Support Sinan, click to buy via us...
Crysis 2 is has its flaws, but it also has its strengths. Beyond this mix of fortunes though, I just can't get comfortable spending my leisure time in such a real world setting - war-torn New York.
When I returned to gaming, I embraced it like a long-lost brother. I hugged it teary-eyed and forgot why I ever could have thought to say goodbye. Thing is, a few years later and we are still hugging. It's getting a little awkward.
I'm over-familiar with gaming these days. I play a game and its basic foundations of graphics, controls, combat (and so on) blur into a syrupy mixture in my head. Sometimes a game is unusual enough to make me sit up and take notice of environment, layout, narrative, and other deeper layers. Sometimes the foundations are truly new, like with Heavy Rain, but this is rare.
More often hours of play whisk by and nothing significant happens. This blur of time is not bleak though, in fact it's relaxing. When I switch off, a head shot becomes a satisfying lullaby note. Like the seamless scenery changes of a dream, skipping from one virtual world to the next doesn't need explanation or justification. It's just fun.
But Crysis 2 did something odd to me. It became one of the first games that I couldn't quite go along with. I'd stop and start, playing it for a bit each night before taking the disc out disgruntled and tossing it to the side like an unaccommodating pillow.
I can't quite shake off the connection between the game's setting and the setting's history.
Usually when my girlfriend wraps her arms over my shoulders and asks how a game is going, I make her regret her question (and taste in men) with an esoteric spout of detail and opinion. When she asks me about Crysis 2, I give a non-committal shrug. I'm not really pushed to say anything at all. It's like I'm not even willing to make a basic connection.
Sure, that game has its faults -- the futuristic shooter's trek through a war-torn Manhattan is at least a few hours too long and the dichotomous strategy loses its voice before the final few set pieces flap distractingly between brain-dead easy and brain-freeze hard. Then there's how the convoluted story of viruses, symbiotic suits, and aliens ends by flagellating itself with an over-elaborate conclusion that leaves me cold.
But that's not my real problem with Crysis 2. Rather, I'm just not comfortable with this serious depiction of such a juvenile plot about aliens, viruses, beefy soldiers and nerdy scientists. The waste of its impactful New York setting on such a ridiculous and derivative premise makes me uneasy. What could have been substantial and moving ends up feeling silly.
That's not to say there aren't moments of brilliance. When the lights go out during the Central Station standoff and the alien attackers start to get bigger and bigger, I transform into a defiant marine, stomping my flamethrower into the ground as I vow to sacrifice myself to protect New York's citizens.
Still, I can't quite shake off the connection between the game's setting and the setting's history. Add to this my hangover from the tasteless portrayal of war in scaremonger games like Modern Warfare 2 and Homefront and I'm not sure I want much more of all this.
Even if its link to a real-life context of horrific significance is not particularly overplayed, I just find myself rejecting the nonsensical sci-fi, the melodramatic music, the spooky lighting, and everything else. I'm starting to notice the crudity of games like this even though I'm wishing I didn't.
I'm not sure I really need another game like that.
Usually the irrelevance is an OK thing. Most of the time I don't want games to be relevant. But sometimes I need to take a few steps back from gaming, to remind myself why I spend so much time doing it and why I'm so forgiving about its flaws. Maybe Crysis 2 just caught me on the wrong day.
Don't get me wrong, it's an entirely reasonable game, even if it is too long and lacks the strategy it purports. It beautifully presents a bleak futuristic world which is begging to be saved with hi-tech weaponry. For me though, I'm not sure I really need another game like that.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: