Friday, October 17, 2008

Crysis Warhead and XIII, a tale of two shooters.

Played and finished Crysis Warhead last weekend and am currently playing XIII, a game I have had for years but never got around to playing.

Warhead is a pretty decent follow up to Crysis. The action runs concurrently with the first game and the two episodes mesh together pretty well. As has been noted by many commentators the graphics been optimised and the game is far less of a system hog than its precursor. While the game has much to recommend it I have to admit I found myself getting a little bored. I think that an unfortunate combination of factors combine to remove much of the challenge. You are equipped with an uber suit that unbalances the game. While some enemies are equipped with similar gear they all neglect to wear headgear leaving them vulnerable to a single headshot. Headshots are very easy to get because the suit offers invisibility mode giving you plenty of time to line up the crosshairs. Virtually every encounter in the game can be easily overcome using invisibility to pick off enemies one by one, hiding behind cover between hits to wait for your energy to recharge. Sadly the npc AI seems completely unable to deal with these tactics. The end result is that once you figure out the tactics the game is just too easy (and I played on hard setting). I guess Crysis had similar issues but I was less experienced in the use of the suit then.

After finishing Warhead I went to my shelf of unplayed games and came across Dargaud's 2003 game XIII. I am happy to report that the game's cell shaded graphics have not dated and the cartoon effect is still very appealing.The game has a strong story line, based as it is on a real comic book series. In complete contrast to Warhead I found the game to be b*stard hard. Even grunt level enemies could survive a full clip from my assault rifle but were able to kill me with a single burst.To make matters worse you cannot save apart from checkpoints which led led to my repeatedly trying the same levels over and over again. Not fun. Did I mention that for some bizarre reason the game doesn't automatically save the latest checkpoint when you quit? I lost several played levels before I realised that you need to manually save each checkpoint. Grrrrrr. Beautiful and all though the game is I was on the point of abandoning it when I discovered that somehow I had selected the hardest "XXX" difficulty level. I actually managed to struggle through about a third of the game on this setting. If I ever finish it it will be on "normal" difficulty though and let me re-affirm that I really don't like checkpoint save systems. Life is too short to play the same level over and over again.

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