RPS Advent Game-o-Calendar: December 21st

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

Predator, schmedator


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.

55 Comments

  1. niXo says:

    Personally, I loved it. I don’t quite get the people who ditch it as boring and unimaginative and blah blah blah.

    If Crysis’ gameplay is boring, then that’s really only your fault. I found it awesome – you can do almost anything you want. The only part I didn’t quite like was the part where you’re in that alien mountain. Too dark and linear for my taste.

    I guess it’s all about preference.

  2. Matt says:

    I enjoyed the game, as the article said the free roaming parts were the most fun and I liked being a deadly soldier hiding in cover and taking unsuspecting people down.

    The end boss was a bit standard but it made me nostalgic I felt like I was playing Contra all over again.

  3. Meat Circus says:

    Crysis = No.

    The gaming community has spoken, and its words were “Can I have my money back please? I’ve got imaginative, novel and beautiful shooters that run at 60fps my machine to play.”

    Still, I hope the failure of this game doesn’t drive Crytek bankrupt. Think of their children. They may be unimaginative no-hit wonder clods, but they can probably keep the creditors at bay with knocking out a yearly release cycle of average repetitive shooters for the XBox 360.

    We don’t need them in the PC space though. We’ve got better.

  4. roBurky says:

    I think it is a real shame that almost all discussion on Crysis was dominated by technical talk about how hardly anybody could run it, as the opportunity for stories about different creative approaches to the game was great.

    Kieron could have done his deus ex review many times over on most of the base assaults in this game.

  5. Kieron Gillen says:

    Roburky: Exactly. To dismiss it as a no-brain game is deeply, fundamentally unfair.

    KG

  6. Meat Circus says:

    You can run REALLY FAST, or you PUNCH TANKS or you CAN GO INVISIBLE LOL!

    Imaginative, open-ended, intelligent gameplay my arse.

  7. Kieron Gillen says:

    Without context for the actions, listing actions alone is meaningless. Crysis has much bigger bubbles of interaction than almost anything else this year – Stalker is the obvious competitor, but in actual *encounters* the biggest in Crysis have lots more room for play than our Russian contender.

    KG

  8. Meat Circus says:

    Without context for the actions, listing actions alone is meaningless. Crysis has much bigger bubbles of interaction than almost anything else this year

    No, it didn’t. Occasionally you sneak up on people, occasionally you punch a tank, mainly you shoot Koreans repeatedly in the head because your battery lasts for three seconds.

    But mainly, you send it back to Amazon because it runs as 12fps, and the Koreans take an entire clip in their chests without flinching, and the battery gets right on your moobs and sucks whatever remaining joy it might have been possible to get from this car crash.

    It was also deeply patronising in its attitudes towards PC gamers. I’m very glad to see that PC gamers are intelligent enough folk not to kind of treatment from Crytek and have responded in kind by kicking them squarely in their bank balance.

    Let’s just say that it’s unlikely that Crysis is an idiotic mistake that no PC game studio is likely to repeat if they want to remain a viable business.

  9. Geoff says:

    Seems like the release of more open-ended “try this in different ways, go where you want, look around and explore” FPS’es has revealed that most FPS gamers’ default behavior is “get the most powerful weapons I can, go straight to the end of the level as directly as possible.”

    So when confronted with Bioshock or Crysis or Deus Exen, lots of people cry out “It’s too easy! I just got [powerful attack] and spammed that through the boring, linear, nonsense plot until the unsatisfactory ending! This game sucks!”

    There’s been a lot of complaining about linearity and rails lately, but it seems that if you make a “you get out of it what you put into it” game, a lot of people choose to put in very little and find the experience unsatisfying. Perhaps more linearity and shinier well-polished rails would be more popular.

  10. Meat Circus says:

    Perhaps more linearity and shinier well-polished rails would be more popular.

    Almost certainly. Gamers claim to want more ‘openness’, but in practice they’re only fools to themselves.

    We don’t know what we want, we never have. It’s only human. Gabe knows, though. That’s why he’s richer than you are.

  11. Stephen says:

    This is stupid. If you play in a sandbox with a single spade and a square bucket you don’t complain that all you’ve built are square castles. You get creative, start building square castles on top of other square castles, use the spade to shape the squares and dig little holes. You still have fun.
    Every good review of this game I’ve read has mentioned the sandbox nature and if you don’t have fun in a sandbox, it’s not the sandbox’s fault.
    Also, if the game runs slow then turn the options down or wait for an upgrade.
    Oh and Meathead, in regards to “openness” speak for your-self and don’t buy anything that isn’t obviously linear. Linear/non-linear, they both have their place and I prefer the former.

