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By SarahTheRebel On 9 Sep, 2013 At 11:49 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarWriter Bryan J. L. Glass (Mighty Marvel: Women of Marvel, Thor: First Thunder) and artist Victor Santos (Ghosts, Polar: Came from the Cold, Filthy Rich), two-thirds of the Harvey Award-winning Mice Templar team, will join forces once again for a creator-owned superhero series: Furious!

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Furious is a five-issue miniseries where celebrity, fame, and superheroes meet.

“Furious, the character, is driven by the same outrage and anger we all feel toward injustice, but as a superheroine she realizes she actually has the power to do something about it,” says writer Bryan J. L. Glass. “But no matter how noble the intention, there’s always a price to pay for reckless action.”

Staring into a fractured mirror of her life, the world’s first superhero, Furious, seeks to atone for her past sins by doling out rage-fueled justice! But the spotlight of our celebrity-obsessed media threatens to undo her noblest efforts and expose her true identity before she can achieve redemption.

Furious, the series, is driven by those consequences: an adrenaline-fueled crash into the darkest depths of one woman’s shattered world and what she chooses to do about it!” added Glass.

For fans who can’t wait, Furious will be featured in Dark Horse Presents #31 on December 18.

You know I can’t wait to read about a new female superhero, especially in a universe where she is the only one of her kind.

Furious #1 (of 5) is in comic shops everywhere on January 29, 2014!

By SarahTheRebel On 13 Aug, 2013 At 06:21 AM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarYup. This is happening.

CLOFAT #1 FC FNL

Clown Fatale is the new upcoming Dark Horse comic series by Victor Gischler (Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike—A Dark Place, Punisher MAX, X-Men) and drawn by Italian artist Maurizio Rosenzweig, with colors by Moreno Dinisio.

The series promises to be full of dark humor and graphic violence as we dive into a vivid, stylish, cinematic tale of action and blood. The series will also feature covers by Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash, Ex Sanguine, The Occultist).

“I wanted to write a comic that was like the baby of Russ Meyer and Quentin Tarantino on whiskey and meth, and Dark Horse was cool enough to let me do it,” stated writer Victor Gischler. “I wanted something that was Grindhouse but simultaneously a parody of Grindhouse. Clown Fatale is the result, and Maurizio and Moreno are killing it with the visuals.”

Plot

In the world of circus folk, there’s nothing lower than a clown. So when the Femme Clowns are mistaken for contract killers, they abandon their shabby traveling circus for a world of violence and cruelty—with clown makeup.

Clown Fatale #1 is in comic shops everywhere November 13, 2013.

By SarahTheRebel On 2 Aug, 2013 At 09:03 PM | Categorized As Featured, Interviews, Tales of Real Otaku | With 0 Comments

No GravatarFirst appeared on www.NerdyButFlirty.com.

I recently interviewed Deja, better known as Jade Aurora. Jade is an artist, model, and cosplayer from Detroit, MI.

Me as Bellatrix Lestrange, Youmacon 2012

Me as Bellatrix Lestrange, Youmacon 2012.

1.) When did you first start cosplaying? What inspired you to start?

I started cosplaying in 2011. What inspired me to start cosplaying was in 2010 when my best friends convinced me to attend Youmacon with them. This was the first anime convention I ever went to. Seeing all those people dressed up in these amazing, kickass costumes is what inspired me to join the cosplay club, lol.

2.) What are your favorite video games?

My favorite video games are Super Smash Bros., Mortal Kombat, and Dead or Alive. I don’t know if this counts, but I am a huge Sims addict!

3.) What’s your favorite anime?

I have quite a few favorite animes, but my absolute favorites are Sailor Moon and Soul Eater. Death the Kid can take my soul any day.

4.) What’s your favorite cosplay memory?

I would have to say that my favorite memory was during Youmacon 2011. I was cosplaying as Princess Tiana, and my friends and I were on our way to a panel, when a little girl and her mother stopped us. The little girl thought I was really Tiana, and wanted a picture of me. It was very heartwarming.

Jade Aurora, Cosplay, Tiana, Youmecan 2011, black, female, cosplayer

Jade as Princess Tiana, Youmacon 2011.

5.) What advice do you have for other girls interested in cosplaying and modeling?

Do what you feel. Cosplay is about having fun. Don’t let race, gender, or size stop you from indulging in your fandom. To those who want to take the path to modeling: be prepared, because it is not easy. The modeling industry can be very cutthroat and catty, and you will hear a lot of nos before you hear yes. And do your homework and always take precautions, because there are people who take advantage of women and prey on their dreams to become models. But modeling can be very fulfilling. You will gain confidence in yourself, and will begin to embrace YOU, flaws and all.

