Unlike the previous novels we’ve reviewed recently Crysis Legion pitches itself squarely in the same time period as Crysis 2, told through the eyes of Alcatraz who you play in the game itself. Where as titles such as the Voice of Freedom (review) and Dead Space Martyr (review) based themselves on events away from the main games they were linked to, Legion tells the story of Alcatraz’s journey through the Crysis 2 storyline, told using a series of retrospective conversations between himself and an official named Roger.
It’s an unusual way of going about the novel, and one that works best if you’re either not likely to playing Crysis 2 or want to know a bit more about the world that surrounds the game. The story itself is told really well though, with each confrontation against the Ceph and CELL played out with all the tension and urgency that you’d expect. If you’ve played through Crysis 2 prior to this you’ll be able to clearly recognise where in the game each part of the book is referring to, which for those of you who like to engross yourselves in the games you play will work out very nicely indeed.
If you find yourself feeling squeamish easily then you might want to brace yourself when picking up Legion; while it’s not explicit to the point of landing a top-shelf spot many of the fighting is outlined in fairly brutal and crunching detail, and Alcatraz’s language throughout matches that of someone who’s a bit annoyed by what’s been going on. It’s something to consider, and I wouldn’t recommend you buy this for your 11 year old kid to read, but I found it helped make our protagonist feel more human… as if you could feel each and every emotion, feeling and annoyance.
So we’ve got a normal soldier who ends up being saved from certain death and transferred into this super-suit, a suit which not only provides the ability to ramp up its own armour but also cloak itself and any weapons currently being used. The suit ends up integrating into Alcatraz’s body to the point that his vision is being altered, with suit information and waypoints highlighted into his normal sight. You’d expect a soldier to love this sort of power at their disposal, but after a while for Alcatraz it starts to sound like a burden, and you can really feel the annoyance and frustration about being put in the position of having the save New York almost single handedly. It’s easy to feel for him at times, the fact he doesn’t always WANT to do the things he ends up doing. Between that and the action itself, it’s easy to get sucked into the novel and get to that “one more chapter” phase.
Crysis Legion is a tricky one to judge. If you’ve played the game and have had your fill of Crysis for a while, then it’s probably not worth your while. But if you fancy a general futuristic fantasy shooty novel, or just want to read more about the world surrounding Crysis 2 then it’s worth a read.