Review by pangolin14

"Simply put, Crysis was one of the greatest games released in 2007"

Introduction
Crysis was released to much anticipation mainly due to the incredible hype generated prior to its release. EA flooded us with screen shots of brilliantly rendered landscapes and cyborg-like soldiers and the game genuinely seemed to be headed in the right direction. Fast forward to the present and you begin to see Crysis in a whole new light. Crysis is not just a dazzling masterpiece, it is fun to play and terrific to experience which can scarcely be said for many other games. A FPS that can immerse you as well as this game does is yet to be released.

You will find that this game receives heavy criticism from people who own 360's. This is just more or less a childish outcry from them because they can't play it. Yes Crysis is a PC exclusive and anyway, I doubt a console COULD run the game. The game adds few innovations to the industry and nothing that will be a benchmark but I would still rate it higher than the rubbish released on the 360.

As an avid player of First-Person-Shooters, I have followed the industry from the age of Doom and Wolfenstein through to Unreal Tournament and Quake (the online era) and then on to Valve and up until the present day. In that time, we have all seen the games evolve from simple ‘kill everything' games into several different branches. The evolution of FPS games has perhaps not been has great as those of strategy or RPG's but in that time we've seen some good and some bad, but relatively few stick out as true greats. One trend that I have picked up recently though is that producers are skimping out on the single player aspect of games in order to create an ‘ultimate' online experience. This is more notable on the 360 than on the PC. Due to this many games have terrible single player modes that are just designed because they have to be. Fortunately Crysis does not fall into this category.

Graphics
It is clear to anyone that Crytek intended to outdo everything before Crysis in terms of graphical quality and my word did they succeed. You won't see anything that looks like this on any system anywhere right now. Everything is finely polished, from the characters themselves to the dense vegetation. But that's just the start. The island (which is where the majority of the game takes place) is so realistic that at times you will just stop to take in the beauty of it. The vegetation is spectacular. On the beach you will see brilliant palm trees swaying in the wind and as you progress deeper into the island the trees change into tropical plants and such. The grass is really something and you will spend a lot of time wading through it throughout the course of the game. It provides cover, as do most of trees since enemies cannot see through them. The ground beneath them is fine-tuned and is well rendered. In fact all the textures are terrific. From the rocks that littler the many beaches to the inland shrubbery, Crysis is a beauty to see. There is actually a fair bit of water to be seen in the game and, while I can't recall a situation in which you are forced to swim, it is definitely an option. The ocean bed is polished and glossy and you will see everything from rocks to seaweed. One of the more dazzling features on the island was the many waterfalls. They were breathtaking and the transition from murky river to waterfall was perfect. Eventually for plot reasons, the island gets covered in a layer of snow. The effect generated is noticeable as one of the best looking snow terrains in any video game. The palm trees that existed before are snow covered in a fine white poweder and buildings freeze over. The effect is terrific.

The characters themselves were also rather well done. The Koreans have all got a definite Asian look to them and they wear a detailed uniform. Likewise the Americans have a unique style and uniform themselves. Probably the best looking characters were the ones who donned ‘Nanosuits' which is basically what's on the front cover. The suit is smooth and has a sort of extra-terrestrial aura about it. Towards the conclusion of the game, the aliens appear and they come with their own unique appearance. I was a bit disappointed about the originality of these aliens. They looked like they were straight out of the Matrix but nevertheless they are well animated. One of the great ideas behind the game was to treat the suit like a computer. For example the helmet outputs all the information required to you about health and ammo. Basically it is your HUD. This attention to detail is what makes Crysis such a great game.

The physics of the game are its defining aspect. Almost everything you see in the game is destructible including buildings and trees. You can smack the walls of buildings and watch as the roof caves in or you can rip the roof off and clean out the inside for soldiers. It should be noted that you can pick up and throw a large variety of items in the game. In fact this is one of best ways to kill people because it's a one hit kill and because there is so much of stuff just lying about. You can snap trees with a few rounds from your weapon and then pick up the fallen tree and hurl it at an oncoming mob. When soldiers die, they crumple to the floor in the most realistic fashion that I have ever seen in a video game (even better that Oblivion) You can and probably should chuck enemies off mountains and watch the rag-doll physics as they tumble and turn to the jagged rocks below.

