Publisher: Electronic Arts
Game Version: 188.8.131.5267 (I think the guy who picked the version number had a stutter)
Crysis became a well known game for several reasons. One is that it’s a follow-up to Far Cry. Alright, it’s not a direct sequel, since the Far Cry name is owned by Ubisoft, but it’s by the same developers and can be considered a spiritual successor. Another reason is the nano-suit, and the super powers that it gives you. And there’s the physics, and there’s the jokes about the high system requirements. But most of all, Crysis is known for its graphics.
Which is understandable. It’s approaching a year and a half since the games release, and there’s still nothing else that’s even come close to matching it in terms of graphical capability. The lush jungles and amazing sunsets of the early levels are the most visually stunning things we’re likely to see in a computer game any time soon. At the highest settings it looks impressive enough, but with a few tweaks from the internet you can even take the game above the games standard maximum. It comes at a performance cost, and as unlikely as it is you’ll find a better looking game, it’s equally unlikely that even the best computers around will run the game at its best at a playable frame rate for the entire length of the game without some further tweaks at some point. It’s well worth it though. But to consider Crysis simply in terms of its graphics would be doing the game a disservice. While Crysis could easily have ended up being a game that put style over substance after all the effort put into the graphics, it actually ended up being one of the best FPS games to come out in recent years.
In terms of storyline, the game is nothing special. It’s just the usual basic framework to hang the action on. You play a stereotypical US world saving action man in a unit made up of stereotypical US world saving action men plus a token English guy. You go to a jungle and kill some Koreans who must be evil because they’re not Americans or Cockneys. Not to mention that they have a tendency to scream out “I KILL YOU!” in a way that sounds almost exactly like Achmed the Dead Terrorist. Then aliens turn up, so you kill them instead for a bit, because they’re even more foreign. It’s the American way. Then you kill a massive boss and then there’s the obligatory ending left open for a sequel.
So maybe it’s not wildly innovative in those terms. But when it actually comes to the action, it’s some of the most exciting and well implemented combat around. A lot of this is down to the nanosuit, which changes the way you approach situations. It has four modes; armour, strength, cloak and speed. Armour strengthens your armour, so that you are capable of taking more damage and are therefore harder to kill. But then you could probably guess that already from the name if you have more than two active brain cells. Speed allows you to run quickly for a brief period of time. Cloak allows you to turn invisible for a brief period of time. Strength is the most fun mode to play around with, basically turning you into Superman. You can leap to great heights, pick up and throw huge objects and punch your way through walls.
The gun combat works very well in the game. The weapons all feel satisfying to use and the aiming feels right. But some of the most satisfying moments in the game are when you get into situations where you wouldn’t stand a chance in most other games. Being surrounded in an enemy settlement and running out of ammo would usually be the time to reach for the quickload key. In Crysis, it’s a chance for the game to really shine. When you’re used to the nano-suit, a sort of virtual survival instinct kicks in in situations like this. Thinking quickly, you switch to speed mode, sprint to the nearest enemy, switch to strength mode, grab him, throw him at another enemy, taking them both out, grab a box and throw it at someone else, leap to the next enemy stood next to a building and punch him straight through a wall, then throw a chicken at someone just for a laugh… It’s an exciting and more tactical form of combat, quickly working out how best to utilise your environment to your advantage. And it’s brilliant. The AI of the Koreans is rather good too, for the most part. And they’re annoyingly precise with a grenade. I once tried to hide out of the way in a small recess amongst some crates, only for not just one but two precision thrown grenades from two different directions to land at my feet.
The cloak mode of your nanosuit does allow you to use stealth to a certain extent. It does drain charge at an alarmingly fast rate when you’re moving though, so it’s mostly useful for getting yourself into the best position to quickly take out a few enemies and be ready to face the inevitable onslaught charging at you. The cloak has an annoying habit of running out of charge and deactivating at the worst possible moment. Probably says more about my playing skills than the game, but never mind. Thankfully, this is another instance where the possibilities of the game allow you to work around the situation. For example, when attempting to sneak up to an anti aircraft gun to plant explosives on it, my cloak ran out just as I placed the bomb. Rather than trying to fight my way out I just switched to speed mode and ran like hell. Me running away: a rare moment of realism in gaming.
