Metro: Last Light, Ico, Crysis 3 and COD: Ghosts get the once-over.
By Stephen Shore.
Due to the joys of a normal life, I don’t have time to play games as much as I would like. This has resulted in there being a large backlog of games that I’m still trying to get through, but through the wonderful feature that is PlayStation Plus, I can slowly but surely work my way through these games for free!
From now on I’ll be bringing you bite-sized reviews of the games that I‘ve been playing from 2013 and perhaps a little bit further back.
Metro: Last Light
Set in a post-apocalyptic Russia, the player goes through a set story that’s dull to play out. The sci-fi aspect to the tale doesn’t make sense and the gameplay doesn’t excite much either; enemies are boring to encounter and the graphics too look dated. Buildings look a bit too “polygon” shaped and the gunplay is standard and non-revolutionary.
However (and it’s a big however), the world itself is wonderful to explore and is the one aspect that kept pulling me back in, even reminding me of the Fallout games – exploring deserted houses, crashed planes and finding bodies littered throughout a sewer system, slowly realising the inhabitants’ struggles and their stories.
As a huge fan of post-apocalyptic games and films (looking at you, The Last of Us and the Walking Dead), it was refreshing to be able to explore what happened to the poor souls that roamed the landscape. While it may not have offered a very engaging story and just so-so gameplay, the world keeps sucking you in, making for a game that might just have your attention until the end.
Having never played this classic when it came out on the PS2, I was eager to try out the HD version. Ignoring the fact that it looks like a brighter version of the original, it hasn’t aged particularly well.
While the story is simple, (escort the girl out of the castle), it’s the gameplay and the art direction that draws you in. it is an amazingly original world with inventive platforming layered in. It’s just a shame that the combat is utterly awful and the puzzles are so difficult to solve, unless help is sought on the internet.
ICO, with all its flaws, gets a pass to a certain extent as it’s a game over ten years old now, and gameplay features and graphics are not going to be as enjoyable as they’ve been in recent adventures. As a piece of art, ICO is a wonderful example of how video games can be placed in the medium. As a game, it’s a frustrating and clunky operation.
Although I’ve never played the first Crysis, I was very much looking forward to playing the sequel. Halfway through Crysis 2, I became frustrated by the sheer amount of information on the HUD, the annoying, relentless enemy types and the non-existent story. Unsurprisingly, I was apprehensive about playing the third in the series that came out in 2013. The bad news? It’s not much different.
The story is still uninteresting and while it shows flashes of potential, it never leads anywhere meaningful. But, being a first person shooter, the story is not necessarily a defining factor.
The gunplay is typical of the Crysis series, with solid mechanics, a good variety of weapons available, along with modifications for each. New tools make their way into the game, but the most exciting addition is the Compound Bow. Being able to use explosive arrows in the middle of a firefight, with the personal cloak enabled, never gets old.
If you’re looking for a solid narrative experience, ala Bioshock, then buy 2013’s Bioshock Infinite. If you’re after an FPS with realistic weaponry then get Call of Duty or Battlefield. The Crysis series finds itself in the same scenario as the Killzone series; they both have successful, solid games that are worth playing, but are missing that certain something that puts them in the same league as their competitors.
Call of Duty: Ghosts
I’m not the biggest COD fan in the world. I don’t particularly like how the games lack the ability to advance forward. I praise the series’ soundtrack, but wish more effort was put in to the single-player caompaign.
Considering the story was written by Stephen Gaghan, an Oscar winning writer, you would be forgiven for expecting better. Following the tale of two brothers, the player goes through a stereotypical story of boys becoming men, to joining an elite fighting squad to taking down a rogue member. It’s all been seen before and it seems like little effort has been put in to producing an engaging plot.
Narrative aside, what most people come to these games for is how fun it is to play. The set-pieces are exciting enough, but they lack drama because there’s nothing there to develop any kind of emotional tension. Unlike previous COD games, which had a reasonable plot, there just isn’t any incentive to want to complete a chapter or see the heroes through to success. With the set-pieces like they are, they should at least look good, right?
The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions look dreadful, with graphics looking very dated and far inferior to its Battlefield counterpart. While the next-gen versions do look a little sharper, you would expect more from what’s arguably the biggest gaming franchise around. Make no mistake, Ghosts has sold and will continue to sell like hot cakes, but with many other FPS games making their way out the door, and a poor single player campaign, Activision might need a rethink before allowing a subpar product to be pushed out the door.
Stay tuned for my bite-sized reviews of Sleeping Dogs and Thomas Was Alone!