So we're hitting the end of November, and these last couple months have been overloaded with blockbuster titles. Most of them are pretty damn good, and although I haven't played it yet, I assume Batman: Arkham City is one of those "damn good" games. Many friends have already told me as much, including Heath (kik36), who reviewed the game for us (read it here).
So why the hell haven't I played this game yet? I mean, I loved Arkham Asylum to death, and I consider myself a long-time Batman fan. I grew up on the old animated series and Michael Keaton movies, and some of my favorite comics star ol' Bats, including Grant Morrison's Batman R.I.P. Yeah, you should read that too, by the way.
Back on the subject. I've been thinking long and hard, trying to figure out how Arkham City wound up at the bottom of my "to play" list. I know it's a good game, so why is it sitting below everything else that came out after it? I think I've got an answer: sluts.
Yeah, sluts, of the female variety. Since I write for Neoseeker, I'm constantly being bombarded by screenshots, artwork, and trailers -- every piece of media intended to generate more hype among the masses. Unfortunately, this sort of thing can backfire, and I can't tell you how many times I've thought, "Goddammit, I am seriously sick of this game and it's not even out yet!" Still, if it's just a case of overexposure, I can actually get over it pretty easily. Assets mostly seem to say, "Look how fun this game is!" or "Look at how gorgeous these graphics are!" But then you get something like Arkham City, which says all that and, "Breasts! Boobies! Tits! Bazongas!"
Honestly, Catwoman is usually portrayed with her suit zipped all the way up. She's sleek, sexy, and I usually love her as a character. And then I saw her in Arkham City assets, her suit zipped way down to expose her sternum and ample cleavage. Uh, really? You know those cupcakes tend to flop around with movement, and that's super painful. This isn't Soul Calibur, goddammit! Zip up that suit or prepare to experience unparalleled agony!
Hey, look, they even defy gravity!
Okay, fine, at least Catwoman still looks like Catwoman, just with more skin. Thank God they didn't shove her in a leather fetish outfit with weird belts and buckles and-... Oh, right, forgot that's what happened to Harley Quinn. You remember Harley, right? She used to have that cute red-and-black spandex outfit?
I know you guys found it sexy as hell, because enough folks have told me as much. It wasn't exactly a classy getup, her '90s costume, but it suited her as an accurate reflection of her bubbly personality mixed with a touch of sex appeal. So when she popped up in Arkham Asylum looking like this, my brows were immediately raised. I didn't wholly disapprove, because the mask was still there, and her outfit was still a blend of cute and sexy, just with a greater emphasis on the "sexy" half. That was my desperate attempt to justify it, anyway.
When Arkham City took that even further, a part of me died inside. As more trailers and screenshots popped up, that part continued to shrivel and decompose. I slowly began to wonder if, maybe, this just wasn't meant for me. "Well," I thought, "A lot of gamers seem more than okay with this, so who am I to complain? No one is forcing me to play it."
Honestly, it could have been worse, as I realized after seeing this concept art. In that context, the final Harley we ended up with is quite subdued. Doesn't really make the game any less appealing on that front, though.
"Yeah, I don't know how I manage to breathe in this thing either. Miracle of science?"
Ironically, Bruce is probably the biggest slut in the actual game (short of Poison Ivy), but you don't see him wearing that on his sleeve. Oops, I guess he is actually a "playboy," since he's a dude.
After being fed this consistent stream of breast 'n' butt shots over the course of several months, it began to really stand out. Instead of thinking about how fun the new gameplay looks, all I end up with is an unshakable belief that the game is not catered toward me as a gamer. The same issue has come up again and again in the comic book community, especially with the fairly recent drama surrounding sex-bot-Starfire. I won't get into that here, but the gist of the argument is social reform within an entertainment industry.
While reading about the Starfire problem and discussing it with some fellow geeks over the Internets, I argued that video games, unlike mainstream comics, were actually moving forward in this manner, as major titles like Halo and Gears of War work female characters into the mix, making them just as bad as the boys without taking their femininity. Anya and Sam may have curvier forms than Marcus and Dom, but they wear the same armor as the bros, because contrary to what we're led to believe, breasts do not make us impervious to bullets/sharp objects -- appropriate protection is required in combat.
Unfortunately, this portrayal of women in video games is not yet widely accepted, so for the time being, I consider it a much-appreciated luxury that I hope will one day become the norm. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to Skyrim, where I can equip Leather Armor and not wind up in a bikini.
I'll get to Arkham City eventually, just not any time soon.