Crysis Review

In case you’ve been completely oblivious as to the happenings in the world of PC gaming for the past 20 months or so, Crysis is the title which was supposed to set the new standard for this generation of PC games. Around 18 months ago, screenshots were released showing off photorealistic graphics of an island locale; videos were later released depicting life-like animations and AI reactions. Promises were made of inclusions of “sandbox” style free-play, letting the player go about the island where the game takes place completing objectives how they wished. Seriously, when shots like this, this, and this were released, it was hard not to be impressed.

So here we are, 18 months later, and Crysis has been released. Does it deliver? Well…yes and no. I’ll be honest here: my friends and I wanted to despise Crysis. We really did. It had to be the game equivalent of a dumb blonde — all looks, no personality. It was decided one of us had to buckle down and make a scientific analysis of our hatred (aka play through the game), and that task fell to me. Turns out our preliminary idea of Crysis was completely wrong. I give credit where it’s due, and Crysis does deserve plenty of credit.

I’ll say the good right now just to make sure there are no misconceptions: I enjoyed playing through Crysis. A lot. The graphics are stunning, the enemy soldier AI is stellar 95% of the time, the environments are beautiful, the plot’s cool (but cliche like many other action games), and the sandbox gameplay is a refreshing break from the tight path many other games lead you down. I can easily see why it’s gotten glowing reviews from nearly every organization which looks at video games and is being heralded as a new standard for first person shooters, if not games in general.

Crysis is not just good, it’s great. Here’s where the worship ends, though. Sorry PC Gamer, I’ll be damned if Crysis is 2% away from being the perfect game. For every amazing feature in Crysis, there’s a downside. