By now, the name Crysis is a household name. Anticipation is starting to build for it’s sequel that will also be available on consoles, and the reputation Crysis has as a system killer has not faded, even with the advances in computer hardware. That being said, I thought it would be a good time to look back at Crysis and see how it stacks up, scaled back on older hardware.
Crysis was released in 2007 from the creators of Farcry, known better for it’s PC success than it’s horrible console ports. Following in the sandbox style of Farcry, players take control of Nomad- a Delta Force operative in an ultra-secret squad equipped with performance enhancing Nanosuits and sent to an island in the South China Sea to investigate a missing US scientist, and beat the North Korean soldiers to her and whatever it is she has found. Your Nanosuit can allow you boosted armor, speed, strength and a predator-like stealth invisibility. All of these perks come at a price, however, as your suit’s energy will only allow for limited use of the features before requiring a recharge. The game is an open book for you to play as a run and gun Rambo, or a sly Sam Fisher preying from the shadows. Multiple vehicles can be used, and the paths to your objective are limited only by your imagination and reflexes. Crysis has become known for not only it’s amazing photorealistic visuals, motion blurring and graphical polish but also it’s strides in enemy AI and environmental interaction. By many reviewers, Crysis was considered the bar set for all future shooters-and a high bar at that.
Crysis is an interesting game, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s luster is mostly caught up in the ability to have all of it’s graphical bells and whistles able to be displayed. On older hardware, it’s muddy textures do little to cover up some of it’s gameplay flaws. It is an excellent shooter, with a good story and some great features that are unique to it’s universe—but the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. First off, even the easy Korean soldiers you combat in the beginning of the game can require multiple hits to take down, and that’s not even speaking of the enemies you’ll encounter as the game progresses-the difficulty ramps up pretty quickly. There is something about having to empty a clip into a human soldier in a game that bothers me. Their AI is fantastic, using flanking maneuvers and reinforcements to try and bring you down, but the entire feeling of being a super soldier is completely absent. Your suit’s energy level is ridiculously low, and allows for very little on-the-fly adaptation to outsmart your enemies. Also curiously absent is any way to extend the level of your suit’s energy as you progress in the game. Viewing the game’s opening cutscene, and finally stepping into Nomad’s shoes and getting a feel for the suit, it is all too obvious that pulling off the moves in the opening cutscene are completely impossible. Hit detection is not evident leaving you with the feeling that your weapons are not only ineffective but don’t pack much punch in the game. Headshots are also mysteriously inconsistent, sometimes it’s a one-hit kill, sometimes they seem to have little to no effect. Added up, all of that takes away any illusion of an edge over your foes that you should conceivably have by wearing a top secret military suit. The scales of a “one against a hundred” feel are definitely tipped too far in your enemies’ favor. The open gameplay and endless options actually made me yearn for a more scripted Call of Duty experience. If it’s possible, some of the environments were too open and objectives too far apart, leading to some pacing issues. It is still an excellent shooter, but some of these faults can overshadow the good gameplay elements. Crysis also suffers from what I like to call “gaming middleschmertz” – The middle of the game just seems to cramp the player’s desire to press on and finish the game due to a mixture of ramped up difficulty, running across the island in long segments completing repetitive objectives and the above mentioned faults. All things aside, Crysis is an excellent shooter and if you can slosh through the middle, the last couple hours more than make up for it. The graphics and interaction are amazing, trees fall beside you in a hail of mounted machine gun fire, destroying your cover, lifelike animals populate the island, and can be thrown as distractions(seeing as how there are no obligatory soda cans laying around). Without giving away any spoilers, the graphics and elements of the last few hours also has rarely been done before and sets up the grand finale really well. For myself, Crysis seems best played when you balance your stealth and run and gun elements. For example, sometimes the best way out of a situation is to pick off a couple soldiers from a platoon and then use the environment and your stealth to make a hasty escape to your next objective, leaving the rest of the platoon disoriented and easier to escape.
As a primarily PC gamer, I relish the times I can dust off some of my old games and see how they look and feel after I’ve completed a major system upgrade. It’s a treasure unique to the platform, and it can give older games some legs. In this instance, however, I prefer to look to the future of what Crysis 2 may bring to the table and just leave Crysis in the history books.