Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Review: Crysis -- Not Worth Upgrading a PC for

Here's my review of Crysis . Honestly, I'm not that happy with it, but what the hell, I'll post it anyway.

Many people have been wondering when a game will come out that will match the artistic and cultural relevance as say, The Godfather. While that day hasn't occurred yet, Crytek has manage to release gaming's version of Independence Day - A flashy, loud piece of entertainment that will make people go ‘ohhhh' and ‘ahhhh' before realizing that how empty the experience ultimately becomes.

While beautiful, you'll soon figure out that everything in Crysis follows typical generic 1st-person shooter dogma. A group of super-soldiers using state-or-the-art nano suits have been dispatched to find and rescue a team of archeologists who have been held hostage by the North Korean military. You as Nomad, will be tasked to battle the same group of stereotypical Korean soldiers (on foot, on boats, driving hummers and flying the occasional helicopter) for most of the game. That is until you inexplicitly encounter Korean's using the same type of hi-tech, state-of-the-art nano suits that your team is equipped with.

How the hell does a nation that can't even feed its own people manage to both steal, and then manufacture a state-or-the-art piece of equipment not even in wide use by the United States military? Well, the game doesn't even bother to come up with a logical solution; but then again, the writers of Independence Day never gave a logical answer to how someone can write and upload a virus destroying an entire alien fleet using a laptop; they just assumed that the audience wouldn't care about that little hole in logic.

After about 60% into the game - after an odd foray into a zero-gravity spaceship - the aliens start to invade, and instead of battling clones of Korean soldiers, you're tasked with fighting back waves of the same four different types of aliens for the rest of the game.

While weapons are your typical variety of shotguns, rocket launchers and machineguns - pretty much the same old stuff we've been using since Doom -- I did like the fact that once you obtained an upgrade for your weapon(silencer, flashlight, etc...), it's yours, even if you discard the weapon or you die. In addition, you have access to four separate suit powers: Armor (absorb damage), Speed (rapid movement), Strength (jump higher, grab enemies) and Cloak (temporary invisibility). While neat, in practical terms, the only powers that I used frequently were Cloak and Armor. Strength was useless except for the times when I needed to jump a high platform, and speed ran out too quickly to be of much use. While they are neat, the suit powers in practice aren't as useful as they could have been.

Obviously, the one area where the game really shines is the graphics, provided you have the rig to run this beast at full settings. Even with my 9800 GTX card, I was only able to enable a mix between high and very high settings; even then, I was getting 25-30 FPS running at a resolution of 1360 X 768 (HDTV). Since a lot of people are running the game at a higher resolution, most of the settings will have to be set a little lower. To its credit, Crysis is one of the few games where I had no trouble playing at relativity low framerate, as the motion blur helps cut down on the choppiness. Unfortunately, since most people won't be able to play this game at higher than medium (if at all), most of the eye candy effects like physics don't actually impact real-world gameplay; while it's cool to see a shack be blown into little fragments, it's mostly just fluff.

Bottom Line: There is one huge difference however. While Independence Day was a huge investment for the studio, the consumer only had to pay around ten bucks to experience the mediocrity. On the other hand, most gamers who want to experience Crysis' jaw-dropping visuals will have to - at the very least - drop 175-dollars on either an ATI 4850 HD or an Nvidia 9800 GTX videocard; that's assuming that one already has a computer with a decent CPU and two-gigs or RAM. Then you're looking at spending an additional 500-dollars on a decent PC. Quite frankly, it's not worth it to spend so much to play a game that quite frankly, does little to separate itself from other FPS games like Bioshock and the elk. While the graphics are nice, they aren't nice enough to justify the huge jump in system requirements from say, Gears of War or Call of Duty 4. While Crysis is an ok game if you can find it for 30 bucks or less, there is no reason to spend 700 dollars just to play what is essentially, the videogame equivalent of a cheesy summer movie.


  • I'm thinking about starting a blogger account and start duel-posting there (and possibly start posting non game-related stuff).
  • Hurricane season may be knocking on my door later tonight...doh... Let's hope I have power later tonight. If I do, I may post something else tonight.
  • I was hoping to do another Cross-Examination soon, but that's not looking likely. Booo. Oh well, them are the breaks when your partner hits the big time I suppose. Frown
  • I'm going to try to finish Bionic Commando tonight, if weather permits of course.
  • R.I.P AGI. We had some great times...
  • Been playing Soul Caliber 4 on the 360 (Gamefly finally sent me a copy). So far, I'm not getting in to it as much as the the past SC's. Partly because the Star Wars character, The Apprentice is quite possibly the cheapest character in a fighting game since Akuma.
  • I've also been playing Ninja Gaiden 2. So far, the game is 'meh.
  • No Hurricane tonight! First good news that's happened to me in months. It's a goo dthing to, because god, I've been on the brink of depression for awhile now.

Bionic Commando: Rearmed.

Since I'm currently suffering from a state of hopeless insomnia, I decided to download and buy the remake to the NES classic, Bionic Commando. Since I have a few minutes to kill before going to work, I might as well finally update this blog with my thoughts on the remake of one of my favorite games from theNES era.


So far -- I only had the chance to play the game for about an hour -- I'm really loving most of it. While I don't have a whole lot of time to get too detailed about the game, I will go over a couple of points.

Graphics: While I've been seeing videos of this game for awhile now, I was really surprised by how detailed the graphics were. Little things like tiny particles breaking loose from walls after shooting them and the overall animation really make this game stand-out from your typical Xbox Live Arcade fare. Though I will say that I can do without the blinding HDR that developers for some reason love to include in their games nowadays. I don't know why Grin thinks that blinding the players at the start of every-other-level will somehow impress them, but maybe that's just me.

