Thursday, January 5, 2012

Blast from the Past

After playing what to me was one of the best games of the year 2011, Crysis 2, I felt compelled to play one of the original games, and got my hands on Crysis: Warhead, the stand-alone expansion to the still graphically advanced Crysis.

Crysis Warhead is a "midquel" which occurs during the events of the original Crysis, yet on the other side of the island in which that game takes place, after "Psycho" splits up with "Nomad" following their raid on the North Korean harbor. The intro may be very nice, but it's quite hard to make heads or tails of it, if you haven't played the original. Psycho, on the other hand, sounds remarkably like actor Jason Statham, which is a welcome addition.

The real attraction may turn out to be just how much the natural-flowing strategy of the game reminds you of Far Cry and Far Cry II (the first also by Crytek), something which has become a bit more stale in the sequel. There is a general need for the adoption of basic survival tactics; it's rather easy to get killed if you don't move across the battlefield with caution, which must be said, also reminds me of a console game as is the excellent Black.

It is rather interesting, it must be said, to see everyone, enemies included, wearing nanosuits, in a "future war" scenario which reminds of MGS but is very much its own thing. The Korean nanosuit army is a force to be reckoned with. As well, the Cephalopods are here more organic, as opposed to the anthropomorphization found in the sequel.

I feel obliged to make a parenthesis and briefly discuss the portrayal of "bad guys" in games and movies. Hollywood filmmakers have a fetish for Arabs, Asians and, more specifically, ex Soviets. Gaming is no different. Yet, for a leading nation with so many enemies within, it all stinks of formulaic decisions; gaming by committee. Unless the game is about fighting robotic aliens, you will be hard-pressed to find a developer that doesn't resort to infuriatingly simplistic clichés. If I listed all the examples of "bad Russians" this essay would go on forever. Let it go!

The wintry graphics do get a bit repetitive, despite excellent level design, but you do encounter new scenery rather quickly. Crysis:WH is certainly worth it as a past-gen shooter which puts you to the test, but for the most part you do not feel like a super-soldier in an advanced, ultra expensive suit.