The appearance of the game is fantastic. The menus are smooth and pretty. It was a great idea to treat the suit like a computer. You could customize many, many aspects of the game including the voice of your suit and the type of crosshair that you want.

Don't jump to soon though. In order to get the game looking at its best you will need a computer capable of doing so. The truth is, is that the hype surrounding the hardware that you need to view this game is not exaggerated. Chances are, you are going to need to upgrade your PC because Crysis needs much better than anything you've seen before. Don't worry, though, the game looks amazing even on the lowest settings.


Sound
The sound is relatively good but it could be better. The ambient sounds such as water running and trees rustling in the wind add to the overall scene of the island and are a joy to behold. Your suit is a computer and therefore has a built in voice (male or female, it's your choice) that informs you when your suit is low on energy or whenever you switch suit modes. This was a great addition to the game even though it does become repetitive after a while. Gunfire is terrific and each gun has its own unique din. Heavy-duty machine guns are really loud and they generally draw your attention faster whereas your normal assault rifle plods on in a softer manner. The aliens make strange trumpet noises and their lasers fire with a soft, neat thud as they mow you down.

The voice acting is average and could be much better. Characters sound clichéd and stereotyped. The archeologist/scientist is an almost exact mold of the ‘scientists' character from your average sci-fi movie and some of the soldiers have so obvious accents that it becomes embarrassing after a while. One very highlighted aspect of the game is the fact that the Koreans actually speak Korean if you play the game on ‘Delta' difficulty. This does sound good but it falls down because there are only 2 or 3 voice actors for them so they all sound the same. It is also a bit pointless because I never found the need to listen to what they say anyway. The average voice acting really brings down the game a bit however the ambience and music is fine-tuned to the point of perfection.

Plot
You are placed in control of a special operative (codename Nomad) who, along with several other highly trained individuals, dons a hi-tech nanosuit that pumps nanobots into the bloodstream of the wearer in order to enhance physical characteristics such as strength, speed or armor. Your squad is called in to investigate the disappearance of a group of archaologists on an island in the Pacific . Shortly after arriving, the group of marines realizes that something is not quite right about the island. Not very original I know but far, far superior to most of the other dribble served on the 360 (I'm talking about Halo 3 or Call of Duty 4) Definitely not a classic like Bioshock but an average to poor plot all the same.

The plot of this game was poor at best. It was remarkably bad when you compare it to the brilliance of the rest of the game. It is so typical of a science-fiction movie that you can predict exactly what happens next. The main thing that annoys me about the plot, is that aliens only appear very late in the game and you wonder why you even bothered with the Koreans beforehand. To me it seems as though developers merely wanted you to experience the true game (which is the Korean soldier/island bit) for as long as possible and then throw you directly into a typical gung-ho shooter because that's basically what the alien levels are.

During the Korean levels, you will be required to use all of the suit functions in order to survive against smart foes who aren't afraid to mob and kill you. When you transcend to the alien levels, all you do is run from point A to point B and slaughter the swarm of ET's that just keep coming. It turns into nothing but a straightforward shooter from then onwards, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

The story of the game itself is poor. If it were a movie it would most probably have been panned by anyone with who had the misfortune to watch it. It would have been labeled as ‘All dazzle but no go' Fortunately, it is NOT a movie and for that reason is saved from being a laughing stock by its brilliant gameplay and graphics. A typical plot hole in the story is the fact that a certain ARCHAOLOGIST that you rescue somehow manages to dream up something that no ARCHAOLOGIST would ever know. If you watched Independence Day, you will probably know almost exactly how this game pans out.

One really frustrating thing about the plot was prior to the alien invasion; you and your team of special operatives are deployed to the island and are supposed to work in unison. However you end up doing everything. I don't recall a single moment in those early stages where your ‘team' actually kills anything. The game churns up poor excuses for this occurring such as the fact that your ‘team' is busy doing something else relevant to the mission. I find this hard to believe as the aliens pick them all off until only you remain and end doing everything by yourself. During one mission, one of your companions scouts ahead to look for enemy patrols. In actuality he does nothing and you need to scout and kill the patrols by yourself. You only really begin to experience actual team based play later in the game but your allies have terrible aim and co-ordination.

