How The Last of Us Part 2 Prepared Me For Crysis Remastered
It's hard to believe, but somehow one of my favorite games this year, The Last of Us Part 2, influenced how I played a decade old classic, Crysis.
I’m not going to beat around the bush – The Last of Us Part 2 and Crysis are obviously radically different games. One deals with the cycle of violence that people perpetuate endlessly, dehumanizing their enemies to justify their actions. The other is about big dudes in hyper-advanced suits of armor that snuff life out like it’s just another Tuesday.
Having never played the original Crysis, I went into its remastered release not knowing what to expect. Finding extremely open levels and the tools to approach any situation however I wanted, I began the game guns blazing. I played Crysis like a military shooter; the deep voice of the nano-suit was continuously growling “maximum armor” and I shot more rounds than most countries probably produce in a year. I also died. A lot.
See, Crysis Remastered on normal difficulty isn’t like today’s military shooters. In any given Call of Duty or Battlefield title, the normal difficulty is usually a free pass to act like TF2‘s Pyro: W plus Mouse 1 to win. You don’t really have to worry about taking cover, or what guns enemies have, or really even getting hit all that often. Crysis doesn’t abide by those lax standards. Its enemies are organized, will track you down ruthlessly, and can actually hit some fairly impressive shots.
In fact, at times it almost feels unfair how aware enemies in Crysis can be. Taking a full-on stealth approach in the game isn’t really a good idea, since enemies can see you from extremely far away, even if you’re behind them. At one point in the game while approaching an enemy base, two KPA soldiers were walking away from me and I saw an opportunity to stealthily take them out. To my surprise, after uncloaking a good distance behind them, they both whipped around and opened fire. Clearly, I needed a different approach.
That’s where my The Last of Us Part 2 instincts kicked in. Ellie is just about the polar opposite of Nomad, Crysis‘ protagonist. She’s not beefy, is much more low-profile, and leans on stealthy approaches to take enemies out. While Nomad can’t choke out his opponents, what he can do is adopt Ellie’s hide-and-seek approach to combat. As it turns out, this style works really well in Crysis, partially due to its janky enemy AI.
Instead of going in like a raging storm of testosterone and bullets, I began blending stealth with fury, and I noticed something very interesting. If you turn invisible while an enemy is shooting at you, even if they’re only a few feet away, they will completely lose track of you. I stopped using maximum armor, because who needs more defense against being shot when you can go ghost and give enemies the slip?
My new approach towards combat in Crysis ended up being more entertaining all around. I would appear suddenly in front of a group of enemies, take a couple of them out and then disappear, only to reappear behind them with a full clip. Nothin’ personal, kid.
Of course, this approach isn’t foolproof. Despite object permanence issues, the AI of Crysis are relentless in their pursuit. Taking out one in a base causes the other 20 in the surrounding area to rush to that position, weapons drawn. And while disappearing in front of a few enemies is relatively safe, doing the same in front of a platoon is an easy way to look like the game’s story – full of holes.
Once again, I drew on my well of The Last of Us Part 2 experience to solve this new problem. Now, what enemies in TLOU Part 2 chase you endlessly if you make a sound and are especially deadly? The sonar-reliant Clickers come to mind, but how could the tactics used to take down these one-hit-kill monstrosities translate over to Crysis? In TLOU Part 2, I favored baiting them into IEDs and other traps to indirectly dispose of them, but that option isn’t really available in Crysis. Instead, all I have are my suit, my guns, and my wits…and grenades. That last part sparked an idea in me. I started chucking grenades to distract enemies when I was out of their sight, only to fire into them when their backs were turned. Honorable? No. Effective? Deadly so.
There are some situations where adopting a TLOU-style approach just won’t work though. Gunboats that spot you from hundreds of feet away, helicopters that can pepper your position with cannon fire and missiles: those can’t be duped into showing their back and require a more direct, explosive approach.
Like I said before, playing Crysis Remastered was an entirely new experience for me. I had never played the original game when it first released and didn’t rightfully know what to expect. I have played Crysis 2 and 3, so I knew what to expect in terms of tone, but beyond that I was going into the unknown. What I didn’t expect was to be so heavily influenced in my gameplay for a game that’s over a decade old by one of my favorite titles this year.
This translation of gameplay styles between a modern title and a classic that’s certainly getting up there in the years was well beyond surprising to me. There are constants in genres, of course; certain design mechanics just stick around through the years. I can’t play a third-person shooter any more without going into defense-mode every time I see waist-high cover like Gears of War. I know what that means, whether it’s in a game from this year or 2004. Naturally, some games also just make use of evergreen mechanics and systems; sports titles for instance don’t change much save for new players and customization options. However, finding common ground in games that are so radically different is just astounding, and I’m not sure what to attribute it to.
If anything, it may just speak to how well the gameplay of both titles has been designed. The Last of Us Part 2 had such satisfying combat that I wanted to implement it in another game, and Crysis is so open in its own that this was a possibility. But Crysis did something a little different – instead of feeling like I was playing a deadly game of hide-and-seek for my own safety, it felt like good old fashioned fun. I wasn’t stressed or anxious about enemies finding me, just excited for my next opportunity to open fire. In a lot of ways, Crysis is what I needed after finishing TLOU Part 2; the same gameplay style without the fear.