| ...and then, it ends.
I just finished the game the other night and, as the sequel that followed, it's an exciting ride. While it was enjoyable, I'm having a hard time answering the question of whether or not it was memorable. I have a hard time recalling which scenes/locations are from this game, and which took place in the sequel, which is odd. So, there was a level that took place on a tanker ship...but, was that in the sequel? How about the one in the favelas of Rio? Wait, both games had sections that took place in the middle East. What was the difference between them anyways?
This isn't a bad problem per se, and I've had it with other games as well (God of War 1 and 2), but still. I found it odd given the strong emphasis the game places on the cinematic aspects. Ok, I guess that isn't really THAT odd. What it actually highlights is how cinematic is not the same as narrative. Both games have pretty weak narratives and, in both, there are no characters. There are names, there are voices, but there aren't really any characters. I guess it all goes by so fast, with so much action and excitement, that in the end I'm still not sure who I was playing when, and why, and what was going on other than "we have to get the russian nationalist bad guy". So, while I may remember what happened, I have a hard time understanding the context in which it happened, thus making it harder to remember in which game it took place.
I also now have a better sense of the "new" direction that some FPS games are heading. They're becoming much simpler in many ways. You never run out of ammo, you don't need to bother with picking up new weapons and health packs. Just focus on the shooting, the explosions, and all that. This comes in sharp contrast to Bioshock (which I'm also currently playing), since that game went in the complete opposite direction. Another interesting shift is the change from having the space guide the player (by say, using architectural weenies), to having an active element (NPC ally) literally do the leading. In many ways it was comforting to play the game such that I never really got lost or never really didn't know what to do. The NPC sets the tone, and sort of makes sure you play the part (stick to the script, I guess).
A couple of things I didn't understand though:
1. At times you play an SAS operative. Your NPC ally speaks in a decidedly non-US accent. However, everyone else (e.g. support helicopter pilots) speaks in a US accent! (later in the game there are some missions that are joint SAS and USMC...). I thought that was odd..
2. After the credits roll, there's a bonus "scenario" where you rescue a civilian from a plane (before blowing a hole in the side and parachuting out). It was neat, but what was that all about? I'm thinking perhaps an homage to Counter-Strike? Unrelated?
3. In different areas you can pick up enemy intel. They're collectables (not sure what you get if you get them all). Getting them really draws you out of the intense action, since you basically have to hunt around. I wonder why they bothered to add them since they effectively hurt an experience that is really streamlined in so many other ways.
4. There's a mission where you have to lie in the grass as enemy troops walk past you. I failed miserably a few times before changing tactics. This time I literally lay almost on top of the NPC ally and decided to follow his lead. When he moved, I moved, and so on. It didn't work. At some point, for no apparent reason, we'd be detected and killed. I was only able to clear it when I lay somewhere further away... Why did it matter? Not so sure...
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