Again, don't get me wrong. The story of this game is typical of a Hollywood Sci-Fi movie but it is so much better than the crap released on the 360. Boring and unoriginal plots like those of Halo 3 or Gears of War receive outstanding receptions because they appeal to the masses. The plot of Crysis seems to both appeal to your average gamer and to your hardcore gamer and in doing so degrades its value. It seemed to be a great idea to begin with but Crytek's desire for the game to appeal to the masses brings it down heavily.

Gameplay
This, my friends, is where the essence of a great game lies. Not in the plot or the graphical capabilities or the sound but in the gameplay, the heart and soul of every game. There is only one word to describe the gameplay of Crysis: fantastic.

Not only is it fun to play but also very deep. As you start off, it seems like any normal FPS game from the previous 5 years. Guns blaze a little and you will begin to see the uniqueness of this game. You have your basic weapon system (IE multiple guns, grenades, explosives special weapons etc.) and it is all displayed on a computer-like HUD. You also see your suit energy and health here too. You have access to binoculars and night vision goggles which are both built into the suit so you won't see any unnecessary hand movement. There is also a Mini-Map on the bottom left of the screen that readily displays exactly where you need to go and other important notes. Next to the map is an awareness meter that determines how aware enemies are off you. If it is green, then it means that they heard something suspicious but still aren't very interested. If it is yellow, they are investigating the surrounding area and if it is red, it means that they can see you outright. Enemies are typical gun wielding soldiers at first but later become super-fast aliens. These features are the bread and butter of any FPS game but Crysis goes a step further. You have a super suit.

The Nanosuit itself is visually soothing. It's slick and shiny, perfectly poised. Underneath all the gloss, however, lies one of the main reasons Crysis is so enjoyable. Your suit has four functions: Speed, Strength, Armor and Cloak. These functions are pretty self-explanatory. While they may seem simple, they greatly influence how you play the game. If you want to guns blazing, head first into a KPA base, switch to Armor mode and get in there. What if you want to sneak in and out in a flash? Cloak is for you. The possibilities are endless. Each function comes with its own strategy. For example, you can attempt to sneak up to soldier and snuff him out with your fists in order to save ammo. Switch to Cloak mode until you get right up to him and immediately switch to strength mode, then you grab him and hurl away. It's up to you how you want to go about things. In my opinion, the game is geared towards a stealthy approach rather than a head on assault but it still gives you the opportunity to go about in any way you want or change in an instant if need be.

The four functions all react to a suit energy bar that is below your health on the HUD. The blue bar decreases as you use these functions and replenishes itself fairly quickly once you run out. Different functions use the energy in their own unique fashion. Because of this, the game balances itself out really well without making you a super soldier and at the same time maintaining the challenge.

The game also features a weapon customization feature. This is NOT an RPG mode of making weapons more powerful, instead it is simply adding modifications to weapons in order to make them easier to use. These may not seem like much but some of them greatly increase the usefulness of your weapons. Modifications such as tranquilizer darts, silencers, riflescopes and laser pointers add that extra little polish to the game. Many of these features can be ignored altogether. For example, the silencer makes your shots silent (duh) but a cost to power. It is ultimately your choice as to what you want to use. Modification is simple to use and can be done wit ha few clicks of the mouse. You also have the ability to change the mode of fire from single to semi to auto on your assault rifle and can toggle between multiple modes of fire on other weapons too.

My favourite aspect of gameplay is none other than the large maps themselves. The maps are huge and beautiful. You could literally spend hours walking around them. If you get too close to edges you will either get attacked by a Mako Shark or get destroyed by one of the massive ships patrolling the edges of the map. Because of their size, you have enormous freedom when it comes completing objectives. It is possible to set up traps using explosive barrels or vehicles and your handy-dandy Nanosuit. When you get to alien spacecraft, the game definitely changes. The spacecraft is a zero gravity area meaning you can move in any direction. The interior is dark and eerie and, when you suddenly get mauled by squid-like monsters, the game changes into a mass-shooter. Ammo is plentiful throughout the game (except aboard the spacecraft where I always seem to run out and have to use my fists) and you will never find yourself worried about conserving ammunition. The weapons themselves are not very original, nothing like Resistance anyway. You have an assault rifle, a shotgun, a pistol, a rocket launcher and a sniper rifle which are all pretty familiar and then you have a gauss rifle and a Molecular Accelerator (An alien weapon that appears to shoot ice) that certainly compliment your arsenal. You can only carry two different weapons, a pistol and a rocket launcher at the same time. This forces the player to balance out his or her inventory. One thing to note though is that the shotgun remains the most useful weapon throughout the game and you will always want one in your inventory.

