Crysis 2: What Last Level?
April 10, 2011 § 5 Comments
Its funny how, in this day and age, we take for granted the staples of modern gaming. Stuff like HDR, realistic water effects, reasonably intelligent AI (that could, if asked, navigate itself out of a paper bag, to coin a phrase). But to an older gamer, these things are still relatively new tech. And, in the ever changing battlefield for supremacy, they are utterly essential for a system to keep abreast of the competition.
I mean, take for instance the old PSX (Playstation 1 for you younger pad-jockeys) vs Sega Saturn debate from ’96 – games quality aside (the Saturn won that hands down), the tech in the Saturn, while meaty, simply couldn’t handle transparency (making things look see-through, like water). The PSX could. On the PSX, the acclaimed Alien Trilogy FPS was a moody, dark trek through the bowels of an Alien hive, with wispy web-like tendrils hanging from every surface, always obscuring what looked like a monster in the dark… for 12 year old me, it was terrifying. Or it would have been, I had a Sega Saturn, and for some reason, the Aliens on the Saturn version felt the need for net drapes. Everywhere. They didn’t obscure, exactly, just make the place look like a fortune-tellers parlor. It was rather weak, and utterly immersion breaking (well, net drapes aren’t exactly something you would expect to find in an alien-infested crash site), but indicative of the Saturn’s difficulty in rendering things that are see-through.
Its a small thing, barely noteworthy, but as Sega are now a software publisher, and we are now up to the third iteration of Playstation (which STILL has rather crappy games), it stands to reason that it had some effect. Its certainly the thing that sticks in my mind when I think about my old Saturn, before I think about Nights: Into Dreams and wish I still had it…
That’s enough nostalgia for the moment, and the reason for this trip down memory lane is my experiences with Crysis 2. The first hurdle I had was which system to buy it for: I own a decent PC and an Xbox 360 (my brothers PS3 is here too, but that’s currently gathering dust) and it was being released for both… I had already tried the multiplayer demo for the 360 and found it to be pretty, frantic and utterly annoying. A game where you can dissapear at will is going to have teething problems online, but this one I simply couldn’t get to grips with. I concluded it was because I was using a control pad, a bit too much to be messing with such limiting buttons. PC: 1 point.
I also had recently finished the first Crysis on my PC, and was mildly curious about the huge number of modding projects available (seriously, there are entire sites dedicated to some utterly insane mods, go google some of it). So, logically, the second one would follow suit, and as far as I know, you can’t mod an Xbox game… another point for PC.
Long story short, I bought it for the PC. Not only was it cheaper, I managed to pick up the Limited Edition, with some perks and gadgets unlocked for the multiplayer. I was fairly chuffed with my purchase and started on the Campaign with gusto. I won’t go into much detail as I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who have yet to play it, but the first time you see a beautifully rendered skyscraper fall over, you will agree that it is without a doubt, one of the most stunning games ever wrought. The fidelity is spectacular, and it runs excellently on a very middle-of-the-road system like mine (Athlon 64X2, 4 Gig Ram, ATI HD4850, just in case you’re curious) at high settings. I was very impressed with this CryEngine 3, and was enjoying a pleasantly over-the-top plot (boring characters aside, it’s not as bad as people are making it out to be). The human baddies were fun to torture with my invisibility, the alien baddies shiny and, while slightly more irritating (god, the walker-esque things are a frigging pain in the proverbials), they were a neat distraction from the formulaic cloak-move-decloak-shoot thing I found myself adopting; being far more alert and using unlikely levels of agility to keep up with you.
So far, so triple-A blockbuster. Well done, Crytek, this is a good ‘un. Till the last level….
Don’t panic, I’m not going to spoil anything. I can’t, frankly, as the game refuses to actually LOAD the last level. I had fought my way through a rather tough bunch of Seph (pink alien things), got to the levels last check point, and the next started to load with the usual briefing (which was fairly interesting considering what had just happened, I won’t say, but it was cool), before the whole shebang dies, with the death-rattle “Crysis2.exe has encountered a problem, and needs to close”. A quick re-load, assuming it will drop me back where I was proves fruitless, as I simply end up back just before the rather tough fight at the end of the previous level. Just fucking great. Three re-tries later, I’m frantically googling the error message, getting the usual suggestions – “Update your drivers”, “Check your RAM isn’t faulty” etc. And, as it dawns on me that I simply can’t finish this otherwise superb game, I realise: had I bought it for the Xbox 360, I would have finished it without a problem.
It boggles my mind that, after all that spit and polish, after all that technical wizardry, after all that cinematic vision, the game crumbles because of a bug. A PC exclusive bug, I might add. A bug that renders the game un-finishable. And that, for someone of my limited expertise, is pretty much that. So, for the last hour or so, that little anecdote from my Sega Saturn days has been floating around my head, and it makes me wonder: In this day and age, with all the technical cleverness that goes into a game, all the money, all the talent, all the HDR and depth of field effects…
I’d trade it all for a game that bloody works.