Crysis 2: Player Volition

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Mar 29, 2011

Filed under: Game Reviews 134 comments

In my previous post I mentioned that the Crysis 2 story feels “clunky”. Some pointed out that a few of my criticisms of Crysis 2 worked equally well for Half-Life 2. After all, both games have a guy in a super-suit fighting aliens and government goons in a ruined city. They really do have the same recipe, and I think the difference in quality is dramatic. So let’s examine the gameplay and see if we can nail down the problems.

One of the major problems with the game is your radio. It might even be the single most damaging aspect of the game. The radio is a magical mystery device. There seem to be no rules dictating who can speak to you or how it works. Sometimes people can see through your eyes. Sometimes they can’t. Sometimes they can talk to the other people watching. Sometimes they seem to be downloading stuff from your suit. Is there no security on this thing? Does the suit just auto-join all wi-fi networks and share my brain on a public drive?

We’re reading massive volcanic activity, because the MILITARY is always monitoring MANHATTAN for VOLCANOES.

You’ve got this chorus of chatty idiots in your head who come and go as the plot dictates, and almost everything they have to say is counter-productive to the goal of letting the player explore and experience the gameworld. When they aren’t screaming at you to hurry past all of the amazing scenery you’d like to take in, they’re over-explaining plot points or telling you things you could figure out for yourself. They talk during exploration. They talk in the middle of firefights. They talk over breathtaking set-piece events.

Often your current taskmaster will have ridiculously detailed knowledge of the gameworld. Keep in mind that New York is in the process of being torn apart by looting, earthquakes, an alien invasion, a plague, and warfare. This city is in complete chaos, and yet often the people talking to you will know where enemy forces are deployed. They know the inside layouts of all the buildings. They know which doors are locked and they know how to open them and which vehicles are working and where you can find stashes of explosives. There’s always a blue waypoint marker, showing you your next objective. It’s a nice tool for keeping players from getting lost, but it also wrecks the illusion that you’re finding your own way through a disaster.

Hey lady. I understand you want to meet the other characters. But can you not do that IN MY HEAD?

In Half-Life 2, you spend much of the game alone. The game is broken into chapters, and each chapter generally begins with some sort of exposition to set things up and establish your long-term goal, usually in a (one way) conversation with one of the central characters. For example, the player is given the goal of “Reach Black Mesa East”. The enemy is introduced, the danger is made obvious, and the player is given the proper motivation for moving forward. From that point on, they are left alone. The conversations are memorable because they are:

1) Well written and acted
2) Rare

If Alyx Vance spoke every three minutes, I would be sick of her, just like I got sick of the numbskulls in Crysis 2.

At one point in Half-Life 2 you drive through the canals in an airboat. Challenges are placed in your path. You discover them. You figure out how to overcome them. You leave with a sense of accomplishment and the illusion that you made some interesting decisions. (Then you go back later and discover that your super-clever idea is actually the only solution to the puzzle, and everyone else in the world followed the exact same path. It’s not perfect, but I’ll take the illusion of choice over NO choice, any day.)

Many of the canal puzzles in Half-Life 2 revolve around creating or reaching ramps in order to proceed.
Many of the canal puzzles in Half-Life 2 revolve around creating or reaching ramps in order to proceed.

If the Half-Life 2 canals were designed by the Crysis 2 team, then Alyx would have been talking to you the entire way and explaining everything to you:

“Okay, up ahead is a sluice gate. It’s guarded by a force of Combine soldiers. Take them out, reach the controls, and open the gate so you can proceed. And watch out, I have reports of a hunter-killer chopper in the area.”

“Great work opening up that gate, Gordon! Up ahead they’ve set up an ambush for you, but my intel shows a weakness in their blockade. Look for a drainage pipe and go through it to escape the assault.”

“There’s a fence blocking the way up ahead, but there’s an old ramp you can use to jump over it. You might need a counterweight, though. Get out of the airboat and see if you can find something heavy to push onto the counterweight platform.”

Suddenly you’re no longer exploring, discovering, and solving puzzles. You’re just doing what you’re told and being bossed around like a child. Worse, having NPC’s notice and discuss these things just makes them stand out and causes you to question them. Hey, what the hell is this counterweight thing for, anyway? Is this something everyone else has to do when they come through here? And hang on, how the hell can you know so much about the road ahead of me? Don’t you have more important things to do than babysit me? And how in the name of Breen’s beard did someone get a washing machine up on this platform, anyway? And WHY?!? The illusion that you’re improvising solutions is ruined, and suddenly the world feels very contrived.

Actually we’re wasting out time either way, but whatever.

Both games are based on absolute nonsense techno-babble. In Half-Life 2, everything is about dimensional teleporter technology. In Crysis 2, everyone is gibbering about your nanite suit and alien DNA. The suit is always rebooting and downloading and scanning and assimilating. But how the two games handle the resulting gameplay is drastically different.

In Half-Life 2, Episode 1, there’s a sequence where you have to use the gravity gun to stop some alien reactor from blowing up. It’s a multi-stage puzzle with a dash of combat. When you’re done, Alyx congratulates you on figuring out how to fix the alien reactor. Of course, the science behind it is nonsense and the player isn’t expected to follow any of it, but the game used the puzzle as a stand-in for the science you were supposedly doing. When it’s over, the player is the actor who saved the day, and they actually did figure something out.

Dude, everyone else can just see out of my eyeballs. Have you tried that?

In Crysis 2, other people are directing your actions, looking at data, studying things, and figuring things out. You’re just acting as their heavily armed lab assistant. (And occasional guinea pig.) You don’t figure out shit. You just shove your nanite-clad ass into the alien machine when you’re told. Often you don’t even have any idea what will happen or what your taskmaster is trying to accomplish.

All of this goes back to the ongoing point that it isn’t good enough to simply write a “good” story for your game. The story must be in harmony with gameplay. The author needs to remember that the player is the star of the story, not just the camera man. They need to feel like they’re involved and they need to be allowed to contribute more to the story than violence. Treating the player like a stuntman observer will alienate them from the world.

Crysis 2 pretends to be Half-Life 2, but does just about everything wrong. Too many characters do too much talking, giving the player too many orders in too many conflicts in which they have no stake.


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134 thoughts on “Crysis 2: Player Volition

  1. DanMan says:

    I agree with you whole-heartedly about being spoon-fed the puzzles. However, something you don’t mention is the balance of difficulty.

    Another thing that will ruin immersion is when a player is stuck for 2 hours because they didn’t realize the dishwasher was a moveable object that could be used as a counterweight and were spending the whole time looking for another counterweight.

    That’s where a well implemented hint system works well. It seems like the radio was designed to be a hint system that was always on and told you too much.

    A game that was a lot of fun if you like blood and guts was the latest Wolverine game. It had a “feral sense” that you could turn on that would allow you to see the items in the game that were able to be interacted with. It wasn’t a perfect system and if it’s implemented poorly, players will use it as a crutch and complain the game is too easy.

    A good story tells the player what they are expected to do while leaving the mystery of how to do it. Good gameplay allows the player to enact the motivations of the story without spending a bunch of time wandering around trying to figure out what they are allowed to do.

    Edit: Holy crap, First! Never been first in anything before (single tear)

    1. Robyrt says:

      Yeah, what really killed the mood for me in Half-Life 2 was the terrible pacing. Hours of driving, several iterations of the same four puzzles (make a counterweight, floating platforms, stack crates, shoot rockets at choppers), hours languishing in some dingy, ruined industrial area with no sign of the plot to be found. By the end, I was just happy to be back on the rails.

      1. Axle says:

        For me, the slow pacing was what created the mood not killed it.
        It gave me the feeling that the world is not just places you fight in, but there is also things to see and do between them. The journey was not separated from the action…

        1. Jjkaybomb says:

          I’m actually going through Half-Life 2 for the first time now, and I’ve felt like both of these things happen in the game, in the same section of the game sometimes. I mean, take the boat section. At first it was really fun and fast paced, and I did think I was being clever choosing the right paths and solving the puzzles. But then, by the end, I was getting really worn down, and done with the section. I was confused at what I had to do, and so freaking glad to arrive at a plot point.

          But honestly, that huge relief at finally being able to see people made me that much more attached to the characters. I hardly knew these wackos, and I was beside myself with joy to just have somebody talking. I felt like, maybe that was what they were going for?