Great advice! You can find Jade Aurora on her Facebook page.

By SarahTheRebel On 4 Jun, 2013 At 10:53 PM | Categorized As Featured, Interviews, ROG News, Television | With 0 Comments

No GravatarFirst appeared on Nerdy But Flirty

The other day, we mentioned an awesome Kickstarter by Ashphord Jacoway for her one-woman show I Wish My Life Was an RPG. I’ve seen the show a few times, and it is AMAZING, so I jumped at the chance to interview Ashphord about this latest iteration, which will be performed at the renowned Hollywood Fringe Festival. Oh, and if her name sounds familiar, you may have seen her on season three of The Tester.

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1.) What inspired you to create this show?

When I was in college, I took a solo performance class with my teacher and inspiration, Dr.Tawnya Pettiford-Wates. We were asked to bring in material that struck us emotionally and that we were passionate about. I thought of my love for gaming and anime first, and that evolved into an idea – I would discuss life as a female gamer. I had found the passion aspect, but it felt like I was missing the emotional connection. At the time, I was reconnecting with my African ancestry and finding a love for my own culture. As a kid growing up in Northern California, I grew up around a lot of white people and, as a result, the black people I met when I moved to Virginia did not accept the way that I talked or acted. I chose to explore my fears and concerns with my race and the gaming community combined.

2.) What’s your favorite RPG of all time?

My favorite RPG of all time is Earthbound. My favorite game of any other genre is Tetris Attack, cause I’m sooooo good at it.

3.) How long have you been a gamer?

I have been gaming for nineteen years now.

4.) What do you do to prepare for the show?

Now, since the work is so ingrained into my body (I know the show inside and out), I do run-throughs each week and try to add new things to keep it fresh. I also meet once a week with my director, Mischa Livingstone. He cast me after my first audition in LA, and we’ve been close ever sense. I also spend this time playing video games; it helps for research!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPekt6h-drI

 

5.) How does it feel being a part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival?

I feel so blessed. The community is wonderful, and the love and support from my family and friends is even better. It’s nice, because when I’m asked what projects I am working on and I mention Fringe, it gets such a positive response – and a +1 in Respect.

6.) What do you hope people gain from I Wish My Life Was an RPG?

I want people to feel a sense of self-validation. I want people to walk away knowing that they can overcome anything, and that they’re not alone. I want people to be proud to love the things they love.

7.) Do you have any advice for young girls out there who may be going through some of the troubles of being a female geek?

If it’s negative, it’s not true. You are wonderful and amazing, and if no one wants to game with you, make your own raid. People will come, because they can see the light in you. And no matter what games you play and how often, if you have a passion for ANYTHING (games, anime, comics), be proud and know that you are a geek, gamer, nerd, or whatever you want to be!

Don’t let anyone tell you what you are and are not. Lots of gamers (male and female) want to challenge your geekdom and see if you’re really one of them or just one of the new geeks who say they are geeks because it’s the cool thing to do now. It’s called a Nerd-Off, and it’s ridiculous and created out of fear – now their sacred thing is public and no longer hidden – but that’s another story.

Either way, I say be who you are and stay true to yourself, because validation comes from within.

8.) Anything else you’d like to share?

I am so happy to be working on this project, and I feel as though I am doing something useful with my artistic abilities. I want to create change in this world, and I know that I can. I started in college by performing with The Conciliation Project, a sociopolitical theatre company based in Richmond, VA. When I do panels with my group, Chocolate Covered Cosplay, we hold open dialogues about race and gender in the geek community. There is always someone who approaches us at the end and says, “Thank you for sharing, because I thought I was alone.” I want everyone to know that they are not alone. That is why I do what I do!

Donate today!

By SarahTheRebel On 23 May, 2013 At 05:59 AM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarFirst appeared on www.NerdyButFlirty.com

Star Wars: Legacy is the second iteration by that name. The first dealt with Cade Skywalker, the bounty hunter. This new series deals with Ania Solo, a descendent of Han and Leia.

A female Han Solo? Yes please.

The art in this issue is great and feels very reminiscent of Star Wars in general. However, this definitely feels like a “middle” issue, with not a lot going on. #3 is clearly meant to set up circumstances for the next issue, rather than sharing any surprises or intriguing battles.

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However, don’t let this stop you from giving the series a try! You can buy the digital copies here.

Plot

Ania Solo and her friends have been chased, blockaded, and shot at, and now they’re stuck on a world of molten sulfur, all because an Imperial Knight wants them dead. Just when things seem bleakest, another Imperial Knight shows up! Is he here to help them, or help destroy them?

Writer:
Corinna Bechko, Gabriel Hardman
Artist:
Gabriel Hardman
Colorist:
Rachelle Rosenberg
Cover Artist:
Dave Wilkins

No GravatarAt PAX East this year I had the opportunity to check out Secret Ponchos, a spaghetti Western themed, top-down shooter from Switchblade Monkeys. The lush looking art, awesome music and simple premise drew me in, but the addicting gameplay was what ultimately won my heart.

Plot

“In Lonetree – a lawless, cutthroat town full of outlaws and bounty hunters – everyone is gunning for your head. Create your outlaw and engage in multiplayer duels to determine who lives, who dies and who becomes a legend.”

original_Killer_wanted

Characters

Click on the links to learn more about each character, their weapons and their stats.

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Atmosphere

The atmosphere is what really makes this game unique. You truly feel like you’re playing a Western – tension, itchy trigger finger and all. The music creates the perfect vibe, the colors make you feel all deserty… it’s hard to describe, but they truly nailed that feeling of when you were a little kid playing cowboys and Indians – ducking behind couches and peering around for enemies, reloading your imaginary six shooter – it’s all there.

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Gameplay

Players can choose from six different characters with their own special moves and weapons. Each character has a primary and secondary weapon, and each weapon has a primary and special attack. You use the left stick to move around and the right stick to aim, with a cool shadowy line showing you where the bullet will strike. It takes a little getting used to at first, because you also have to make sure your weapon is drawn and aimed before you can attack, meaning you have to be a quick thinker to avoid death until you gain muscle memory.

The unique weapons and attacks of the characters really add a level of complexity to the simple gameplay, causing you to sacrifice certain advantages for others. For example, I played The Killer, and while my gun was pretty strong, I had to reload constantly. I tried to compensate by throwing my knife, only to find that I had to wait for the knife to “come back” before I could throw it again. Apparently, I should have been using it to stab instead of using my special attack. I tried to re-compensate by dodging all over the place, only to find that I was depleting my stamina bar. It became readily apparent that this seemingly simple game had much more nuance than I originally thought. There is also a lovely line-of-sight mechanic that let my opponents disappear completely if they hid somewhere. I think this contributed to that feeling of being little and playing cowboys and Indians… I really didn’t know where my enemies would turn up and the tension was excellent!

original_poncho_screenshot_battle

The multiplayer modes are fast-paced and just the right amount of challenging. There are four modes: one v. one, two v. two, four v. four and eight player free-for-all. Creative Director Yousuf Mapara said the team hopes to add more game modes if time permits.

I spoke with Eduardo Echeverria, the interface developer, who told me that the game will allow you to customize your character as you gain a reputation, essentially allowing you to create your own outlaw. He also revealed that they are developing a female character, when I mentioned the lack of ladies. Check her out looking slightly androgynous as a matador:

secretponchosfemalecharacter

When I asked about the motivation behind the game, Echeverria looked me in the eye and said: SoulCaliber. You see, the developers used to play a lot of SoulCaliber, and they really loved how the game was easy to get into but had a depth of strategy for more experienced players. They wanted to create a game like that. What they ended up with has been compared to League of Legends, Street Fighter 2 and Team Fortress. In other words, this game is lined up to be ridiculous fun.

Secret Ponchos is slated for PS3 and 360 release only at this time.

 

By SarahTheRebel On 13 Mar, 2013 At 05:05 AM | Categorized As Featured, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarFirst appeared on www.NerdyButFlirty.com

God of War: Ascension is the prequel to the God of War series and the first game in the hack-and-slash action series to feature a multiplayer component. When I started the game, I was interested to see how they portrayed the less furious, more human Kratos. I’d already played the demo of the multiplayer, but I was also anxious to see the changes made since the beta.

http://www.gamespot.com/forums/topic/29328949/god-of-war-ascension-hype-thread--spartans-prepare-your-blades-of-chaos multiplayer

Plot

“Vengeance is born in the fires of betrayal in this prequel to the best-selling God of War franchise. Six months have passed since Kratos stood over the bodies of his wife and child, his hands stained with their blood – tricked by Ares into murdering the only people he ever loved. Swearing to avenge them, Kratos broke the blood oath that bound him to Ares, but oaths to Olympus are not so easily broken…

Sentenced to an eternity chained within a prison for the living damned, Kratos battles insanity at the hands of the Furies. He will be tested as he seeks freedom, redemption for his sins, and the clarity to avenge his family.”

