When I first saw Zoey from Left 4 Dead, I was instantly sold on Valve’s version of the zombie apocalypse. Standing in an elevator, hordes of the undead outside, she turns to Louis and goes: “Game over, man. Game over.” Not only was she good with a rifle, she also was an Aliens fan–a character after my own heart.

This isn’t an analytical, introspective post. I’m not going to talk about ludonarrative dissonance or pretend I care about agency on some deep level.

No. This is a love letter to Zoey—and to those before her as well as those after. To Aya Brea, to Impa, to Lilith, to Claire Redfield, to Regina, to Kerrigan. This is about how they made me who I am today by simply existing and giving me something to aspire to.

Unfortunately, it’s also about how disgusted I am right now thanks to Rockstar and Ubisoft. How let down I feel. How tired I am of their excuses.

And how I’m done accepting them.

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Lara Croft sits on the chair in the shadows, her face obscured by her hoodie. A man is talking but she isn’t listening. Her leg and hands twitch involuntarily as he drones on. He’s her therapist and he’s telling her important things, but like I said, she’s not really listening. She’s somewhere else thanks to PTSD; a darker place, a place with torrential downpour and arrows flying and blood.

Lots of blood.

When I was sixteen, I went to therapy and I twitched and I was somewhere else as well. And then I was diagnosed with PTSD–the flashbacks not of rainy cliffs and murdered men, but flashbacks nonetheless.

That’s precisely why I’m excited for Rise of the Tomb Raider which was announced at E3 today. I mean, in addition to the amazing gameplay, graphics, and unique story it will undoubtedly contain. I’m excited because it’s nice to see the series continuing the path on which it started in making video games’ first dynamic and realistic heroine.

At least, as realistic as a fictional character with infinite lives can be anyway.

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This isn’t the article I wanted to write about Tomb Raider. In fact, I had an article that was a lot more poetic; there were lines about agency, the environment becoming a character, and how Tomb Raider truly was a next gen title that was my game of the year.

Instead this is an article about Lara Croft being choked to death.

There’s a scene fairly early on in the game where our young, intrepid heroine is being stalked through the forest. Her innocence is shattered; her friends are being brutally shot around her, their screams echoing in the distance as they’re murdered. She crouches against some old ruins at one point, finding a brief reprieve from the horrors she’s witnessing unfold. Suddenly a man surprises her, grabbing her and lifting her up by her throat. His hand clamps over her throat and he begins to choke the life out of her. She starts struggling. She has seconds to live.

If you don’t hit the right series of buttons, she’s choked to death in front of you. Her body goes limp in his hands, her face goes blank, and he laughs the cruelest of laughs.

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Morals of the Mojave

Written by Rollin | December 1st, 2010 |

In Fallout: New Vegas, there are certain factions that, regardless of the circumstances, you gain karma by killing. The Legion and Powder Gangers both suffer this fate. Patrolling, sleeping or guarding an outpost–it doesn’t matter. They have been designed this way and therefore any method of punishment you can dispense is legitimate because, clearly, they are evil.

The game manages to get around this by making all of these enemies legitimately loathsome. The Legion rapes and brutalizes women and the Powder Gangers are prisoners that have escaped and decided to wreak havoc upon the countryside. That’s just scratching the surface of their atrocities. Neither cause is sympathetic by design so it should come as no surprise that eliminating them would give a karma boost.

But as the Supreme Court hears arguments on how different groups believe they should treat the sale of violent video games in California, there has truly never been a more apt time to opine on the state of morality systems in gaming. When you think of a time when someone else was telling you what is good and right, video games should never be far from mind.

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The Final Fantasy MMORPGs: Roads Less Traveled

Written by Ashelia | October 3rd, 2010 |

My overall conflicted experience with Final Fantasy XIV still didn’t stop my jaw from dropping the first time I saw a dust storm settle over the sky of Ul’dah at night.

But for better or worse, Ul’dah and its dust storms are something that many gamers will never see. Unfortunately, not many saw its distant cousin Bastok either. The roads to the cities of Bastok and Ul’dah, to the games of Final Fantasy XI and XIV, are one and the same. They’re all roads less traveled in a world covered by interstate. Still, I like to believe that the scenic route is worth taking time to time–if you aren’t afraid of getting lost.

And I mean really lost–nearly everything in both games works differently from what you would think, creating what can be at times a frustrating of experience. However, if you know Final Fantasy’s history as an MMORPG, this may not be a new revelation.

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