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RPS Advent Game-o-Calendar: December 21st

Predator, schmedator

If I could have a supernatural power – any supernatural power – it would be to turn whatever I touched into chocolate. The Chocolate Midas, they would call me. And I would be feared across the world: “Don’t mess with me, Capitalists, or I turn your economy to chocolate!”

Yeah.

The sad reality is that I can’t turn anything into chocolate and I have to rely on the sweet brown goodness turning up randomly as I travel this mean old world. And hey, perhaps there’s even some inside the RPS-approved Fairtrade Advent Calendar

There is! Om nom nom nom! But was the chocolate already in there, or did I simply will there to be chocolate in there? We may never know. (Only three more days of flogging this build up to death, folks!)

Anyway: games.

It’s: Crysis!

Yeah, that game certainly divided your opinions, didn’t it? Crysis seems to have split my gaming world asunder. Half of you shake your head and mutter something about over-tough Koreans or slipping frame-rates, while the other half smile and recall dropping Humvees down a hill, or blasting a guard-tower into splinters with a rocket launcher.

Me? Well I’m still mourning the fact that my first action in the game was kill a helpless turtle. Poor bugger. Just because I was in the Mr Magoo clumsy-exploratory mode that seems to characterise all games of this kind, he got picked up and hurled at rocks. I didn’t mean to kill him. Sniff.

Still, the turtle’s doom did start me down the road of what I enjoyed most in Crysis: the playground warfare feel of it all. Sure, there was some plot going on the background, but foremost in my experience was turning invisible and then bursting out of vegetation to grab some hapless chap by the throat, or leaping onto the roof of a shack and punching way down onto the apoplectic inhabitants, or rushing towards enemies with super-speed and punch their guts out, or… you get the idea. So long as you were intending to mix it up a little, the fighting in Crysis was damned fine. I must have played through the dock and the first tank encounter areas three or four times, taking a totally different approach on each attempt. It’s a shame that the later, over-the-top tank-charge wasn’t a little more variable in the options it presented, but hey, you can’t exactly accuse the game of failing to escalate the action.

If Crysis was disappointing then it wasn’t in the sense that it didn’t quite do what I expected, or that it was too difficult, too demanding, or too German, it was simply that it was something of a wasted opportunity. Those larger areas, those open combat arenas, didn’t turn up nearly enough. I think I would have been quite happy if the game had been been a progression through those first-bit-of-Far Cry style open areas, with each one being a little more difficult than the last. Crysis was a fine mix of linearity and wide-open zones, but those wide open zones should have been the absolutely core of the game, and appeared regularly rather than fading out as the game progressed.

That said, I quite liked the stuff inside the mountain. It’s a shame that wasn’t honed into some kind of zero-G climax, because we could have done without that boss battle.

So here’s to more where that came from: may our love for virtual death-mongering never die.

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Jim Rossignol

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