Wednesday, 20 April 2011

There's a Crysis in the Killzone

So people, it’s been a while. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been playing lots of fantastic games though! I’ve got four new titles I’ve been through lately: Test Drive Unlimited 2, Need For Speed Hot Pursuit, Crysis 2 and Killzone 3. Since they’re two games from each genre, I’ll review two and two of them starting with the latter ones.

Crysis 2




I must confess something, I’ve only played a little bit of the original Crysis and therefore the story and the sequel was new to me. I’ve played the hell out of Far Cry on pc back in the days from the same developers though, but I’ve since gone over to console and missed out on the original Crysis and its Warhead expansion of the story.

Crysis 2 takes place in New York, where an alien invasion takes place. All the inhabitants are being evacuated and the US army are the only ones left, the city is also taken over by The Cell, an organization with interest in your Nano suit and alien technology. The game starts with a fantastic and large scale intro followed by a claustrophobic submarine scene putting you into the perfect mood for the huge scale this game has. The storyline takes you through many famous landmarks in NY and it makes a huge variation in level design despite the same city location. It’s truly incredible to see some of the destroyed areas in the city later in the game and get the feeling of something truly terrible on a large scale has taken place. The plot really picks up towards the end and thickens, though somewhat a little to late.

The Nano suit is what the Crysis games are based around. It lets you have a assortment of super-hero like abilities. It can be used in stealth mode or armour mode. This paves way for the game to be played in two very different ways; I actually played with the armour mode mainly the first time around gunning my way through everything. Second time around I used stealth. It was like playing two different games. C2 has a lot of these neat ideas, it lets you for instance upgrade your suit and change equipment on your guns on the fly. The variation in fighting aliens and humans is also really good, although inspired by Half-Life, it’s a formula that works very well.

Technically C2 is the best looking game I’ve seen on consoles yet. Seriously, none of the other FPS games stand a change next to it. The textures are detailed, the lighting is awesome and the sheer size of each level is breath-taking. I guarantee your yaw will drop at the sunlight effects and the incredible night fighting scenes. The whole atmosphere and feeling you get from its size is like a Hollywood budget blockbuster where aliens invade the earth, only here you get to play it yourself! Crysis 1 took place in jungle like environments, C2 takes place in an urban jungle and the feeling of size, detail and emptiness is incredible.

Gameplay wise C2 plays and feels great. The guns are believable and feel heavy with satisfying physics when firing at objects, aliens or people. I like the fact that there is quite a bit of destructible scenery to take out. The open feeling of levels also helps you play in a rather different fashion from the standard corridor like FPS games we see today. You simply get better at using the environment and its very fun to choose your own path. You get the feeling of being a hunter when there is so much space to move around in; a lot of modern fps game look shamefully linear compared to C2.

A short mention of the multiplayer too, it lends a lot of ideas from Call of Duty’s success story in multiplayer (levelling + points per type of kill) and it holds up very well. While it probably won’t catch so many people attention, it’s a close combat online FPS (it’s actually the opposite from the singleplayer) with the Nano suit abilities thrown in. Very fun to play and it has some great maps. It’s fairly easy to get into too.

If there are things to complain about and the reason C2 misses its 10/10 (yes, it’s that fucking close) is the somewhat untidy storytelling. It grips you at the start with its epic scale, but I would have liked it to show more of the disaster movie style presentation throughout. The game jumps between areas in New York with only a boring map screen and a voiceover. The story should have been explained in more movie-like cutscenes in my opinion. Altogether though, the games ends in a truly epic fashion and in the end you’ll sit back with a big grin on your face. Kudos for the game being about twice the length of your average shooter too.

If there is one singleplayer FPS game to buy this year, hell even this generation of consoles, it is this game, without doubt.

Rating

★★★★★☆


Killzone 3



If you own a PlayStation 3 you may have heard about this game! The hype train behind most PS3 exclusives usually surpasses most other consoles and KZ3 is no exception. I’ve played all the Killzone games so far and while Killzone 2 this gen was an entertaining blast it was a somewhat forgettable experience.

After playing the demo of KZ3 a friend and I were left very impressed, so the purchase was unavoidable. We played the game in splitscreen coop, a feature I missed in KZ2. Strangely enough it’s only local coop and not online (why?!).

The story picks up on the abrupt ending of KZ2 and it may therefore be a little confusing for new players of the KZ series. Bottom-line is that the humans have to retreat from the Helghast planet after a huge bomb goes off, but the Helghast are planning a counter attack and developing a new kind of weapon. The desperation of the human becomes apparent very early and once again the series manages to convey the sense of desperation and gritty warfare very well and believable, even though it’s fiction.

I’ll be happy to report that KZ3 is an action-packed shooting fest to play through with a lot of variation. The best level actually being the one from the demo with the jet packs. It just feels very well designed. The game looks stunning as well, with its gritty presentation of a violent war between two human races. The variation in locations is very good, ranging from icy mountains, to deserts and strange alien landscapes. I only missed some of the urban warfare from KZ2, but I guess that was used up back then.

The feeling of the game has improved a lot from KZ2. It has a more toned down accelerated aim and gone for a more sensitive and responsive one. It still has a slight sluggish feeling, but it’s hugely improved. I love the feeling of having to slowly advance and take cover a lot. There are many weapons to use and some of them are simply amusing to play with just to find out what they do to the enemy!

There are some issues though, the story is shown off in action packed cutscenes but lack substance and has a very messy storyline. Jumping back and forwards and not really explaining reasons to new locations. They also pop up a bit too often for my liking when you are suddenly getting into a great battle you are interrupted by yet another cutscenes which does all sorts of wild things then just puts you back in a new area. Let us play interrupted please! This is especially noticeable on the demo level where the amount of freedom is very good, KZ3 really could have taken the Crysis 2 approach and left you wandering around and fighting the way you want yourself.

Just like in KZ2 the field of view is too low, I’m having to turn my head constantly to see things that are a few inches away from what should have been in my eyesight. I guess they are doing this to get the shaky-cam feeling of a war documentary, but it gets a little tiresome in lengthy game sessions. The framerate sadly dips at occasions too and they could easily have cut back on some of the confusing and just uncontrolled vehicle sections.

All in all I really enjoyed the playthrough of KZ3, it’s fairly short, but keeps you on your toes throughout. The coop mode was very entertaining and probably leaves you with a better experience than playing it all alone. For the next game I’d like the pace toned down a little, the open environments used even more and the cutscenes to be more plot heavy without the cliché evil guys.

This will go down as one of the best fps games this year and for any PS3 owner it’s a must-buy. If you haven’t played KZ2 either, I’d recommend playing both for the variation and to get more out of the story.


Rating

★★★★★☆

So I'm guessing you are thinking; which is the better game? C2 or KZ3? Well both games dare to be inventive and different in their genre, they are both technically very impressive and the gameplay is fantastic. The prize however has to go to Crysis 2, it just goes that distance further to release itself from the generic fps genre, it dares to be different and it does it in a very impressive way. It will most likely go down as one of my truly favourite fps games this generation.

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