Zaewen

Feminist gaming blog with a heaping dash of science and politics

Does Let’s Pretend do special orders? I could use some rhinestone assless chaps…

The Initiation Station for Saint’s Row the Third released today and, being the character creator junkie that I am, I spent (and will probably continue to spend) an inordinate amount of time in it. I always love it when game companies that tout their highly customizable characters give us a crack at the char gen before the actual game launches. EQ2 and Spore did it back in the day, and now SR3 is giving us this delicious preview of their game engine and art.

This is most likely what Zee will look like in SR3. Luckily my favorite color is purple, which the game rewards you mightily for wearing.

The only complaints I have so far come from some of the common pitfalls game developers run into when creating female characters. The most superficially annoying is that in the char creator my boobs bounce more than my hair does. I hate to be the one that breaks out a physics textbook, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how reality works, even a stylized reality where breasts are made out of trampolines and you can shoot people out of a Professor Gengki cannon. Thankfully though, I think the breast jiggle maybe only in the character creation and customization screens. When I went to the animation (selecting taunts/compliments) the breasts still moved occasionally, but far, far more naturally. I am going to take this as a sign that I will not be running around Steelport with independently moving water balloons punching me in the chin. Which is good, because although I like my Saint’s Row absurd and ridiculous, I don’t particularly like it when that ridiculousness turns into misogynistic jokes about women’s bodies.

Speaking of sexism and women’s bodies, SR3 does seem to have gone with one of the more annoying tropes when it comes to representing women and female characters. Like All Point Bulletin and SW:TOR, SR3 apparently believes that a man is considered ‘fat’ when he is very much overweight, but that a woman is considered ‘fat’ at a much lower level of overweightness. Like many games (and the game industry overall) female bodies are kept in a small range that emphasizes a lithe, skinny hourglass shaped body, even when they’re subjectively meant to be fat or muscular, but male bodies are allowed to inhabit a much greater range of body shapes from a hulking muscle-bound he-man to a rotund, portly fellow. Saint’s Row the Third is nowhere near the worst offender out there, but it is dissapointing to see the body customization limited in such way. Of course, they could have avoided this if they had kept with Saint’s Row 2’s character creation innovation: having one body that you could masculinize or feminize and then change the skinny/muscle/fat build of it. In SR3, they sadly did a way with that brilliant design and went with the tired and not-true idea that there is a ‘female body’ and a ‘male body’ and nothing in between.

One of these days, a game is going to actually give me the ability to create a truly fat female character. That day will be a good day.

Anyhow, that’s about all of the negative I saw from the Initiation Station. Everything else was bonafide Saint’s Row kookiness and surreality which I loved. They’ve expanded the wardrobe selection to give more room to create an even larger variety of costumes. And, of course, the best part of this is that, despite taking away the idea of a singular human body, they kept the idea that men could dress in feminine clothing and women could dress in masculine clothing.

Zee if she were a man. Man!Zee sure does make that corset look good. Mmmhmm

They’ve also, in my opinion at least, done a much better job of making the clothes fit the bodies better. Instead of feeling like the clothes were glued on paper-doll style in SR2, the characters now look like they’re actually wearing the clothing. Which makes the fun lil (and I do mean little) outfits in the game much more enjoyable to wear.

Zee on the nights when she's feeling fiesty. I think I fell in love with that corset top.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I got some more fiddling around I want to do in the Initiation Station and about a dozen more characters and outfits to try out.

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5 responses to “Does Let’s Pretend do special orders? I could use some rhinestone assless chaps…

  1. Weizi November 1, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    I have a question. During the dialogues in the story, do the dialogues change based on your gender like in Persona 3 Portable? or is it the same like Saint Row 2?

    Personally, I wish they make it like Persona 3 Portable where characters react differently based on your gender(but I just wish they don’t just talk about sex all the time).

  2. Zaewen November 1, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    The Initiation Station is only a demo of the character creation and customization. You don’t actually get to play the game any. So I don’t know quite yet, check with me in a couple weeks when the game is out!

  3. Little Pink Beast November 5, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Yeah, I was disappointed to see the masculinity/femininity slider go away, too. On the other hand, full marks for the “sex appeal” slider allowing actual flat-chested women and guys with ridiculously oversized junk. I tried to make David Bowie as the Goblin King, but the Anime hair just wasn’t quite close enough to make him really recognisable. And yes, that corset top is really awesome. I’ll probably be running around in it a fair bit to show off my character’s back tattoo. (That was my other tiny disappointment – they got rid of the “Forgive me for my sins” tattoo that my SR2 Boss had on her gun arm. So it goes.)

    • Zaewen November 5, 2011 at 3:59 pm

      Yea my biggest disappointment was seeing the masculinity/femininity slider go away. I’d love to see it come back, even if only so we could have more customization options. I have noticed, too, that the customization options in the Initiation Station don’t seem to be as diverse and deep as we had in SR2. I’m not sure yet if the demo is just a limited set of options or the whole of costume/tattoo/etc that we’ll see in game. I miss the multiple options per dress item for further customization (wear the jacket open, closed, half buttoned, etc) and the accessories like jewelry, makeup, and tattoos seem reeeeally limited.

      I do love me the equal opportunity sex appeal slider. Truth be told though, I would squeal and giggle like a school girl if the men’s packages jiggled like the boobs do. Cause that would just be, well, hilarious as all get out and fair to boot 😀

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