Since my copy of Crysis (which was posted last Wednesday) STILL HASN'T TURNED UP, I've been ploughing more time into Race 07 - the review of which I should be finishing later this week, so more on that later - and replaying through The Witcher, just for the fun of it.
The Witcher has probably been my most pleasant gaming surprise of the year, though clearly not everyone seems to agree - *cough*PC Gamer*cough* - but that's fine, I guess, you're never going to please everyone. It is odd though, that they're so far off the average, especially when you consider that most people will read a 67% mark in PCG as a "don't touch with a barge pole", and I have to admit I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about this one.
The Witcher's a heck of a lot better than 67% - I rate it above Neverwinter Nights 2, for example, which I found was curiously overrated by just about everyone to the tune of 10-20%, seemingly because three people might possibly use the toolset to make a module that doesn't suck like a Dyson with a 20,000HP, supercharged turboshaft engine. The accusation of the game being misogynist is a little baffling as well - misogynist implies a hatred of women - Geralt may be a rake, but it's clear that he's a serial womaniser because his profession requires him to move around so much and because he likes spending time with women - not because he's harbouring some secret hatred of the female of the species - in fact, this behaviour is almost expected of him in the context of the world's fiction (as evidenced by his liaison with Rosalind in chapter 3). Furthermore, the women themselves are more often than not the ones who initiate the encounters with him; it's not like Geralt is a callous rapist leaving a trail of broken lives behind him... so, misogynist? No. Crass? Yes. Bawdy? Definitely. But misogynist or sexist? I don't see it myself. You could have the same argument over whether Page 3 or "Men's Mag" girls are misogynist or not - whether you like ogling them or not, are they being exploited, or do the girls know exactly what they are getting themselves into and are exploiting men's predilection for attractive women by earning more money for a handful of photoshoots than the people who look at them do in a year? I'll leave you to form your own judgement on that one...
It is funny though how this kind of contention with a videogame always springs up when the subject of sex is involved - if it were an argument just over the violence, people would just be saying "ah, just get on with it", but mention sex and the brains of foamy-mouthed, ADHD-twitching, Counterstrike-playing twelve year olds will no doubt explode, so they need to be "protected"? Personally, I don't think reviewers should have to moralise to justify a score for a game, though I did in my Witcher review just as much as PCG's did - albeit from a diametrically opposite point of view - where do you draw the line on judging a game on moral grounds? Do we really want to reach the point where you can't give a game a good score because someone might find the content distasteful? It does really strike me as odd, as we don't seem to have much trouble with games based around killing people, but most people in real life indulge in sex and find it a natural enough thing to do, but don't go around killing people with assault weapons, since murder and manslaughter are rather frowned upon, to put it mildly... I could name books or films that stand out as brilliant examples of their particular form, despite (or perhaps because of) morally ambiguous or objectionable content, so why the disparity with videogames?
I'll have to put some more thought into this one...
Anyway - some good news, before this post becomes too angsty - my Xbox HD component lead and component switcher box turned up today. On tonight's menu (assuming Crysis still hasn't arrived by the time I get home): Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic in 32 inches of spangly HD-component-o-vision.