God-of-War-Ascension-Furies

The game jumps around the timeline of the story, starting with an epic battle, only to backtrack and explain the journey to that point. The initial cut-scene tells a story of the Furies that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Kratos, which was a bit off-putting initially, especially to someone who actually knows Greek mythology. >_>

Characters

The main character is Kratos, of course. This Kratos is a lot less furious than his future persona, as he has yet to fully understand all that Ares has done to him. What we end up with is a Kratos who is somehow less interesting, and has less of a personality in most cases, and in others we see a side of Kratos we’ve secretly longed to see, watching in awe as he tenderly holds a stranger’s hand as she dies or shoves a soldier out of harm’s way. While it was nice to see a change in his demeanor (he was completely un-relateable in God of War 3), I almost wish they had taken it further and had a few more chances for Kratos to speak and show us a little more of his softer side.

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The main antagonists of this game are the Furies. The first one we are introduced to is a little whiny and shallow, and the second one tries to use trickery to get her way. Another Fury isn’t even a female! Of course, he is given the most depth and an intriguing story, but I’ll get to this game’s treatment of women later.

Graphics

The graphics are gorgeous, nice and crisp. They are used to full effect to show off startling vistas, monstrous towers, and some of the nastiest things you will ever see in a game. Scumbag God of War has beautiful graphics, uses them to gross you the eff out.

gowascension

Besides the insanely gory stuff, there are also sick and twisted creatures roaming around, all displayed gaudily for your eyes in clear detail.

There was also more pure eye candy, such as watching a giant python train ascend a mountain or running along a sparkling aqueduct to sad, sweet music.

Sound

The music is great, at times haunting and at times urging you to battle. The music is best when Kratos is running along a straight path for a full minute. The atmosphere was perfect, although I found myself thinking of Xena a lot (I must assume they used didgeridoos).

gowascension

The animations and powers each have unique sounds as well. The squealing of the dogs as I killed them freaked my roommate out, which shows the sound department did its duty!

Gameplay

Ah, the part you’ve all been waiting for. So how is the actual game? Well, it’s not bad. In fact, all of my issues with the gameplay stem more from a lack of innovation than actual negative attributes, with the exception of the broken camera angles.

Ascension features a variety of new gameplay mechanics, including a new button input system, the ability to pick up and switch weapons, time manipulation, cloning, and new enemies.

The time manipulation would have been more interesting if you weren’t prompted every single time you came to a part where you needed to use the skills. Since it was, it really just felt too easy; instead of adding a new layer to the puzzle system, it just seemed to add an extra step. They could have designed a level that guided you to the answer, instead of telling you the answer.

gowstatueofapollo

However, most of the issues with gameplay fell under the mantle of being too formulaic. The game is 100% God of War, just with more gore, more boobs, and more colossal enemies. My friend, who is an avid fan of the series, actually told me what was going to happen each step of the way, about fifteen seconds before it happened: “now there will be a cut scene,” “Now you’ll have to fight a boss,” “Now you’ll have to rip its wing off.” He was never wrong.

But hey, why fix something if it isn’t broke? If you liked that formula in God of War 3, then the gameplay will be just as fun.

Another gameplay mechanic, which is not necessarily bad but kind of strange, is the extreme overuse of “skate” pieces, where Kratos would skate down a path, avoiding obstacles and grabbing grapple points. I mean, seriously, it was happening every few minutes!

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And finally, the camera and finickiness of the controls that has plagued God of War since the first game are still in action. Double jumps sometimes fail, grapples sometimes don’t hook, etc. Even more hilarious, the camera sometimes zooms out so far that you can’t even see Kratos! It adds to the scale and impressive size of battles, but it is annoying as all get-out when you are trying not to let goat men and centaurs ride all over your corpse.

In between the intense battles are long periods of absolutely nothing but running and climbing, broken up by puzzles involving Kratos’s new powers.

Combat

Let me start by saying that these new enemies look fantastic. Besides the goatmen, elephantmen, gorgons, and harpies you have gigantic centaurs, awesome Amazons, and even a fighting city-cthulhu.

gowascensioncombat

However, the enemies are often more interesting to look at than they are to fight, although that’s not to say most of them are easy. The boss fights are multi-tiered and often include a save between tiers, which you will praise Zeus for. The actual tiers are usually simple, with dodge and hit being the routine, and usually you must do the special QTE three times to defeat the mini-bosses.

There is an excellent fight scene where Spartans attack Kratos, and do so in formation as another enemy moves around the field. It was beautiful and creative. In general, the fights got better towards the end, while dodging, cloning, and time manipulation added a truly interesting layer to the well-known combos. I was particularly fond of the way they used the dodge mechanic, because it was not generally prompted, meaning you actually had to watch your enemy instead of the sides of your screen. I also had a soft spot for the ability to throw enemies at other enemies: watching them bounce off each other was entirely satisfactory.

Multiplayer

The multiplayer supports up to eight players in an objective-based combat situation. Players can align themselves with Zeus, Ares, Poseidon, or Hades in a suspiciously RPG-style format involving special powers, customization, and stats for your gladiator.