          What games make you glad to be part of a cutscene?

          1. Tizzy says:

            I think HL2 and the following episodes do the “Smoke and Mirrors” stuff very well. You have an *illusion* of choice, and *illusion* of plot, and if you don’t analyze it too much, you get a very enjoyable gameplay.

            Reading Shamus’s description reminded me of what I’d enjoyed so much the first time around: needing to think, to figure out what’s happening. Of course, once you understand what is possible within the confines of the game engine and the capabilities of antagonists, there is little surprise to be had (which is why they keep adding new antagonists in all the episodes).

            But the first time around, it’s pretty spectacular and fast-paced yet forgiving enough that you don’t spend too much time overthinking it. That’s thanks in part to extensive playtesting and clever analysis of what testers actually do (it’s not enough to put a bunch of testers in front of a game, you have to know what you’re looking for). So you don’t die or get stuck for long too often, so you try to figure out what to do, yet without metagaming too much (a sure-fire buzzkill).

            In the airboat chapter, I enjoyed the constant nagging doubt (should I be in the airboat? out of the airboat? what’s going to happen to me if I walk away too far from the airboat?…) The dune-buggy level was also enjoyable for that reason.

            1. Bret says:

              I agree with most of it, but I find the basic combine, given a fair chance, can still surprise you.

              Ever played the mod Minerva Metastasis? Gives the combine a little more health and a well designed map, then turns them loose with solid encounter design.

              Seems they’re smarter than they’re given credit for. They flank, rush you when you’re reloading, can figure out roughly when the player would think he could safely reload, memorize where better weapons drop after the player wasted their buddies…

              Genuinely outwitting one of those guys in a standoff is still a highlight of my gaming memories.

              1. Tizzy says:

                I did play that mod; it’s the only one I played, but it came in so highly recommended and I was intrigued by the idea that the levels design was dictated by making the environment make sense rather than following slavishly the gameplay (and thus avoiding the tortuous snaking around that frustrates me in the original HL2).

                It was awesome, and my understanding was that the creator, Adam Foster, had been hired by Valve to work on Episode 3. If it is indeed the case, I hope they will make full use of his design ideas.

                1. Bret says:

                  Yup, he has.

                  Also, he might have worked on Portal 2 somewhat. Excited for that.

                  What difficulty you play it on? The AI really gets a chance to show off on hard.

                2. Jordan says:

                  Bret is correct, he’s pretty much outright stated he’s been working on Portal 2. Which makes it pretty clear that for now Ep3 isn’t being worked on, but I suppose that was somewhat a given.

          2. Lanthanide says:

            The airboat levels definitely went on too long.

            I’ve only played HL2 from start to finish twice (HL1 7 times, both episodes 3 times), most recently just a couple of months ago.

            When I first played HL2 on release back in 2004, I hated the airboat. When I played it a few months ago, I hated it slightly less, but it definitely drags on. The buggy bits were much better in comparison, probably because the scenery was much more varied.

            My first play-through of HL1 (of course I was much younger) was much more fun and ‘exploitative’ than in HL2. A huge chunk of the puzzles in HL1 were crawling through vents to get to an area that you could see but couldn’t access through the usual path. There were comparatively fewer of these sorts of problems in HL2 and the episodes. They really fall-flat on successive play-throughs though, and if you’re looking out for them, can fall flat on your first play-through. Actually that was kind of a problem with HL2 a lot (better in the episodes) – if you were stuck in an area you didn’t know what to do, just look for the obvious tell-tale path that you should be following, Ravenholme in particular is bad for this.

      2. dyrnwyn says:

        Yea, I got that too. I was a few hours into the game and I realized I wasn’t really enjoying myself. Then looking back I noticed every section was fun at first, driving, zombie killing,chopper killing, other driving, but it dragged on far past the last point of entertainment. Also I’m not a big fan of the gameplay. Specifically killing people feels somehow flat.

    2. Bubble181 says:

      Agreed. Leaving it to the player to figure out can be tortuous as well – if there weren’t any voices helping you along in Crysis 2, maybe we’d have a commentary from Shamus about the illogical puzzles, the dim solutions you’re forced to use, and/or something about the retry-until-you-succeed school of “difficulty”.

      I haven’t played either HL2 or Crysis 2, mind, but I can sort of see what the creators here were trying to do. No doubt they failed, and instead of helpful hints, they took away any and all thinking, but hey.

      1. silentStatic says:

        Leaving it to the player to figure out can be tortuous as well ““ if there weren't any voices helping you along in Crysis 2, maybe we'd have a commentary from Shamus about the illogical puzzles, the dim solutions you're forced to use, and/or something about the retry-until-you-succeed school of “difficulty”.

        Wouldn’t it then be better to rework the illogical puzzles until the solution was logical (if challenging) or just remove them? And make it so there were no “retry-until-you-succeed” sections of the game?

        I am not saying this in any way easy – it isn’t, but I would feel that to be the optimal solution. Adding a voice telling you what to is more akin to papering over the cracks in the game design than solving them.

      2. Patrick the Ill Tempered says:

        Shamus and I derived a feral hatred of the retry-until-you-succeed school of gameplay design. He coined it the DIAS ( do it again stupid) system and it plagues modern gaming. The later additions of GTA and all of its clones are teeming with missions that are unpassable until the 5th or 6th try. To me nothing will ruin a game faster than DIAS except the an ill fitted and ill timed jumping puzzle. I F’N HATE jumping puzzles, especially in FPS like Half-Life.

        1. psivamp says:

          The jumping segments of Alan Wake were the ones I hated the most. I get that he’s a middle-aged man in reasonable shape and these jumps aren’t something he does on a daily basis, but if you’re going to put in a jumping puzzle, you can’t make me tuck-and-roll over the edge of the platform half the time.

          Other people already mentioned that HL2 can be frustrating if you don’t see the solution to a problem and that one of the fixes for that is a robust hint system. Someone mentioned Wolverine: Origins as a good example. I’d like to push Arkham Asylum forward as well. I appreciate when games give me ‘hint vision’ or after some relatively long time, t, someone comes on the radio and gives me a hint. The problem is when t is very small and you’re not under a time constraint.
          “Grab that barrel, John.”
          “It’s easy, just grab the barrel.”
          “Stop looking at the scenery and grab the barrel.”
          “Why did you find the secret area when I told you to GRAB THE BARREL?”

          1. Patrick the Baffled says:

            I wouldn’t call something that requires search and find or even a not-so-obvious puzzle as a DIAS game. When I think of a DIAS ( do-it-again-stupid) game I think of a game that has a preset series of problems that arise that you have to solve, in order on the first try in order to pass the puzzle/test. These problems won’t be obvious until you pass the one before it ect…

            For example:

            You walk into a room. Theres a landmine that blows you up. Start again.
            You walk into the room and sidestep the landmine. Bad guy pops out and shoots you in the back. Start over.
            Walk in and sidestep facing left and shoot badguy. Badguy was next to a barrel that explodes. Start again.

            Basically, imagine having to guess a random number between one and ten five times in a row. Get it wrong and you have to start over. Many games employ this tactic in order to stretch a 20 hour game into a 25 hour game. To me this isn’t an entertaining game just a time sink.

        2. Shamus says:

          I can’t believe you don’t remember this, but YOU’RE the one who used to say, “Do it again, stupid!” The phrase was born during our tag-team play-through of GTA: San Andreas.

          1. Patrick the Baffled says:

            I can’t remeber who came up with this crap. I don’t remeber why the name ‘Bucky’ is so funny, and why every time I see that word I am compelled to say it in THAT tone of voice that only means something to the two of us and makes me sound like a tourrets patient.
            Was that you that came up with that? Me? Does it really matter?

            San Adreas…now that game COULD have been epic..instead it was awash of repetitive nonsense….anyone who wants to know what I mean by DIAS needs to play the final mision of GTA San Andreas.

          2. Patrick the Unipedal says:

            Dude, is my work email going into your junk email box or are you intentionally trying to make me feel bad?

    3. Max says:

      A game with a good hint system were Metal Gear Solid games. Whatever other problems the games had, the radio worked pretty well. You could radio for hints at any time, but nobody told you how to beat anything otherwise.

