Crysis of faith
this was written by my close friend, Kimerex who doesn't have an account here (yet) so I am posting this on his behalf
Sony had Killzone. Microsoft had Halo. In the slew of all these things, PC birthed a game to show the non-believers that the platform should never be looked over. Crysis hit the stores with intent to burn out as many power rigs as it could. Even I spent a lot of time trying to tweak my set up to run Crysis at mostly high settings with a little at maximum. Eventually, with the advent of new hardware, my computer finally hit spec to truly get the most out of Crytek's offspring. It made the ending that much better. After all the incredible things I saw, all I could think of was playing the next one. To take up Nomad's suit once more and, along side Psycho, tail Prophet through the island to put an end to the invasion. All I had left was to wait.
A New Day Dawns
The day came when teasers flooded the internet. After seeing an up-close detailing of a nanosuit, we were teased with the simple image for Crysis 2. It was time. The new chapter in my gaming bible was being written. The excitement gave me strength to wade through the mounds of absolute crap being sprayed out into the gaming scene. Just the hope of how amazing it would be. Halo : Reach was announced. Killzone 3 was expected to retaliate. So Crysis 2 would once again stick it in the ass of all the people who think accepting less would be a good thing. Then a domino effect of "wtf" moments kicked in. Not PC exclusive anymore... Ok... I guess that's fine. Exclusivity thrown out. But what does that mean for game quality?
Promises flew around with the same mantra. "We will not shaft the PC gamers." Somewhere along the way a tech demo was revealed showing how the Crytek 3 engine allowed game developers to create games for the PC and have them instantly reduced down to their console levels at the push of a button. This was cool to me. A little bit of faith came back. The thoughts of companies not being so lazy about production and going for amazing quality knowing all the while that the time to re-tool everything for consoles would be a non point. Maybe this could boost quality of PC a little by making companies who wouldn't think about aiming so high right off the bat actually shoot for the bigger and better target. OK, I'm back on board. So what journey is Nomad, my Master Chief, going to take us through now...wait...what... not Nomad, but Prophet? And in New York? Chipping away at my faith again.
Eventually this all came to a head when the game was released. 60 bucks. Not a number I'm used to on PC. Only dicks like Activision tend to post their recycled trash for that much on launch. They tend to keep it there well after, too. So what to do. Strapped for cash and wondering if its really worth it. I decided to show some brand loyalty. They did say PC was getting a special treatment, and though the multiplayer demo wasn't exactly my cup of tea it had some good functions. I guess I'm in.
To Not Know Your Own Reflection
Minute one, I was already not liking this. Heres why.
This is more for the PC'ers among us. Do you see the issue? Where are the advanced visual settings? My computer runs this on extreme at 40 frames, ya. Its no biggey. But what of the people that can't? What if the particle effects cause problems and they need to turn them down, but the textures and everything are fine. Why should they have to sack those to fix the issue. It was all down hill from there. Don't get me wrong, Crysis 2 is a really shiny game. But in my honest opinion, Metro 2033 was much shiny-er, and even though it was also a cross platform title, it still gave the PC side of things the options we've all come to know and love.
So, with my level of disappointment moving much quicker than my excitement, I decided to move forward. Difficulty. The defining moment for me in the first Crysis. Difficulty never meant that enemies where more accurate and damaging. It meant little helpful things wouldn't occur instead. Target spotting, grenade tracking, English speaking enemies. Things like that. So what would Crysis 2's difficulty curve bring. Whats that you say? More damage and accuracy from enemies. HOORAY!!!!! Wait,no. Crap. That just sucks. Well I've always made it a thing to beat games at their hardest setting. Onward then.
Its very hard to contain my issues with the game itself so far. I'll try and, I guess, bullet point the good bits. The visual quality is definitely top of the line. The lighting, textures, color pallet's, procedural animation. All these things looked great and certainly beats the crap out of most other games in terms of visuals. The sounds used were amazing, and tracking enemies with my 5.1 surround sound system was actually quite fun. The story, though it was very separate from the first game, still had its merits. And I also understand why the story had to be changed a little. But my understanding isn't enough to stop me from being angry at it. And that reason stands for several other issues, all balled into one. How should I put this...
Ok, lets say there are two people, one person is really smart with everything and the other is slow/full-blown-retarded, and they hang out together. They know the same people, go to the same clubs, whatever. Now one day, the really smart one begins to notice how the slow one always seems to be happy. Much happier than one of his intelligence should be. "But that's it" the smart one thinks "ignorance must truly be bliss." So the smart one decides that, seeing as how he is unhappy not being part of the slow crowd, he would find a way to fit in. At first it was picking up on social ques and wearing similar clothing, but that just made things awkward. So drastic measures had to be taken. The smart one, which by now you should understand to be Crytek, picks up a big old brick and begins bashing it against his own skull. Just wailing on himself until he can't take any more. Now, with his new found slowness, he re-enters the world as a being capable of truly fitting in with his slower brethren. Of course, moments of clarity do happen on occasion, but for the most part Crytek has given up enough of itself to be truly accepted by people comparably duller than them.
Maybe I'm just bitter, but I really do miss what Crysis stood for. Choices.
If I could boil down what it is to be a PC gamer to one word, that would probably be "choices". Do I want that processor or that one? That video card? That RAM? Am I ok with on board sound or do I want a damn good expansion slot sound card? Crysis carried with it that feel to a T. From the setting to play-style, everything was your choice. I could change visual settings, nanosuit voice, all the controls, even the HUD color. In game I was presented with a large-scale playground and given only a few missions in each area, allowing me full control of the "how" in "how do I get there." Do I go by way of the villages? Do I do that in stealth or in a tank? Do I stick to the woods and not bother with the armies there? I'll have to keep an eye out for patrols. Crysis 2 had only a taste of this at times. Instead it went for the console route. A concept I have dubbed "Funnel Vision".
