Although I wasn't the biggest fan of the original Crackdown, I did see a lot of potential in the title and I've definitely been looking forward to the announced sequel. However, the recently-announced news that there will be no playable female agents was incredibly disappointing to me.
Ruffian developer Billy Thompson was quoted by 1Up.com as saying:
"In Crackdown, the amount of memory that it was going to take for it to do all the actual animation, the texture sets and the models for the females—we would've needed to massively reduce other sections of the game," Thomson told 1UP at PAX East this past weekend. "So rather than do two separate models, we cut it back and gave the player as much customization as we could on the male character and that allowed us to use that extra memory to do other things in the game."
Now, I will be the first one to admit that I am not someone well-versed in the technical side of game production, nor have I ever made a game myself. That said, I can't help but find this line more than a little hard to swallow. I mean, let me get this straight—simply having a female playable character would "massively reduce other sections of the game"? Really? Did they intend millions of polygons to go into breast structure alone?
Let's get serious here. Tons of games give players the option to choose either a male or female avatar, and I'm having a really hard time imagining something so special about the Crackdown 2 experience that a system's resources are depleted to the point of being unable to render the opposite sex. Going further, every picture I've seen of the Crackdown characters so far has them completely covered in armor, so would it really have been a drain on the system to swap a male head for a female one?
Granted, male and female bodies are not identically alike and animation differences do exist, but I'm sure that somewhere in the game Ruffian's artists have created at least a few female characters for use during the campaign. Could any of those have been repurposed?
Crackdown 2 was on my to-play list. In fact, it was one I had been specifically looking forward to for the purpose of co-op with my wife—and before anyone assumes that she would be upset by this omission, the truth is that she has no problem playing a male character whatsoever.
If anything, I'm probably more upset than she is that females aren't in the game since I usually pick a female avatar. After all, my Commander Shepard is the galaxy's toughest lady, and you do not want to mess with my Latina mob boss in Saints Row 2, either. Ferelden's darkspawn problem? Beaten back by a lady Warden. Fable 2? Fallout 3? Hell, even 3D Dot Game Heroes… All female characters for me. Let's face it, in games which do not feature a single, predefined character as the protagonist, offering either sex isn't an above-and-beyond use of resources, it's the norm.
Regardless of my preferences (or my wife's willingness to be flexible when female avatars aren't offered) I find it unacceptable that in this day and age, a developer thinks it's okay to skip representing half the world's population. Girl gamers aren't the rare creature that they used to be, and not every guy has sexual insecurity issues with playing as a woman.
Come on, Ruffian… it's not too late to do the right thing.
Super-cool site 8 Bit Horse has some great coverage of an upcoming XBLA game titled Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet. This is the first I've heard of it, but you better believe I'm going to keep an eye on it from here on out.
Coming back to Lost Planet 2 for a minute, Capcom has announced a new charity event called "Kill Big for Charity" that ties into the title. Here's an excerpt from their press release:
Capcom will create a charity fund of $20,000 as a donation for the first one- million Lost Planet 2 multiplayer demos downloaded on the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and PlayStation® 3 computer entertainment system from March 31, when the early access program begins, through midnight PST May 5. If the demo surpasses the million mark across both platforms, an additional $5,000 will be donated when an extra 500,000 downloads is achieved. Please visit Lost Planet’s community site, http://www.lostplanetcommunity.com/ for early access codes. They will also be distributed by various blogs, gaming media sites, and Amazon.com.
In addition, here's a contest if you think you're a Lost Planet 2 bad-ass:
Additionally, beginning April 1, community members will compete for a seat in the celebrity tournament and a trip to Los Angeles to attend the launch party by submitting their best tips and tricks for beating the new Lost Planet 2 multiplayer demo to Capcom-Unity. The Capcom Unity team will choose the four lucky winners and shall post them on http://www.capcom-unity.com and www.lostplanet2game.com. For more details on the contest and the official rules, check out http://www.capcom-unity.com/snow_infernus/blog/2010/04/01/lost_planet_2_-_kill_big_for_charity
Finally, for those of you who were curious about my hands-on with the Lost Planet 2 demo, I snapped a few pics of Capcom HQ to share.