A Heavenly Sword Prophecy

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About one thousand years ago, in 2007, a friend showed me a trailer for a video game called Heavenly Sword. At this time, the PS3 was less than a year old and while I had one, I mostly used it for playing a game called LocoRoco, or a PS2 game called Drakengard, for which I still possessed an inexplicable affection four years after its release. Below, the trailer for the first PS3 title I was really looking forward to:

If you were a Playstation gamer back in ’07, you probably saw some version of it. I was so excited for the PS3 to start building a library of quality titles. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (which I planned to play, but didn’t get around to for two years) was to be released about two months after Heavenly Sword. I filled most of that gap by playing Everyday Shooter (which, go play if you own a PS3 and haven’t already) instead of doing my homework.

heavenly-sword-07aHeavenly Sword tells the story of a warrior woman named Nariko, born in the year of a prophesied male hero who wields the Heavenly Sword and becomes a savior. Her clan takes her gender as a sign of impending calamity. She fights the evil King Bohan to prevent the destruction of her clan, despite the price for wielding so powerful a weapon: her life. The game was rather short, but had an impressive attention to detail as well as a combat system so versatile and engaging that the game was dubbed “Goddess of War,” in comparison to the popular God of War titles.

King2Looking back, however, the game shines most brightly not in its combat system, but in its art direction, storytelling, and character design. The seventh generation of gaming consoles offered developers the potential to more fully realize facial details and emotions. Much like the acting in a play, expression and physicality are important in telling a convincing story. For a long time, gamers didn’t have access to that kind of detail and so, lived without it. Heavenly Sword was part of a generation of games that would change that. The devs do a better job of explaining than I do, so please check that out here.

So the reveal that I’ve been warming up to is this: in the absence of a much desired sequel game, Blockade Entertainment will be making a CGI film which will likely tell the story described in the video game. It seems fitting that one of the first truly cinematic games, compelling and widely popular, should have its own movie. In fact, it seemed inevitable, so much of the groundwork for such a film having already been laid. Here’s a first look trailer:

More information will be released as time goes on, I’m sure, since we’ve been left with a number of black boxes on this new film. Chief among those being the apparent absence of Andy Serkis, the motion capture genius who did much of the work for the first game, and whom you may know from his mo-cap work as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films. As Kotaku notes, this is hopefully a sign that he’s working on Heavenly Sword 2: The Swordening, or something like that. If you’d like to see what kind of material the films creators will be working with, check out the animated shorts that served as prologue and publicity tool for the game, enshrined in this Youtube channel.

Nyreen: Mass Effect Godsend or Dealbreaker?

For the longest time, fans of Mass Effect have reveled in the backstories, culture and xenobiology of the various alien races that comprise the universe, and while to say that the game doesn’t have its fair share of badass females would be a gross understatement, a problem remained: where are the female aliens? Of course, there are the asari, but for all intents and purposes, they’re blue human females with magic. And there was the Dalatrass (a female salarian), but that was only one blatantly female character out of the entire race. The fans want more. We want to see what both genders, if viable, of the species look like. Bioware seems to have heard our wish. On November 27th, Bioware is releasing the anticipated Omega DLC pack which features a female turian.

Out of every race, turian seems like the most obvious in showcasing both genders. For one, we already know that female turians exist as your crewmate, Garrus, speaks of one that he trained with before joining C-Sec. For another, the design and their place in the culture have already been determined. In opposition to, say, a female drell which we know exists but nothing more, female turians are known to be held to the same societal standards as their male counterparts and are just as involved in their war-hardened mindset. At first glance, this seems to be the case with this new character, Nyreen.

In fact, Aria herself describes her as ex-military. This puts her on footing with Garrus and gives her that renegade sense. What made her leave her blood-given post? Did she find something inherently wrong with the system, or did Nyreen just want to do things her way without the military bureaucracy breathing down her neck? Whatever it was, she would have to be a total badass to have the recognition from Aria that she does. Let’s not forget that Aria was the previous boss/mayor/queen (if you’re feeling dramatic) of the dirty, gang-run city of Omega who was only forced from her throne when Cerberus troops ambushed her, and not without leaving dent in said troops. So the fact that Nyreen has a past with this powerful woman (and is still alive) speaks volumes about her character. The universe can never have enough kick-ass women, after all.

Now, while the fandom is having a field day picking out everything they can from the trailers and forming their own early headcanons, there’s also a bit of a controversy going on with her character design. This being that Nyreen seems to have breasts.

Turians, as a race, are largely based on tweaked avian physiology and as a non-mammalian race, the use for things such as breasts would be non-existent and thusly (hopefully) removed by eons of evolution. Also, given that turians previously have stated that breasts are “funny bumps that get in the way”, the implications of turian females having these bumps are potentially canon-breaking. Seriously, this series doesn’t need any more of that, especially not after the trainwreck that was the Deception novel. Beyond this, however, is the implication that to be considered female, one must adhere to certain standards derived from the human male gaze. Why would an alien female have breasts? Because, in the mindset of the target audience, boobies are awesome and fun to look at. That is essentially the reason for the asari to have breasts: it’s said in the lore that the appearance of asari change based on what each race finds attractive, but for an evolutionary stagnant race like the turians, there is simply no excuse to have them.

For now, Patrick Weekes, senior writer for Bioware, has released a tweet saying that what looks like breasts is just armor plating, but it is arguable that he’s just trying to cover someone’s ass. Despite this, I am truly looking forward to playing the DLC when it’s released. Then and only then will I be able to return Omega to its rightful owner and lay this worry to rest, once and for all.