Gavin's Reviews > Crysis: Legion

Crysis by Peter Watts
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May 08, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: sci-fi, better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be
Read from May 08 to 12, 2011

The best video game novelization that has ever been written.

So I'll bash out some bullet points about the book itself, then talk about the really interesting things about the game/book/production and the rest:

- This is Watts-lite, it retreads a lot of his familiar themes (consciousness, its constituent components, technology so advanced it can start poking about with the grey matter, aliens) in easier to digest, often repeated, chunks for those who aren't familiar with harder sci-fi.

- This is the closest he's come to writing pulse-pounding Tom-Clancy action scenes, and while his footing isn't Abercrombie sure, there's a running battle sequence with a "Pinger" that was truly superb. Didn't know a 48 year old marine biologist had it in him, so hats off.

- "This is the best video game novelization that has ever been written" is damnation by praise more faint than a Mills & Boon female lead. So: it's a cracking book in it's own right, and almost convinced me to buy the game itself. Worth a read if you enjoy Watts, Sci-fi or Crysis (I'd imagine, I've only played some of the first one).

*REVIEW ENDS* - unrelated talk of the games industry and a semi-blog post follow. My apologies.

So, speculation abounds as to why he actually took the job, whilst "Money" was almost certainly a factor, the game was scripted by another sci-fi author of some worth: Richard Morgan (he of the Takeshi Kovacs novels, and a chap cut from the same cynical cloth), and Watts consulted on the technology and dialogue during development. Pete hasn't commented himself, so that's as far as I'm willing to speculate, but it sounds like Crytek are actually trying to push writing as well as visuals forward. Unfortunately, I think their game design is abysmal BUT: This is a phenomenally positive development, and I hope it sells like hot cakes to encourage other studios to pick up people who understand how to tell a story.

Anyone who's ever played a game (and is older than 20) knows that 99% of them are just toilet. The gameplay varies from game to game, and you can have a lot of fun playing Super Punch Quest IV when the characters aren't blurting out moronic waffle, but the Universal constant is that the script, voice acting and, frankly, entire tone of most games are so abysmal that you are forced to turn it off out of sheer embarrassment (most recent example: Killzone 3. A military game in which no one seemed to understand chain of command. This was probably the least of its sins, but I just couldn't get past the fact that a Sergeant kept committing mutiny. During a war. And they just mumbled about a "court martial later").

When the average cost of making a current generation game is supposedly running a company somewhere between $20-30million, and quite a few well over (God of War 3 - $44million), why on earth would you not pay someone who can write characters and scenarios 100k (at most 0.5% of your budget) to ensure the writing isn't horrible? Writers of monumental quality are -relatively speaking- so fucking cheap. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a Wolpaw, or an Avelone, or a Levine, on staff, so hire somebody freelance who knows how to put words together and doesn't use crayon.
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Reading Progress

05/12/2011 page 280
83.0% "This has no right to be as awesome as it is."
12/04/2016 marked as: read

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