The physics engine in the game is one of the most advanced available. As mentioned before, with your suit in strength mode you can throw heavy objects around which move in a realistic way, but practically everything in the game world is destructible. When involved in a gunfight in the middle of a dense section of jungle, you’ll find bullets shredding the vegetation and mowing down small trees that have the misfortune to get in the way. Punching an enemy through a wall has already been mentioned, but smash in too many of those walls and the roof will come tumbling down along with them. It’s just another feature that adds a more dynamic feel to the combat.
They do try and break up the action a bit at some points during the game, such as letting you control a tank for a while. Half way through the game however, it takes a radical change of direction. As with the original Far Cry, this almost feels like two different games joined together by a basic storyline. Unlike the original Far Cry, this time both halves are very good. The change takes place at the point where you stop fighting Koreans and start fighting aliens. It becomes much more of a normal FPS game, but it’s still a very good example of one, and still ranks above most others in the genre.
At this point in the game, the levels become narrower and more linear, which is typified by the very point where the game changes tracks. You enter a system of caves which suddenly becomes a zero gravity environment. It’s a very linear sequence, and it’s also a highlight of the game. As you float around the caves you find yourself exploring an environment that looks completely alien. It also means your first encounters with the aliens themselves play out slightly differently, as while floating in the middle of a large chamber, they can come at you from any direction. If you wanted to prove that linear FPS games aren’t obsolete and that not everything needs to be freeform, this would be a perfect example to give. (Although a copy of Half-Life 2 couldn’t hurt either.)
On the other hand, a level where you’re shoved into the controls of a damaged plane doesn’t quite work. Thanks to the planes damage the controls are sluggish, but the actual way the plane is controlled feels more like a standard FPS game, just played in slow motion. Up in the air. Several times during this section my plane plummeted out of the sky for no apparent reason. After falling at the same point about 10 times I turned to the internet to find out that I was supposed to avoid the columns of smoke. Flying through them causes you to fall. For some reason. I don’t know why, because the game doesn’t even mention it at all.
So the game does have its problems. For one thing, the framerate plummets as soon as you get to the snowy regions, and for me it dropped into single figures until I was told about a very useful tweak. I’m also aware of people having some problems with bugs along the way, although there was nothing much that I encountered myself. Although I did see a couple of frogs hopping about in mid air in the cave system, before the gravity went. The final boss fights are also a bit disappointing at the end. What I thought was the final boss required nothing more than continuous shooting for what seems like about 28 years before it finally went down, only to be replaced by an even bigger boss. There were no real tactics to it. Thankfully, the bigger big boss didn’t take quite so long.
Those problems are minor though. Crysis is still one of the best FPS games in recent years, and possibly the best outside the Half-Life universe.
And did I mention that it does look rather nice?
Save System Review: The game autosaves regularly and you can save yourself any time you like.
Graphics: What else can I say about them really. The best graphics in a game to date.
Sound: Sound effects are very good. The weapons sound believable and the voice actors do a good job with the lines they had. The Koreans did sound rather comical due to their Achmed impression though.
Bugs: Nothing too major given the scope of the game. I did get a weird graphical glitch that was probably due to a lack of graphics memory at the time, and there have been some strange enemy freezes probably due to similar issues, but nothing extreme.
Gameplay: Some of the best FPS action in years. The first half gives you some scope to try things your own way and pick your own route, the second half is basically an intense war game, and both halves work perfectly well. It loses a couple of marks for a poor flying level and a disappointing boss battle at the end, but it’s still brilliant.
Storyline: A basic alien invasion type plot with macho marines. Nothing too special, just enough for what’s needed by the game.
Arbitrary Final Score:
Does the scenery of the game impress you or is it a Far Cry from what you were expecting? Let us know in our forums!