      1. B.J. says:

        You’re kidding, right? There’s not a single plot event or puzzle sequence in any MGS game which is not accompanied by *at least* five minutes of dialog. The extra radio hints are generally for boss fights, which is the only part of the game where they don’t beat you over the head with the solution.

        Don’t get me wrong, I loves me some MGS, but I don’t need to hear Zero giving me that long winded diatribe about how to recover my backpack from the tree everytime I start the game.

        1. Will says:

          The five minutes of dialogue wasn’t just for plot events and puzzles, it was for anything. Every minute of gameplay was accompanied by five minutes of dialogue and ten minutes of cinematic.

    4. Noble Bear says:

      I appreciate the idea of a hint system, but how about the hint is that, in this case, the washing machine glows in your HUD or has a gold veneer, like mission critical objects in Bioshock. Telling me visually is far less obnoxious than the auditory invasions VGNPCs often render.

      I haven’t played the new Crysis, but based on Shamus’ description it sounds like and overly elaborate version of :

      HEY! LISTEN!
      HEY! LISTEN!
      HEY! LISTEN!

      It’s at that point in a game, I hit the mute button and fire up my iTunes.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Well,making you just a guy who shoots thing can work as well:Serious sam and painkiller.Yes,there is a story in those two,but who cares about that?You just want to murder a bunch of dudes.And its fun.

    But,if you really want to tell a story,the way valve does it is excellent.You get just the right amount of info,nothing overwhelming,and you have to figure out the rest on your own.But,there are subtle visual and audio hints that point you in the right direction.Sure,those dont work 100% of the time,but usually they do.And when they work,they work in spectacular ways,making you think how you did everything by yourself.

    1. DanMan says:

      Yes, and the difficulty with getting that subtlety is that it takes time and it depends on the audience. Something very subtle to me could be painfully obvious to you.

      There’s a reason that Valve doesn’t come out with a new Half Life every year. On the flip side, there’s also a reason people have been begging Valve to finally release the next one.

      Valve not only tells a good story in an interesting way with fun gameplay, they put out a quality product that you can tell they put their heart and soul into making. Rather than cranking out this year’s hope to make a bunch of money

    2. Patrick the Ill Tempered says:

      Don’t forget Borderlands as a ticklishly good face-exploder. The screams of your foes as they slowly die from acidic buckshot is better than therapy prescriped anti-depressants!

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        If only it had greater variety of enemies.

  3. silentStatic says:

    (WARNING: post contains link to, continue at your own peril)

    Reading this I wonder how much of this is the developers holding/guiding the player’s hand, and how much of it is Lull Destruction (such as can be given it is a high-octane FPS set in an alien infested New York City).

    1. Bubble181 says:

      Look, evil man, at least include a warning when you link to TVTropes! Now I have 7 open tabs and I HAVE WORK TO DO. Damnit.

      Heh, I was sort-of joking, really.
      Anyway, I’ll go back to reading my…Now 13 open tabs. grumble. :-P

      1. Mathias says:

        That god damn website. It’s like a singularity of humorous text. It’s inescapable!

    2. Nicos Amblecrown says:

      And three hours later…

      TVTropes is the Lays potato chips of the internet!!!

      1. Bret says:

        Speak for yourself.

        Can jump in, jump out. Clean and neat.

  4. Raygereio says:

    Handholding the player can serve it’s purpose. To take Half Life 2 once more, I remember several points in that game where I had no clue where I needed to go next or what it was I had to do. It was probably due to the fact that I usually play games late in the evening when I’m already tired; regardless, running around like a headless chicken, completely oblivious to what it is that’s expected of you? Not fun.
    Having then someone over the radio telling me: “Hey, stupid. Go this way and do that!” would have been a good thing.

    Games need more mechanics where they can detect when a player starts fumbling around in confusion and then gently nudge them in the right direction.

  5. Dennis says:

    Hey Shamus, I noticed you didn’t really comment on the gameplay of Crysis 2 that much. Are the levels as open as any of the missions in the first Crysis or Warhead? I mean, is there anything that allows you as much choice as the harbor assault (or even the 2nd mission in the villiage), or the resort mission in the begining of Warhead? Those 3 levels completely made the game worth it to me.

    1. Eddeman says:

      In some ways there’s a lot of choice on how to approach things, but not in the kind of huge open way of the original game. Sadly even here they decide to hold our hand, and the visor of the suit marks “tactical options” if you bring it up in certain areas (which are identified by the suit actually saying that tactical options are available).

      It’s more of a corridor this time around as you are closed off from exploring by buildings and high walls, but in the area you are left with there is usually routes to go under, over or behind the enemies. To be fair it sometimes opens up to some larger areas, but it’s still just a slightly wider corridor.

      The new streamlined nanosuit is a lot better than before at least, sprinting and powerjumping over enemies while cloaked, only to stab them in the back a second later was very satisfying :P
      I’d recommend not playing it on max difficulty though, it kinda limited my options to stealthy stabbing or sniping later in the game. Being out in the open for more than a few seconds, even with armor mode, was suicide.

      1. Jarenth says:

        That depends on the experience you’re going for, really. If you want to feel like, you know, just one dude, who’s happened into some power armor and who trying very hard not to get killed by anyone and everyone, the hardest difficulty level (‘Post-Human Warrior’) does a good job.

        Of course, if you want to feel like a remorseless killing machine, that’s also an option. Three options, even, for the connoisseurs in killing.

  6. Old_Geek says:

    Can you imagine a James Bond movie with ‘M’ in his ear the entire time “OK James, now shoot that guy. Now sleep with that blond. Oh, and you have to say something witty first. AND FOR GODS SAKE HURRY!”

  7. Irridium says:

    This is why I’m worried about Deus Ex Human Revolution. In the previews I’ve seen everything you can touch/use is highlighted in a glowing yellow line. It completely removes any need for exploration, any sense of discovery, because its all given to you.

    I hope its not in the final game. But I would not be surprised in the least if it was.

    1. Audacity says:

      While I am also apprehensive about the new Deus Ex; it’s for different reasons. The original highlighted objects you could interact with, though in a less obtrusive way.

      1. Someone says:

        The thing of it is, you could interact with just about anything in DX1 (never played DX2 so I can’t talk about it). It usually wasn’t terribly useful but it made the world feel more lively and real, less clean and artificial. It didn’t really “highlight” interactive objects, it just showed which of the objects you would interact with if you pressed “E” right now, cause there were so many it was hard to tell.

        To use the eponymous box from the trailer as an example: a box in DX1 could mean anything. There were many, many boxes in the game, and all of them were interactive, so if you saw a box you knew it could be decorative, could be hiding an ammo cache, could be used to block off laser sensors, to stack it and build a ladder or to hide from robots (regardless of the purpose which the level designer had in mind when he put it there). When you see a highlighted box in DX:HR, assuming the situation is as bad as I think it is and there is only a handful of interactive objects on any given level, you know there is an alternate route through the level somewhere nearby, that requires a box in some capacity. Otherwise, why would the game let you use the box? And if there are a lot of interactive objects on the level then it’s even worse, as highlighting the useful one is the equivalent of putting up a huge sign saying “THERE IS A SECRET ROUTE HERE, DUMMY!”.

        Of course, it could be that there are many interactive objects and all of them are highlighted, in which case it would just be pointless, obnoxious and immersion breaking to highlight them all.

        1. decius says:

          Thief did the first very well: The item that you would interact with (grab, open, carry) would be highlighted. You still had to find it and look right at it from close range, and for finding things (like a key lost in the dark) it seems like a good proxy for feeling around with Garret’s hands.

          A mode that highlights everything usable should only be a cheat or have some other high cost (consumes a rare item?). The same should be said for waypoints, unless there is a solid in-universe reason why it would work as well as it does. My phone can bring up a map, indicate my location, and address, and the route to get there, but it can’t tell me that the key is under the doormat. I will grant the next-next-next gen military model might be able to map the interior of a building, but it shouldn’t be able to tell me the password to the mainframe is on the sticky note on the monitor.

    2. Matt K says:

      This makes me sad. One of the awesome things about DX1&2 was that if it’s not bolted down you can pick it up (and throw it at npc for hilarious effect).

      1. Irridium says:

        Well its still the same in this one, its just that now they’re all highlighted.

    3. Bret says:

      It’s apparently an aug that highlights everything.

      So, yeah. Not going to be in the full version as-is.

