Sunday, 27 November 2011

That's not a chest, it's a ....

Our hero models some "leg armour" that's more "Sith Pride disco" than "Dark Overlord."
Another day, another "AAA" MMO arrives with half the player-characters sporting ludicrously oversized chests and being given "armour" that amounts to little more than a pair of Lycra hot pants. The twist is that this time it's men who are getting this treatment in SWTOR.

There are, essentially, four different male human body forms available:

1. So incredibly weedy looking that he looks like he'd suffer serious injury in a dandelion fight with Mr Muscle (that's the old-fashioned wimpy version of Mr M, by the way, not the new, errr, muscly version, which is silly. Nobody expects Mr Tickle to go around tickling people or Mr Angry to go around being cross with everyone ... they do? ... anyway, that's beside the point ... which is that it's a very wimpy look). Not fey-elf wimpy, just spindly-feeble wimpy.

2/3. Almost identical (except for size) barrel-chested monstrosities that make the steroid-abusing human males of WOW look like they really do need to work on their pecs some more. And by barrel-chested, I really do mean barrel-chested; imagine the male equivalent of Jordan, but where the silicone has been replaced by the body of an R2 unit. At least it answers the perennial MMO question of where player characters store the 37 weapons, 13 sets of armour, 9 mounts and 3214 portions of Betelgeusian string-cheese they carry around all the time. These guys have a hollow chest cavity big enough to hide a fully functioning battlestation totally-non-suspicious-don't-mind-me moon inside it.

4. A look that might charitably be described as "Captain of Industry". You know the cartoon pictures of fat-cat bankers the papers have been fond of over the last few years? Now go half-way between that and Jabba the Hutt. Then a little bit further back, but still quite flobbly ... a bit more ... that's it. Seeing an army of these guys wheezing across the battlefield is enough to strike fear into the dark heart of Darth EvilMcBastard, but only because he bears an unfortunate resemblance to a doughnut. The rest of the Sith will just shake their heads in bafflement as they slaughter them. No wonder the Republic is losing if they've let recruiting standards fall this low.

What you won't notice in that list is anything remotely resembling a normal male body shape. Whilst I'm totally in favour of having body shape diversity in the game, none of the available male character models look anything like Lando, Han, Luke or Obi-Wan, which is a bit odd in a Star Wars themed game.

Of course female players have had to put up with this sort of rubbish for a long time, but I'm not sure the right solution is to make male characters look stupid too. How about a wide range of options (including fairly ordinary) for everyone?

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