My feelings about the multiplayer haven’t changed too much since I made a video about the beta. See my video below:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWNZ7h1fnJo]

All in all, this multiplayer isn’t ground breaking, but it isn’t bad. If you have a group of friends to play with and like messing around with weapons and your magic stat, you’ll probably find this pretty enjoyable. It is a challenge, but not a defining feature of the game, in my opinion.

Women in GoW: Ascension

This game had some serious issues that, when added to a whole, painted a disturbing picture about the female gender. Check out my editorial for the full explanation.

Final Thoughts

Beautiful scenery and creative enemy types warred with the formulaic gameplay and repetitive nature. In a nutshell, if you liked God of War 3, you will like God of War Ascension. If you liked God of War 2 but not God of War 3, this might not be the game for you.

By SarahTheRebel On 11 Mar, 2013 At 06:42 PM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 1 Comment

No Gravatar“There are no heroes here, only survivors” – Matthias, Tomb Raider

Lara-Croft-Tomb-Raider-2013-character

When the first trailer was shown for the new Tomb Raider, I was among the skeptics. It looked like another game with an over-sexualized heroine, and there was even a potential rape scene! However, as I mentioned in a previous article, after watching all of the trailers, I came to a different conclusion: Tomb Raider was probably going to be awesome. Other journalists told me not to get my hopes up.

It feels good to be the one smirking now.

I was right! They did it! They told a woman’s story, the story of her growth into a survivor, in a completely compassionate way. Yes, her body is still a little on the fantastical side (also, why didn’t she ever steal someone’s parka so she could stop shivering?) and yes, she often makes dumb mistakes and gets herself into all sorts of ruckus, but those are minor details and really such an improvement over the norm. One step at a time! And this was a pretty big step.

Tomb-Raider-2013-Screen-11

The game also includes a few homages to past games and movies, which I loved. This new Tomb Raider is completely modern, and yet retains the feel of the classic Tomb Raiders. I felt it the first time I wandered into a water-filled cave. As I moved slowly through the water, a wave of nostalgia hit me. Luckily, no bats or batshitcrazy T-Rexes made an appearance!

So, without further ado, let’s zip-line-and-crazy-pickax-jump into this review! This covers the PS3 version of Tomb Raider, which does not include her fancy “every strand of hair moves” technology that the PC version came with.

Package

Check out my unboxing video here. The game came with a code for a scavenger hunt (that I was apparently supposed to do before the game came out) a mini art book, and Tomb Raider: Final Hours, which works through the Amazon Appstore.

tombraiderfinalhoursedition

Plot

“Armed with only her instincts and her innate ability to push beyond the limits of human endurance, Lara must fight, explore, and use her intelligence to unravel the dark history of a forgotten island and escape its relentless hold.”

In this reboot of the series, a young, 21-year-old Lara is on her first archaeological adventure, looking for the kingdom of Yamatai. Following a hunch, she convinces the crew to head into the Dragon’s Triangle and its deadly storms.

From there, everything hits the fan in a rolling avalanche of crazy.

Characters

tombraidercharacters

  • Alex – Know-it-all nerd boy who just wants to impress Lara.
  • Jonah – The spiritual brown man, he’s nice, patient, never loses his temper, and gives me presents. He also has a dark past.
  • Sam – The director of the expedition’s film. I loved seeing a woman in this role, as it’s very rare to see female directors represented in any medium. She also cares deeply about her roots, as well as Lara. She miiight be sweethearts with Lara.
  • Reyes – The tough girl with a heart. She is tough on Lara and has little patience for her. She’s also a mechanic and single mother.
  • Roth – Is the fatherly figure who taught Lara everything she knows.
  • Grim – The badass old man. You get the idea that he, Roth, and Lara’s dad had some crazy adventures of their own.
  • Whitman – The prima donna douche-bag and head archaeologist of this expedition.
  • Lara Croft – The young and passionate Lara lives on instinct, much as she is told to. Unfortunately, her instincts tend to lead her and others right into danger. Also, she comes off as a little book smart but street dumb, constantly tripping on vines, loudly calling out for people instead of hiding, and never picking up a parka from one of the many dead, fully-clothed people around her. As for her new look, her arms should be way more muscly, but in general, her body is proportional and more realistic than past representations (though I still think her lower back is probably aching and hey, she keeps using a bow but doesn’t bind her breasts, but whatever, survivor, wooo!).

I love this multicultural cast of characters and I enjoyed learning more about each of them. You find out most of the info through reading documents or, rather, having documents read to you by their voice actors. It often lends a haunting and melancholy air to the adventure.

