Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Something pleasant for Christmas

First of all, Merry Christmas to all my readers!

I apologise for the lack of updates for the past two weeks. Between illness (yes, I'm still unwell) and some other duties I've had to take care of, I haven't had much time to blog. The length of my last one made me feel like taking a break anyway, so this one's going to be much shorter than usual.

Since it's Christmas, I thought I'd write about something positive rather than the frustrating and depressing issues I usually write about. For my birthday this year, I received Dragon's Dogma as a gift.

It's not an understatement to say that Dragon's Dogma may be my favourite game of this console generation. It's exactly the kind of free-roaming fantasy RPG that I'd always wanted to exist but never did. It was billed as a kind of cross between Dark Souls and Shadow Of The Colossus but there's so much more to it than that. It has my favourite character creation system of any game, allowing you to create characters who are tall, short, fat, thin, dwarves, elves, etc. You don't pick specific races like in other games but you can use your imagination to say "my character is a hobbit" because you have the tools to make one. There's a wide range of fun abilities that you get to control in ways that you don't in, say, Dragon Age, Fable or Skyrim. There's a feeling of freedom -- and, more importantly, fun -- when it comes to the combat that those games tend to lack.

Also, I was really glad to see a fantasy game that doesn't feel bogged down with mythology. Along with Dark Souls, it's one of the few fantasy games that doesn't beat you over the head with the names of various gods, races or countries of the world. It just puts you down in a fun environment and lets you play. I don't know about the rest of you but that's very appealing to me. I've played far too many fantasy games where the developers seemed to care more about making a fictional world than making a game. Dragon Age and Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning are particularly guilty of this. Every person you talk to can't resist lecturing you on the customs of certain races or the terrible war that was fought ten years ago.

So Dragon's Dogma is a great game. In my opinion, it should be held up to developers as a prime example of why creating new IPs is a fantastic idea. I know Capcom face a lot of criticism nowadays for on-disc DLC and so on but when they get it right, they really get it right.

And then there's the cherry on the cake. Let's say you're playing Dragon's Dogma one day and one of your pawns -- your followers -- decides to speak up with advice, as they often do:

... Wait, what!?

Sorry about the quality. It's the best I could get off Youtube. I don't think anyone will have difficulty reading it but just in case, it says:
The Westron Labrys's base... Their leader is an infamous misandrist.
That's right, misandry was acknowledged by name.

For those who've never played Dragon's Dogma and who are curious, the misandrist in question was a woman named Ophis, who led an all-female bandit gang. You can perform quests for her and she doesn't actually have any misandrist dialogue, so it's not that big a deal. However, her all-female gang will attack you on sight if your party has any male members. This can be avoided by equipping them with dresses, which is actually quite funny. I imagine some of my readers might worry about the men being made the butt of the joke here but I wouldn't worry about it; the fact that Capcom, unlike other developers, went out of their way to include female enemies in Dragon's Dogma is the more significant point here, in my opinion. The female bandits are considered just as villainous as the male ones and will even attack an all-female party everywhere outside their encampment. Plus, I'm of the opinion that games could benefit from more crossdressing. It's a nice option to have.

Of course, misandry being acknowledged is the most important point of all here. I doubt it'll open the floodgates to more mentions of misandry in the future but it scores some serious points for Dragon's Dogma.

Merry Christmas everyone! I'll be back early next year.