Review by The Patrician
"Crysis doesn't leave me cold"
Crysis is the spiritual successor to Far Cry and the two games have many things in common - you're on an island initially fighting human soldiers before then taking on strange creatures with limited weaponry, for example - however, Crysis is a bit more balanced and packs some nice features that its predecessor didn't have. It's a very good game with few flaws although the ones it does have can be quite frustrating.
Crysis starts off with the inevitable B-movie plot: Scientists have been up to no good on a remote island which has then been invaded by the baddies - in this case the North Korean People's Army (KPA) - with the result that contact has been lost. Obviously it's your job to find out what's happened to them so you and your squad - yup, Crysis has an NPC element - jump out of a plane over the ocean and parachute your way in. Unfortunately, on the way down things go a bit wrong and you're all split up, scattered amongst hundreds of KPA soldiers. Fortunately you have a silenced machine gun and flashlight to help you. Oh and a top secret nanosuit that allows you to be better protected, faster, stronger or even invisible. Kind of evens the odds a bit. You can also modify your weapons (of which you can only carry two plus pistols and an RPG) as well which is a nice touch - pick up the right attachments and you can have that silenced automatic rifle with laser sights that you always dreamed of.
Your first mission is to find the rest of the squad and this acts as an introduction to the controls and some of the suit's capabilities. It's nicely done and before you know it switching between modes is effortless and intuitive. Crytek have done a good job mapping the controls and they're a pleasure to use unless you choose to use an Xbox 360 controller which, frankly, would be a bit silly. This is an FPS after all where mouse accuracy is king.
Before long you're reunited with part of your squad. I say 'in par't because there's obviously something else on the island aside from the KPA and it's not particularly fussy who its victims are. Without going into details there's a nasty surprise for you which is very reminiscent of some of James Cameron's better work.
The story the progresses from there and you have the usual selection of objectives to complete ranging from rescuing the hostage to taking out tanks. The game flows quickly and it's easy to get into the swing of things so you never feel disengaged from the action. Like Far Cry, Crysis is fairly free roaming so although you have fixed objectives how you complete them is often left up to you. Want to blast your way in? Switch on max armour and go for it. Want to sneak in? On with the cloak and max speed. Part of the fun is finding out the best way to beat a particular situation by trying different things and seeing what works. Sometimes you'll die again and again before a light goes on and you think "Aha! What if I use this mode instead?" It's a truly rewarding experience and, as said, makes you feel involved in the game. I will warn people who think they can simply charge in and kill everything though: Crysis has hundreds of enemies which are fairly smart at times and you can you can die pretty quickly. You're going to have to think a bit here to succeed.
In addition to running around the place Crysis also allows you to access pretty much any vehicle. These can range from jeeps through trucks to power boats. Again it's a nice touch as it allows you to complete your objectives in yet more ways. On the easier mode you can fire the vehicle's weapon yourself, however the hardcore amongst you will need to master the art of seat swapping which can be quite tough if you're under fire. Crysis also has a couple of levels where you're vehicle based (at least initially in one of them). Unfortunately they're probably the weakest parts of the game. More on these later.
About half way through the game you start being able to fight the strange creatures. These are aliens from another world that have the ability to freeze the air around them turning moisture into a hail of ice shards. These aliens can be quite tricky until you figure out the right weapon combination to destroy them. Overall they're well done and a considerable improvement on Far Cry's Trigens. Fundamentally though you change from killing KPA soldiers to killing alien creatures and it's not really that different from what's gone before. It's still quite enjoyable although the missions never quite reach the heights of the earlier ones where you were up against the KPA. The whole show climaxes at the end with a series of shoot outs which are spectacular if not original in concept.
Crysis on the whole looks gorgeous. The graphics are crisp although you will need a beast of a PC to run it - and even then you still probably won't be able to get it to absolutely maximum resolution and effects without the odd slide show experience - and the destructible scenery makes a huge difference. You can't hide behind a shed or a tree if someone blows it up, can you? It is indeed a visual treat. On the audio side it's also pretty good with atmospheric music and good voice acting. I will warn you that the language is fairly fruity though so if you have any maiden aunts hanging around you might want to use headphones.
So, sounds like the perfect game, doesn't it? Well, not quite...
There are three main problems with Crysis:
1) The fixed vehicle missions. These are both horrible if you stick to the vehicles and a bit of a chore to play through. Fortunately you can do the first one on foot which makes it OK. Sadly you don't have that option with the second one.
2) Some missions are more down to luck than skill. There are a number of times where you have to kill a set number of enemies with little cover and no real guidance to where the weapons you'll need are kept. These parts of the game just feel a bit random and out of place.
3) You die unfairly quite a lot. You can take out all the soldiers in an area sometimes and another bunch appear as if by magic. Worse than this, however, you can shoot something down and it'll smack into you killing you unavoidably. This can be incredibly frustrating especially if you're at the end of a longish section and are sent back to the last save point.
None of these problems are deal breakers however they mar what could have been a faultless game a bit. The second vehicle mission in particular is just so out of place that it should never have made the final cut.
The other slight issue is that the back half of the game feels a bit rushed in comparison with the front half. In particular, the ludicrously over the top battles of the final sections seem to be arcade style bolt ons at odds with the rest of the game. They're still enjoyable, mind, just not quite a perfect fit with what's gone before.
In summary Crysis is an excellent game and certainly one of the top shooters out there. It has engagement, action and gameplay galore and is only let down on a couple of fronts, none of which are serious enough to warrant not playing it. Definitely a game you should consider buying.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 12/03/07
Game Release: Crysis (EU, 11/16/07)
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