULD THEY USE A SHIP AS A CLUB WHEN THE ROBOT HAS BUILT-IN RETRACTABLE SWORDS!? WHY WOULD THEY DEPLETE BOTH OF THEIR PLASMA GUNS ON ONE KAIJU WHEN THEY STILL HAVE TO FIGHT A SECOND ONE!? WHY THE F*CK DO JAEGERS NEED TWO PILOTS!? WHY IS GENERIC EXPENDABLE BLACK MAN #1 DYING OF RADIATION SICKNESS FROM PILOTING A JAEGER, BUT NOT HIS CO-PILOT!? WHY IS THERE AN ENORMOUS SCREEN IN THE CONTROL ROOM THAT CONTINUOUSLY SCROLLS THE NUMBERS ZERO TO NINE ON A LOOP!? RARARAGLGUAERAAAALLLL!!!

I'm sorry, but this movie needs to be put down. It has a fatal case of stupid. This is what happens when there are too many writers and not enough story-telling talent: Lots of unique ideas with absolutely no cohesion or sense.

Oh, by the way, I totally effing called it.

Why Pacific Rim Will Suck

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I don't feel like I should have to explain why a cross between Transformers and Godzilla will be a terrible movie, but apparently I do.

Hear me out! I'm not just trolling here; I have some valid points. I know that Guillermo del Toro directed the movie and I am more than familiar with Mr del Toro's work, but, well, Pacific Rim hardly seems like his kind of thing.

The catalyst for this post was an argument that I had with a friend (a friend who enjoyed the latest zombie movie, 'Brad Pitt Sh*ts On Nerd Culture, Starring Brad Pitt,' so his tastes are somewhat suspect) that primarily revolved around how competently - we believe - good ol' Guillermo could handle a movie like Pacific Rim.

"He's done action, he's done monsters, and he's done both well," went my friend's argument. He went on to point out that writing Pacific Rim off as a crossover of two movies that were made by completely different people (we're looking at you, Bay and Emmerich) is ridiculous. Fair points.

I responded, in a roundabout way, that although he has handled action and monsters well in the past, Pacific Rim is an entirely different beast - one which cannot possibly mesh with his film-making style.

Let's take, for example, del Toro's quintessential monster flick (and arguably his best work), Pan's Labyrinth. The most important thing to keep in mind about this movie is that, in spite of the fact that I just introduced it as his "quintessential monster flick," the movie is not actually about monsters - not supernatural ones, anyway. Nor is Pan's Labyrinth about the violence and brutality of the Spanish civil war, though that certainly rears its ugly head. It's about an unhappy girl trying to escape her reality, pure and simple. Alice in Wonderland, the Wizard of Oz, Cinderella, the Little Mermaid...it is a trope that is as commonplace as it is timeless.

Pan's Labyrinth tells an intensely intimate and personal story: The monsters are nothing but a prop; the violence is only there to give context, not thrills. What part of this is supposed to translate to Pacific Rim?

Yes, yes, I'm aware that Hellboy is also a thing that he did. I suppose the skills implemented there would work better for a big, smash everything in sight movie. But that's just it: It's a big, smash everything in sight movie. Movies like that aren't known for quality, and the fact that Guillermo del Toro would take something like that on gives me the uneasy feeling that there's something else going on. Either he's done something terribly subversive with the script, or he was just brought on for his name-power - in either case, the results should be less than impressive.

Strangely, my friend and I did agree on one point: The fact that Pacific Rim had three scriptwriters working on it is a bad sign. Anything beyond two and the quality of a script typically takes a nose-dive. Too many cooks, as the saying goes.

Anyway, as is my custom I have no proper ending for this post. I just needed to put it up before the movie actually comes out so that I have proof of the fact that I told you so. If the movie turns out to be good, hey, the world will be better off for it. I can live with that.

Random Thought #4

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I'm going to have laser eye surgery tomorrow and all I can think about is that scene from Dead Space. Is that weird?