Another aspect to the game is the addition of vehicles. You can drive or pilot a variety of cars, trucks and boats as well as VTOL which is a futuristic aircraft. The vehicles are all handled rather well except for the VTOL which is a real pain to fly (fortunately you only pilot it in one mission) You will also find yourself using cars to quickly move across the large maps. Vehicles are not particularly useful in most situations but again the enormous freedom allows the decision to be made by the player. One of the missions is a massive tank brawl across a large, open field. I found myself abandoning the tank all too often because it was easier to sneak up and saboutage tanks with some explosives rather than blow them up head on. However, I must admit that this tank battle is brilliant and easily one of the high points of this outstanding game.

Enemy AI is outstanding. Enemies have detailed and realistic routines and patrol routes. They can be observed perfuming acts such as answering nature's call, reading newspapers or smoking. KPA soldiers are cautious when approaching you and more often then not, will mob you. If they see you and they you cloak, they will send some rifle rounds towards your general location, shooting in circles as if to draw you out. Enemies also respond rather well to you when you decide to look for cover. Often times they sneak up behind you but by far their favourite method of flushing you out is simply chucking a grenade in your direction. The KPA soldiers are smart and dangerous to attempt to take down with sheer force. The Aliens on the other hand, seem more than willing to just keep shooting at you until you die. This is understandable however considering the large amount of aliens compared to KPA. The ET's will generally just keep flying at you, hurling their firepower at you until they end up in smoke. Owing to their agility and movement they prove to be quite a challenge even to seasoned veterans.

The difficulty of the game is balanced well. Rather than make your enemies tougher or you weaker, the developers decided to make all changes affect your suit. There are four difficulty settings; Easy, Normal, Hard and Delta. Delta difficulty is a real challenge because there is no targeting crosshair and you need to rely on weapon modifications much more. Your suit energy also depletes much faster and your binoculars lose the ability to automatically detect enemies. You can switch modes at any time during the game so if you begin to feel the heat, you can always make the game easier.

The multiplayer is definitely worth a look at. It could have been much better if there were more modes but Power Struggle pretty much makes up for any of that. It's quite obvious that the game was focused on the single player aspects and that is a good thing considering the amount of games that concentrate on multiplayer these days. There is the usual death match mode known effectively as ‘Instant Action' and there is also a rather unique mode called ‘Power Struggle' Power Struggles are very similar to Battlefront II in many aspects. It is a team-based battle that involves the capturing of buildings and sections of the map. You gain access to Prestige Points by expanding or killing enemies, which allows you to purchase better weapons or ammunition. You also can capture alien factories and begin the production of alien technologies. All in all Power Struggle is a terrific mode of gameplay and games can last hours. Instant Action is not so great though. Basically, the entire match is fought using the Nanosuits, which I might add are surprisingly useless against human opposition. Cloak Mode is pathetic because you can still be seen by the electric surges the suit gives off and unless you want to damage people with your fists in Strength Mode, you will probably want to stick to Armor Mode. Multiplayer adds significantly to the replay value of the game and should not be ignored.

Replayibilty
The replay value of the game is enormous. You probably want to go back through the game just to experience the large maps or by completeing the objectives in a different manner. With four difficulty modes and a solid multiplayer mode, this game is definitely worth the money you pay for it.

Closing Comments.
Overall I rate Crysis very highly for not only is it a joy to watch, but it is incredibly fun to play. Perhaps it is let down by a slightly disappointing plot but ultimately Crysis launches itself above all the competetion and, in my humble opinion, is the best FPS of 2007.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/03/08

Game Release: Crysis (EU, 11/16/07)


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