Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Found Myself in a Dark Forest

One of the most vivid pieces of literature I've ever read is Dante’s Divine Comedy. Despite the poem’s age, the descriptions are so colorful and vibrant that I actually felt a little sick upon reading about the drool dripping down the side of someone’s face from the person chewing on their head, both of them trapped in ice, for all eternity.

When I found out that Visceral was making a game out of this masterpiece I was both excited and very skeptical. I figured the visuals would more than likely be striking but that certain liberties would have to be taken in order to create a story. Having finished the game tonight (a mere 6.5 hours after I started it) I can say that my predictions were pretty much correct.

The designs of the levels of hell are absolutely incredible looking with details taken directly from the source material. Even my biggest fear – that the center of hell would be changed to a pit of lava rather than the frozen tundra Dante described – turned out to be unfounded. I know it’s sad but it made my fan girl heart sequel to see Lucifer fanning the winds of hell while being stuck in the ice himself. It does strike me as odd that the developers wouldn’t include the fact that The Fallen Angel has three mouths that chew the greatest traitors of all time . . . but I’m going to stop right there or I’ll gone on for hours. And I really don’t want to do that because the visuals really are amazing and worth taking note of.

Not to mention that the cutscenes are, without a doubt, the best I have ever – ever – seen in a video game. Check out the final cutscene of the game for some pure beauty (and Steven Blum as Lucifer!). Obviously though, spoilers abound:

Sadly though, it wasn’t all fun and games. While all of the levels of the Inferno are gorgeous, some of the level design was downright bad. I’m actually convinced that an intern must have designed the Greed circle. That level was unforgivably bad. The biggest flaw with this game isn’t its similarities to the God of War series (which are abundant) but rather it’s pathetically poor platforming. When it was all said and done, I think the minions of hell managed to kill me once. Maybe twice. The camera and environments however managed to kill me more times than I can count. Several of the puzzles, for example, give you precisely 2 seconds to respond and if you take 2.00001 seconds you’ll be rewarded with an instant death.

The combat was pretty tight and satisfying but, unfairly, Bayonetta has ruined action games for me forever as I now expect all games of the genre to handle as well as it did. Of course, it’s doubtful another game ever will. Again though, it’s not right to compare this game to another and the combat is far from bad just not as good as it could be.

Overall, “Dante’s Inferno” is a fun, gory romp. If you can handle some moments of frustration and repetition, it’s worth a rental but I can’t say the 7-hour game is worth 60 dollars.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Breast is a Breast is a Breast

There are a couple of aspects about society that will, from time to time, confuse the hell out of me. People cramming together to walk in the door of a building when there is another perfectly good door right next to it. The need people feel to make small talk to avoid a perceived uncomfortable silence. Our ability to forget about catastrophic disasters a month after the entire world rallies around those effected. My favorite however, is our obsession and simultaneous repulsion with nudity and sex – mostly the former.

I’ve recently gotten wind of something interesting going on over at It seems that those who stream video of themselves playing the recently released “Dante’s Inferno” have been permanently banned without any type of warning. The reason? They violated the terms of service. Which terms you ask? No nudity is allowed on the site even if the specific page has placed a mature content warning on the feed. There is, however, nothing in’s terms of service which define what exactly nudity is. It is a bare backside? A bare female chest? Exposed breasts with the nipples covered? There is no way to know.

What we do know however is that the image of nude bodies – both male and female – appear quite frequently in Dante’s Inferno. I myself have not played the game yet but I certainly saw my share of pixilated breasts in the demo, which is what ties in nicely to one of my points: are animated breasts really as “offensive” as real ones?

I, of course, use those quotation marks with intense sarcasm. Call me a crazy, liberal hippe but I do not, in any way, shape, or form, find the naked human body even remotely offensive. I’m not referring here to explicit sexual imagery or pornography here, but rather the naked human form as designed by nature. Plain and simple.

Now, Dante’s Inferno does provide a unique problem because again, while I have not played it, I have read the poem and have very vivid memories of the fun to be found within the lust circle which I’m sure Visceral has taken advantage of. Basically, the images within Dante’s Inferno certainly have the potential to be offensive. It is not the content found offensive by though – it’s the nudity. What’s interesting to me are two underlying issues: one, that the naked human body is automatically offensive and two, that this nudity is far more damaging than the brutal and graphic violence so often found in games today.

