So my Tumblr has today been mostly arguing with idiots, and the feminism tag on twitter has been filled with a lot of garbage recently. I apologize, and I thought I’d offer something a little more positive. Something refreshing, just, something that honestly surprised me today. It was nice to find inspiration in the most unlikely of sources - a video game about space marines fighting a war against British space orcs, forty thousand years in the future. However, to really drill the point deep enough, the setting really needs to be illustrated in some detail.
Warhammer 40,000 is a universe where everything is outrageous yet horrifyingly terrible at the same time - a universe where humanity is stretched out and fighting an intergalactic war against space demons from space Hell, space elves, space orcs, space robot skeletons that float around the universe in giant crypts, and evil space lizards. All are ridiculous. All are tough. Billions die daily in endless war. This is grimdark, where no one individual possesses power great enough to stop this madness.
Humanity survives as the Imperium of Man, where all are united under the banner of the God-King Emperor who sits upon a Golden Throne on eternal life support, where hundreds of psychic priests are killed daily keeping him alive as a half-dead being, barely responsive and unable to participate in the violent and bloody theocracy that keeps mankind alive and functioning in the complete insanity going on in the infinite space around them. Warhammer 40,000 asks the question of whether or not humanity is truly worth preserving in an infinite and cruel, unrelenting space that enslaves mankind into a galaxy spanning war on infinite fronts.
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine tells one story in the grimdark universe of the far future, 40,000 years in fact - one of many that happen on a daily basis throughout the infinite space - no one story, no one quest, no one journey or war holds supreme gravitas above all - all is terrible, all is depressing, there is nothing but war and death. The player plays as Titus, a Space Marine Captain in the Ultramarines chapter. A Space Marine is a genetically engineered, 9 foot tall super badass, who could take on a thousand orks singlehandedly and live to tell the tale. He’s dispatched to secure a planet - a planet that produces all sorts of weapons for the Imperium of Man - which is undergoing a severe Ork invasion on a massive scale, and the Imperial Guardsmen (non-genetically engineered regular everyday soldiers) can’t hold the line.
To spare you spoilers, and ruining the plot for anyone interested at this point, let me tell you shit gets worse. A lot worse. The situation on the ground is apocalyptically horrible on a world-wide scale and as it turns out, the Imperial Guardsmen are royally screwed. Well, they would be, if it wasn’t for one person. Let me introduce one of the best female characters in a videogame I’ve seen in a long time.
This is 2nd Lieutenant Mira, and she’s the leader of an Imperial Guard force, mainly because all of her leaders and commanding officers? Dead. All her Commissars, 1st Lieutenants, so on and so on? Massacred. She’s the one person keeping the army of men on this world besieged by an alien force functioning and fighting, and she isn’t oversexualized, treated as weak, nor needing a man, fuck no good readers. Mira doesn’t have time for this motherfucking conventional treatment of motherfucking women in motherfucking videogames.
Mira doesn’t give a shit for fan servicing the nerds. She’s running an entire fucking army against horrible fucking monsters, goddamn Orks, who are completely oblivious to the fact that they’re latent telepaths and the only reason any of their technology works is because they fucking believe it goddamn works, and charge into a fight like a shark smells blood - they are horrid beasts that would take the heart of any man. Mira doesn’t have time for your fucking whining, goddamn no. She’s managing multiple fronts, keeping her men on the motherfucking line shooting, keeping sentry turret defenses up, making sure air fucking transports are taking motherfucking things where they need to goddamn go, I mean, holy fuck, if you took the storyline to this game and gave it to an obscure independent strategy game developer in the late 90s, you wouldn’t be playing as Titus at fucking all, because Mira’s story is way more fascinating and entertaining on the sheer fucking scale, and the reliance, of the big strong manly man that is Captain Titus, who is so fucking manly he has metal bolts drilled in his forehead to show his rank on the battlefield, has to rely on Mira on multiple occasions to move the plot motherfucking forward, and you know what? They have a completely platonic fucking relationship. Captain Titus has to have his ass pulled out of the fire in the very end by Mira, who ends up catching him in mid-fucking-air with a lucky dropship catch, and there’s no forced romantic subtext or any of that horseshit. No, none of that.
And that’s just the cinematics. In certain sections of the actual game, Mira’s fighting right fucking alongside you in the shit - against the terrifying horrors of the universe, against giant eight foot tall ubermensch, not being a damsel in distress or someone to be babied - she’s shooting and shouting and being the complete hardass she goddamn righteously is.
I finished Space Marine this evening, and what I remember most, is Second Lt. Mira’s character. It’s actually quite refreshing to see a strong, independent female character in videogames. A woman who stands strong under an immense burden and isn’t treated as a sex object, or relying on men, but instead an inspiration to the fighting soldiers under her and a strong, competent leader who the main character relies upon again and again.
While 2011 is far from over, but I would have to say the Space Marine is definetely reaching for the top of the list as far as socially progressive videogames this year, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes solid action, blood and explosions, and a strong female character stealing the show.