Review by Demonic Gerbil
"A Summer Blockbuster Action Movie You Play, Not Watch"
Released in November of 2007, Crysis is still, at this writing, one of the most graphically demanding first person shooters on the market. The game was also something of a commercial failure on release.
As a shooter, Crysis succeeds. Controls are polished, there's a variety of guns to use, the player's super-powered nanosuit brings a host of tactical options to the table, and there's a fair variety of enemies to fight. The graphics are great, especially when turned most of the way up.
Movement is tight, as you'd expect from a modern shooter. Switching between weapons with the scroll wheel comes naturally. Changing modes of the nanosuit is accomplished by pressing the mouse wheel button down, which is possibly the only place where the game feels unpolished. More than once while changing weaponry mid-fire fight I found myself accidentally bringing up the nanosuit window and dropping out of the mode I wanted to be in.
There is a variety of guns in the game, covering the variety you would expect in any shooter: a pistol, a couple assault rifles, a shotgun, and a sub machine gun. There are a few exotic weapons, such as the American Gauss Rifle which makes short work of certain enemy types. Generally the arms that are usable are unremarkable, but fun to use. One late-game highlight is a nuclear grenade launcher, sadly it never gets used outside of one boss battle.
The nanosuit is the real star of Crysis. In its default mode it acts as a damage absorber, using the suit's replenishing energy supply to soak damage and keep the player alive. Another mode gives the player super strength, making melee attacks into ferocious one-hit kills, steadying the player's aim while sniping, and letting the player traverse difficult terrain with super jumping. There's also super speed mode, which passively improves moment speed, but when used with the run key allows the player to sprint at vehicle-speeds; handy for getting behind a group of enemies and confusing them for a few vital moments. The final mode is a cloaking device, rendering the player mostly invisible. It should go without saying how useful that can be, either for hiding from alerted enemies, or sneaking past them.
The North Korean enemies are pretty intelligent and use squad tactics to harry the player. They try to outflank the player and catch him in a crossfire. They use grenades to flush the player out of hiding. When not alerted to the player's presence, they act mostly naturally, going about their jobs, or just leaning up against things and relaxing during guard duty. The enemy's ability to sense the player is also modeled well, with the AI responding by moving towards noise cautiously, and if nothing happens often enough losing interest and going back to their earlier task. The human enemies behave in a way that just feels right.
In addition to North Korean infantry, often the player is forced to deal with vehicles. Usually this is just a Korean jeep with a machine gun on it, which isn't much trouble. A player can also steal most of the vehicles in the game if they're found unmanned. In one stage the player drives a tank and engages in tank on tank combat against the North Koreans. Another stage has the player flying an American VTOL, fighting against flying alien enemies. The vehicle stages, and generally just being able to cruise around in a vehicle, help break up the on-foot action and give the game a little more variety.
I just mentioned aliens in the paragraph above, but if you've been to the official Crysis webpage you already knew they would be involved somehow. About halfway through the game, its focus changes and aliens overrun the island. The alien units come in a small variety of foes, most of which fly and are generally somewhat annoying to fight. Sadly for me, I had the method of their arrival and such spoiled to an extent from playing Crysis Warhead first, so I had an idea of what to expect. The main cool thing that the aliens bring to the table is a change in environment: the aliens have the ability to flash freeze terrain, turning the tropical jungle into a bizarre iced over replica of itself.
The game environments have a fair variety to them. Most of the game takes place in jungle, whether near the beach or further inland. A few stages take place inside of the alien fortress, where there is no gravity and movement is reduced to floating. There are underground areas, an aircraft carrier, and the already mentioned frozen jungle areas to round the game out. Each environment is rendered in detail and is destructible to some extent. I had fun just sitting behind a machine gun and cutting down trees and foliage in the jungle.
The plot is kind of thin, not to say that it's bad, but there's just not a lot of meat on its bones. The game ends on a cliffhanger, which feels disappointing. More disappointing is the entire second half of the game, which is spent evacuating people from the island and retreating in the face of the enemy. I understand why it's this way, because a vast alien horde appearing out of nowhere with crazy freeze rays is going to surprise most any military planner and cause unacceptable casualties, but it still feels wrong for the super soldier in a super powered suit of super armor to ever run away from enemies. At least at the very end of the game, you start to even the score up with the aliens for all the damage they've inflicted.
Now for a quick scoring summary for those of you keeping track of the numbers:
As shooters go, it's really hard to top Crysis's gameplay. The variety of weapons is just right without being overwhelming, the nanosuit allows for all kinds of crazy tactics, and there's just enough variety and smarts in the enemy to keep the action from getting stale. About the only place that gameplay suffers is in the zero-G stage inside the alien fortress where it's very easy to become lost. This, however, makes up such a small portion of the game that I can't deduct points from it.
Stunning. Perhaps the best jaw dropping moment was when I happened to look up from the firefight I was engaged in and saw that a mountain was collapsing in real time. Debris rained down from it and pieces underneath the outer layer gradually became more and more exposed.
The sound is nearly perfect. The acting is a little hammy, but given that the game feels like an action movie that's okay. Effects are great, and the soundtrack fits the mood perfectly.
I'll be honest, I don't feel much of an urge to replay Crysis, except maybe the early parts of the game where the nanosuit provides a major edge against the North Korean infantry. On the other hand, I am eagerly awaiting an actual sequel (not an expansion like Crysis Warhead which I've played), so I don't think I'm tired of the gameplay options provided by the nanosuit.
None of my friends have Crysis, so I haven't been able to test the multiplayer aspects of it, thus this review is based entirely on the single-player mode.
If your computer can run it, Crysis is a must-play game for any shooter fan. It's good looking, fun to play, and just long enough to be filling without dragging on for too long. Really, with the price of the game having dropped a lot since its release, if your computer can run it, there's not much of an excuse not to pick it up and give it a try. It's essentially a summer blockbuster action movie that you can play, instead of just watch.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 05/18/09
Game Release: Crysis (US, 11/13/07)
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