  12. DoomMunky says:

    Also notice that Meathead isn’t putting forth any opinion other than a negative one. Oh yeah, he’s also got the ever-popular vague assertions about ‘what gamers want’. You can’t really argue with that, because there’s nothing there.

    I think the big reason Crysis has done so poorly in sales is the perception that it’s only for the beefiest systems. I myself am waiting to buy it until I get my next rig.

    When I do, I’m looking forward to playing through the same levels over and over and over, tossing dudes through walls and running around all sneaky-like. It’s going to be awesome!

  13. Lou says:

    It’s a terrific game, but, just like Far Cry was, it’s a bit of a “make your own fun” game, as opposed to one that readily serves you everything like, say, Call of Duty does.

    I just loved experimenting in Crysis, and that apporach is supported by non-existing quickload times, varied difficulty levels that play differently, the suit (can’t believe so many gamers obviously couldn’t cope with it and thought the stuff it offers is too short).

    That said, I’d like to see some software figures outside of the US. PC game sales are shocking there these days anyhow, and Crysis has, even with its low numbers, been the best-selling PC game there in November – by far. I remember the 360/PC ratiio for Bioshock was something like 90/10%, and yet it sold a ton more on the PC in Europe.

  14. Chris R says:

    Meat Circus obviously prefers to be held by the hand and led down a map with only one way to go that has “OHHHHH SHINEY” moments sprinkled every 10 feet. It must suck to have ADD if you can only enjoy a game where something must happen every couple of feet before you loose interest.

    Like Stephen says, this is a sandbox game, where *YOU* are ultimately the one that determines how you’re going to have fun. I loved playing “Predator” and causing mayhem. The suit makes you feel like you can do anything and get away with it, it was soo much fun. If you play Crysis like a Thief/Splinter Cell game, it’s a whole different experience. I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun. It is my favorite game in the past couple of years.

    COD4 was too linear, when I can see the rails that the game is on, it ruins it for me. In Crysis the world seemed wide open (at least the first 2/3 of the game), and getting from A to B was up to you. There are no flashing boxes (like in COD4) that indicate where you’re supposed to place your C4 to blow up an AA gun, it’s up to you to determine how YOU want to blow up the AA gun. Drive up a truck next to the AA tank and blow up the truck. That didn’t work? Go find some barrels and place them next to the AA tank, you know? It’s all up to what *I* decide… that makes it an excellent game.

    Of course, if you don’t like sandbox games, then you’ll hate Crysis since there’s no one to hold your hand and show you exactly where to go and what to shoot next.

  15. I_still_love_Okami says:

    It was also deeply patronising in its attitudes towards PC gamers.

    Uhmmmm….

    I never really felt patronised by Crytek (well… not by their games at least), but right now I’m feeling patronised by you, Meat Circus.

    How dare you speak out for all of us!

    Crytek games are what PC shooters are all about. Bleeding edge technology, open ended gameplay and different approaches to different situations, all yielding different results.

    PC gaming allways was about not having strong enough a PC to play the latest games. It’s about fiddling around with settings, it’s about using your brain, it’s about investing into a game and getting back more than you invested.

    Open ended games will never have the same amount of polish on rails scriped games have, there will allways be issues with them. I love heavily scripted games (I’m a scripter myself), they really provide a great experience and they surely have their place.

    But the greatest PC games of all times aren’t scripted on rails experiences (HL2 beeing the obvious exception), they are open ended games where you, the player, tells the story. Not some pretentious designer who forces you to play the game his way and to relieve the same experience over and over again, like some digital gaming groundhog day.

    Meat Circus, are you really sure you are talking about PC gamers and not console gamers?

    Not that I’d care, I consider myself a gamer before anything else and I don’t really care if I play on a tv using a gamepad or in front of my laptop using mouse and keyboard.

    Ok, enough of this. Those thrice damned, so called Free Mutants just gave me a good kicking and I have to return to my deck construction. My last killer deck was a flat out failure…

  16. DigitalSignalX says:

    Crysis was a great game, and ran fine on my mid-range rig, just not at 90 FPS with max settings. I’ve never had a top of the line game box, so have never been spoiled to what’s missing. When you used to play Bolo on an apple IIe for christ’s sake, even mediocre graphics settings still impress me today.
    The open ended play style and fantastic physics engine do balance out the droll plot to a certain extent, but not completely. The geek gamer in me loved the infinite potential for being sneaky, run and gun, or setting traps using the physics to get past hurdles. However the part of me that really enjoys role play or immersion in a title, didn’t get stroked much by Crysis. The alien mountain was frustrating, and the carrier portion was tedious, without any allowance for creative solutions. I also seem to be the only person who thought the scopes should be much more steady when laying prone. Bioshock tells a better story, but Crysis puts it’s average story into a much better package.

