Crysis 3 has just been announced for a mid- 2013 release, and as expected, a new Call of Duty game will be out this year, likely in November.
The trailer will be released on 2 May, but looking at the teaser it’s almost certain that the title will be Black Ops 2. There’s plenty for the discerning gamer to moan about; the First Person Shooter (FPS) genre is accused of having become the focus for the commercial Hollywood-ization of video games: big budget franchises that feature amazing graphics, big guns, bigger explosions, hyped-up marketing campaigns, and weak plotlines.
The Call of Duty series has come to be known as the embodiment of this trend, and Crysis 2, with its convoluted story, looks set to follow. But I’d like to argue that the situation is not as bad as it’s made out to be.
The first Crysis was set in a lush, island environment. Its sequel decided to mix things up with an urban setting, and ended up with New York City. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve found myself gazing upon the ruined Statue of Liberty, forlornly symbolising the end of civilization as we know it. (Actually the count stands at about 5, but that’s still an unreasonably high number)
The environment of Crysis 2, barring a few inspired levels, didn’t manage to evoke the same degree of wonder of the tropical setting of its predecessor – though equally common in video games – produced. Add to that a truly confused plot, and there was very little that compelled the player to progress through the game. The gameplay, while still good, didn’t produce much novelty over the original, and in some areas was regressive.
At first glance, the fact that Crysis 3 is set in New York again causes much anguish. The upside is that it’s set twenty years after the second game, and there’s a lot of stuff that’s gone down since then. The city’s been divided into biospheres, allegedly to contain the hostile aliens known as the Ceph, but actually to control and exploit the human populace as well. The biospheres give the developers an easy excuse to produce some widely diverging environments.
A lot of shooters feature diverse sets of exotic levels, and there’s always the danger of falling into cliché, but equally, there’s an opportunity for the developers to do something really cool and imaginative. Players will once again don the nano-boots of Prophet, or rather, the Nanosuit that contains the mortally wounded body of Alcatraz and the disembodied, digitally preserved consciousness of Prophet. (See what I meant about convoluted?) And he has a crossbow. If there’s one thing I could ask of the game, it would be a more interesting array of Nanosuit abilities. Cloaking, super-jump, super-punch and super-armour aren’t actually terribly imaginative and start to get a bit stale after two whole games.
As for Black Ops 2, very little is known about it, not even if it features the previous game’s protagonist, Alex Mason. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the Black Ops single player campaign was a lot better than the ones of its Modern Warfare siblings. The cold-war mystique of brainwashing and super weapons managed to overshadow the military chest-thumping that makes the rest of the recent games in the series so exasperating. There is, thus, hope for this year’s title.
While we’re on the subject of shooters, there’s also Far Cry 3 coming out this September, for those of you itching for some open-world shooting action. The Far Cry series has been pretty interesting so far; Far Cry 2 was set in an amazing central African setting, and though its story wasn’t the most engaging, Far Cry 3 seems poised to correct this mistake. It may just have learnt a few lessons from the Uncharted series, hopefully without falling into imitation. The game returns to the tropical island setting: You are Jason Brody, a tourist trapped on a chain of islands wracked with conflict and teeming with violent, frequently insane inhabitants.
So yeah, cheer up, FPS fans. And if you still think the genre is selling out, you can always switch to third person shooters: Max Payne 3 comes out this May, and boy does it look promising. If you don’t mind the Call of Duty-inspired multiplayer, that is.