Back to the present after all that reminiscing, and these past few weeks I have been mostly playing Crysis (interspersed with Guitar Hero 3; I finally beat Raining Blood on Hard, the resultant victory dance being rudely interrupted by the Hard version of The Devil Went Down To Georgia being arse-bendingly ludicrous. Boss battles move gameplay away from being “hit most of the notes, if you can” to being “hit these very specific notes (as well as most of the others) *and* hope you don’t get hit with particularly unpleasant attacks in the meantime”, altogether too much chance getting into the equation.)
Crysis, though; I hardly need to mention its visual loveliness, which is just as visually lovely as everyone says to the point where you’ll quite happily skip down the beach going “ooooh, palm trees swaying in the breeze! Coo, crabs scuttling across golden sands into sapphire-crystal waters! My, look at the detail on the assault rifle that soldier’s carrying, you can see the laser sight illuminating a spot between my eyes so clearl*BANG* urgh.” Once you’ve stopped goggling at the beauty of everything, it’s a very well-done shooter. Your nano-techno-bio-suit-o thing offers some neat options, particularly the cloak; the weapons are nicely done, particularly being able to customise them with your choice of sights and other accessories; vehicles provide occasional diversions, although they usually seem to include absurdly powerful magnets that attract bullets from kilometres around the moment you climb in. The first half to two-thirds is generally excellent, as you sneak around swathes of enemy troops single-handed (or occasionally double-handed if your nano-suited chum Psycho is around). Then… well. Minor spoilers follow, so look away if you want to be totally surprised (and you’ve never seen Predator): then, the aliens turn up, as presaged by the various spooky happenings up to that point, and much like Half Life, it’s not nearly as good as the pre-alien stuff. The zero-gravity alien ship was a neat trick, for about five minutes then it dragged rather. After you’re spat out and have to escape the island, where before you could study the situation, pick an appropriate suit mode and weapons and choose your own approach, once the aliens turn up everything’s armour mode (or you die in seconds) and hold your finger on the trigger in an attempt to dispatch the space-beasties. I suppose you could say that’s in keeping with the story, of a covert assault that uncovers unexpected opposition leading to a panicked escape, but it’s a bit annoying. In general, the story isn’t going to challenge for the Nobel prize for literature any day soon, but it’s functional enough to keep things moving. The cast include a requisite bunch of shouty Marines/soldiers, your aforementioned team-mate Psycho (or Jason Statham after escaping from Crank) and some archaeologist’s daughter to fill the standard Doctor Who assistant role (look pretty for the dads and get captured now and again). There’s a segment after you escape the island, on an aircraft carrier, that takes forever to get going as you tromp around from briefing to briefing, but picks up nicely once it actually gets going. In the final battle you’re faced with a giant boss, and you have to take out several turrets before proceeding on to the final vulnerable segments, which is rather satisfyingly Old Skool.
All in all, not a bad game, and I might well have another crack on a higher difficulty level, at least ’til ET turns up. After wrapping Crysis up, I was searching for a game, and thinking back I rather liked the Hellgate: London demo, so coming up soon, Actual MMOG Type Posts!
 Depending on whether you classify Hellgate: London as an MMOG or not. Which I do. So there.