Sunday, 12 October 2008

I'm an artist

It turns out someone on the internet likes my art.

That's about all really, I'm just slightly surprised.

For more pictures by (and indeed of) me why not visit my flickr pages.

Another Crysis Averted

I was supposed to be playing Half Life 2 these last few weeks, but due to a social schedule which actually included Things and a room with no obvious way out (in Half Life that is, I didn't get trapped in a cupboard somewhere in real life) I didn't get very far. Then EA irresponsibly released Crysis Warheard and I decided nanosuit powered gunfighting was more tempting than wrench waving in an underground labyrinth. Half Life 2 will no doubt bubble back to the top of my as Warhead has done the usual FPS thing of dying without a fight.

So anyway, Warhead. Set during the events of the first game, you play Jason Statham-alike Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes as he rocks around the other side of the island shooting Koreans and aliens in what is basically Crysis - again. This time out there are a couple of new vehicles (which, mercifully, you don't have to drive very often) and a couple of new guns, a new range in totally useless explosives and an all new plot. During this plot you discover you are not the only Delta Force nanosuit team on the island which does raise the question of quite why you're being sent to the other side of the island alone when they could have sent another team but lets not quibble as everything else is really well put together.

For me, the biggest problem in the original Crysis was the massive lurch in gameplay when the aliens appeared - most of your moves became redundant and you ran around in a normal FPS blazing away with whatever gun the game decided you should be using at a time. This time around Crytek have realised that Koreans are more fun to shoot than aliens so right through the game your primary adversary are the KPA with the occasional appearance by the aliens for some all-out shoot em up shenanigans. The pacing is a huge improvement over the original and because you are raiding bases and strong points throughout your various suit modes remain useful. I'd also say the nanosuit is better catered for this time out - I found many more situations where using Speed or Strength was worthwhile (last time I stuck almost exclusively to Shield and Cloak) although that could be extra experience on my part and an extra dose of creativity in solving the problems put before me. Even the graphics have been overhauled and now look even more impressive.

So is there anything wrong with Warhead? Well, there is a mine section which gets quite irritating as the level wanders all over the place and it's very easy to get turned around. There are a couple of times when things get quite difficult simply because your chap doesn't seem to like talking to HQ on his radio (in fact there were a couple of occasions where I felt quite rude because HQ would call up to give me some new info and Psycho wouldn't even bother to acknowledge - maybe that's just me) and the end boss fight is truly pathetic, although you do get to play with Das Uber Gun and this time around the thing is actually as badass as the NPCs are promising. These are all trivial gripes though - Warhead is generally an excellent game, really good fun from start to finish and even pretty well written as a story, fleshing out a character I genually liked from the first game and filling in holes in that games' plot.

There is one concern I have about Warhead though, and it is to do with the plot. Crytek have released it as a stand alone game, you don't need the original Crysis to run it. It plays better than Crysis, looks better than Crysis and stars a more interesting character than Crysis. The concern I have is that I'm not sure how well it would work without the original. The plot is heavily tied to Crysis' as you'd expect and I'm not convinced it stands up on its own - there are many references to what is going on behind the scenes and the characters sometimes discuss your chap from the first game which I would imagine would make no sense if you didn't know who he was. It also lacks a clear beginning and end - you suddenly start on the island under assault by Koreans and the end has you flying off to the carrier to take part in the final scenes of Crysis. This is fine when you fill in the blanks yourself, but may be unsatisfying if you are just playing Warhead without the backplot knowledge. That said I think I'm about the only person in the world who cares about the plot in a FPS so I doubt it will impact too many people.

Oh, and you don't have to pilot that bloody VTOL over the carrier as Psycho does in the final scenes of Crysis. For this I am very thankful.

So Warhead then. It's great. Buy it.