Remember the first-person-shooter frenzy of 2004? In one year, Far Cry, Half-Life 2, Halo 2, and Doom 3 all wowed us with never-before-seen graphics, physics, and storytelling. Many gamers this year must be feeling déjà vu, because we’ve seen Halo 3, Bioshock, Call of Duty 4, and now, Crysis. Crysis is another shooter from Crytek, the German developers behind Far Cry. As well from their obvious penchant for weeping, Crytek has infused many of the positive aspects of Far Cry into their latest game which is, surprise surprise, set on a tropical island in the middle of nowhere. The story is anything but inspired, and the gameplay is something we saw in 2004, but ultimately Crysis is a winner, thanks to its jaw-dropping presentation.
Crysis starts with a small group of elite military agents being dropped out of a plane. In the future. The island being infiltrated used to be an archaeological dig site, but for some reason, North Korea decided that they wanted in on whatever it was that was being researched, and invaded. Now, I’m all for cheesy Cold-War-style storytelling, but Crysis tries so hard to be serious it’s often cringe-worthy. For one thing, the novelty of beating up on North Korea was kind of worn out after Mercenaries, which at least seemed to have tongue planted firmly in cheek. If Crysis had been released in 2006 as opposed to now, the fear factor would have been there, but considering the fact that North Korea is now ten miles off from the international “They’re Totally Going To Bomb Us” radar’s ping, it feels like Crysis is showing up way too late for the party. If it wasn’t ludicrous enough, there are aliens involved. So, if playing on nonexistent international fears isn’t quite your bag, how about a game that plays on nonexistent intergalactic fears? Admittedly, this isn’t the kind of game one typically looks to for a deep narrative, but it’s disappointing all the same.
“If Crysis had been released in 2006, the fear factor would have been there, but considering the fact that North Korea is now ten miles off from the international ‘They’re Totally Going To Bomb Us’ radar’s ping, it feels like Crysis is showing up way too late for the party.”The actual gameplay is a blast, though. Taking Far Cry‘s free-roaming environments to a new height, Crysis gives players a massive amount of choice when it comes to tackling any given situation. There are no linear paths, so how players approach an objective is entirely up to them. Each level is absolutely massive, and every inch of its terrain is traversable. To speed things up a little bit, there are tons of vehicles littered about, for land, air, and sea. For a slower, stealthier approach, the futuristic Nanosuit features a cloaking device, as well as speed enhancements and extra shielding. There are plenty of brute-force options too, with super-strength abilities and plenty of guns to toy with, right down to scopes and sleep darts. Sneaking through the jungle is good times, more akin to Splinter Cell than anything else, and that’s what makes Crysis special. The experience is so customizable and fun, it feels like Crysis could be listed as a tactical shooter or an arcade shooter. The multiplayer is fairly uninteresting, but that’s not why anyone should play Crysis anyway. Stick to the story mode; the game never forces anything on the player, and the amount of freedom means that the campaign has almost unlimited replay value. Admittedly, this is basically Far Cry‘s claim to fame as well, but Crysis has environments that are infinitely more interesting that Crytek’s last game, which mostly has to do with the amount of detail.
Now You’re Playing With PowerSure, Crysis is pretty, but only if you’ve got the raw computing power to back it up. Gamers looking for the ultimate visual experience will want to invest in a video card from the latest nVidia or ATI line, and pick up a dual core processor. It’s not cheap, but hey, isn’t that what PC gaming is all about?The graphics aren’t photorealistic, but they’re about the closest any game has gotten thus far. It’s not just that the game looks nice; it’s that it looks nice while pumping out massive streaming levels, too. Unfortunately, to experience Crysis properly, a computer upgrade is practically required. Anything other than the latest nVidia and ATI lines are going to chug, but the game is still playable at lower settings. It’s the little details that really help, though, so if you think Crysis is your kind of game, the new computer is probably worth it. The physics engine is amazing, with foliage that actually reacts to movement and wind, which is actually calculated in the game engine. The main character can pick up and throw practically any object smaller than he is, and vehicles react appropriately when missing tires. Not only that, but most buildings can actually be destroyed. That’s right, buildings. Throwing an enemy through a wall and seeing the rest of the hut crumble is probably one of the most satisfying gaming moments ever. The lighting, too, is a sight to behold. Every last leaf will cast a dynamic shadow at the highest graphics settings. Beautiful sunrises are visible through the lush trees, and the water sparkles with realistic reflections at all times. Crysis sounds great too. The musical score is appropriately bombastic, and the aliens are genuinely creepy-sounding. The voice acting is definitely a step up from the laughable quips in Far Cry (I’ve got a bullet with your name on it!), but the gung-ho action movie attitude is still there. That’s not a bad thing; it just may not click with everyone.
“It essentially proves that yes, graphics can make a difference, by taking years-old gameplay and making it shockingly beautiful. If the original Doom was this gorgeous, it’d probably sell extrem- wait, we already got Doom 3.”Crysis is another win for Crytek. The story is uninspired, but the actual game is a stunner. It essentially proves that yes, graphics can make a difference, by taking years-old gameplay and making it shockingly beautiful. If the original Doom was this gorgeous, it’d probably sell extrem- wait, we already got Doom 3. The point is, Crysis is Far Cry for the next generation. The open-ended shooter model has been perfected by upping the ante for presentational values. It’s just a shame that the script had to be so weak; if Bioshock’s writers teamed up with Crytek, we’d probably have the next Pong on our hands. Still, when it comes to technical prowess: perfection, thy name is Crysis.