  17. Nick says:

    Crysis is pretty scaleable and still looks great at most settings, sadly no one seems to have shouted this from the rooftops, rather going on about how much of a super rig it takes to run it on very high.

  18. Lightbulb says:

    The problem is people who are obsessed with MAX DETAIL! 200FPS!!1 bleat and moan if they can’t run it on max. If you renamed the levels Very VEry Very low to Low instead of Low to Ultra High people would bitch that its running on Low.

    It doesn’t matter what a game looks like its the GAME that should be fun.

    Alot of people say they can’t stand STALKER without dynamic lighting. Myself i couldn’t give a shit….

    Crysis has the same problem. People can’t run it on MAX!!!1 so it must be crap right?

    Personally though i played the demo and was underwhelmed. I can see what they are doing but i’m just not in the mood for another holywood hero action shooter…

    Give me dark and gritty like STALKER or The Witcher any day…

  19. Janek says:

    Well. Yes and no. I think the main problem is that there’s not enough graduation between “spectacular slideshow” (medium and above) and “smooth but looks like arse, relatively” (low). Ideally there would be some midpoint between medium and “turning everything off”

    I did eventually get it running with only intermittant slowdown in busy scenes with a mix of settings, but still. Scalability isn’t its strongpoint at the lower end of the spectrum.

  20. LordUbiquitous says:

    I found Crysis to be an enjoyable game, abliet with a disappointing end, which I’m surprised no-one else has spoken up about. Was I the only one who found it like playing through half a game?

    Okay, you killed the mini-boss, you get to tha choppah, make grand statements about what you’re going to do next, and then the game ends.

    I mean, I do not mind sequalising properties in the least, but they should at least have a natural end to the story, however cheesy it may be. In the end, I felt like the developers were laughing at me, because they passed off half a game as a whole one. A fun half of a game, but half a game nevertheless.

    Essentially, it felt like it had its ups and downs: The wide open levels, where you could take any number of approaches to a situation were the defining moments of the game, although I found some of the more linear parts just as fun too. The Zero-G level was great, and seriously beautiful, even on medium settings.

    On the flipside though, escort missions of any kind, suck. The snow level also brought my computer to its knees, making it all the more arduous.

    I don’t know why people are complaining about it so passionately though, it had more than enough ‘HOLY CRAP!’ moments to warrent its existence. For example, the night level where you have to escape, and the forests are full of KPA, who are only spottable by the laser-sights on their guns. I don’t think any other game has managed to replicated the feeling of being hunted quite so well. As, there were many times where I found myself surrounded by KPA troops, just from making a slight disturbance. I had to try and out-think the AI, which is pretty impressive.

    Of course, someone could play through that level just moving from cover to cover while invisible and waiting for their energy to recharge, but that would be boring, wouldn’t it?

  21. Nick says:

    Well, I thought it looked quite nice on low settings..

  22. Garth says:

    Does anyone else get a creepy white (or, well American) supremacy feel when playing this game?
    -Super-strong white soldier outsmarts, shoots, jumps, runs, etc, Korean soldiers.
    -Korean scientists ‘dont know what they’re messing with,’ because white scientists are smarter.
    -Use new guns, a super-suit, and superior training to defeat stupid, cowardly Koreans with AK’s.

    I just.. wow, I got a really bad vibe.

  23. SeldomDavid says:

    Jings. In that first screenshot, is that a pipe on the ground? Or does Crysis feature the biggest rocket launcher in the history of gaming?

  24. Nick says:

    It’s the view from inside a tank.

    Garth – unless you also get that feeling from nearly every action movie to come out of Hollywood, it’s not like it’s anything new.

  25. Nick says:

    (More Garth -) In fact the developers are from all over the world and their main offices are in Germany..

  26. Garth says:

    No I know, (and I do get that feeling from Hollywood, I assume a lot of people do) they may not be from the U.S., but the “GO USA!” feel is pretty strong.

    I’m not blaming Crysis specifically, but it’s one of – if not the -only games where you can literally throttle a small Korean man to death in front of your face.

  27. Matt says:

    I gave the game a more favourable reading. I felt you were supposed to be overpowered compared to the Koreans to demonstrate technological superiority held by the major western powers, as the Koreans and Americans were competing for what they thought was a power-source. So I took it as an allegory for recent events.