To me, might as well come out and say, “yeah, play your Modern Warware and Bioshock and have fun graphically gunning down enemies and boring holes into them with giant drills but don’t you dare show a woman’s breast.” The reason for this fear of female nudity is of course the result of years and years of society taking an essential body part for which nearly all of use owe our lives and reducing it to a sexual object.

My more relevant musings (this is a video game blog after all) come from the backlash again nudity in general in video games, such as the fiasco over the Mass Effect “nude” scene. Is nudity in video games “worse” than nudity in film or in paintings? Personally, I tend to think that it is perceived as such not because it is, of course, any worse but rather because non-gamers remain increasingly hesitant to regard video games as art forms which they without question can be. Not all of them certainly (just like not all other forms of media are art) and for sure in a less traditional sense but I will absolutely argue that Dead Space was one of the most beautiful and artful games to come out in recent years. Is it beautiful like Michelangelo’s “David”? No. But is it any less of an art form? I don’t think so.

You know . . . when I started this post I had a goal in mind. I fear it’s gone into a potentially pointless ramble. I suppose I’ll just end with this question: do you think video games are judged more harshly for nudity than the average show or film? If so, why is this?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Episode 4 is Live!

The 4th episode of the Play Like a Girl podcast is now available! You can listen below or check us out on iTunes by clicking the link on the right.

Thanks for your continued support everyone! Hope you enjoy our thoughts on Bioshock 2!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

War. War Never Changes.

Precious little is known thus far about "Fallout: New Vegas". From slight details (if you even want to call them that) that have been leaked I've read that it will take place in the former Las Vegas (shock!) , you will be able to use vehicles early on in the game, and your chosen character will have a backstory that will play directly into their skill set.

Today though, something pretty cool - and official - was released:

I've never been so excited to hear Ron Perlman's voice, even if it is just a clip from "Fallout 3". I think this game is going to be incredible - and faithful to the style and feel of "Fallout 3" - and this short trailer just gets me more excited for Fall.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Like all I have done, this is an act of love

Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know that Bioshock 2 comes out a week from today. And if you have any brain at all (or at least taste), you're about to pee yourself with excitement like me.

Last year, Bioshock 2 was slated for a November 2009 release and then in July, 2K announced that it was being pushed back to the fiscal year of 2010. All I'm saying is, I'M SO GLAD THEY ONLY PUSHED IT BACK TO FEBRUARY. I'm dying over here.

Here are some things about the sequel: you play as a Big Daddy in Rapture, seven years after you last visited. And if that last sentence doesn't make any sense, you need to go rent Bioshock and play it right now. I'm not kidding.

Last year, Cary and I each talked about our favorite video games and, well, Bioshock was my choice, which I shouted at the top of my nerdy lungs. I'm not the only one who sang at the top of rooftops about this game -- it received astounding 10/10 reviews all over the gaming world and, guess what? I've been informed that Playstation 3 Magazine has come out and said that Bioshock 2 is better than the original. As Cary said to me in a text: "Them's fightin' words." I'm not so much concerned about the game being better -- I just want it to be good. And I have faith.

This post isn't necessarily to say anything special or new about the impending release of Bioshock 2, but more of an all-points bulletin to gamers. I know no better way of saying how anxious I am for this game but to tell you that I requested that day off from work so I could spend the entire day playing this game... and they gave it to me. See you there?

Alms for the Geeky

Now that Lynsey and I are wicked famous and all, we feel as though we need to make some updates to the blog. Mainly, we’d like to start doing some more advertising both on-line and in reality but before we do we need a logo. Nothing fancy or even that special, just something we can use which would be a unique connection to Play Like a Girl.

The reason I’m posting about this however is that I have no creative juices flowing in that direction and Lynsey is wicked busy finishing her silly graduate degree. Basically, I’m saying we’re useless and in need of handouts.

If some kind, geeky soul out there would be willing to work with us on creating a logo for this blog s/he would have our undying gratitude which is totally worth way more than money - of which we have none unless you count a few Canadian pennies we get on accident.

So if you’re interested in being awesome and amazing, please contact us at

Thanks, everyone!

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Most Humble Thank You

I am beyond thrilled to announce that thanks to everyone's support and votes, this blog is among the winners of the first annual Golden Retrevo Award in the gaming category! Lynsey and I are truly grateful for each and every reader we get and hope to keep you all coming back and leaving satisfied.

That's what she said.

So, once again, thank you all so very, very much.

What? It's kinda-sorta-almost Valentine's Day.