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As great as it is to have a diverse cast, I do have to point out that they each turn into tropes by the end of the game. The exciting news is that those tropes aren’t based on their race or gender, but more on roles of other characters in action movies. Yes, Reyes is a single mother and has a bad temper, but she is also a mechanic, a strong leader, and has a sweet side that is shown only when talking about her daughter or around her secret beau. Jonah is the mystical brown man, but he also has a troubled past, and his mysticism has more to do with his personality than his race.

All in all, I was very pleased to see this group, and I hope other games take note!

Graphics and Sound

This game is lovely. Environments often equate to eye-porn, with the complementary music adding a sense of loneliness to Lara’s journey. The atmosphere in this game was just spot on. I was freaked out, excited, sad, whatever they wanted me to feel.

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The characters look stunningly realistic, and on the PC version Lara has TRESSFX, lending super realism to her…hair.

I played on the PlayStation 3 and saw only one glitch, where a gun was floating in the air, lonely and aloof.

Gameplay

The gameplay of this game is really and truly a blend. It’s not exactly a survival game, because you don’t need to eat to live, and ammo is plentiful. It is an action game with strong puzzle and shooter elements.

In general, the gameplay made me think of Far Cry 3 (PS: holy fast-travel batman!) and Uncharted. Oddly enough, a lot of the controls reminded me of DMC: Devil May Cry, but that’s probably just my brain being strange. Either way, I felt that this was the kind of game that would have been more difficult to play if it had come out a few years prior, but instead feels like a natural evolution of game mechanics.

QuickTime

QuickTime events were used heavily throughout the game. You all know how much I hate QuickTime events, but at least these generally did not take away from my ability to see what was happening on the screen.

Tools and Skills

There were a few interesting mechanics, such as lighting things on fire, environment interactions, and scaling walls with your pickax. Using fire continuously to help you in various puzzles and in traversing the environment was very interesting to me, as fire is usually a damaging feature in games, as opposed to a helping one. The game uses a system of base camps to allow you to upgrade skills and weapons based on experience points and loot (called salvage in game). Lara can also change outfits and collect relics and journal entries, adding clues to the island’s mysteries.

The UI of the skills and gear was very awkward and non-intuitive to me. It took me forever to figure out where everything was, and I found it difficult to compare weapons in any way.

I also had to figure out that when I dug in a box and didn’t find something, it actually either just made an automatic change in my gear or added to my salvage, without me appearing to have grabbed anything.

Environment

Lara’s interaction with the environment is also a solid gameplay experience. She automatically takes cover when enemies are near, she reaches out to touch walls when she gets close to them, she lights a torch in dark tombs and looks around in interest at scenic areas. I loved the automatic cover, and would enjoy seeing it as an alternative to sticky cover in other games.

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As I mentioned before, the game is vaguely reminiscent of the old Tomb Raiders, especially in the optional tomb maps. Each area is its own puzzle/platformer, and there are enough varied moments that no section ever becomes dull. You could be doing anything from steering a fall to jumping around sunken ships to scaling an ice cliff to running from flames. This was truly a game that kept me on my toes, and even the most ADD player would have trouble being bored.

However, one issue I had is that sometimes areas are so clearly traps that it feels ridiculous that you have to actually go to them. This is a combination of narrative and level design that leads to this issue though. It just made Lara seem dumb for going into those areas.

Although the level design is usually very fun, sometimes it was a “learn by dying” experience, as you slowly pieced together how best to proceed in the level. Some levels needed to be stealth, which wasn’t always apparent since most areas allowed you to choose your own approach. These areas were particularly punishing and frustrating.

Stealth

When it worked, stealth was mildly addictive. When it didn’t work, it was horrendously annoying. As most of you know, I don’t generally enjoy stealth games. I am very impatient, which resulted in my death numerous times because I didn’t wait for an enemy to move, or pay attention to where they were facing. Eventually, I learned to treat the game as if every mission required stealth until the mission proved otherwise.

Tomb-Raider-2013-Screen-4

Combat

You will probably die in at least one fire-fight, as waves of enemies relentlessly pursue you, shooting up the frail boundaries you hide behind.

tomb-raider-2013

In general, combat is very well-paced with the story. Modding weapons leads to very satisfactory shooting experiences. One issue I had though is that Lara is so weak compared to the enemies. I can shoot some of them in the head twice and they don’t die… but if one of them has a rifle, I’m dead in seconds.

Enemies honestly cause more harm to themselves sometimes, setting things on fire, dropping napalm, cramming a choke point…lol, blowing up entire levels…lots of ways.

In general, combat became a more enjoyable experience the more I played and became used to the aiming mechanics, which felt slightly shaky in the beginning.

