Dragon’s Crown sure is beautiful. That’s not really saying much when you talk about a videogame these days, where graphics quality is so often praised regardless of artwork. As long as the tank, dragon, or space marine is anti-aliased, some yahoo is going to call it out for “jaw-dropping” graphics. But Dragon’s Crown is artwork at its best and most distinctive. It is beautiful in a unique hyperstylized hyperdetailed hyperexaggerated way all too rare among the usual hypersexualized videogames. Sure, it’s unashamed of its breast physics and its outrageous ass swaying and the way some of its women sprawl as if they were posing for a Hustler photoshoot (you’ve never seen a wounded nun/cleric laid low quite like the one you’ll see in Dragon’s Crown and after the jump). That’s not all there is to this action RPG for the PS3 and the Vita, but it’s definitely a part of its identity. You should probably go complain about it at the same place where people who’ve never read Heavy Metal complain about Catwoman being called a bitch.
But more importantly, this is one of those game where you won’t mistake the screenshots for any other game. Visually, Dragon’s Crown has one hell of a distinctive identity. Which is exactly what it doesn’t have in terms of the gameplay.
After the jump, you’ve been here before. Many times. Continue reading →
Over at Tap Repeatedly, Amanda Lange shows how to write videogame reviews in her Dragon’s Crown review. She doesn’t list features. She doesn’t hold forth about whether the game is fun. She doesn’t try to gauge whether I’ll like it, or whether you’ll like it, or whether the game playing public will like it, or whether the enthusiast media will like it. She doesn’t focus on how it runs on one platform vs another platform. She instead focuses on her own experience and her reaction to Dragon Crown’s distinct style. She writes articulately, she includes scads of context, and she puts at the forefront her unique insight. She doesn’t even focus on gameplay, just as some movie reviews might not focus on acting or special effects or cinematography. She has her own priorities.
Furthermore, Lange is slyly funny. How can you resist this lead-in, acknowledging the controversy about the game’s sexy and/or sexist portrayal of women?
…it’s impossible to separate Dragon’s Crown from its visual art. I think we should go ahead and gaze into the cracks here; let’s stick our faces in and motorboat the hell out of this controversy.
There are plenty of other quotable tidbits. But unlike reviews that just string together a list of bon mots without any meaningful insight, Lange has an important point. The crux of her review is that Dragon’s Crown illustrates — quite literally — the difference between intentional hypersexualization and ignorant hypersexualization.
And like all great reviews, it doesn’t matter one whit whether I agree with it. As a videogame, I don’t care for Dragon’s Crown. She loves it. That difference of opinion has no bearing on whether her review is good (it is) or whether it’s of any value to me (again, it is). If more people wrote reviews like that, I’d read more reviews.
(Thanks, Mr. Wheeljack!)