  8. Zukhramm says:

    Half-Life 2 is interesting in that looking back on it I could never find what I liked about it, but yet I did. The shooting is boring, the puzzles too simple and the story is not very interesting, and even with all this I really enjoyed the game. Sure, the characters are good and it’s quite varied but I could not see these aspects alone making the game for me. I think you managed to hit it, to explain what I liked about Half-Life 2.

  9. ccesarano says:

    One element Half-Life also had was silence generating a sense of isolation. At least, from friendlies. I remember playing the game and several environments being eerily quiet, only to be broken up by sudden gun fire in the distance. Not even any music in the background, just silence.

    This was fantastic for setting a mood, and I think was actually more effective in creating a dangerous feeling world than most other games. You’d be sitting on a beautiful green hill with a cloudless blue sky above your head, everything seeming so peaceful and serene, only to be violently woken up to the sheer danger of the world.

    It was incredibly effective.

    When it comes to the radio chatter, honestly, it pains me to say it, but it could be the “consoletard effect”. A lot of modern gamers are just your average person that isn’t used to having to think too hard about anything. However, even Halo and Gears of War don’t chatter in your ear as much as it seems Crysis 2 does. So this may be a situation where they’re taking any sense of subtlety away and overall are pretty condescending to the player.

    If the radio was going to be filled with noise, I’d much rather here static interceptions from within the city. Instead of one of the four NPC’s telling you where to go, have a group of survivors just trying any radio signal that your suit picks up. Or even just the occasional transmission of a group of soldiers going to a territory you’re headed for only for them to be wiped out over the radio. If your suit integrates with Alien DNA, it would also be interesting if you could intercept alien transmissions. They’d be in a different language, but you could still do some interesting things with that.

    I’ll have to play the game myself to know for sure, but it seems like the Crysis 2 team should have stopped thinking “video game in a ruined city, let’s design it” and take some time to sit back and think “what sort of things would happen in New York City during an alien invasion?” and then implemented those concepts into the world. The best video games are the ones where you forget you’re playing a video game at all. BioShock and Half-Life 2 were excellent at this because of how they designed the world. But if you keep having people chatter in your ear, then clearly you’ll always know that it’s a video game.

    Which breaks immersion and is bad.

    1. guy says:

      One of the thinks I liked about HL2 was the combine battle chatter. It made them feel much more like a military unit instead a bunch of guys with guns, especially because everything was in code. The overwatch AI saying “unit down at , remaining units contain” was also satisfying to hear.

      1. psivamp says:

        This. Hearing a radio announce your first kill in an area flat-line and then the other units respond was this emotional peak. I killed someone — and now his friend’s know I’m here. Let’s do this.

        I think FEAR did something similar, but I don’t think it impressed me as much.

        1. Simon Buchan says:

          I dunno, I kinda liked “OH SHIT! *Kablam*”

    2. Andrew B says:

      it pains me to say it, but it could be the “consoletard effect”.

      I’ve given it a couple of days, but this still bugs me. I’m not trying to be agressive or start a flame war, so please don’t take this the wrong way. But…

      Then maybe you shouldn’t say it. Say “console effect” instead.

      My problem with “consoletard” is twofold. Firstly, it’s pretty offensive in term of those with learning difficulties. This is the internet though and I’m learning ignore offence in language usage when it’s bugging me outside my little corner of the ‘net. (In my house though, my rules!)

      Secondly, it suggests (to me at least) that you consider me, the console gamer, to be stupid, ignorant and in some way polluting your perfect, highbrow world of PC gaming. I choose to do most of my gaming on the 360 primarily for cost reasons. I can’t afford a decent gaming rig, nor the maintenance costs involved. I can (just) scrape together enough for a console that will last (at least) until 2015. My level of intellect does not come into my choice.

      Now, I will concede that a lot of things that seem like dumbing down in the PC games market (glowing items, simple voice over rather than complex text and scaled back UIs to name three) ARE a direct result of console games. (Or rather, of direct ports of console games.) BUT those things are vital (and good/defensible) design choices in console gaming. Even on a large HD screen, text is hard to read from the couch and it’s next to impossible to tell if generic object 27 is meant to be a usable telephone or a bit of texture detail. On a PC game this will appear as “dumbing down”, because previous games didn’t have this, but modern games (designed for consoles and grudgingly ported to PCs) do. But it’s not the fault of console users. It’s due to design decisions made to cater to the larger, more profitable, less pirated section of the market that consoles represent.

      Lazy design in porting games is nothing new, nor are poor stories or tending to assume your audience are dumb as rocks. So don’t blame me for it.

      1. Commander Boom says:

        “But it's not the fault of console users. It's due to design decisions made to cater to the LARGER, MORE PROFITABLE, less pirated section of the market that consoles represent.”

        And that’s the fault of the console users. If they didn’t exist, my hobby woulden’t be going down the drain.

        An unrealistic but attractive fantasy.

  10. Quicksilver_502 says:

    whats a real shame about crysis 2’s story is that richard morgan helped write it. He is an amazing sci-fi writer but at the end of the day he is a novelist, so he was likely hampered by using game conventions. oh well.

  11. Patrick the Baffled says:

    What a dude got to do to get a return email? If your not to busy writing about angry gay pixies or whatever the thing is about you could weigh in on the zombieland thing.
    Dont make me call you…..I hate the damn phone….

  12. Hal says:

    You made me think about Deus Ex when you discussed this. If there’s one thing that’s similar between these games, it’s the incessant chatter of NPCs in your ear as you progress.

    Would you say that it’s just as obnoxious in Deus Ex when someone chimes in to tell you about building layouts, computer systems, defense grids, etc.? If not, why does it work better there?

    1. psivamp says:

      I think it works reasonably well in Deus Ex because you’re working for a massive shadow government organization — they literally have this stuff on file. In Crysis 2, from what is said here, the city is being destroyed by multiple factors and factions and there’s no way your commanders can have this info.

      Back to the radio: In Deus Ex, it’s implanted and the people who manage to break into it are either geniuses, have admin rights to your skull or are friends you gave the address to.

    2. B.J. says:

      In Deus Ex the only person with access to your infolink was Alex Jacobson, and he actually pointed out that the clearance and security was so secret he wasn’t allowed to explain it to Denton. Thus it was treated as a pretty big deal when Daedalus was suddenly breaking in.

      For another example consider the underrated Alpha Protocol. On many missions you can have one of several radio handlers, with each one providing access to a different level of intel.

      1. Alan De Smet says:

        In the original Deus Ex, it didn’t bother me. The people who could chatter at me largely made sense and didn’t constantly yammer at me. In Invisible War, however, I was going crazy. Everyone, on both sides, seems to be able to beam me messages, knows where I am, knows instantly what I am doing, all had opinions to constantly share.

        1. Matt K says:

          True, but having just replayed DX2, the talking bits over the infocom are fairly rare and only a few times do you get a couple of people in your ear at near the same time (and in those situations it makes sense, like JC just brifed you but the WTO has something to say about that as well).

  13. Wolfwood says:

    did they ever explained y they didn’t make more of these nano-suits? and y the rest of the dozen or so supersoldiers are dead?

    You’d think that if it was simply hella expensive to make, the world being invaded by aliens, would put aside financial gain to pump out as many of these suits as possible.

    the nanosuit is what breaks all sense of immersion for me. In hl2 you’re basically a scientist who stole one of those super suits and joined a rag-tag group of resistance fighters. In crysis, you’re a soldier in a the most powerful and technologically advance army in the world… so y is it that only you have this incredible super suit?

    man i do hated when they force feed you every little detail about how and where to go between point A and B. thats just bad. Even if its the first multiplayer shooter in years to feature a single player that isn’t over with in 4 hours. i had consider getting this game when it goes on sale, but now i might not even do that.

  14. I just started playing Deus Ex this week. (The old, ORIGINAL Deus Ex.) I must confess that it drives me crazy when one of the UNATCO guys starts babbling in my ear, although I suspect they are not nearly as bad as the NPCs in Crysis 2. I’ve been known to yell at my computer on several occasions, “Will you SHUT UP! I’m trying to be sneaky here!”

    Of course, I’ve also been overheard saying, “I shot him multiple times in the crotch. Why didn’t he die?”


    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “I shot him multiple times in the crotch. Why didn't he die?”

      Because,contrary to popular belief,men’s brains are in their heads.