Random Thought #3

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As someone who has traveled extensively, I can assure you that nowhere in the world is there a people as disrespectful of their native language as English speakers.

Random Thought #2

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A person who defeats his enemies through a combination of stealth, ingenuity, and unbridled athleticism is:

a) Batman

b) a ninja

c) both

Answer: c) both. Therefore, Batman is a ninja.

Irrefutable.

[tags: batman, ninja, batman is a ninja]

"A 10? Seriously?"

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*sigh* Normally I wouldn't stoop to defending a score that I give a game, but to be honest, I even surprised myself when I rated Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 a 10. Now, I don't think that I should have to revise my score, but I should probably try to justify it a bit.

First, I would like to take a moment to understand why my review received such negative responses. Let me clear the air right now by saying that yes, Call of Duty games are not good games. I'll repeat that: CALL OF DUTY GAMES ARE NOT GOOD GAMES. The stories are trite, the politics are laughable, and the action is overall about as realistic as a porn movie. It's all about the show, frankly. They're the videogame equivalent of a Michael Bay movie. But, at the end of the day, none of that matters. Call of Duty games have been the benchmark for first person shooters for years for one simple reason: When it comes to sighting down a gun and putting bullets into some guy's face, Call of Duty games do it best. (Yes, I have played Battlefield games. No, Battlefied games do not do it better. Shut up.)

In summation of my first point: It is true that Call of Duty games are not good by the standard definitions of story-telling media, but they are reliable in the experience they deliver. While I probably wouldn't put a Call of Duty game on my list of the best games ever made, I do think that the "haters" are being a little bit ridiculous.

So, my review didn't deserve the reaction it got, but why did Back Ops 2 deserve the reaction it got from me? In truth, it probably didn't.

You see, boys and girls, the name of the game is 'context'. I rated Black Ops 2 higher than any other game in 2012 not because it was the best game in 2012, but because it was the only game in 2012 that wasn't thoroughly disappointing. I started off the year fully expecting to give my first 10 point rating ever to Mass Effect 3, and, well, you all know how that story ends. Then I thought, "if Resident Evil 6 is anything like Resident Evil 5, maybe it could be fun." It wasn't. Then my enjoyment of Borderlands 2 died when it wouldn't let me connect with my friends' games (we still haven't figured that one out). Disappointment after disappointment. Then there was Black Ops 2. It came with a socially-conscious (if not particularly good) story, a dozen ways for me to influence the final outcome, and the solid shooting mechanics with which I was already familiar. It may not have been a great game, but after such a sh*tty year it certainly felt like one.

So, did I overrate Black Ops 2? Yeah. Did my detractors overreact? Yeah. But there is another point to which all of this brings me.

You see, I recently hit 70,000 gamerscore, and with a new generation of consoles on the way it's feeling a lot like I'm having a mid-gaming-life crisis. I've been doing some thinking this past month, and I've come to a conclusion: I can't keep doing this. I can't keep spending my time and money on a hobby that doesn't bring me enjoyment. Videogame developers are so cynical about what will sell well that they don't take risks any more; games that don't takes risks are boring. If gaming in 2013 turns out like a repeat of 2012, I may throw in the towel. I can't keep doing this....

Wreck-It Ralph - Deconstruction

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So, this is basically a review with spoilers. You've been warned.

It was a while ago that I went to see Wreck-It Ralph, and my opinions about it at the time are much different from my opinions about it retrospectively.

AT THE TIME

Wreck-It Ralph bills itself as an homage to videogame culture and history, and I didn't expect it to rise much above that. But I was surprised. The story is set in an olde-timey video arcade; specifically within the game cabinets themselves. The videogame characters submit to player control during the day and lead their own lives at night, visiting each others' cabinets and socialising. We learn that when the lights go out the videogame villains are shunned by the protagonists (they even have their own support group) and that characters whose games get unplugged end up homeless. We see an interesting social dynamic crop-op wherein people who hate each other are forced to work together year after year to keep their game functional and popular, or else lose their homes. We also learn about a character named Turbo (about halfway through the movie) who left his failing game to be a part of a more popular game, resulting in the disconnection of both game cabinets. Owing to that incident, "going Turbo" is just about the most contemptible act that a character can commit.

