Way back when zombies weren’t just reruns on AMC’s The Walking Dead, I ran into Bex of The Feminine Miss Geek. She recently posted a nifty and commonly forgotten (or merely ignored) point of view in videogaming that hardly gets any attention. The idea that girl gamers are repeatedly informed that they are definitely not the target audience.
In this edition, she reports that the teaser reveal of Catwoman being a playable character in the upcoming Batman Arkham City game is… well here’s the video. Watch it, get a feel for it, then continue readin’.
What do you think? Likey? No likey? Why? Keep it there! Keep it right there in that noodle of yours! I don’t wanna ‘corrupt’ your thoughts on it. Okay? Excellent!
Bex takes issue with the video for several important reasons. Namely the gratuitous closeups, the slide under the truck, the kissing bit, and the leg-lock manuever at the end. Originally I typed most of the following as a comment on her post, but it started getting long so I’m repurposing it here, and here it be!
First off, FMG not only brought up excellent points, but did so in a very tidy way. She understandably feels strongly about this issue, but still was able to make an educational post without resorting to simply raging, which I know takes quite an effort when something really bothers you. It’s like trying to politely ask the one-ton blind guy to get off your foot. What normally would be an easy task gets drastically more difficult as you are experiencing intense pain while still trying to remain civil.
While I can see her points and even see the exact bits that bother her and why, I think all of the issues stem out from one or two key problems. Just before I get to that though, I am greatly perplexed as to why WB Games decided to keep Batman and Joker’s voice actors from the (only good) animated series, yet they left Catwoman and Harley go. I mean… come on! You’re going to play as one of them, for goodness sakes! Do you think we’d miss that she sounds one way in game 1, then completely different in game 2 when we spend one-on-one time while *playing as her*? The game is huge and has a big following. It is very successful and the sequel is growing the series in massive way. Did they ask for outrageous salaries? You got Luke Skywalker and the guy doing the titular character still there, why no love for the ladies?
Back on topic, the two main issues of what’s wrong in this video are rooted in bad editing decisions, which is related to the second, possibly all-encompassing problem of a failed developer thought processes.
Let me start with the good. From what I played in the first game, Batman was very stilted, very rigid. Even when he flew around it was strongly and in one direction. Everything about him was like a samurai’s fighting technique. They don’t do much most of the time, but man-alive when they do, huge bursts of energy. Overall he felt sluggish and bogged down, possibly by all the bullet-proof latex he had on. (If this was a video review, this would have been the most awesome time to blare the “Trojan Man!” audio clip.)
Catwoman is the opposite. Lots of movement, lots of flourish. But she’s more than that. She’s very good at what she does, and she knows that. She knows it so confidently that she likes to flaunt not only her battle prowess, but her curves as well. From what I’ve seen of the brand, Catwoman is all about action and flair. This is precisely what the video showcases the whole way through. The video is high on energy the moment she appears and remains that lively till the end.
Unfortunately, the editors didn’t quite know where to quit. There is a bit of redundancy on the butt shots, for example. (I’m not even touching on the objectifying can of worms here.) Solely based upon the editing job, it was sloppy. Not only did they run two simultaneous buttshots side-by-side (not that it was exactly a bad thing :P), they even ran the identical close-up of the pleather and lace or whatever design it was on her shiny behindy twice in a row! Sloppy, sloppy!
They definitely could have reorganised a few things and cut out some entirely. I’m not knocking them too hard though. This teaser was just that, something to whet the appetite and keep you buzzing so you tell your friends just how cool the game is so that when the game goes live you all buy your own copy and gobble it all up.
The second problem, and single biggest issue with the whole video by far is the kissing scene. Not only does it come out of “WTFBBQSAUCEANDBISCUITS Left Field”, it makes absolutely no sense! She’s in the process of flipping the guy. She slips him over her shoulder, then slips him the tongue? I just don’t get it. It does not appear to be a cinematic, just a regular throwing/juggling manuever. Not that the cinematic part would make it all-better, but at least it might make sense, as it certainly does not right now.
If she was a vampire and was taking a nibble out of his neck, it might just be passable (easy way to keep health up mid-combat, etc.). But this is a famous cat burglar. She robs banks of people that destroy kitty litter factories and catnip toys. She does not get her rocks off by making out with every passer-by she happens to fisticuffs.
That throwing animation is only existent so every guy playing it can swoon and giggle to himself (at best). It is in bad taste and nonsensical in every way. Looking at it objectively and, ironically leaving out the objectifying aspects of this yet again, it is still a terrible design decision by the developers. Why would anyone, even those giggling (or worse) wish to see this move again and again? It should not be such a common fighting animation. It shouldn’t even be an uncommon fighting animation, and honestly, it never should have made it this far into the development cycle if only because that is so out of character.
The cut and dry of it all, to me anyway, is simple. Get rid of the nearly crowding amounts of buttshots to not make the lady’s watching uncomfortable and delete all files linked to that kissing abomination. Do that and everything else is kept in check. This is my opinion, of course. To me, the only bit that blatantly crosses the line is the kiss. (The other stuff treads the line, but doesn’t quite pass it.) Add in the kiss, and everything else that was questionable automatically gets ‘upgraded’ to offensive to the female fans.
Lop off the kiss, the rest of it is wavvy gravy. She will remain competent and attractive without watering down her appeal by simply being the town bicycle. Edit out the tonsil twisting and she’d be a real sexual spitfire; just edgy enough to retain maximum levels of hawt while not being full-blown whore-esque.
At this point you get my idea of the video, but just to be thorough…
As for the backwards slide move, that’s just part of the outfit. Catsy likes it sassy, so that’s her own doing/editor’s fault for highlighting the skin so much. Also, if she slid the opposite way, like a baseball player going to home base, the ‘frontal goods’ would be even more exposed than they are here, or if she slid legs first that would lead to even more problems than the ‘crotch of death’ attack previously mentioned. Speaking of which..
The leg grapple move isn’t a problem not only because has Sonya Blade been doing a standing version of that for yeeeears, but the dude’s skull is nowhere near her prives’. Check out his placement. Her right leg is straight up boa-constricting that guys esophagus. His shoulder area is resting on her left leg, which is only adding more pressure on his spine. It’s actually not sexual at all. (Again, after seeing the kiss and getting riled up, I can see the confusion. It’s like the act of a lesser known comedian or band warming up the crowd before the real deal arrives. By the time the actual show begins you’ll love whatever they do… only in this case it is the reverse.)
Keeping on topic with the leg-lock, Kratos gets far more touchy-feely with undead centurions when he’s scaling across a rope. He generally grabs onto them with his legs, locks around their waist, pulls down against them till they loose their grip, then tosses ’em aside. But that series took a dive after the first game so I don’t really even want to go there, but it is a similar combat position so I brought it up. Also, Solid Snake gets waaaay more upclose and personal when he snaps some poor sap’s neck. Talkin’ full on torso-on-torso ‘action’. And did you see that wiggle/crawl move he had in MGS4? They don’t make water hot enough to wash that off…
What do you guys think? Was the kiss too much, or too little? Should they take it out, or should they add a quick time event make-out session mini-game to allow you to disarm the guards of vault witout actually fighting? Maybe a pin the thong on the super villan bonus stage? (What, would you prefer to pin the thong on a super hero? Yeah, how’s that for a mental imagery nightmare. Won’t be able to think about Batman the same for a month, at least.)
Lemme know below! ^_^