Friday, May 10, 2013

Do You Bow Before the Queen of Blades? Or Cringe?

The entire backstory for the StarCraft games would take up too much of this post, so if you are interested, you can read it here.

Disclaimer: As I have mentioned, I'm not a gamer myself.  I watch Mr. Nerd play.  I watched him finish StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and the Heart of the Swarm campaign, and he also got me hooked on multi-player StarCraft replays.  The truth is I have no coordination and lack the quick reflexes to have any desire to play myself ( it bad that I don't start things unless I know I can eventually become good at them?).  Yet I still enjoy watching others, and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching StarCraft II.  But if you're a die-hard fan and player, don't be too harsh with me.  This is just one woman's opinion based on what she has learned and seen.


I have noticed that Sarah Kerrigan, aka the Queen of Blades, is ranked highly as a character by fans and critics.  But I must say that I am baffled by her.  I'm not sure whether to like or dislike her character.   Where better to explore that further than here on the blog?

Kerrigan vidsnap.

What I like:

Well, she has psychic powers.  So that's pretty awesome.

She is a strong female character, but by no means is she perfect.  I really, really dislike "all-powerful" characters without weaknesses, because I find them too unbelievable.*  Her story line, which is helped out by various StarCraft novelizations, has her accidentally killing her mother and damaging her father's brain before being recruited for the Ghost (commando and assassin) training program as a child.  That is a heck of a lot to live with, but live with it she does.  She even resists psychological torture in the program, to the point that they have to implant a neurological device to limit her powers and make her biddable for the Confederacy.  I don't think a lot of kids could withstand that. The device is taken out eventually, but that story sets up her character well: a woman with a moral compass that occasionally flashes to the surface but has been twisted and warped until she is easily used as a tool in others' destruction.

I think that makes it more terrifying when she becomes the Queen of Blades. She seems to enjoy finally having an outlet and then going after someone who she believes deserves to be killed (when she goes after Mengsk the second time she is infested).  She is an effective tactician as a Terran and uses that along with ruthlessness and manipulation when she is infested.  But she makes mistakes and cannot anticipate every move made by her opponents.  I suppose that would be obvious, otherwise there would be no real point to the games, but I still like that she acts genuinely surprised at times.  She also provides others in the game (and the player) with an enemy that they sometimes fear, sometimes loathe, sometimes respect, sometimes pity.  She is multidimensional, like a real person.  I also like that she doesn't make excuses for her actions as the Queen of Blades when she becomes human again.  Anyone who starts playing the blame-game gets on my nerves immediately.

The Queen of Blades.

What I don't like:

Obviously, I don't like that she murders millions of Terrans, Zerg and Protoss.  There is that.

I'm not a huge fan of the "government-made killing machine" used in multimedia.  I disliked it with River Tam in Firefly, too, however awesome her fighting skills and crazy observations.  I realize StarCraft came first; I'm just pointing out that this is a general preference.  I suppose this was resolved when I learned that the neuro-adjuster was taken out, because as stated, I like to see more conflicted characters, because I don't enjoy feeling as if I'm watching a robot.  Still, that was a turn-off for me.

I also didn't like the relationship between Kerrigan and Jim Raynor.  I realize that is a major part of the story, but it feels... forced to me, somehow.  It is almost as if Kerrigan falls for Jim just because he is the first person ever to show sympathy for her.  It seems like a very unequal, stereotypical relationship, with her depending on him and him acting as the savior.  She actually tells him that she "doesn't need saving" at one point, but this is proved false time and again.  It's annoying and doesn't seem to fit with the rest of her character.  She even asks Jim- when she is human- to basically put her down if her darker qualities ever made her lose control.  So he becomes very intent on killing her when she turns into the Queen of Blades, at least until he finds out that she can be changed back.  Note that I am not trying to give a commentary on euthanasia here at all: it just struck me as a pet/owner relationship throughout rather than a relationship between two people.  I almost preferred their interactions with Kerrigan as the Queen of Blades.  I really hated it when she heard that Jim had been killed and reinfested herself for revenge purposes.  Kerrigan: we know that you're intelligent, and it didn't occur to you that this might have been a lie?

That's really all there is to say.

Finally, what's up with the Zerg thong?  I realize that women in video games are often caricatures with exaggerated and emphasized "feminine" features.  I can even almost understand the skintight human armor  if we're going for "fits like a second skin" for maximum maneuverability, cloaking, etc. (although why it also has to have some sort of pseudo-thong-wedgie in the back is beyond me).  I also understand that she's not fully Zerg.  But heels and a thong for an infested Terran... really?

Nerd trivia: Sarah Kerrigan was voiced by Tricia Helfer in Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm.  Tricia played the Cylon operative Number Six in Battlestar Galactica (2004).

*Dear Bones, this is why Pelant is merely tiresome now.  I get the feeling that you believe he is a character that viewers love to hate.   I think- and as far as I can tell from the heap of reviews I've read, others agree- this isn't true; he's just a character that viewers want gone before they have to boycott an otherwise good show.

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