Obliterating the earth…and liking it

For someone who spends a great deal of her time writing at a site with the word “spite” in its name, I tend to be awfully nice when I’m playing video games. I mean, you won’t usually find me running over hookers in GTA (actually, I try to obey all traffic laws), I side with the good guys whenever possible, and I generally prefer that my kingdoms not be wretched hives of scum and villainy. Actually, I’m kind of a sucker for justice. It just feels better.

And yet, here I am trying to rationalize to myself why on Earth I seem to prefer the Principality of Zeon to the Earth forces in Gundam Battle Universe. I mean, sure, Zakus are extraordinarily cute (yes, cute), and it’s hard to deny that Zeon has the better uniforms, but they’re also dictatorial, occasionally genocidal spacenoids. The bad guys. And yet, I was immensely relieved to be back behind the controls of a Zaku after going over to the AEUG for a good portion of the game. Flying wing with the Red Comet makes all the difference in the world, I guess.

There are other sides to it though. Mostly, I tend to be a serious roleplayer when my character is a player avatar, and when asked to choose between Zeon and Earth, my latent anti-Earth tendencies apparently came to the fore. And I was more than happy to rationalize that decision with, “Okay, I really admire Char and Gato, and right now I’m defending my home in the colones.” Yes, “defending my home in the colonies” ultimately meant “trying to obliterate the earth.” But hey, I’m flexible. I’ve settled comfortably into those nebulous shades of grey.

And thinking on it, it’s actually kind of a nice place to be. When making “moral decisions,” so many games force you down the binary path of good vs. utter bastardry that it’s a relief to be able to justify my actions in my own mind, even if most of GBU’s morality comes out of my knowledge of the source material. What it does is kind of make me want to check out Fallout 3 or Mass Effect and see how I would do as a mercenary with a heart of gold. I’ll bet I would make a wonderful Han Solo, right up until I found myself in a bad mood and nuked that town in Fallout 3. Sheesh, maybe I’m more cut out for this whole evil thing than I realized.

11 thoughts on “Obliterating the earth…and liking it

  1. There’s no shame in opposing the Federation. We should all aspire to liberate the souls weighed down by the Earth’s gravity.

  2. The Borjarnon from Turn-A Gundam is my favorite Zaku permutation- something about the face looks so perpetually bewildered:


    I have to admit, I dislike Anavel Gato more than probably any other antagonist in Gundam. Granted, it was impossible for the rank and file to actually know that Gihren Zabi was a genocidal maniac(and was frighteningly only marginally worse than the bulk of the ruling family), but Gato bought into the national propaganda to a disturbing degree. I cannot stand listening him go on and on and on about the glorious righteousness of Zeon’s righteous glory.

    Though when you get down to it, all the 0083 Zeon soldiers are presented as Klingon-like “noble warriors” living in the disgraceful pain of exile. (Except for Cima Garahau, but she’s moustache-twirlingly evil, so…)

    My Zeon sympathies lie more with people like Ramba Ral: a career soldier just trying to do his job who is ultimately done in by politics and luck. I’ve always taken it as a hallmark of Tomino’s Gundam that most soldiers are just unfortunate people who’ve been “volunteered” to get it in the neck for their leaders’ failings. Which makes it easy to take pretty much any side in any UC-Gundam game.

    Except for the Titans, who are uniformly total bastards once Emma Sheen deserts.

  3. Cima was not mustache-twirlingly evil. She was duped into gassing the colonies during the One-Week War, then turned away from Axis when she tried to find safe harbor. She was a woman who had been betrayed one too many times, and she had gotten to the point where she was willing to do anything to survive. Honestly, she’s one of my favorite characters.

  4. Oh yeah, and I like Gato because he’s a good example of what complete dupes soldiers can be. We even see that he privately questions stuff like nuking the Earth Federation fleet, but he’s willing to go ahead and do it anyway. Basically, as a character, he’s a complete repudiation of blind patriotism. I appreciate that.

  5. I always thought War in the Pocket did a good job of letting you feel sympathy for the Zekes. Though they are still mostly evil in it aside from Bernie, the fact that the whole thing is mostly presented from the perspective of the Zeon troops make sit much easier to sympathize with them.

  6. Can you explain why Gundam is cool? I can’t for the life of me get into it?! Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m not even able to get past the second wave of units in Gundam Crossfire (PS3)? :(

  7. Heh. Honestly, Zeon over Feddie is a pretty common sentiment – you just have to overlook the whole Fascist thing.

    But honestly, that’s what makes most of the Gundam shows work, I think. The leaders on one side or the other (or sometimes even both) may be fucked up crazy or downright evil, but the rank and file are just trying to get by, and the mid-level commanders often have their own goals that are noble in their own way. For all the mustache-twirling that goes on behind the scenes, the front line is always loaded full with shades of gray.

  8. Can you explain why Gundam is cool? I can’t for the life of me get into it?! Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m not even able to get past the second wave of units in Gundam Crossfire (PS3)? :(

    From what I’ve heard I doubt I’d think Gundam was cool from playing Crossfire either. If you’re going to go with a game, try Gundam Vs. Zeta Gundam- it may give you a better idea of what the series is about.

    But Gundam is primarily an anime and gives a much better showing there. If you’re in the US and get the Sci Fi Channel, Gundam 00 starts airing this Monday at 11PM EST. There’s a ton of different permutations of Gundam, but you may as well start with the one you can see for free.

    Kat: I’ll have to give 0083 another look some time- it’s obvious I haven’t seen it in ages and my all-too-distant first impressions are coloring my judgment here. (Still, even if I get to the point where Gato and Cima are decent characters, I don’t know what time could possibly do to help Nina.)

  9. Kat, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with siding with Zeon. As has already been stated, they’re probably the more popular faction from First Gundam – and probably the most popular faction in the entire Gundam meta-series. The way I see it, if you’re role playing a Zeon soldier, you don’t have to be a soldier who believes 100% in the propaganda. You could be coming into things with a similar belief to Char’s in that you think the natural evolution is to move to space rather than remain earthbound. You could have been drafted but believe that you’re protecting your country rather than attempting to destroy another. If you ask me, Zeon soldiers are not inherently bad. The higher ups, however, do go in extremist directions with sharing with the chosen enemy that they are indeed at war – but I think many of us can relate to being under a government that drops colonies or bombs or even occupies territory and attacks despite our disagreement with it.

    On the other side of things, the Zeon mecha were actually superior to the Federation’s. I realized that when I compared my Zeon campaign to my Federation campaign in Gundam: Federation vs. Zeon. It helps demonstrate that the Federation were actually the underdogs in the entire war, except for the White Devil and the Trojan Horse. (Well, and Char’s personal grudge against the ruling family.)

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