      1. ccesarano says:

        True, but this is video game logic. Three or four bullets to the foot is completely fatal.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Feet are very vulnerable things.Just ask achilles.

          1. Irridium says:

            That wasn’t really his foot, more his heel.

            1. Veloxyll says:

              With high enough caliber ammunition, it amounts to the same thing.

  15. zob says:

    I have to say I am of the minority group that hated HL2. I never understood praise behind forcefeed railroad plot or forcefeed gimmicks. I don’t want to make this into a rant so I’ll give just one example.

    Just at the beginning of the HL2 you use a teleporter to move from point A to point B. This teleporter malfunctions in a specific way so you randomly pop in places. Which is actually way to ascertain that you have been seen by the people which shouldn’t see you. You pop in front of the combine leader Breen (twice just to make sure that he understands that you is you) and end this teleportation sequence in front of a surveillance camera just to make sure every security station knows your current location. Once that thing woke me up it was all downhill from there for me.

    1. Patrick the Baffled says:

      You know, come to think of it, that is a very specific selection of bad places to show up. That’s a very specific amount of bad luck. It’s not like you randomly got teleported to a Deli over on 5th and the book store. OH no. You get ‘randomly’ teleported to the four or five worst possible places on the planet, temporarily of course.

      As a wise man once said, and I quote:

      “That’s a very specific level of tired….”

      But then this is where HL2 fans would interject with their version of how you were intentionally teleported to those places by…by… well whoever that creepy old dude is who randomly shows up in cutscene.

      And on a side note, was I the only one who thought he looked and acted alot like the crypt keeper?

      1. Zukhramm says:

        I don’t know about the rest of them because I don’t actually remember the other places you got teleported to, but Breen’s office could be explained by either the people at Black Mesa having that location stored for a planned attack or similar or that, Considering the their’s own use of teleporting, the Combine has some sort of signal to or from there that you get mixed up in.

    2. LintMan says:

      I’m not sure I understand what the criticism is, here. It’s been quite a while, but as I recall it, that scene’s main effect/purpose was to give the player some insight and a preview into what was going on elsewhere and would be coming up later in the game. (IIRC, since you’re randomly teleporting around, they would have no idea what your current location is once you’ve vanished – the negative impact to the player is minimal, I think.) With all the other weirdness surrounding teleportation in the Half Life universe, this is not out of keeping with that.

      If you listen to the HL2 voice commentary, you’d see that Valve is really big on foreshadowing and setting up expectations so that by the time you encounter those situations and things later, you’re prepared for it and have a clue what’s going on.

      I do agree that most of HL2 is essentially rail-driven, but IMHO it generally hides it quite well, provides some amazing set-pieces along the way, along with interesting characters and story, and some ground breaking gameplay for its time.

      1. Zukhramm says:

        The complaing he makes seems to be that if you are randomly teleporting in a malfunction it makes no sense to so perfectly end up right in the face of the villain. If it’s random you should pass by some guy having breakfast, the inside of a wall and some empty sky.

        1. zob says:

          Twice, you teleport into Breen’s office twice. Just in time to check your face with the photo in his hand.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      You forget one crucial thing though:You have been brought back into this world by a trans dimensional being of unimaginable power.You are just a pawn in some great cosmic chess,so whos to say if random things that happen to you are really random?

      G man kind of reminds me of gods in discworld.

      1. Patrick the Baffled says:

        Well did they have to teleport me through his office then? Just put it on his action item list….
        Monday 06/14
        7am Review weekends imprisonments and detainments
        715 Have Grande Latte Enema
        730 Put on cornflower blue tie
        745 Sign death writs for weekends imprisonments
        830 Conference call with transdimensional being of unimaginable power
        900 Hunt down recently reincarnated hero of the free-world
        930 Haircut and manicure

        Teleportation makes me have to drop a duce so I would rather get it over with quickly….

        1. Bret says:

          Well, maybe because it scares the tar out of Breen and the G-Man finds that sort of thing hilarious?

          Just laughing and laughing with Durandal and Q in some multidimensional bar.

          And one of those awful places was in the ocean, which is actually one of the most likely places for a random teleport to go. It just happens the ocean is now infested with killer aliens.

          1. Duncan says:

            I love the image of Durandal hanging out with Q…wonder if Q would help Durandal escape the heat-death of the universe?

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          “Well did they have to teleport me through his office then?”

          Maybe.We know his power is limited(the vortigaunt managed to stop him),but we dont know how.He can teleport gordon wherever he hants,so meddling with a teleport is something he is likely to do.Whether he can do more,but is forbidden,or he actually cant do more is open for interpretation.

          See having random things work in players favor is a tough sell.If you do it too much,it breaks immersion.If you do it too little,it doesnt seem epic enough.To me,half life does it just about right.Every random thing that happens can either be a really random thing,or a slight manipulation by the g man(or something else).The player can only guess which is which.

          However,if you replace g man with just some regular human,even if it is a general,or a super-hacker,or whatever,it loses plausibility.Especially when they start meddling openly.

          The best quote describing this comes from futurama,when god says to bender:”When you do things right,people wont be sure youve done anything at all.”

          1. Patrick the Marginally Uninformed says:

            UMM..oh… I think I need to read more of the history of HL2 and the history/story/fan fiction or what ever it is…

            Are you saying that Gman is a multidimensional being of unimaginable power? I thought he was just some wierdo in a cheap suit….

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              He is a being of unimaginable power.He can stop time and teleport.However,he has superiors,so what his limits are is unknown.Though he can be stopped by a bunch of vortigaunts.

              1. zob says:

                So essentially HL2’s great plot is “A wizard did it”.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  In a nutshell,sure.

  16. Jarenth says:

    On player volition in Crysis 2:

    Early on in the game, you happen on a window that overlooks a little park, or whatever. In that park were about four of five generic C.E.L.L. soldier dudes, and two important plot NPCs whose names escape me. These two people were talking, loudly and openly, about their different plans to capture or kill you, the player, while waiting for a helicopter to land.

    At that moment I wanted to shoot these jerks so bad. Just lean out the window, take aim, pop, pop, problems solved, I can go on with my life. Hell, just getting one would be an improvement. But no, suit wouldn’t let me do that. It wasn’t even resetting this time, mind; it was ‘too dangerous’ or some shit.

    The kicker? After the helicopter took off and I could continue playing, I discovered that I had to go through that park anyway.

    Good times were had by all.

    1. Bret says:

      To quote a wise man

      “sure would be nice if we had some GRENADES, don’t you think?”

      One well placed explosive, and everything gets a lot easier.

  17. RTBones says:

    My question – could this be a consequence of the state of gaming today (meaning – gaming is not just for PCs anymore and consoles are huge.)

    Consider – many of today’s gamers grew up (or are growing up) on consoles. The types of games GENERALLY played on consoles are run-and-gun, shooters/slashers, or some sort of sports. (Please bear with me, I know more and more RPGs are making the console leap. That’s not the point I’m trying to make.) Most console players I know that aren’t playing a sports game aren’t looking for anything “mentally taxing” (for lack of a better phrase) when they game. In other words, they WANT the hand-holding the radio chatter of a game like Crysis 2 can bring. They DON’T WANT to be stuck in an area for hours trying to figure out a puzzle. Knowing that you have a large gaming crowd on consoles that might occasionally play on the PC might drive how the game is put together – because you want to satisfy the PC audience by developing a game for that platform, but you don’t want to completely ‘lose touch’ with that console crowd.

    From another angle, it is also entirely possible these days that the developers programming PC games learned to game on consoles and simply translate that experience to their code.

    1. Zukhramm says:

      I can’t speak for people today because most of the people I know play on the PC, and so do I, at least partly. I play some on konsoles, I did more of it earlier in my life and while I can’t say what others want I can safely say that this is not somethign I have ever wanted. To me, the “dumbing down for the consoles” is just as bad for console players, or worse since they do not only get worse game but have their intelligence insulted by the developers.

    2. Tizzy says:

      It’s a good point, although as you suggest yourself (albeit not in so many words), it’s becoming less and less of a PC vs console divide. It’s a majority vs. minority kind of thing, the same way that many really weak movies are produced because so many movie-goers are not looking for sophistication in their entertainment.

