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by G. Christopher Williams

8 Sep 2010


The last 10 or 11 months have seen an awful lot of twos.  Assassin’s Creed II, Bioshock 2, Kane & Lynch 2, Mafia 2, Modern Warfare 2 were all fairly big ticket sequels, and with the arrival of a plethora of sequels, very often comes the discussion of the lack of creativity on the part of developers and lack of courage on the part of publishers in developing original intellectual properties.

Some of these titles received initially positive critical and fan response (though in some cases, this initial adulation faded once the “newness” of a follow up to a beloved game wore off).  However, much as fans of movies often do, fans of video games also very often question the potential quality of follow ups, wondering if the creative types might find their time better spent working on a new idea, rather than merely attempting to polish up (or more cynically put, cash in on) an older one.

Unfortunately, for fans of particular creators, like Ken Levine or Hideo Kojima, or specific development houses, like Rockstar or Irrational Games, this medium (again, much like film) is one that is marketed on the basis of content recognition and much less so on creative recognition.

by G. Christopher Williams

1 Sep 2010


Mafia II features a lot of nudes.  51 of them to be exact.  I know this because the game features 50 collectible Playboy centerfolds that can be viewed (after collection in game) in the main menu.  There is also one nude in the in game sequences themselves.

The inclusion of 1950s Playmates apparently is intended to add an air of authenticity to the period in which the game takes place and to the seaminess of the mob lifestyle of the game’s protagonist.  While the Playmates presence in the game are actually anachronistic if the game were set in a historical United States (since the game’s main action takes place in 1943 and 1951, years prior to the release of Hefner’s magazine in actual history), assumedly the fictional city of Empire Bay resides in an equally fictional alternate timeline of United States history, in which Playboy emerged on the American scene about a decade early.  The authenticity of these nudes is probably derived more from their more demure quality (something that most players would associate with pornography of a period perceived to be more prudish than the current one) than an adherence to real historicity.

In that regard, the nudes featured here are certainly more buttoned up than what one might expect to encounter when performing a Google image search with SafeSearch disabled in 2010.  None of these images feature full frontal nudity (as no Playboy pictorial did prior to the 1970s).  Many of them feature women merely in sheer clothing or often feature a bare bottom rather than bare breasts and are generally less raunchy than contemporary pornography.  Nevertheless, the game makes it abundantly clear that these nudes are here to be viewed.

by G. Christopher Williams

25 Aug 2010


This discussion does contain spoilers for Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days

Advertisements for Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days currently begin with the declaration that “Real Ain’t Pretty”. This declaration is superimposed over an image of the titular characters looking a bit bruised and beaten and prior to a video featuring a glimpse of the ugly world that Kane and Lynch occupy in the game.

Having been playing the game for review, I can testify to the authenticity of this description of the game. This newest Kane & Lynch game makes a genuine effort to embrace a form of realist aesthetic grounded on the idea that life ain’t pretty. Thus, its representation of that kind of world needs to reflect that idea.

by G. Christopher Williams

18 Aug 2010


I tend to think of any game starring Lara Croft as being a game that is almost exclusively about voyeurism.  The Tomb Raider series is about watching: watching Lara, watching the world that she traverses. 

I spend most Croft-centered games in relative repose, evaluating rooms to figure out what goes where, which switches do what, and how to make the jumps correctly.

Thus, I was extremely surprised (and actually quite disappointed) when I loaded up Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and discovered that I was playing a top down, third person shooter/platformer.  This wasn’t what I expected a Lara Croft adventure to be.

by G. Christopher Williams

11 Aug 2010


I like Chun Li.  However, I am hard pressed to initially tell you why.  Certainly, I know next to nothing about her as a character.  After all, she is a part of a fighting game, not a genre known for its excessive interest in plot and character development.  While I have beaten Street Fighter II as Chun-Li numerous times, I don’t remember what her ending was all about (then again, I can’t recall any of the endings of the various characters in the Street Fighter series).  Mostly, all I know about her is what she looks like.

Chun-Li is an attractive enough character in my estimation.  However, I wouldn’t say that I have the hots for her, though I know that there is a fan base that clearly does, especially (it would seem) because of a particular physical trait of hers (but more on that in a moment).  However, if you asked me to name the more iconic female characters in video game history, I would likely include Chun-Li amongst characters that I tend to know something more about because they have been given at least slightly more personality than a fighting game character, women like Lara Croft, Samus Aran, Zelda, and even Princess Peach.

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