Music: Take the NES classic and remix the tunes while keeping the odd 8-bit sound effects. Brilliant, and it's amazing that other developers of remakes haven't caught on to this idea.

Other aspects that I like are the new bosses (Only fought a couple so far) and the cool mini-challenges that I'll try out once I get home from work. On the negative side, I can't believe that they couldn't include some type of online play. Sure, there's offline play, but how many people are going to play this game offline with a bunch of friends?

Also, the rewritten dialog is too corny for my tastes; the inclusion of Haley was a mistake (Her "HEY" voice that blares every-time she appears annoys me) and the new 3D puzzles that you have to solve whenever you want to hack a communications tower are a little 'meh.'

Anyway, I'm going to try to finish my Crysis review that I've been writing off-and-on for a week now later tonight. That or some more thoughts on Bionic Commando.

Off to work!

Review: Hot Shot's Golf: Out of Bounds

Note: Another re-post of one of my reviews from the almost-defunct Review Squad. This one's staying though =p.

After ending 2007 on a high note with Uncharted and Ratchet & Clank, 2008 started with yet another drought of 1st-party software for the PlayStation 3. Thankfully, the lull of software has ended with the releases of GT5: Prologue and Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds. While GT5 will almost certainly get the lions-share of attention (and sales); the real gem may be the continuation of Sony's charming take on the sport of golf.

Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds may not win any awards for originality, but what it does do well is provide a quirky game of Golf for those people who quickly tire of the more serious style of a game like Tiger Woods. That being said, Hot Shots Golf doesn't dumb itself down to the level of Wii Sports Golf: you still have all your typical stats in addition to a selection of multiple characters and equipment to choose from – that is, once you actually unlock them.

Yes, it seems that Hot Shots Golf has taken a page from Super Smash Bros. Brawl in that you have to continuously grind through the single-player mode in order to gain more characters and unlock extra clubs, golf balls, courses etc... Unlocking extra characters and courses aren't too annoying - all you (mostly) have to do is to advance ahead in the single-player -- the clubs and golf balls on the other hand are a little trickier: once you win an event, you're given the choice between multiple random boxes to choose from. Since all the boxes have question marks, there really isn't any way to tell what you're going to get. Often, you'll end up getting a club or ball that doesn't match your character's strength or play style.

Another slight knock on the game is the online mode. At first glance, things start to look great; you start out by creating your own little avatar, then you get a chance to select your own room/server to explore. Think of it as your own little golf club, where you can walk around and meet up with people; set up a tournament, or just play a quick match. But things start to get dicey once you figure out that there is no voice chat in the game whatsoever. Sure, you can type messages with a USB keyboard or your control pad; but the clubhouse experience would have been a lot better if you had the chance to simply chat with people.

The core gameplay is basically unchanged from past ilterations with one noteworthy exception. In addition to the familiar power-bar, there's the addition of a new swing-gauge: press the X button and wait for the club to line-up with the top stick to charge-up your power, and then wait until the circle at the bottom lines up with the dot in the center. Press the button too soon or late and you'll screw up your shot. Personally, I love the new swing mechanic to the extent that I've yet to go back to the old classic meter.

Graphics wise, the game is bright and beautiful! Looking at screenshots online just doesn't do this game justice; you really have to see this game on an HDTV to see the little details in the grass and objects and the sunlight reflecting off the lake. Simply put: Hot Shots Golf proves that you don't necessary have to make a game super realistic to look great. On the flipside : the music is your standard fare (Read: Uneventful). The characters voices range from charming (Jasmine) to annoying (almost everyone else).

Bottom Line: Out of Bounds succeeds in bringing what worked in the past and adding a couple of things that will bring fans of the series back to the links. Other than a couple of gripes – the unnecessary grinding to get new items and the lack of voice chat in online play – the game is another solid installment of one of Sony's underrated franchises.


Sorry I've been neglecting my commenting duties on 1up. I've taken a on-and-off break from 1up over the summer to focus on work (I need the money and blogging isn't paying any of the bills) and games and to just clear my head a little.

* Bionic Commando manages to break a cardinal rule when it comes to remaking classic games: Never add shit into a game -- especially right at the end of the game -- that has nothing to do with the original game in the first place.

* Right before the end-boss, you are giving some type of homing rocket launcher where you have to use the right analog stick to aim. Problem is, you are literally given this weapon at the last minute, and your only real tutorial is firing at two switches to activate the elevator right before the final battle. If you can't figure out the sloppy controls to the rocket launcher before losing all your lives at the final boss (very likely); then you'll have to repeat the final level -- all 40 minutes of it! Let's just say that the final boss -- and how it was handled -- nearly ruined the entire game for me...

* I've been writing a review for Crysis off-and-on for a couple weeks now. It's basically done; but I'm not sure if I'm going to post it, because I'm not 100% happy with it.

* Speaking of PC games, I'm also writing a little how-two guide on building your own gaming rig for less than 700-800 dollars. Contrary to what many people think, you really don't need to spend over a thousand dollars to play -- and run well -- the latest PC games. Hell, other than Crysis, you really don't need to spend too much over a hundred dollars on a single videocard anymore to play games that look and run better than their console counterparts.

* I wouldn't hate this new blogging tool so much if there was just a way to use firefox spellcheck on the thing...doh!!!

* Oh, and on a final note: When did Metroid Fusion suddenly become the black sheep of the entire Metroid Franchise? Sure, I can understand that Metroid DS mess, Metroid Prime 2 or even 3 (I stopped playing it after getting sick and tired of constantly switching visors just to scan crap; but Fusion? Until a couple days ago, I was never aware that anyone even had a problem with that game?