Multiplayer

Tomb Raider has four multiplayer modes:

  • Team Deathmatch – Team vs. team and highest score wins
  • Cry for help – Round based mode where survivors must activate radio transmitters while preventing batteries from falling into enemy hands
  • Survival of the Fittest – Kill other players without dying to become the executioner before time runs out
  • Rescue – Attempt to recover medical supplies while the Solarii must finish you with a melee execution

I played Team Deathmatch to get a feel for the multiplayer. It has a fairy simple set up: gain XP to get new weapons, mods, skills and characters. You get to choose which team you will play on, Survivors or Sollari. I liked that the system rewarded me not just for epic wins but also for epic fails, with a Feats and Setbacks feature.

The multiplayer is not bad, I just really wish they’d made it relate more to the main game. For example, all of the times the crew was separated from Lara could have been the setup for each of the multiplayer maps, with Lara calling in on walkie-talkie at the end of them.

Final Thoughts

This game took me on a journey. I went from scared and naïve Lara to a badass warrior woman. There was a moment at the very end, where Lara does something iconic to the Tomb Raider franchise, and I actually cheered. This is the Tomb Raider we’ve been waiting for.

tomb-raider-2013-screenshot7

You know what else is amazing about this game? Women stood behind it. Girl gamers asked for it, bought it, played it, and mostly loved it. This is the proof the industry needs that “if you build it, they will come” should be their mantra! Gamers are hungry for more strong female leads in games.

Another favorite aspect of the game for me was something that even my male friends noticed: no one called me rude names! I was never “bitch” or anything like that. They called me the “Outsider.” Heck, some of the bad guys even talked about what an amazing shot I was! I love that positivity in things I kill.

Despite the sometimes punishing combat and Lara’s almost unbelievable naivete in the beginning, this game proved to be a fun, fast ride worthy of any action flick, but with the solid gameplay of a classic.

First appeared on Nerdy But Flirty.

By SarahTheRebel On 28 Jan, 2013 At 07:41 AM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, PlayStation | With 1 Comment

No GravatarIf you’ve been keeping up with The Last of Us news and trailers, you know that the player will be accompanied by a girl named Ellie. But who is Ellie? Naughty Dog has been pretty close-lipped about her so far, but with the game far off in the future, it only makes sense to keep the level of mystery high. So what do we know?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W01L70IGBgE]

Well, a recent interview on VG24/7 has shed some light on the little girl in a terrifying world.

The Game

The Last of Us takes place on a post-apocalyptic earth, after civilization has mostly succumbed to a deadly fungus. Much like in I Am Legend, nature is reclaiming the city streets, creating a beautiful, but deadly, urban jungle.

The game is a survival/action/shooter with a stealth focus and features Joel, a jaded survivor, working with fourteen-year-old Ellie to survive escape the military and other threats.

http://noble-press.com/2012/12/the-last-of-us/

Despite the action-filled premise, the developers have stressed that this is more of a family-love story than a zombie game, influenced heavily by Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan’s interaction in the Uncharted series. The game focuses on emotions and the father-daughter relationship of Joel and Ellie.

The Girl

Ellie, born after the cataclysm, was raised in a quarantine zone – a place fairly safe from the horrors of the post-apocalyptic world. Despite growing up in such a hopeless setting, she still maintains a relatively optimistic outlook on life. This will be important to her relationship with Joel, as her views may change his own outlook on the world.

Ellie is played by Ashley Johnson, who claims that the belief that Ellie will be a shallow kid who exists to cause trouble (a common trope in games and movies, and a reasonable expectation in escort games) is a misconception.

http://www.oddfuturetalk.com/forums/topic/20025-the-last-of-us/

“With Ellie, I know she’s fourteen, but this is the only world she’s ever known. Every day, you have to survive. It’s not like she thinks, “‘Oh, I wake up, what am I going to have for breakfast’ or ‘Who am I going to hang out with today?’” said Johnson in her VG24/7 interview. “She’s not a normal fourteen-year-old girl. When I first got the audition and saw the scenes, I could tell she was wise beyond her years and not your average teen. I didn’t think the whole time we were shooting it, ‘I’m fourteen, I’m fourteen.’ I honestly haven’t been thinking about age.”

