Video game reviews are tricky for non-professional (or, in my case, unprofessional) game writers. Unlike career game journalists, the hobby gamer doesn’t get an early look at most games. We have to buy them ourselves, which can get expensive. And, when a game contains ten or twenty or more hours of playtime, it may take us weeks to play through them, trying to find time to play among our other obligations, such as our real paying jobs and visits to our parole officers. Even if we do finish a game in a timely manner, there are already dozens of reviews already online, rendering our thoughts a bit moot.
There’s also the fact that I don’t finish playing every game, or even most games, I buy. Sometimes they’re just not fun, sometimes they’re too hard, and sometimes they start out okay but get boring. Should I even be reviewing a game that I’ve only played partially, weeks after it’s been released?
Yes, because I want to. (See the “unprofessional” note above.) So, I’m gonna tackle game reviews the same way one might tackle a television series review. If you want to review Parks and Recreation, you probably wouldn’t wait for the entire season to be complete before you put pen to paper; you’d review it episode by episode, knowing full well that each chunk you review is just a bit of the whole. I’m gonna sit down, play as much of a game as I can manage, consider that an “episode”, and write about it, saving the rest for the next session. Okay? Okay.
CRYSIS 2, PART 1
- After a bunch of logos I can’t skip past, it’s intro movie time! The movie tells me there’s an alien virus in Manhattan, and some company denies it, and gas is expensive. They use real footage of riots, which I kinda wish they wouldn’t. You shouldn’t put video of real people getting hurt into your video game about aliens.
- Now I’m sitting in a submarine with a bunch of other soldiers, who are trash-talking and ribbing each other. Where have I seen this before? Oh, right, every video game ever made. Let me guess, we’re going to get attacked and there will be explosions and we’ll all try to escape and we’ll get separated and I’ll wind up alone.
- Everything I just said would happen is now happening. I mean, it’s still a neat sequence, it’s just been done to death by now.
- My name is Alcatraz. I just learned how to crouch, which means I’m now pretty much fully qualified to save the world from aliens.
- I kind of don’t like these in-game sequences where I can’t move my body but I can look around a little. Either give me full control, or just show me a movie.
- A guy in a nanosuit pulled me out of the water, and now they’re showing me a movie. I guess I just asked for it. This movie is showing me all the cool stuff I’ll be able to do in the game, like shoot people and jump around and be invisible. It appears I will be kicking a lot of ass. They may call me Alcatraz, but my real name is Jake Asskicker.
- Man, this is like a fetish video. Hot nanosuit upskirts! Have to admit, though, the nanosuit is really cool looking.
- Okay, the movie is over and the guy who pulled me out of the ocean apparently stuffed me into the nanosuit he was wearing. I wonder if he took off my pants first and saw all my business. Either way, it’s a little creepy to take an unconscious soldier and play dress-up with him.
- The guy who put me in his suit, named Prophet, was infected with the alien virus. It’s kinda unsettling that he’s been infected with alien germs and now I’m wearing his suit, including his face mask. Doesn’t seem entirely hygienic. I bet it smells all gross.
- I got a gun! Hooray. I swear it’s been about twenty minutes since I sat down to play and I finally have something I can shoot at somebody. There’s nobody around to shoot, though, so I pick up some random objects and throw them around. I miss the turtles from the first game.
- Every time I come close to a big crate, the game suggests I give it a “Power Kick”, and every time it suggests I do that, I do that. The game could show me a puddle of rancid milk and rat droppings and if it suggested “Lick Puddle” I bet I would do that, too. I do whatever video games tell me to do. I am such a sucker.
- I activate a laptop, which starts talking, telling me everything that’s happening. I get bored and wander off looking for someone to shoot, throwing and kicking things as I go. Apparently, I’m supposed to find and rescue some scientist. Tired: damsels in distress. Wired: scientists in distress.
- The scientist calls me on the radio. He keeps calling me Prophet, even though my name is Alcatraz. I don’t bother correcting him for some reason. That seems weird of me. Why am I so weird? In real life, I’d be all, “Hey, scientist? FYI: I’m not Prophet. I’m just a guy Prophet undressed while I was asleep.”
- This game is pretty.
- The aliens bombed the Statue of Liberty, because aliens, like natural disasters, hate our national landmarks.
- My first fight! I shoot some enemy soldiers in the head and it’s fun. Despite the long introduction, I’m not sure who the enemy soldiers are or what their deal is. Maybe the laptop tried to tell me before I walked away. It’s the sign of an elite soldier that when someone starts laying out the details of the mission he wanders off and starts kicking boxes and throwing things around.
- It’d be weird to do that in real life. Say you get a new job. You’re sitting through your orientation with the human resources person. You get bored so you start jumping on top of desks, throwing chairs, kicking stuff around, looking down at your legs as if you’ve never seen them before, examining your shadow on the wall and seeing if it jumps at the same time you do (it does!).
- Something else to not do at a new job: lick rancid puddles.
- I learned how to turn invisible. Cloaking is an easy way to completely kill everyone without getting hurt. Too easy? Yeah, probably.
- See, the title of this feature is called “Bullet Points” and these entries are all arranged into bullet points and video games have bullets in them. And I am making some points about the game. I just wanted to make sure you realized how clever I am.
- Oh, enemy soldiers. You’re adorable. That’s it, keep yelling things about me to each other so I know exactly where you are at all times.
- One of them just yelled “He’s cloaked!” Yeah, that means I’m invisible, doofus. That means I might be standing right beside your giant loud yelling mouth. And I AM! Hah-HA! And now you’re dead from me killing you.
- Hm. Having killed a couple soldiers to death, there’s no one else around in this enormous section of the war-torn city. It’s all very lovely, but there’s seemingly nothing to do here but look at it and then find the exit.
- Entered a new area with a bunch more guys in it, killed them. Fun!
- Entered another new area, and some alien ship flew by a couple blocks away, and the video game didn’t want me to miss it, so it told me to press ‘E’ to look at it. I wonder if that was originally how they planned it, or they found during play-testing that no one was looking in the right direction, so they added that. Probably the latter. I still can’t really see the thing I’m supposed to be looking at.
- I want to stop playing now but I don’t see a ‘save game’ option anywhere. Checkpoint saves only? Bleah.
That’s as far as I got.
Review Score, Part 1: I am mostly enjoying Crysis 2 so far! Once they stop showing you movies, the combat is fun, the nanosuit is neat, and the game is very smooth and pretty. If it did feature a puddle of rancid milk and rat droppings I’m sure it would be beautifully rendered and I would enjoy licking it. A-