October 22nd, 2020 by Hard Mode

Definitively inferior for no reason.

Age of Empires has been the staple of the RTS genre for decades. It is followed closely by Starcraft and the Command & Conquer series. Ever since, AOE came out in 1997 and garnered a fanbase that could not be erased by time. Over the last several years, developer Forgotten Empires was tasked with creating definitive editions for the 3 games made by Ensemble Studios. However, something was different with the release of the new AOE3 Definitive Edition this year.

In an unprecedented move, FE decided to effectuate what can only be described as a minimum effort PR stunt. To understand the context, we first must understand some concepts from AOE3.

Unlike previous games in the series, AOE3 gained its uniqueness from a mechanic that cannot be found in any other RTS game. This is known as the home city. Each civilization has one, and it is your base of operations from your homeland. They act to give you reinforcements and benefits as you progress not only through a match, but through multiple playthroughs. They serve as a means of progression so that every match feels like you’re continuing towards an end goal. This will be important for later.

The base game came with 8 European civilizations. Its first expansion, the Warchiefs, came out almost a year later to the day of the base game. It featured 3 Native American civilizations. A year later, 3 more civilizations were added via the Asian Dynasties expansion. Furthermore, there are 22 “minor” civilizations within the game. They’re mostly Native American or Asian, that you can ally with in certain circumstances for benefits and reinforcements. Its similar to the home city as a game mechanic but more focused on your specific match.

For the definitive edition, FE took it upon themselves to correct “stereotypes and inaccurate representation” within the game. This would be fine by itself. But the absolute bare minimum effort that was put into this policy is what makes it clear to be no more than than a marketing ploy. The game was now up to 16 official civilizations. With 2 new ones introduced in the DE, there are plenty of stereotypes and inaccuracies to go around. However, FE only decided they would correct 2 of them. They changed the name of the Sioux civilization to Lakota, and the Iroquois Confederacy to the Haudenosaunee. Why? To provide “Authentic and Respectful representation” and call them how they would have called themselves during the era. They also renamed a native american building, the Fire Pit, to the Community Plaza. And that’s entirely it.

Beyond that, the lack of effort is instantly apparent. One of the 9 campaigns within the game is entirely about the Iroquois Confederacy during the Seven Year War. They couldn’t even be bothered to change the voicelines from Iroquois to Haudenosaunee. So, there are still plenty of instances you’ll hear the “incorrect and unauthentic” original voicelines.

The same happens with the Sioux, though they don’t have their own campaign. They only show up in select missions during the Knights of Saint John campaign. They couldn’t even get the only two civilizations they changed right. Let alone the glaring disparities in all the other civilizations. For example, the Dutch would have called themselves Nederlanders during this time period, but that was overlooked. They’re also stereotyped in game as being good with money. One of their civilization bonuses is the unique ability to build banks. The worst offenders are by far the Asian civilizations. They are filled with stereotypes but didn’t get the PR stunt treatment. Why? Because Asia wasn’t the focus market for the game to be sold in.

If they wanted to bring more representation to the game? They could have easily done this via the previously mentioned Home Cities. All 8 European home cities had a high degree of customization that you unlocked as you leveled up with that civilization. However, the 3 Warchiefs civs, the 3 Asian Dynasty civs, and the 2 newly released DE civs do not have any customization whatsoever. This puts them at a severe imbalance with the original civs. Being able to customize your native tribe should be the bare minimum in helping with representation. As it stands there is a huge discrepancy between even the Swedish home city and the other Europeans who were introduced in the base game.

Oh yeah I almost forgot 2 important points.

There’s 4 native american civilizations in game but they only remade the North American ones. Because again south america isn’t the focus market. Though to be fair, 1 of the 2 South American civs were introduced in DE. But they play almost the same as the Aztecs who were the other south American civ already in game untouched.

Also, they hired one native american consultant. This one person is supposed to know the history of both the Lakota (Wyoming-SD area) and every tribe in the Iroquois Confederacy (New York-Great Lakes area). As if they’re going to be able to be experts on tribes who aren’t their own. This is the equivalent of asking a Korean to explain the history of Japan. Just because they’re Asian so they must know about all things from Asia.

Freelance article by: Bruno Charron.

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

January 20th, 2016 by Stefan Adrian "AdminMas7er" Robu

Life is Strange is an episodic graphic adventure video game developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Square Enix. It is focused on the adventures of photography student Max Caulfield, after discovering she has the ability to rewind time, going into the darker parts of Arcadia Bay alongside her close friend, Chloe, searching for a missing student.

The graphics of Life is Strange are absolutely stunning, being developed in Unreal Engine 3, it hits some level of realism while combining a slightly cartoonish art style. While this art style doesn’t provide as much detail close-up, the bigger picture is where it shines. It impressed me how much Detail Dontnod have put into creating this considerably aesthetic town of Arcadia Bay, with the Blackwell Academy as the main point of attraction. Each episode brings us into a new area, keeping the game worlds fresh and rich in environments.

STORY: 1/2
While the story might not have been the best, even poor in some parts, it was okay, containing some major twists around the end. A major problem with it is that the plot starts slow on episode one (which is free), putting a lot of people off buying the other episodes. Character-wise, we have a very diverse cast, each one being unique in looks and personality. Some characters are a bit more insufferable than others, meanwhile there are some that you simply can’t hate them. Some characters I really love include the main protagonist Max, and one of her good friends, Kate. The dialogue feels a little bit forced and awkward, it sounds as if the developers tried (and failed) to replicate the “hip” talk of teens today (seriously, “hella”) and it’s one of the bad parts of the game.

AUDIO: 2/2
I literally have nothing bad to say about the audio, seriously, it has a 10/10 soundtrack, one of the better ones I’ve heard, it also fits the game atmosphere and the personality of Max. Genre-wise, it is composed of indie songs so it is also very soothing and calm. This mellow soundtrack has quite the effect on how emotional some scenes become.

Being a story-based game, it isn’t focused on gameplay so don’t expect to find interesting mechanics. The most important of them is the rewind, allowing you to go back in time, allowing you to make a different choice. This is both a good thing and a bad thing, a good thing because you can also see the other choice available and its outcome, a bad thing because it kind of nullifies the whole “your choices matter” part of the game, since you can fix most of the bad decisions you did previously. At least, the minor ones are like so, since the major choices get locked in. This game draws a lot of inspiration from Telltale Games so it is point and click with a shiny mechanic, so to speak.

FUN: 2/2
Now I would not describe this game as “fun”. I would describe it as “emotional”, “a trip”, “cringefest” whatever you want to call it. It invokes a lot of emotions if you care about characters, especially when you make the wrong choices; those that lead to characters getting wounded, both physically and emotionally. For me, I haven’t felt anything from the “good” ending, but you might have a different experience.

While it may be “eh” in some areas, LiS hits hard in others, and it is an experience you should really try. It may not be perfect, it has a lot of good parts, just like a human. With rewind mechanics.

SCORE: 8/10

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,