Naughty Dog has become known for its portrayal of interesting and layered characters, characters that are deeper and more complicated than they first appear. For example, in a trailer that actually disturbed me during E3, Ellie is shown helping Joel as he brutally murders a group of people in front of her. She isn’t standing there looking squeamish as a guy gets his head bashed in, she is busy trying to see how she can help. And then she throws a brick at a man’s head.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9-I0CF1tsI]

According to Naughty Dog, Ellie’s character is heavily influenced by Mattie Ross from True Grit. She is coming-of-age, and Joel is both corrupting her and helping her gain her independence.

http://nymag.com/movies/features/69634/

What we don’t know

Naughty Dog is adamant that this isn’t a traditional escort mission kind of game. But if it isn’t, then what is it? Will we get to choose strategies for her? Is she a completely independent AI? It’s clear in the trailer that she can stay out of trouble, but is it possible for her to get caught or killed in combat?

http://www.gamespot.com/forums/topic/29327497/the-last-of-us-vga-2012-fapping-trailer

Also, is she always as hardened as she’s shown to be in the E3 gameplay trailer? Because I found it pretty hard to believe that a kid could watch men get beaten to pulp and not at least throw up in her mouth a little. Even grown men are shaken by their first kill or by watching someone get murdered in front of them, so I find it strange that this kid can be so jaded about violent death so young.

The Portrayal of Women in Games

The Last of Us creative director Neil Druckmann, who wrote the game’s script, said that he tried not to let stereotypes and industry standards effect how women were portrayed.

Both Ellie and Tess (a black market dealer played by Annie Wersching) are characters with layers, not static, walking, talking sex symbols.

http://blog.us.playstation.com/2012/12/14/the-last-of-us-new-survivor-tess-background-details/

Johnson, Wersching, and Druckmann all expressed their concern with gender portrayal in games, particularly the negative reputation the industry has.

“Typically they’re [women] either over-sexualized, or they’re the damsel in distress, or simply there to be a love interest. There may even be one female in a game who’s a badass, as opposed to, ‘Just another male character.’ It does bother me, which is another thing that attracted me to this game, and Naughty Dog games in general,” said Johnson.

She and Druckmann went on to talk about how many game companies won’t put women on the covers of games because they’re afraid they won’t sell.

“I know I’ve been in discussions where we’ve been asked to push Ellie to the back and everyone at Naughty Dog just flat-out refused,” said Druckmann.

http://www.fpsguru.com/article/2923/The-Last-of-Us-Box-Art-Pre-Order-Bonuses.html

And I actually know that to be a true story. A friend who works there told me about the focus group and what was said about the covers featuring Ellie long before this story came out. It is amazing that Naughty Dog is standing up for this character, and I really hope this can be the game that serves as an example to other developers.

Between this and the recent Twitter movement, I’m starting to see instances of the industry taking itself to task and trying to create a change in how women are viewed in games. It would be awesome if my nieces end up with strong heroines in their games.

http://www.anniewersching.com/home/index.php?location=home

I, for one, can’t wait to get to know Ellie.

The Last of Us comes out May 7, 2013, exclusively on PS3.

First appeared on Nerdy But Flirty.

By SarahTheRebel On 1 Nov, 2012 At 10:01 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured | With 2 Comments

No GravatarGoodness knows there is no limit to creepy characters in the world of video games. The horror genre especially seems to have embraced female characters, though usually in the role of companion to the protagonist or victim of the big bad.

In some cases, however, these ladies ARE the big bad. We count down our list of the top five scariest female video game characters.

5. Shodan from the System Shock series

Walking into that room and hearing that creepy voice talking over a dead female body? Jeepers. I don’t care who you are, that’s creepy. Oh wait, here’s a video to demonstrate.

In fact, her voice is still daggone scary! I almost forgot. However, in general, she is too awesome to be high up on our list. Because gradually, that fear turned to pure admiration.

4. Eve from Parasite Eve

This is probably just the teenager in me talking, but I had trouble playing this game when I was in the house by myself. The creepy music and atmosphere combined with one of my first experiences with random enemy encounters just worked together to give me the willies. And here this woman comes, with her big evil self to scare the pants offa me…I couldn’t take it. I turned the game off after that first boss fight and went back to playing Legend of Dragoon.

3. Lisa Trevor from Resident Evil

Look at her. That is why she is number three on this list! The classic human test subject turned tortured murderer, Lisa really just wants her mommy. She also makes me want my mommy.

2. Reika Kuze from Fatal Frame

Did someone order hell on Earth? Another classic tale: woman loves man, can’t get him, is impaled, goes insane. The super-twitchy movements reminded me of The Ring, and I could barely even stand to watch this clip without looking away to break myself out of the tension.

Yeah. Not goin’ to bed anytime soon. At least, not without my camera.

1. Alma Wade from the F.E.A.R. series

Alma currently stands undisputed as the scariest female game character. Constantly appearing in the corner of the screen or quickly running past with her giggles and nonsensical whispers, she is perfectly creepy in the first game.

She then rapes a dude in the second game. RAPES HIM.

Who gives you the creeps?

Honorable mentions include the Banshees from Mass Effect 3, the little possessed girl from Dragon Age: Origins, Witch from Left 4 Dead, and the nurses from Silent Hill.

So, what do you think? Who creeped you out the most?

First appeared on NerdyButFlirty.com