Genre: First Person Shooter
Platform: Windows PC
Crytek studio's first game was the impressive Far Cry. It successfully delivered large, open areas and a top of the line graphics system. A horrendous plot and bland, run-of-the-mill multiplayer stopped it from achieving the popularity it was hyped to reach. That didn't stop Ubisoft from re-releasing it in many forms for every platform. It took several years before the developer decided it was time to upgrade the game's engine and bring it to the next generation. Thus, Crysis was born. The game was shown to have easily the best graphics any PC game has had and fans wondered if it would repeat the same mistakes its predecessor made.
In some ways it seems like Crytek learned nothing from Far Cry. Crysis’s plot is comparable to that of an adult movie. Not literally, of course (though that would be an interesting twist), but it is worth discussing the similarities of generic first person shooter plots and pornographic film plots. Both stories exist for the same reason: to explain setting and get to the hot, hot action. In Crysis, you play a guy in some secret military group investigating some secret operation wearing some secret suit in a country that America was at one time at war with.
And, of course, aliens get involved.
If Crytek tried their hardest they couldn’t have thought of a more generic and cliché story. The lack of any real work on a story is incredibly obvious and when placed up against the other titles released this year Crysis falls flat on its unbelievably beautiful face.
Then again, like pornography, no one is in this for the story. It’s the looks that matter, and it looks damn good. Characters are modeled with incredible detail and the high resolution textures show everything from blemishes on their cheeks to scars on their chins. The Nanosuit itself looks fantastic as well. It shines in the sun and glows with power when using any of its abilities.
Crysis also contains some of the best physics since Half-Life 2’s Source engine. Trees break apart when shot, buildings crumble when their walls are destroyed, and everything reacts like expected which leads to an immersive environment. Some levels include large explosions that rip the world apart in real time. If the graphics engine is the star then the physics system is definitely a supporting actor, because without it the shiny coats of paint would mean nothing.
The Nanosuit is actually much more interesting then it looks and requires significantly more thinking to effectively use then the entire plot took to construct. The abilities share the same energy meter which, while it was bad planning on the part of the people who actually developed the suit, makes for an awesome gameplay mechanic. Choosing between having a shield active, a movement speed boost, or saving the energy so that you can use the invisibility option to sneak up on a group of enemies is part of what makes the game so damn fun. The enemy AI is fairly stable, even if it has the occasional hiccups. The occasional troop will still walk over his comrade’s corpse without noticing anything foul has occurred. As with most aspects of Crysis (the graphics being the outstanding exception), the AI falls into the “slightly better then average” category.
Compared to Far Cry the game’s multiplayer is awesome. There are nine levels and several different gameplay types. It plays like Battlefield 2, with vehicles to drive around in and purchasable weapons that make the BFG from Doom look like a pellet gun. The failure of its multiplayer isn’t Crysis’s fault, its problem is late timing. With games like Team Fortress 2 and Halo 3 digging their talons into the hearts of gamers it doesn’t look like it is going to get a huge following anytime soon.
There is also the problem of finding a good game or playing with friends because of the beating Crysis gives any computer it tries to run on – but that is only a temporary crisis. It is by far the most demanding game to come out for PCs recently. I highly recommend downloading a demo before even considering buying Crysis just to see if your computer can run it. Usually reviews don’t need to mention system requirements but I think that this game may be the exception:
CPU: Athlon 64 3000+/Intel 2.8ghz
Graphics: Nvidia 6600/X800GTO (SM 2.0)
RAM: 768Mb/1Gb on Windows Vista
Optical Drive: DVD
Software: DX9.0c with Windows XP
CPU: Dual-core CPU (Athlon X2/Pentium D)
Graphics: Nvidia 7800GTX/ATI X1800XT (SM 3.0) or DX10 equivalent
Internet: 512k+ (128k+ upstream)
Optical Drive: DVD
Software: DX10 with Windows Vista
Crysis boasts large, open, outdoor environments to explore. While still a linear adventure it does allow for choices to be made in the ways of how to plan attacks and what tactics to employ. There is no one way to do anything due to the abilities of the Nanosuit and the sheer size of the levels. Most of the game is spent in the jungles fighting soldiers, but the game does sport its share of science fiction elements. With a length of just over ten hours it is worth a play for any avid first person shooter fan.
Its difficulty settings are well designed, as the differences from the easiest mode to the hardest are actually more then enemies simply doing more damage. On the hardest setting items functions work differently, the HUD doesn’t warn you of grenades, and the enemies speak in their native Korean on the hardest setting. This is more then a cosmetic change, as on easy hostiles shout “I see him!” or “Where is he?” Both of these are great cues for what they are thinking, and unless you happen to speak Korean it is a nice difficulty switch for the hardest setting.
There is a good chance that Crysis could be the PC game of the year for many people. For most, however, its harsh system requirements, shallow story, and lack of any real gameplay innovations keep it grounded. For those anxious to see what kind of graphics their new Vista rig can put out, on the other hand, this is pure gold.