Phew, now that this post is out of my system, I’m going to try to keep up a string of posts, what I’ve been up to, what I’m games I’m thinking of making in the future, more complaining about video games (except Gravity Rush, amazing game), that sort of thing. Later, everyone.
I keep wanting to write more simple blog type posts about games I’m playing and my thoughts in general (remember my that one time I wrote an angry post about the Too Human demo??), but the longer I wait to post something, the more epic I feel the post should be, and the more epic I feel the next post should be, the longer I take to write something… Doesn’t help that I was writing this from my phone and the WordPress app crashed and killed most of the content of this post, so it ended up taking even longer to finish.
So let’s break the vicious cycle, here goes:
Recently I slapped a new (okay, now old) GTX 570 in my now ancient Mac Pro, sick of waiting for the new generation of consoles to emerge (don’t get me wrong, I’m hyped as hell for the Wii U, but Nintendo isn’t giving me nearly enough info to go on at this point). I picked up the PC versions of a few games that were in my need-to-play list (and even more during the Steam summer sale, arg!), and finally got around to playing the first Crysis and Crysis Warhead again.
There’s been a lot bugging me about the video game industry lately (DLC, online passes, DRM…), but there’s no better way to illustrate the absolute worst of video games right now than to go between Crysis 1 and Crysis 2.
Now don’t get me wrong, Crysis 2 is a good game. I wanted some pretty graphic’ed shooting and it scratched that itch just fine. Totally worth playing if you need more things to shoot in your life, or have a new GPU and want to see what next-gen lighting and motion blur is going to look like (spoilers: very nice). It also seems weird that I’m going to complain about ‘yet another shooting game’, because I really do like FPSes. When I say worst, I’m not exactly talking about the active sabotage of all video games as we know it, but the way that a handful of ‘features’ are being taken for granted by development companies (or more cynically of me, the publisher’s suits), and implemented without regards for the respect for or in the context of the game itself. The only way I can describe the changes between Crysis 1 and Crysis 2 is ‘THIS IS WHAT VIDEO GAMES ARE NOWADAYS, JUST DESIGN LIKE THAT!’
To be clear, though, most of these trends aren’t even a bad thing taken on their own. Halo set the new bar for FPS playability on a console, and yeah, I expect every game afterwards to make sure that they don’t fall short of that standard. Where we go wrong is when games adopt these features simply because they feel they have to, without understanding why they were in place the first time around, in the context of Halo / Call of Duty / Gears 1, and with respect to their own license.
First off, though, the changes that work. The new controls are absolutely fantastic. Switching through different suit modes to perform a single action in an augmented fashion, then just switching back to armor mode was clunky. The hold to use energy with the action idea works far better overall. Good to see better controller support, too (yeah I play PC games with a gamepad, what of it?? >:O )
I guess I could just rattle off the usual changes that leak into every game that’s been made recently: more cutscenes, more set pieces, more waypoints and simpler objectives, the general watering down and Call of Duty-ifying of the franchise, but the thing is, everything that made Crysis 1 great was what set it apart from other shooters at the time. The feeling of being able to go anywhere, approaching your destination from all different angles, and generally being left alone for most of the time, made for great gameplay. Some of my favorite moments were spent sneaking around a dense jungle, simply walking around out of sight — precisely because it was the polar opposite of bunkering down under under cover.
And it’s not like no one played Crysis. This wasn’t a franchise that needed to be reinvented. Sure, most people bought it to test out their 1337 new gaming rigs, but from what I hear, most people were surprised by just how free and entertaining the actual gameplay was.
And sure, there was a lot of concessions made to get the game looking great on console. The playable path ends up feeling like a pretty narrow bit of ground, while the ‘unplayable’ sections stand out in the distance, saving processing time and mocking you with their non-interactivity. Lots of concessions were made to get Crysis 1 on 360 and PS3, though, but those changes didn’t fundamentally re-write how the entire game was played.
And the suit. That stupid, stupid suit. Oh hey, excuse me while I attempt to actually get engaged in an NPC’s dialogue. You need me to go over here? Okay, here I… SUP BRO I’M YOUR SUIT LET ME REPEAT EVERYTHING THE NPC JUST SAID TO DESTROY ANY WHIFF OF EMPATHY OR HUMAN EMOTION YOU’D GET BY PERFORMING GAMEPLAY TASKS LAWLZ. OOPS ALMOST FORGOT TO SET A WAYPOINT WHILE I WAS AT IT, AND MULTIPLE WAYPOINTS THAT WILL STRAIGHT UP TELL YOU HOW TO APPROACH SITUATIONS, CAN’T LET YOU ACCIDENTALLY FEELING INVENTIVE, NOW CAN WE? LATER BROSKY.
Oh, yeah, and when you leave a vehicle on the map and walk away from it, it always turns into a red dot, which looks like you forgot to kill a baddie. For some reason this REALLY made me mad. Yeah, I don’t know either.
After beating the game, I was trying to show my cousin my beefy new GPU, and I was like, hey you should… oh wait, no, you can only do that in Crysis 1. Take that guy and… ah, no, Crysis 1… If you throw that barrel into that building and… ah, no, dangit, that only happens in Crysis 1! But he sure felt like he was playing Call of Duty, so… win?
Gah, I don’t even feel like I can do this rant justice anymore. I’ve already complained about the Call of Dutyification (see also: every game is Uncharted) of every single AAA game out there now, but going between Crysis 1 and 2, no where else has a franchise been so utterly gutted because, I don’t know, they thought it would sell better? The shareholders made them do it? Design by committee at its finest.
Look, industry, if I wanted to play more Call of Duty, I would have actually kept buying the Call of Duty games.