Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Single Player Gaming Update: Crysis 2 and Medal of Honor (2010)

I played the single player campaign of Crysis 2 a couple of weeks ago. I found the single player campaign to be short and enjoyable. This game adds the ability to upgrade your nano suit which allows for a limited amount of variety which is nice. The New York location makes for a nice change from the tropical island setting of the previous games as well. Overall this game did not seem to be be as "big" a game as the previous two episodes. That isn't just a matter of length, it seems to me that Crysis 2 has less variety of scenarios and enemies than the previous games and is more on rails. One simple example is that you can no longer just jump into any vehicle you see and use it. There are a few vehicular segments but they run pretty much on rails. Still good though, just not as good. Crytek brought out a super duper DX11 graphics patch the day after I finished the game. I installed it and replayed a couple of levels but to be honest I didn't really notice the difference. The base game looked good enough for me.

Next on to Medal of Honor 2010, EA's attempt to tackle modern warfare and dethrone Activision's Call of Duty series.  This was something of a disappointment. Although the game combines all the elements in its Afghanistan setting with high tech tier 1 soldiers combating hundreds of Taliban it is far less polished than Activision's games. The "on rails" nature of the campaign is emphasised to the point of annoyance. In many segments for example the game automatically switches you to a certain weapon regardless of whether or not you were previously carrying that weapon in the inventory. You might think that such hand holding would make a game easier but amazingly it sometimes makes it harder. In one example my buddy asked me to snipe enemies on a far away hill. Luckily I had a sniper rifle in my inventory so I pulled it out and scanned the hill for targets. Unfortunately it was very dark and I couldn't see much through the limited zoom on my scope.  I fired away at imaginary targets for several minutes while my npc buddy berated me for not killing any enemy. Then, more by chance than design, I took a few steps forward and hit an invisible trigger point. Abracadabra I was suddenly wielding a super duper sniper rifle with night vision long range scope. Arghhh. Similar magical trigger points occur throughout the game and combined with unskippable cut scenes they are a damned nuisance.

I found that this game also raises a few issues in relation to the asymmetrical nature of the conflict.  At least in WWII games your opponents had similar levels of technology to you but In Afghanistan playing as a US soldier you are equipped with state of the art weaponry while your opponents wield 1950's era AK47s and RPGs. In order to provide some challenge the game throws hundred of them against you but you would need to be entirely devoid of a conscience to not have some qualms about destroying entire Afghan villages just to rescue one marine not to mention the limited opportunities it presents for exciting game play. To be honest from a pure game play point of view it would probably be more entertaining to play a badly equipped Taliban fighting the might of the USA but I can understand why this would not be politically acceptable in the Western market. For these reasons I am not entirely convinced it makes sense to use ongoing conflicts as a platform for games - better to stick with historical conflicts or with fictional ones.

I didn't try multiplayer on either of these games. 

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