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Video games are fundamentally made of two parts: gameplay and environment. On the former, Crysis 2 is near flawless; it feels just right in its challenge and mechanics, but it fails in its attempt to technically cram so much into the latter. Gameplay is a language the player uses to communicate to his/her environment, and the entire experience hinges on the appropriateness of what is bieng 'said', to that which will recieve your 'words'. Crysis 2's gameplay is an immaculate language, but it gets lost in translation. Thus the parameter for the following analogy:
Playing through Crysis 2 was like talking to a beautiful, uninterested woman about something you cant wait to share. Consequently one realizes that such use of language is better suited to another, more enganging environment.
That being said, don’t get me wrong, its still fun to hear yourself talk; but if a game is trying to be serious, gritty and real while the illusion of awe is constantly being cracked, the experience becomes purposeless. By the latter half, I just wanted the game to end due to this fact alone.
First, the good. Crysis 2 is an ambitious game. Its technically gorgeous, there are very few loads, and the tools at your disposal are cleverly designed. The spaces that you explore are varied, and provide you with enough leeway to take as much time as you want. It rewards tactical engagement, and brutally punishes wrecklessness. Set in a post-apocolytic New York, it’s a beautiful illusion into hopeless circumstances. It is, in a lot of ways, mechanically, the future of first-person shooters.
The only problem is ambitions sometimes stretch a final product too thin, and Crysis 2 tears at its seams largely due to its disconnected presentation.
Enemies will run at your face, spin in circles, blow each other up, or are just plain clueless. The disappointment is amplified by the fact that it all looks so real. This tension is not uncommon in many modern games, where artistically, a truly engaging, austere aesthetic is foiled by crowded environmental variables. This trap was successfully pacified by the original Portal due to its simplicity, and in a lot of ways, Crysis 2 shares some similarities with Valve’s masterpiece in terms of pacing because both are essentially playgrounds in open spaces.
The story suffers from its own kind of disconnection. While the story about you – the person under the suit – is conveyed very effectively through desperate near-death first-person scenarios, everyone else is wholly uninteresting. Chapter after chapter, you are told to do things and everything always goes wrong. At one point, as a character was telling me to “Go ahead and blow-up X”, I just stood there. I was at my wits end with these people and their orders. During my obstinate resistance, she just repeated the same two lines to the effect of “Hurry up and go!” and “That way!”
Again, disconnection bordering irony: Why give players so much choice in combat while making them fatalistically tied to one path? At that point there really isn’t a need for an over-aching story at all.
– "Drats! Out of Maximum Chivarly. I guess I'll shoot him in the pink."
I came to realize, through Crysis 2, that games that I love exist in two camps: The ones that incite real purpose (Mass Effect 2), or ones that don’t at all (Smash Brothers). It’s the middle ground that makes me think twice about investing time into games. Trying to be something it’s not, Crysis 2 was robbed of purpose by needlessly sloppy ‘realism’.
Again, it was fun, but my experience was an uneven haze of murderous frivolity and emotional disconnection from caring about the world, because in the end, Crysis 2 doesn’t actually care about itself either.
Perhaps Crysis 3's environment will be more my type.
I hope she's into conversations about video games.