Crysis Core First Impressions

Recently, I thought I look into Final Fantasy Crisis Core. I got the game way back when I first got my PSP. But I realized that the game was in German and it wasn’t Multi-Language like most European games. A few weeks ago I decided to finally put me out of my misery and order a used UK copy.

As a result, I played the beginning of the game at least 4 times now: the first time I got it, when I dug it it up recently, once the UK copy arrived (but on hard-mode RAAAWRRR!!) and then again when I realized the hard mode was a tad too hard for me. And actually the beginning is not that good. The game starts out way too easy on normal mode. So the battle mechanics seem very confusing. There is lots of stuff happening and you just smash the opposition anyway. I needed the negative feedback of the hard-mode to start figuring it out. Observation – you don’t learn anything from succeeding. You learn from failing at first and THEN succeeding.

The battle mechanics are an interesting evolution of the old-school JRPG battle system. You are still issuing commands in an Final Fantasy’esque ATB fashion but you can additionally move around freely. It’s an interesting blend of JRPG and action-RPG. I like how the battles all take place on the actual maps. There is no transition between a dungeon and battle-arenas like in other Final Fantasy games. The slot-machine system is something I still don’t really understand.

And yes, it’s dripping with fan-service at every second of the lengthy, lengthy (unskipable) cut-scenes. It’s easy to dismiss this and I normally would. But then I found myself walking through the street from the intro of FF7, where Aeris walks out of the alley and my heart turned into putty.

It’s not even that big of a deal in the game but it took me completely by surprise, probably even more than meeting the characters themselves. Apparently, the game as a place has a much more emotional impact on me than the story and the characters. I wonder of this just a quirk of mine or a universal trait of games. We don’t spend much time interacting with the characters after all. But we do spend a lot of time interacting with and exploring the environments.

Finally, the reason why I wanted to play the game now was the mission system. On every save point you can engage in missions. They are tiny, tiny instant dungeons. Each mission takes just a minute or two. You have maybe 3 monster encounters or so and that’s it. It’s perfect for a portable game where you may not have the half an hour to watch yet another lengthy melodramatic cut-scene fest. It’s also a system that reminds a lot of the Monster Hunter series. I wanted to see if there are noteworthy differences. And indeed there are. In Crysis Core, you rarely really know what enemies your will be fighting against. So there are no good opportunities to prepare. Like in the other Final Fantasy games, you just maximize your overall battle effectiveness. In Monster Hunter, a certain setup may be completely useless against a different monster. Knowing what you will be fighting and preparing accordingly is more than half of the game. And this is a good thing because it rewards forward-sighted thinking and the exploration of the equipment system. The Final Fantasy series had some very interesting systems but it rarely put players into situation where they would be challenged utilize them to achieve distinct goals. The auto-equip buttons are a terminal stage symptom. If all you need to do is to maximize your numbers, why even bothering? Let the computer figure it out.

But I like the super-short missions. They are highly addictive. Generally, the entire game is incredibly polished. The 3D models all look amazing. The animations are great. Personally, I can’t get enough especially of the interface. There are at least two beautiful pixel fonts in the game. One of them has even hand-made anti-aliasing. All menu transitions are fully navigated, the individual elements zip and squish into place. It’s a joy to look at. Together with the addictive missions and the sneaky faboy-button-pushing, it may keep me going all the way to the end credits. Let’s see.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

4 responses to “Crysis Core First Impressions”

  1. Yu-Chung Chen

    Good idea to play on hard to enforce the understanding. I had the exact same criticism that is also true to me for FFXII. You can just do whatever and still proceed, making the most relevant system of a game, well, irrelevant.

    1. Krystian Majewski

      I wouldn’t even mind the irrelevance. The problem is that it becomes so difficult to understand what the important features of a system are. Is that what you also experienced in FFXII?

  2. Matt

    What are the odds that you picked this up again right when I did? I agree about the difficulty. It’d be nice if there was something between normal and hard. The first time I got access to the missions I did a bunch of them, even a few very hard ones. Then when I finally progressed with the story I was so overpowered that most enemies only took 2 or 3 hits.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the slot machine. You can’t influence it so consider it a bonus. Just know that leveling isn’t completely random, 777 is more likely with experience so you can grind if you get stuck.

    1. Krystian Majewski

      It’s Inception!

      My difficulty issues crop up even before the missions unlock. But I agree, an in-between difficulty would make the game so much better.

      I try to ignore the slot machine but it generates so much information noise! It looks like there is something significant going on.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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