Crysis, a game developed by the multi-cultural team at Crytek using the CryENGINE2 (sensing a pattern, are we?), is probably the most hardware-taxing game on the market to date. When I say that chances are your current computer cannot run it — I mean it. The computer I played it on was running an Intel Core 2 Duo e6600 with 2 gigs Corsair XMS2 RAM and a Radeon X1950 XTX video card, and the game still had to be played on medium settings for a majority of the time. Even on medium settings, Crysis is an amazing visual feast of a game.
Crysis can't be faulted for its graphics.It's hard to know where to even begin in describing the graphics. Explosions are animated so as to resemble a video capture, and if you are too close to them they'll shake your camera and blur your surroundings. The lighting on this game is superb, with brilliant streaks of light passing gently through the lush tropical canopy and falling on the waving grass on the forest floor. VTOL aircraft shine brightly in direct sunlight while trees splinter and break apart into tiny pieces when fired on. Your enemies are rendered to a very high degree, from the main characters to the lowliest grunt. You can see all manner of character details, from medals on naval officers to individual camouflage patterns on Korean soldiers. NPC soldiers are animated quite fluidly with unique facial features and superb lip-syncing. Little detail lights and the myriad of objects help create a very real and lived-in world. Graphically speaking, I can't find a reason to fault Crysis.
Unfortunately, the graphics are really the only thing this game has to set it apart from other FPS games. Crysis takes place in the year 2019, on an island in the South China Sea. There is a research team. Koreans attack them. Your team is sent in. Hey, there are ice-aliens here. Aliens are bad, let's shoot them. Game over. Honestly, I'm not being glib here. This is all you have to go on for the entirety of the game. I realize that most FPS titles are a bit sparse in the story department, but they at least have a coherent narrative with a beginning, middle and an end. Crysis does not have this — it simply throws situations at you and really does nothing to tie them together. It is sad, really, since the game is so visually rich. I feel like the developers could have used the game's technology to help in crafting a deeper plot.
Reticle aligned, alien problem solved.From a gameplay standpoint, Crysis is a mixed bag of great ideas with average implementation. The selling point of the gameplay is the nanosuit. With it the player can set the suit to "Maximum Speed" which you can use to quickly flee enemies, set it to "Maximum Armor" to increase damage resistance, gain temporary invisibility with "Cloak," and jump to great heights and do large amounts of melee damage with "Maximum Strength." These all sound great in theory, but are lackluster in practice. Their inclusion is gimmicky in a genre where a bigger gun than your enemies' is still the way to go. Don't get me wrong, they're fun, but very rarely were they necessary to complete an objective. Occasionally you'll need Maximum Strength to reach a height you couldn't otherwise, and using Cloak to sneak up on a group of enemies with a shotgun is always fun, but you can for the most part get by without using either. What is more is that I found throughout the majority of the game this nanosuit, with a supposed Maximum Armor setting, could take much less damage than an enemy with a simple flak jacket. There were times when I would have to put more than a whole clip into an enemy with body armor simply to kill him.
Enemy AI, on the other hand, is a bright spot in this game. Your enemies most often attack in a group, and will use suppressing fire to back you into a corner while proceeding to send a comrade in a flanking maneuver to flush you out. If that doesn't work they'll simply start raining frag grenades on your position with surprising accuracy. There is a good variety of mission types that include search and rescue, escort of VIPs, and driving and flight missions; all of which allow a player freedom in how they choose to do so. Trying to get from point A to point B? Well, you can either take the mountain pass on foot, stick to the roads in a commandeered jeep, or work your way through the thick of the jungle. It's really up to you, but there is a great deal of trial and error in this game due to a general lack of objective explanations. One really welcome addition to gameplay I found was the ability to customize your weapons on the fly in real time. You can simply pull your weapon up in front of you and change scope, ammo, and accessory types, all without the need to access a menu. The game's multiplayer is fairly standard, with a nice inclusion of an objective-based game type. The map selection options, however, are limited.
Don't like the setup?
Customize your weapons on the fly.Crysis does audio fairly well. Thanks to the game's strong physics engine, explosions will trigger multiple sounds effects in their wake. Wood splinter, walls cave in, and oil drums explode — all with individual sounds as a result of a local explosion. Enemy NPCs chatter in Korean and switch to English threats when you are in close proximity to them. Weapons have unique sounds with the Korean AKs sounding different from your SCAR rifle, while alien vocals sound like industrial machinery mixed with animal cries. Sound orientation is strong, too, with distant fire muffled, and close proximity sounds almost deafening at times.
All in all, Crysis is a good game. While the story is lacking, and the highlighted nanosuit powers feel a bit contrived, Crysis still manages to be a fun and fairly long FPS adventure. While it is apparent that looks were paramount in the game's development, there is still a challenge to be had here — if you own a machine masochistic enough to endure it. If anything, it's a game not to be missed, simply to showcase how far game development has come in a relatively short amount of time.