      When I look at Rotten Tomatoes for instance, I am endlessly amazed to see the top of the box office populated by movies that were universally panned by critics (below 45% is a bad sign, you could still be a decent niche movie but you shouldn’t be in the top 10; below 25% is appalling). Given that these ratings are taken from a very wide range of reviews, the critics are not really to blame: casual viewers are just THAT easily amused. I guess you can make the same point for casual gamers. (Which is not the same thing as people who play casual games, btw).

    3. Cybron says:

      That might be a decent point – were the Legend of Zelda, Metal Gear Solid, etc not still as popular as ever. It sounds like you’re just hawking stereotypes.

      You could argue developer perception of those demographics as being influenced by these stereotypes, but that’s another issue entirely.

      1. RTBones says:

        I did not intend to hawk stereotypes with my post (now that I reread this, I see your point; again, not my intention) – but as you have mentioned them, I will say that stereotypes become stereotypes for a reason. Don’t know about you, but there are times I do wonder just who developers were trying to target with a particular game. What I wanted to get at is what drives the mindset of developers? Is it economics (perhaps of a successful franchise, perhaps of other successful games in the market)? Is it a true demographic based on statistical data (danger, Will Robinson)? Is it a perceived demographic, based on trends? Is it the gaming experience of the developers?

    4. Max says:

      Consider ““ many of today's gamers grew up (or are growing up) on PC. The types of games GENERALLY played on PCs are Bejewled, Farmville/Cityville, or some sort of tower defense game. (Please bear with me, I know more and more people play MMORPGs, that’s not the point I’m trying to make) Most PC players I know that aren't playing an RTS aren't looking for anything “mentally taxing” (for lack of a better phrase) when they game…

      You can keep pretending that it’s impossible to make complex games on a console, blame all the simplification of games on consoles, or you can accept that there is a massive casual market on PCs and consoles that developers are trying to tap into by making them more accessible.

      Really getting tired of people blaming consoles for all their problems!

      1. RTBones says:

        Again, having reread my post – I can see how you might take it that I was console-bashing. Not my intent at all. I’m just going after what makes developers tick – why are games made the way they are, on either platform.

        Plenty of room in the gaming ‘Verse for us all, mate. Peace.

        1. Max says:

          Okay, Peace, I was probably overreacting a bit. (Also I thought I was being pretty clever by copying your post and changing a few key words)I still think this has more to do with the casual craze than anything else. I swear I played more complex games on PS1/2 than I do now.

          Best Example: FF13. JRPGs aren’t for everyone, but I really used to enjoy the Final Fantasy games, and the interesting systems they had for developing character stats and abilities, as well as the decisions in battle. FF13 the only important task for the player is to push forward on the analog stick. This trend of making games simpler affects us all.

          1. Nick Bell says:

            Final Fantasy 13 is also an example of how what is one person’s over-simplification is another person’s heaven. It is one of only two Final Fantasy games I have ever successfully completed, mostly because it dumped all of the complicated side systems that cluttered up the experience. I had a great time with the game. Combat was actually enjoyable, rather than the tedium of many JRPGs. Grinding requirements were minimal, and there were only a few cheap boss fights. I liked the characters and enjoyed their crazy Japanese storyline. I think its a great game, and I highly recommend it.

    5. Veloxyll says:

      Really? because console gamers play Metroid games. Nintentdo Hard doesn’t refer to PC games. The less said about FFX’s character system, the better.And have you LOOKED at the formula for capture rates on Pokeballs?

      Console gamers are just as capable of PC gamers at figuring out puzzles and playing ‘complex’ games. The Metroid Prime games even had a help system. Though it didn’t detail the path, it gave you an idea for where to go next, but you still usually had to figure out how to get there (and occasionally get new powerups). There’s something SATSIFYING about solving puzzles for yourself.

      Less so when there are NPCs babbling in your ear about exactly what to do. System Shock 2, you get some guidance as to what you’re meant to be doing, but the game leaves it up to you to figure out how to do it. So does Half Life 2. So do the previously mentioned Metroid games. So does Metal Gear. They’re all fun in their own way, and none of them saw the need to shout in your ear every 5 seconds (Metal Gear characters just tell you long stories every codec call instead). Puzzles are FUN when we get to figure them out, and can ASK for help. They lose their interest when we’re babied through them as if we’re some sort of attention deficient baby who will totally lose interest if there’s not something happening and we’re not making progress all the time.

  18. DanMan says:

    Maybe the developers played way too much Halo on XBOX Live and thought that immense amounts of intelligence-insulting radio chatter was how FPS’s were supposed to be played

  19. Brandon says:

    What are your thoughts on the amount of commentary in Halo. In Halo 1, Cortana is in your head directing you. She is silent for large segments, but she does occasionally point you around like a dog on a leash. Is that an acceptable amount of leading that facilitates story effectively or is that, too, an unnecessary and unwanted intrusion?

    1. Shamus says:

      I remember not having a problem with it, except for the section where it comes back to bite the designers. When Cortana sends you to where the Flood are imprisoned and she won’t tell you what the crap is going on because there’s no time. The game has already established that you’ve got a radio in your head and it’s a long plane ride to get there.

      Other than that, I remember it working pretty well. This is another reason head-radios are a problem. If the player has an omniscient coach, then any time the player is in the dark becomes a plot hole.

  20. Greatbear says:

    Couple things I felt about about Crysis 2, which goes beyond chatter. The game felt like a port. It’s also kind of a long complaint list.

    I found it interesting about some one else getting a bit irritated with the chatter. I referred to while playing Crysis 2 as useless, irritating chatter. Some one in the thread mentioned enemy units talking about reacting to finding a body. I couldn’t quite interpret their response entirely though so I apologize if I step on toes. When I dropped a tango, his buddy would come over, and start asking, “Are you okay?” Or what have you. My thought was, “does he look okay? His brains are scattered all over the pavement after I put a couple rounds through his head. He’s not moving, maybe twitching, or breathing.” The they’d ask about being okay, tell me where you’re hit, can you respond, etcetera. General chatter like this was annoying and very useless. This or, “Is he cloaked?” No ****, I’m atempting a River Dance on the roof, I’d never flank. I like charging people the face of people with automatic weapons. I probably could have handled some chatter if the enemy responded appropriately to a dead guy, but no, “My AoR is clear.” Kill the second guy. “No sign, my AoR is clear.” Kill the Third guy. “My AoR is clear.” Get seen, start a fire fight, break contact and hide. “My AoR is clear.” No search teams, or dedicated hunter-killer teams. Of course the enemy, “watching his sector,” which was apparently the wall next to him, didn’t help.

    The enemy had no heightened security. Nothing. They are just there to tell the player that they can now be killed again. Also, why do I have access to a secured radion network? More to the point, why aren’t they even using hand signals? Okay, art engine, art, etc. limitations. I could have handled simple waving or general pointing. This in addition to what Shamus pointed out. Now for some other complaints.

    The next complaint I call, “Hold my hand because players are too stupid to know what to do.” Now, some folks have covered a few points of this already, and Shamus pointed out about exploring and learning about your environment. I want to extend, what as I see moronic design, to the, “Press Key X for tactical options.” This brings up a WTF every time I saw it (I have tried a second play through but the game irritates me so much with its console design, I haven’t been able to yet). I am entering a battle, 95 percent of the time cloaked. I can see the battlefield. I see genearally take a little time before engaging any thing. I can blasted well see and figure out what I feel is the best tactical action based off my play style. Do the designers assume people are blind, deaf, and or dumb? The, “Press Key X to look,” is the same vein.

    Ninety percent of the time, the even takes up the entire screen. Unless you’re completely blind, you can’t miss it. The rest of the time, I can easily hear the event, and see it, and don’t care. More often than not, I noted the backgound event, but am very business fighting the Ceph. If the event was actually interesting enough, I might understand, but I think only twice was it a plot device, and unecessary at that. My general thoughts were, “Huh, big some thing happening.” The thing is, I can’t remember a single time that it mattered in game play, or even made a different. So, I got an irritating message forcing itself into my awareness along with irritating radio chatter. Also, if you play the PC, hence my port statements, did any of you experience the horrid, “Move up,” audio bug for an entire level? It didn’t even go away between maps.