We meet Wreck-It Ralph, whose job it is to smash up the same apartment building every time a player puts a quarter in, so that the player character, Fix-It Felix Jr, can go repair it. At the end of the game, the tenants of the apartment building throw Ralph off the roof and into the mud. When the arcade closes, Ralph goes back to the junk pile where he lives, and Felix parties with the NPCs in the apartment building. Ralph's sole goal in life is to earn an apartment of his very own - not an unreasonable aspiration after thirty years of hard work and sleeping on garbage.

When the tenants of the apartment building throw Ralph out of a party he tries to crash, Ralph decides to go Turbo to try his massive hand at being a hero, for once. He puts on some space marine armour and goes into the game Hero's Duty, which is a send up of...um...just about every action game ever made. After one session he decides that the game is too challenging: Instead of earning the end game reward, the Hero Medal, by fighting his way up the cyber-punk tower, he resolves to climb up the outsied of the tower, smash his way in, and steal it. Wouldn't you know it, he accidently releases the "cybugs", and in his escape attempt takes them into "Sugar Rush", a racing game that has none of the firepower needed to contain them.

The story gets a bit convoluted here, so I'll try to just breeze through it: The female protagonist from Hero's Duty teams up with Fix-It Felix to track down Ralph and stop the cybugs, and in the process they fall in love. Ralph's Hero Medal gets stolen by Vanellope (voiced by Sarah Silverman - I've never been a fan of her stuff, but she does well here), a girl in Sugar Rush who wagers it on a race which Ralph must help her win in order to get it back. Every other character in Sugar Rush wants to sabotage Vanellope's race, including reigning moarch King Candy, because she's a "glitch" (she can teleport short distances, which seems a useful talent in a racing game).

SPOILER ALERT: It turns out King Candy is actually Turbo, and he's turned all the residents of Sugar Rush against Vanellope because she's the rightful ruler, Princess Vanellope. The cybugs attack; Ralph saves the day by smashing things; the end.

I really liked the movie at the time: Good triumphs over evil, videogame culture gets lightly roasted, and there's a cameo by Sonic the Hedgehog. But....

RETROSPECTIVE:

...every single sentence of that summary is dripping with elitism.

The strangest thing is that I'm the only one who seems to have noticed it. Movie Bob on The Escapist says that the biggest issue with Wreck-It Ralph is that new rules keep getting made up to artificially heighten the stakes. I heard a critic say that Wreck-It Ralph was a kids' movie that lost sight of what it was supposed to be thirty minutes from the end. No one else seems to have the same problem that I have with this movie.

About halfway through, there is a scene in which Ralph returns to his own game cabinet and finds that most of his coworkers have moved out in anticipation of their imminent unplugging. The one tenant remaining in the apartment building hands Ralph the key and turns to leave.

"I was just tired of living alone in the garbage," Ralph says.

"Congratulations," says the other guy. "Now you get to live alone in an apartment."

HOW IS THAT NOT AN IMPROVEMENT!? I can't speak for everyone, but I would take living alone in an apartment over living alone in a dump any day.

The moral of this story seems to be that people who try to do better for themselves are traitors; that the key to a happy life is to learn your place and support the ruling class because they're just better than you. (This is not even touching the fact that Ralph had to steal his medal because he couldn't earn it, or the fact that they are all literally play-things for the arcade patrons.) I don't know about you, but I'm not comfortable with having that kind of message preached to me. And I most certainly wouldn't be okay with having that kind of message preached to my kid (if I had one).

I am actually too outraged to come up with a suitable closing statement. Peace out, y'all.

[tags: wreck-it ralph, review, elitism]

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