2007 Reviews

Crysis

  • Review Date: 2011-06
  • Release Date: 2007-11
  • Developer: Crytek
  • Rating: 9.0

Ah Crysis, my beautiful shiny brand new toy which, doesn't work very well. At it's release regarded as the best graphics in a game ever. For this review I should state the I played Crysis (for the first time) with everything set to Very High and with the Natural Mod added for that extra eye candy. So this is Crysis at it's very optimum.

Firstly I'm not sure how much of a difference the Natural Mod makes. But loading the first level without it looked good, then reloading with Natural Mod looked absolutely awful. All colour was gone, there was little contrast and it was quite hard to see. However the first level starts at night and, apparently, Natural Mod works best during day. I'm sure it does, because once the day finally shone bright ten minutes later it indeed looked fantastic.

But enough about the Natural Mod. Being that it's only been a few months since my first playthrough of FarCry, I'll be heavily comparing the two. Sure they're three years of development time apart, but Crysis could quite easily be considered FarCry2. The settings and gameplay are the same.

FarCry took outdoor design to whole new level. The island paradise setting was fantastic. But FarCry had it's flaws. The first of which was that for a game famous for it's beautiful scenery, there were far too many bland, ugly indoor levels. The outdoors levels were more memorable because there simply weren't enough. Crysis fixes this problem with only 2 out of 11 levels taking place indoors. The first of which, Core, is the inside of an alien mountain where a spanner is thrown in the works by making it zero gravity. And the indoor areas are quite huge anyway. The other is Reckoning, the final level on a ship with it's claustrophobic corridors. But at least it also has an epic battle on the deck. Ignore the brief but painful flying level Ascension and you've got 8 sprawling, unique, scenic adventures around this huge island.

Beaches, jungles, a military port, a mining complex (with just a little indoor action), snowy winter lands; it all combines to make one fantastic gaming setting. The problem is there are fewer set pieces here that in FarCry. Or fewer moments of awe. What I believe is the cause is that Crysis is much flatter than FarCry. There's not enough height to the game. In the predecessor there were moments where you'd be standing mountaintop gazing upon valleys and beaches below. The rope bridge, the hand glider, the lighthouse. Crysis just doesn't have this. Sure there's a few scenes such as Awakening, where a giant distant mountain is falling apart before your eyes. Or Assault where you're looking out across a bay to an enemy base under assault. Sure the graphics in Crysis are a big step up from FarCry, but these moments of awe, the truly memorable levels are lacking. Instead there's a lot of flat battles from village to village.

But that's only one small nitpick on a game that looks utterly amazing. This engine is capable of breathtaking scale as well as extraordinary detail on every piece of plant life.

Crytek have sensibly added quicksave to Crysis, another bad decision in FarCry. And the one thing that nearly ruined FarCry for me was the difficulty by the end of the game. Crysis isn't so bad. It does still have issues with it's final battle as it can be very frustrating when projectiles are constantly raining down on you and you can't even see where it's all coming from. But that's more an issue of a certain enemy in the game, the aliens, which I'll get into next.

Gameplay. And this is what I'm talking about when I say my shiny new toy doesn't work very well, at least at first. This isn't the kind of game like Painkiller: Overdose or Timeshift where you can run through blasting those Korean bastards back to... Korea (Koreans are your human enemy in Crysis). Crysis is strategic. Typical gameplay scenario: creep around in the bushes until you get close enough to the next enemy village. Draw their attention, perhaps spray a few bullets then run like hell back to some cover and wait for said enemy to wander over. Kill a couple, then sprint further away to more cover before you're ass up in blood. Crysis human enemies take you down VERY fast, and you're usually outnumbered. It's not so much a hugely difficult game, you've just got to play very carefully and strategically. Sorry Crytek, but that just isn't that fun. And to poke a stick further into the wound, you're weapons are lackluster. The machine guns, even with zoom scope pointing directly at a Koreans head, are extremely unreliable at doing a proper headshot. No headshots in a strategy game? Bad call.

However the more you play, the more enjoyable the combat gets. And I don't mean a single playthrough. It wasn't until I started tapping into the hours and hours of custom free releases my mappers and modders. Basically the game is tough, but once you've played it enough to get used to the guns, enemies and more importantly your suit, it becomes a lot more fun. A second playthough is likely to be much more enjoyable that first.

Back to the weapons... the shotgun is decent, but not always useful since these are outdoor levels. Apart from handguns and rocket launchers saved for blowing up vehicles and 'copters, that's really all you get for fighting humans - both ridiculously bound to the same god damn key of which you can only carry two weapons at a time! You get to some cooler weapons later on such as the minigun, gauss gun (a big ass shotgun) and the infinite ammo alien weapon - but again they're all bound to the same key so you have to get rid of your fall back weapons the shotty and machine gun.

Now to the alien section of the game. I know this review is getting long, but it's an important game in the history shooters so I want to go in-depth. The Core takes you to an alien base built within the mountain and earth. It looks amazing. In fact it's the creepiest, most unique alien level I think i've ever played. Then the aliens turn up and ruin it. They look good - large floating octopus type aliens. But their attacks can be a little annoying. I do give Crytek props for changing it up though. It was a great twist to the game to give it some variety and differentiate from all the other realistic war shooters ala MOH and COD... neither of which come close the visual feast of Crysis. The snow level that came next was brilliant, and scary. However fighting octo-aliens inside a cramped battleship was not good. And the octo-alien is what i'm talking about in the last battle as I'm trying to concentrate on shooting the fat mothership while these bastard aliens just keep shooting at me and I can barely follow them in the sky since they move so fast.

Nevertheless, I'm glad the aliens did make their presence known because it did make the game more memorable; both from a storyline and gameplay perspective because another few levels of insane-strategy play against human enemies would not have won me over. Still, it's a love hate thing with the aliens for most players.

Okay so let's wrap this up. Crysis is a fantastic looking game. The Crytek engine is one of the best around, and certainly the best I've seen at doing outdoor scenery. There are players around who think this games' graphics are overrated. But for 2007, at least with everything maxed out, Crysis looks at the top of it's game. It's a shame that, just like FarCry, the gameplay isn't as polished and takes a while before you'll begin to enjoy it. This is a game for the players that eat up beautiful environments and graphics. At least for a while because Crysis is quite a short game.

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