    Further irritations with the game include it feeling like a shooter on rails. I’ll use Crysis I as comparison. From the point you hit the water at the beginning, to the cutscene when profit until, I think, when Prophet gets nabbed, I didn’t have a level load. The map was huge. More to the point, after the first fishing shack fight, you have the ambush on the beach, the small outpost on the road, the secondary objective info gather, the radar station, and final destination of the boat. How and where you go is compeletely up to you. I’ve skipped the beach ambush a couple times in play throughs. I’ve fought the ambush from an ocean swim/attack. I’ve low-crawled (some thing we can’t do any more because I assume the limiations on console controllers) throught the bushed and sniped with the SCAR. I’ve gone up on the hill and assaulted.

    Following up in a similar vein, after dealing with the ambush, I’ve swum the channel (which has fish and weeds, shells etc.) and come up in the boat shack to attack. I’ve taken a utility vehicle and played road rage with a machine gun on the outpost. I’ve snuck around the far side in cloak and attacked from various ends of the village. I’ve even snuck along the beach and attacked. A couple of times I didn’t even bother and just bipassed to get my granades, another option, to do the secondary mission, whas also optional. I’ve never not done that one though so I don’t know the outcome if you don’t do it. At any rate, I’ve done the above as experimentation of which play I liked best or worked well for me.

    In Crysis 2, I didn’t get any where near this. Your tatical options, spiffally laid out by pressing that magic key (wow my nanosuit sure is smart now) felt more like picking a terrain feature in the already present battlefield and using it, like picking a high point for a high shot. That’s just skippy. Like I couldn’t figure that out on my own. Or their tunnels which are about 40 game feet long. The biggest problem I had in maneuvering in their game world was; A. I played Crysis I and what looked like a place I could move to I could, but in II you can’t, and B. See A. They’d show areas which, if they had a walkmesh, I could move into or use, but in acutallity, weren’t usable. It lead to a lot of confusion for me. In the first one, I am having a hard time remember where there was some place that looked like I could go, but couldn’t. It was always an option I could try. The maps in 2 felt about 25 percent, or smaller, in size.

    I also couldnt’ go into 1st Person perspective in the vehicles. Maybe I missed some thing. It happens a bit, but this drove me crazy. This was especially true when driving through underpasses in that APC. The short, excessively linear APC battle. Any one remember the tank battles in I? I’ve tried many different approaches, attacking enemies etc., in that battle. The APC thing could best be equated to the Train battle in Warhead, but about 1/5 the length, if smaller.

    Other big complaints I have include what I find to be the complete and utter moronic, infuriating design of, “press key X,” during a cut scene. I can not stand this. Let me either watch the effing cutscene or let me play the game. I can’t do both. The first time on the bridge collapsed because I was watching the cinematic and hadn’t realized I was supposed to press a key. RE 5 did this too and drove me nuts. I find it to be a console thing that gets ported into the PC side. I hate this design idea.

    Also, do not take control away from my character except during a cut scene. I remember the first few maps of this game, suddently you suit shuts down, you can’t do any thing, and you suit proceeds to tell you, “Press key X,” to do this with your suit. No kidding. Like I couldn’t read the manual, check my keys (which I always change to an original Operation Flashpoint configuration), or just list it some where. Shoot, even with all the radio chatter, couldn’t some yutz have keyed in and said some thing to the affect? No, you have to interrupt the game, lock me into standing in one place, and tell me basic functionality of my suit. Drive me nuts as unnecessary controled, hand holding. This along with the completely useless, “Press key X for nano-vision.” I found nano-vision useful once, in the power station, and it drained faster than a Never Ready battery. Shoot I think in 1st gen NVG’s have a couple hour life span.

    Well, this is getting long, and I have other complaints. When I first played the game, it was about 65 percent fun. The second play through attempt, with the shiney newness gone, I would currently rate as 35 percent. It has become a some what frustrating, mindless shooter. I am very disappointed with the game.

    1. Jarenth says:

      During one of the earlier missions, Quest NPC Du Jour tells me to ‘stick to the rooftops, the streets are unsafe’. So I proceed to do that, hopping happily from roof to roof without a care in the world.

      After a while I come across a roof guarded by a chain-link fence. Confident in my nano-empowered abilities, I leap the fence.

      That fence? Completely unbreakable, and extends the invisible hand of the LORD all the way up into the heavens.

      1. Shamus says:


        That was my first death.

    2. SomeUnregPunk says:

      crysis 1 and warhead had targets that had three types of status…
      1.ignorant: follow the planned route, there is nothing attacking you.
      2.clueless: something attacking me and I don’t know where.
      3.alerted: I know where the player is and I telling my friends.

      crysis 2 on the other hand seems to have only two modes
      1.ignorant, and 3.alerted

      The levels also has smaller corridors but seems to be wider than the Call of Duty levels. I can no longer use the 2nd status mode of my enemies to lead them away from me and my intended path of travel.

      I feel that the game were designed to capture what is popularly found in games such as the call of duty series. The multi-player seems to show this more.

      I find that the nanosuit version 2 is inadequate when compared to nanosuit ver1 until I realized that I’m playing a different game.

      The crysis 1 & warhead had gameplay that seems to reward for being creative much like how farcry 1 was like in the majority of that game. Farcry 2 which wasn’t designed by crytech had this element in their gameplay but that game had large amounts of complaints levied against it because players were unable to be more creative than follow the path and shoot everything which would lead to their demise.

      Crysis 2 seems to have learned from that and created a game that appeases the majority. Now crytech gets complaints that the game isn’t openly creative enough.

  21. guy says:

    You know, it seems from your comments in the previous post is that one key difference is that Gordon Freeman is a blank slate of a character that you can easily interpolate a sensible character onto, while Crysis dude is completely incoherent as a character. The reason being that Gordon does a series of things that flow logically from him being loyal to his old Black Mesa friends and disliking people who shoot at him. Meanwhile Crysis dude does whatever a series of people who hate each other tell him to for no really clear reason.

    1. Shamus says:

      This is an excellent point.

    2. Tizzy says:

      Frankly, I have spent a lot of time playing HL2 while wondering why Gordon does what he does. Maybe I’m projecting a bit here, but my guess is that he’s just as bewildered as I am, and just plodding along.

      Fortunately, that does not stop me from enjoying the game. Makes me feel like firing it back up, as a matter of fact…

      1. guy says:

        My personal interpretation is that Gordon doesn’t have a clear idea what’s going on for at least the first two chapters and possibly the first four, but he quickly picks up that the Combine are bad and defaults to following the advice/instructions of his colleagues in a crisis. Then he goes to Ravenholm because there is literally no alternative and fights his way clear because it’s full of headcrabs. His coastal adventures occur because it’s apparently the best/only way to rescue Eli, and he storms Nova Prospekt and then the Citadel to rescue Eli/destroy the Combine.

        Basically, the reason he does everything he does is because he trusts his old colleagues to give him good instructions. For the purposes of his characterization, why they give those instructions and not other ones doesn’t actually matter because he doesn’t know their reasons.

        You could probably overlay a large number of consistent characters onto Gordon’s actions, that just being one. The only unifying theme required for all of them is that he likes Eli enough to storm Nova Prospekt in a rescue attempt.

    3. krellen says:

      Except for that stupid button in Episode 2. Why does Gordon Freeman have to do everything? These people can’t even press a button?

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Buttons are complex things.You need a phd before you can operate one.Not everyone can push those,you know.

        1. krellen says:

          I’m pretty sure Eli has a PhD, and he was in that room. So was Dr. Kleiner, for that matter.

          1. acronix says:

            Let`s recount the factss:

            -Gordon, Eli and Kleiner have PhDs.
            -Only Gordon can operate the button.

            Therefore, we can only conclude that a PhD is irrelevant for pushing a button. However, if this were true, then all the mentioned characters should have been able to push the button when, in fact, only one of them could.
            We then conclude that you do need a PhD to operate a button. This brings us to the Unfortunate Implication that Eli and Kleiner evidently do not have a PhD on button pushing, and are not real scientists.

            Alternatively: maybe what you really need is not a PhD, but a power armor.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Maybe because you were frozen in time for so long you still have skills others have forgotten,like pushing buttons and operating switches.

            2. Tizzy says:

              Indeed, Gordon is the only one who got a PhD in something useful: Button Pushing & Theoretical Plugging.

              1. guy says:

                No, no, he got his in causing teleportation with lasers. No, really.

                They want him to push the button because a missile is like a laser.