Let me describe this for the benefit of both those who have never really experienced this and those who have never really experienced anything else and took no notice of it. I'll use a moment from Crysis 2, in fact. You enter an office building to search for a code or something on one of the panels. After a little bit of corridor fighting you end up in a massive room.
Not unlike the one above this. You have a quick little battle and suddenly the glass begins to crack. Holy crap Bioshock flashbacks.A Pinger shows up and blows out the window in an ever so ominous way and you get sucked out into the water. This is where I wish I had taken a screen cap. I was so mad when I saw it that I forgot. When you wash up on shore, you're standing up facing a tunnel exit from the sunken pond area you were just in. Literally, you get washed up where you have to go. Not a moment in game of "find your own damn way to get there." Only occasional tactical options for a fight, most of which are meaningless. I got so mad at the difficulty being the basic "more damage" mantra that I decided to stealth kill most everything. At least untill I found out that not all fights need you to kill anything at all. Whole sections of battle averted by just stealthing and running to an elevator. A waste in such a small world.
Look At Me! I'm Trendy!
I wish my issues stopped there. I really do. All the cool things introduced in the first game set Crysis 2 up for greatness. The "aliens" using microwave pulses to flash freeze things. The tentacle armor being driven by creatures of what seemed like pure energy. The Korean army being involved with stolen nanosuit tech. The character ground work that came out of all the tragedies that occurred. Such potential, wasted. My only question is whether or not this was forgotten because of games in the same genre on the consoles Crysis 2 was planning on joining?
I'll say this now, Halo was a fine game. I wouldn't play it for any real reason, but it has its place. I've seen friends play it a lot. I know most of the story without even touching so much as a controller for the game. After maybe the second alien fight in Crysis 2, my mind had decided I was playing Halo. Each fight consisted of a slew of pre-determined alien types, and you would have to decide how to dispatch them or get past them. Every Halo fight ever. I started translating fights in my head using terms like grunts, elites, and brutes. So very disappointed in this, though I feel many a Halo fan will come to love Crysis 2 for this without even making the connection.
I did notice one other thing. Something that I can't exactly say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is true. But thanks to the Nvidia booth at PAX using Crysis 2 as an example for 3D gaming I managed to make the almost conspiratorial link in my head. There are so many moments in Crysis 2 where something big and fast comes right at you. A giant tentacle coming right at you when your riding in a tank as a rail shooter section. Helicopters crashing through walls at you. Aliens lunging at you. Explosions sending debris at you. The water flooding a section of New York rushing at you. If I didn't know any better, I would think Crysis 2 was made with the idea of being like a 3D movie sequel in mind at all times. But hey, its not like 3D is an option in the settings... oh wait, it is. As if the prospect of an already on thin ice movie deciding to go 3D wasn't bad enough, now my games are doing it. For shame.
It's F.E.A.R. 2 All Over Again
Looking back I'm starting to see a trend of me hating sequels. But then I remember many of the sequels I've played and loved, and there goes that idea. F.E.A.R. 2 for me was a big one. Loved the first one, saw tons of potential, then watched it putter out over several bad expansions and a horrible sequel that threw everything that was good about the first game out, just to fit in with the console crowd. The biggest issue with F.E.A.R. 2 I had jumped over to Crysis 2 as well. Gamespy. I say this a lot and find that I can never say it too much. Fuck you Gamespy. Your idea of how internet gaming and net code works is utter shit and you need to stop trying. Please. Do us all a favor and stop. F.E.A.R. 2 showed me how horrible it really was to work within Gamespy's system, and Crysis 2 is running that same line. I've played several matches already and have found the "learning" aspect of it to be a fools errand. I've died so many times to pop shots that, due to poor net code, seem to hit my ankles twice for the kill shot. This I can never understand because comparatively, I would plant 6 shots into some ones chest, unarmored, and do nothing. Then watching replays of how I died that look as bad as CoD : Black Ops. Watching bullet trace not even get near my character model and still dying to it is something I can't stand. Not to mention all the times I've spawned next to an enemy and died before my weapon was drawn. Hooray for shitty multiplayer. And I even count myself lucky. I actually got to play some rounds. For the most part I kept running into servers that called themselves chat rooms since the games wouldn't start anyway, and even if it did I still run the risk of dropping connection upon loading. Round of applause ladies and gentlemen. Pray for a patch to be handed down from the high heavens to fix this travesty.
It Can't All Be Bad... Can It?
No. At its worst, Crysis 2 is still shiny. Past all the lack of true and proper freedom, it was shiny. Through the convoluted story involving characters I couldn't give two shits about, it was shiny. Through fighting off droves of copy-paste aliens, it was shiny. Shinier than most, some might say. I've even heard tale of people who say its the shiniest of them all. And ya, it is shiny. But so what. I was once called an elitist for liking Crysis because of its graphics, but honestly I could have lived with the story and game flow more than that. Now I've been given another example of great graphics, but without the flow I just can't get into this tech demo called Crysis 2. Maybe Crytek will release a true follow-up to Crysis, where we get to see what happened to Nomad and Psycho after they flew into the alien war zone in search of Prophet. Maybe then I'll feel not jipped out of a story I was really looking forward to. Until then, I'll just have to debate deleting Crysis 2 from my hard drive when Witcher 2 or Brink comes out.