Thursday, December 29, 2011

Missing Insight

Deus Ex:HR, The Missing Link is hardly worth your time unless you are a completist, and is a lukewarm enterprise compared to the main game. It does deliver more action-wise, yet this hardly makes up for a story that, while it ties in with the ending of the main adventure, feels a bit thin.

The DLC explores a three day period in the final chapters of the main game after Jensen emerges from a stasis pod. The cargo ship levels are well designed and reminded me of the great Cold Fear, but somehow no game can match the former's watery atmosphere.

There is some backtracking near the end, which is not particularly annoying yet feels a bit like a b-side. Gameplay-wise, there is also nothing new under the sun. I wondered whether I should write this review or not, given how short the add-on is; as they all are. That is, unless you count Bioshock 2 as gaming's longest add-on, as no novelty whatsoever was put into that game.

Some have suggested TML should have been part of the main adventure, and I'm inclined to agree. In the end, there is some great voice acting to be found, although the developers once again incur in the use of clichés. Note to Square Enix; a character should never be defined by nationality or regionalisms alone.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Crisis Point

If Deus Ex: Human Revolution proved that the atmosphere of Blade Runner could be captured in a videogame disc, Crysis 2 is the prime example that popcorn Hollywood blockbusters officially reek of obsolescence. It's the ultimate statement underscoring that gun-for-hire directors like Michael Bay are no longer a necessary variable in the entertainment equation.

A long-time producer of said director's films, Steven Spielberg, has been involved in gaming for years and has stated that "Someday we'll be playing directly on our TV sets, bypassing all of the platforms." The director is wary, however, of videogame cut-scenes. Yet that is partly what's eroding shallow Hollywood fare. Even the opening credits of C2 seem like a reenactment of the latest film remake of The Invasion. In addition, and possibly after witnessing it in the original Crysis, the nanosuit itself seems to have been lifted by the GIJoe film.

Taking place in 2023, in a New York city under martial law, due to the outbreak of the "manhattan" virus, and the threat of the Ceph alien race from the original game, C2 places the gamer in the shoes of a marine who inherits the "nanosuit 2.0" in a near-chance event, and must reach a certain Dr. Nathan Gould to stop the alien invasion.

Crysis 2, released early in this year, may not be an action RPG, yet the upgrades to the nanosuit and the subsequent use of differing strategies to carry out an assault on enemies certainly grants it RPG elements. And you might as well welcome these options, as at times there are dozens of enemies to confront. But it is in the little details that C2 really wins you over; with the ability to kick cars several feet away, slide under cover in the heat of the battle, and having the ability to customize weapons and your HUD, in several modes.

Does it compare, dare I ask, to Half-Life 2, to many the absolute benchmark in FPS gaming? Well, it's as beautifully constructed and just as addictive, that much can be said in its favor. One main difference is that, as it belongs to a new generation, C2's deserted yet lived-in New York is extremely busy visually, enough to induce a mild headache, and if you play in 3D, well; just don't.

Ultimately, it doesn't really matter what critics from a bygone era consider "art" or "entertainment." Games like Crysis 2 will continue to push the envelope, awaiting only for the proper hardware to soon bring the long-promised realization of a true virtual reality.