  22. Aethereal says:

    HL2 suffers from some pacing issues, but the problems are much more significant in Crysis 2. The game suffers from a very similar fate to that of the Black Ops (or MW2) singleplayer; not enough contrast. There is action, more action, explosions, voices screaming in your ear with more action…
    You never get a moment of quiet. You never get a moment alone.
    This really fast pacing can be fun at first, but after a few hours of the same thing it wears away at you, and it becomes less and less enjoyable. What i found wishing for the most, was a level in silence. No comm chatter, no gunfire and screaming and alien noises in the distance. Just you, a map, some foes, and maybe some puzzles that arent spoon-fed to you.
    I feel like the story in crysis 2 has great potential; potential that is unfulfilled in huge part thanks to terrible pacing.

  23. Jordan says:

    “Go on alcatraz, use that needle.”
    Suity McPlotDevice decides this isn’t enough though and less than a full second afterwards:
    “Use the needle.”


    1. Jarenth says:


      1. Patrick the Marginally Uninformed says:

        Why does this sound like a bad after school special about drug abuse. Hope its better than this one…

  24. ClearWater says:

    I learned a new word today! I find it funny that there’s two listen-to-how-it’s-pronounced buttons on thefreedictionary but one says da-noy-ment and the other day-noo-mawn.

    1. Tizzy says:

      The second one is the correct one.

  25. Mathygard says:

    This might’ve been mentioned already, but I’m not reading through 90 god damn comments just to find out. They’re long ones too. I’m not lazy.

    My problem with this radio business, is why your enemies aren’t using it. Apparently any moron with the will to do so is able to tap into the suit’s reciever, so why aren’t the aliens? Considering how careless your ‘allies’ are with their information, it’d be a tactical goldmine.
    And don’t even try to blame it on some language barrier. Am I supposed to accept that these aliens were able to just roll in from god knows where and entrench themselves before anyone could react, but are entirely unable to decipher a shitty human radio transmission?

    1. krellen says:

      Translating an alien language is a lot harder than you think. The Allies had a devil of a time keeping secrets from the Japanese in WW2 until they stopped relying (solely) on codes and started transmitting information in a language the Japanese had no experience with whatsoever. They couldn’t make heads or tails of Navajo.

      (Of course, now, Navajo/Japanese dictionaries are the most common translation dictionaries in Japan.)

      It’d be interesting to see someone seriously tackle the issue of a language barrier in sci-fi sometime.

      1. Mathygard says:

        I’m not saying they’d be able to just pick up and understand earthspeak, but these are supposed to be hyperadvanced alien lifeforms. If they have the means for finding the earth to begin with, they’d have to be able to observe the planet before launching their invasion. If they can build flying squid robots, or armor, or whatever the things were, surely they would be able to put together some sort of translator. And with said translator, they should have been able to gather enough information to assure their victory. Common sense dictates that they wouldn’t launch their invasion until they have a good understanding of their enemies-to-be.
        Alien invasion plots always seem to rely on some idiocy on the aliens’ part that leads to their defeat.
        Not unlike the ‘war of the worlds’ concept. The spielberg movie even has the tripods looking decidedly organic, yet the bioengineering geniuses that build them couldn’t even whip up a vaccine for the most common of earth diseases. I’m not buying that.
        If they want to introduce a defeatable alien threat, they would be far better served to keep their technology just above earth standard. Putting the aliens far above human advancement only makes them seem incompetent when they inevitably fail.
        As for language barriers in fiction, one that comes to mind is Solaris, by Stanislaw Lem. If you want more, just search TvTropes for “Starfish Aliens”. You’re sure to find some good examples there.

        Edit: Apologize for this wall of text. Didn’t look this much while I wrote it.

  26. Kevin says:

    I think it’s getting to the point where having Freeman as a silent protagonist is beginning to negatively impact the narrative of Half-life. For one thing, there’s still way too many unanswered questions in the Hal-life universe that it becomes hard to believe that Freeman functions as a self-insertion of the player, and it’s making more sense that he’s a programmed assassin in the vein of the Manchurian Candidate who follows the pleas of Alyx and Eli without question rather than an Everyman.

    As a silent hero, he can’t speak up whenever the G-man shows up; if I was in Gordon’s position, I’d be yelling out: “are you idiots not seeing this!?” In addition, near the end of Half-life 2, Breen implies that there’s more to the conflict that Eli and the resistance is letting on.

    Let’s just say that if we don’t start getting straight answers by Ep 3, then we have confirmation that the Valve writers are pulling enough stuff out of their asses that would make the Lost writers blush.

    1. Patrick the Marginally Uninformed says:

      Top 5 voice actors if they ever do decide to have Gordon Freeman speak:

      1.Gilbert Godfried…I hear he’s looking for work anyways
      2.The guy who used to do commercials for micro-machines…Google it
      3.The man with the golden voice
      5.Kanye West

      1. Bret says:

        Ross Scott or nobody.

        1. Tizzy says:

          Patrick Warburton

          1. Irridium says:

            H. Jon Benjamin

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      To be fair,in 2 you dont really have much choice.G man can do god knows what to you,and its doubtful you are even human at that point.

      As for whod be the bes voice actor for gordon:Morgan freeman,of course.

      1. Jarenth says:

        Sidenote: I would pay good money for a Crysis 2 patch that replaced the standard bossy dude voice with Morgan Freeman.

        My, my, you got Maximum Armor now, son. Isn’t that something.

        I reckon this place has some good tactical options. Let’s press the button and have a look, shall we?

        Your health’s gettin’ kinda low, sport, best you hustle to some cover. Get busy living, or get busy dying; that’s what Andy used to say.

        1. Tizzy says:

          “Ever since I was a little boy, people have enjoyed the sound of my voice. And I figured you either get busy talkin or you get busy dyin’. The work is really quite easy. Why even right now I’m just sitting in a chair, sipping some tea and reading from a script. The wall is covered in something that resembles egg crates except they’re soft and spongy, like a twinkie…like a twinkie.”

  27. Drejer says:

    I don’t like it when game protagonists is mute, especially half-life 2, I cant help but think when I play the game “why aren’t you saying anything, do you feel any emotion, why does no one else in the game comment on the fact that he never says anything”.
    To me it feels like I’m playing a camera who has one arm, and not a human being.

  28. Ravens Cry says:

    I consider myself a gamer, but more of the Pen and Paper RPG tradition.
    The same rules apply though. One of the most annoying things in a PnPRPG is seen an NPC come along and solve everything and do awesome things without letting the PC do anything awesome or solve anything, or be able to take any kind if initiative.

  29. Phoenix says:

    I agree with the two posts. I miss the freedom of Far cry. Crysis 2 took the wrong road, “tunnelling” your way with fixed paths and showing where to go to do it with or brute force, and the annoying voices over the radio… HL2 too had railroading but it was less, and it didn’t showed what to do not by indicators or voices. Even the first Crysis was better in that aspect. Probably it’s harder to do it with cities instead of tropical islands.

  30. rrgg says:

    Now that I’ve played the game I can see some people’s complaints (although others seem a bit off base) but I still found the game to be a lot of fun. While your focus on the story isn’t necessarily incorrect the enjoyment value of the game really comes down to what the player wants and how the game balances its ‘entertainment trifecta’.

  31. Loonyyy says:

    Really late comment since I just reread it after the Wolfenstein TNO posts.

    I think I could stand to have Alyx and co. talk more(At least in Episode 1 and 2), and Crysis 2 levels of dialogue if the dialogue actually did something character wise. The conversations between absent characters over radio could even be neat.

    The dialogue in Crysis 2 is mostly about what exactly it is you’re doing or what’s next, or characters arguing.

    The dialogue in Half-Life is frequently developing characters and their interactions and building the world (Even if it is in small detail and broad strokes, which works really well). I don’t mind Alyx talking to Eli, or Barney saying anything, but being told that I have to collect the DNA, when I’m doing it, which was my objective from the beginning, is annoying. The dialogue needs someone to go through with a red pen and cross out anything that’s said more than twice. The dialogue doesn’t serve a purpose that isn’t already filled by the objective marker.

    And anything useless “Hurry up” “Keep going” while I’m doing something is bad. The example from HL2 where Alyx tells us to hurry up when we’re looking around is bad. Crysis 2 manages to make it worse by having multiple characters arguing and telling us to hurry up while we’re doing what they’ve told us to do.

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