A Magic Jet-Ski Ride (Final Fantasy XIII)
I really couldn't find a lot to like about Final Fantasy XIII past the first hour or two. It started in media res, which is a great technique for getting the player fired up and keeping them that way, but it then lets that early momentum peter out over the course of increasingly dull exposition, insisting on explaining the same things time and again with no actual plot advancement or, really, any clear direction (for the plot, I mean. The game directs you down its linear hallways just fine). Eventually, we start to get flashbacks to what happened before the beginning of the game, which includes a painfully unromantic, pointless ride on a flying Jet-Ski by Snow and his fiancé Serah, Lightning's sister. It's all fireworks and aerial acrobatics and no actual emotion or entertainment value.
Elexis' Hidden Button (Sin)
I have something of a chip on my shoulder for the blatant projection by a game's developers upon its player base that they are mindless man-apes who will drool at the slightest hint of sexuality. That's why it irks me that the player's final confrontation with villain Elexis Sinclaire, already dolled up to look like a stereotypical sex worker, involves her "out-smarting" the player by evoking Basic Instinct's Sharon Stone. Elexis, however, lacks her inspiration's sophistication. So does John Blade, whose eyes go wide in juvenile glee at the prospect of seeing beneath a woman's skirt, only for Elexis to "subvert" the situation by hitting a button on the chair between her legs (seriously, why there?) and blasting off in a rocket. Provocative? No. Awkward and nonsensical? Yes.
Shock & Awe Redux (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3)
The original Shock & Awe sequence in the first Modern Warfare really set the bar high for emotional impact not only in Call of Duty games, but in video games in general. This was war, it wasn't always pretty, the good guys didn't always win. The nuclear blast, the player controlling an irradiated soldier as he lives out his last few moments; it's a lot to take in. Modern Warfare 2 had No Russian, which tried to capitalize on pure outrage, and Modern Warfare 3 has a bio-terrorism attack in London that involves innocent civilians, but none of that is offensively bad (maybe just offensive). No, save that for later in MW3, when Yuri's relationship to the villainous Makarov is unveiled. The game takes this time to attach Makarov to the nuclear blast from the first Modern Warfare, before he was even revealed as a character. That it tries to, so blatantly, cash in on the emotional impact of a powerful scene from a past game (by showing it again from another angle) is almost insulting.
Jewel Splitter (Mortal Kombat)
This isn't terrible in the sense that it's poorly produced or even tasteless. Just in the way that it, as a male, makes me clutch at my groin and shiver. Look, castration itself is a scary thought, but Kung Lao's second fatality in the new Mortal Kombat game? It goes a step too far beyond that. The hat-wearing monk spins his bladed head-piece like a buzz-saw, sticking it into the ground. He then grabs his opponent by the legs and slowly pulls them toward and then through it, bisecting them from crotch to head. Every time he does this to a male fighter, I can hardly watch. I try not to fight against Kung Lao anymore.
Date: October 23, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central. This week's is also purely a work of fiction*