  28. Garth says:

    Is the allegory that Koreans are too stupid to make/use Nukes?

    I’m not trying to sound like an ass (which I am sounding, but I apologize) – but that was the vibe I got.

  29. Meat Circus says:

    @Garth:

    Possibly. Is it also possible that the kind of gamers who are desperate to justify this poorly-executed drivel at any costs (lest it be seen as some kind of failure of PC gaming in general) would be innately immune to seeing the white supremacist/racist angle being dangled beneath their “OH IT’S MY JOB TO MAKE IT FUN NOT THE DEVELOPER’S” apologist curmudgeonly apologist faces?

  30. Matt says:

    The way I read it was that it showed the Western forces (Americans and English characters representing the two main countries involved in recent troubles in the middle east) as technolongically superior and far more wealthy, spending millions on a suit ( powerful weapon the the Koreans only have a “cheap knock-off” of). Seeking to take what was on the island before the Koreans. Both believing it to be a power-source (Oil is also a power-source) and to take from the land whatever it was.

    Futhermore I felt that it referenced ecological issues. With the ice based disaster being related to climate change and the use of fossil fuels, as well as nuclear power.

    How much of this was intended by the developers I don’t know, but I certainly see these things in there.

  31. Ben Abraham says:

    Hey Meat Circus, ever heard of the phrase “Garbage in Garbage out”? Ever think that it might have something to do with what *you* invest into a game experience?

    Re: the Go USA feel, I wish I could say that I have played it so I could comment, because I too really dislike this kind of over the top, non-thinking patriotism in media of all types.

  32. Nick says:

    Well, it’s not the 80’s anymore, thus Russians are passe as the bad guys ¬_¬

    I hardly see it as racist/white supremecist, it’s xenophobic if anything, considering your team mates aren’t all Whitey Mc.Whites.

  33. Matt says:

    I should be clear I don’t think the game is jingoistic.

    Neither of the warring sides were shown in a positive way I felt. There are individual acts of courage in the game, but the way you slaughter people using your superior suit suggests you have an unfair advantage over the hapless soldiers.

    Similarly the Korean General is not a pleasant guy. The American force also makes rather a crucial error towards the end of the game (involving nukes) and refuses to listen to the non-military scientist. The average disadvantaged soldiers on both sides are victims in the game.

    despite the nature of the game I felt there was an anti-war aspect to it, relating to what I said above.

    I certainly don’t agree with the idea of it being white supremacist. The main characters is covered throughout, you have no idea what the colour of his skin is. The only thing you know is he is male and has an American accent and his codename is Nomad.

  34. Stephen says:

    I think this white supremacist thing is along the same lines as the “Feminism in Portal/portals are lady parts” thing going around. People projecting or looking for things that aren’t there.

    BTW when I said “Linear/non-linear, they both have their place and I prefer the former”, I obviously meant “latter”. Deus Ex was the game that made me REALLY realise this is my favourite hobby, (along with Kieron’s review). So yes I did make a silly boo-boo. Damn lack of edit.

  35. kuddles says:

    I very much loved this game. There’s so much emergent gameplay in there that I probably got more enjoyment out of the demo than I did with most full-fledged games this year. I felt the same way about Far Cry when it came out.

    And I agree that too much focus was on the technical aspect. I actually had no interest in the game before the demo, because very little press talked about the gameplay dynamic, the nanosuit, etc., and instead pounded into everyone’s head that it was for computers two years in the future.

    While worldwide sales aren’t in yet numbers wise, I’m still disappointed that it’s not doing well. While I enjoy highly polished on-rails shooters like HL:Episode Two, Crysis was one of the few FPS’s out there with any ambition, let alone being PC-centric in scope, making it seem much fresher than every other shooter I’ve played this year (with STALKER being the obvious exception.)

  36. John P (katsumoto) says:

    Take this argument about “it’s the developers job to make me have fun” to its logical conclusion and we may as well go and rent out a film instead of play a game. Like it or not, we ACTIVELY have to ENGAGE with the games we play, they don’t play themselves. Crysis is a great example of a game giving you the chance to play a game in many different ways. I don’t see the problem. If you chose to play in “boring mode” – that isn’t Crytek’s problem, it’s yours.

  37. kuddles says:

    Guys, why are you trying to start a debate with this Meat Circus fellow. He’s either trying to be flame bait or he’s incredibly full of himself. It can’t possibly be that the game wasn’t his thing. No, it must be that the game is horrible garbage, the universal praise by critics is a pack of lies, and we’re all idiot apologists.

  38. Sombrero says:

    the best succesor to deus ex ever & i do feel the need to expand on that but i can’t be bothered

  39. beeber says:

    @ I_still_love_Okami

    I totally agree. I like all gaming formats, and I love Resi4 as much as HL2 as much as Deus Ex.

    But the spirit among the PC crowd I reckon is why harder and less linear experiences often sit better on PC than on consoles.

    We should celebrate that, and patiently wait for people like Meat Circus to realise that the opinions of everyone else in the world are worth listening to.

    Crysis is great!

  40. Meat Circus says:

    We should celebrate that, and patiently wait for people like Meat Circus to realise that the opinions of everyone else in the world are worth listening to.

    If only that were true. In fact, since 90% of people are stupid, and 70% of rest are rubbish, I have no real interest in listening to the rabid and stultifyingly self-deceiving opinions of the elite PC gamer in a huff.

    Crysis is a turkey. Face it.

    Suffice is to say, you people are anecdotes not data. The market has spoken, and delivered a resounding DO NOT WANT.

    Oh, and by the way “You make your own fun” is an *excuse* for tedious game design, not a design decision. If you paid money for Crysis, you were ripped off.

  41. dhex says:

    Oh, and by the way “You make your own fun” is an *excuse* for tedious game design, not a design decision.

    not particularly. morrowind comes to mind. was their openness a sign of bad design? a friend of mine put in over 250 hours into morrowind and never touched the main quest. talk about value-adding propositions.

    re: crysis sales: keep in mind that due to torrenting there might be a severe distortion in the kind of title, like crysis, that is so clearly preceded by a “tremendously hard to run” label that people probably want to try before they buy. or maybe not bother buying at all if it only runs ok.

    fwiw, on piratebay right now there are over 10,000 seeds/leaches on a single crysis feed.

  42. Kieron Gillen says:

    Meat: You do know that America isn’t the entire world. Wait a bit and see before you start talking about sales figures. The German numbers especially will be interesting.

    KG

  43. dhex says:

    The market has spoken, and delivered a resounding DO NOT WANT.

    are you including the graphics card cycle that was driven pretty much by this game alone?

  44. Matt says:

    If how much money something makes is an indicator of quality then we are all in trouble. The criteria for judging something should not be based on sales figures.

  45. dhex says:

    no, but it is a reasonable criteria for how much people value something.

  46. Matt says:

    The problem with that model is people buy based on various things that are not directly related to the game. To critically judge something cannot be done based on sales. Lots of good games, great movies, books and so on are not successful financially. And then you have all the other factors, fears regarding hardware and performance in this case.

    The only way to actually judge the game and assess its quality is to play it and then decide, not to decide based on sales figures or how well it is marketed.

  47. dhex says:

    matt: you misunderstand. i don’t mean value as in “good” or “bad” so much as “this is worth 49.99 USD” (i.e. three canadian pennies) to me.” price is a way of transmitting information about how much people value a particular product – in a year or so plenty of people who initially balked might pick up crysis for 20 USD.

    now, i think another way to consider this whole thing is to imagine this very unscientific example:

    there’s a line that divides two groups of people – one called “piracy” and one called “sales” – i.e. the total number of people who are going to play crysis. what determines where someone who is going to play crysis – regardless of preferred method – is going to land is a combination of many factors. but what we can say concretely is that people who are willing to buy a title value crysis more than those who download it; following that, downloaders value it more than those who choose not to play it entirely. so at the very least sales data tells us just how many of the front-lines folk value the product enough to pay for it outright.

    that has nothing to do with merit or taste, of course. most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps, etc etc and so forth.

  48. Chis says:

    Loved the game, loved the boss battle, loved everything about the game (although the zero-G bit was iffy. Oops, everyone’s talking about Portal and don’t give a shit. Well, sod you all then. I’m still having fun with Crysis, and can only expect more of it once Crytek release the SDK…

  49. Chris R says:

    Well said Chis, well said.

    Crysis is in my top 5 for the year.

  50. Flint says:

    Bought it after Chrimbo with the money I got, finished this morning, absolutely amazing. It’s really sad how many overlook this game.

    Shame it’s not completely spotless, my hatred for vehicles in FPS games was increased even more by the tank and aeroplane sections. At least in the tank mission you could abandon the damn thing easily about halfway through, but no chance of hopping out of the plane I guess…

    I really wish this vehicle fad would die soon, I can’t think of a more annoying way to interrupt a perfectly good FPS than to force you to control a large moving bullseye with a clumsy manouverability.

    But still. Amazing game.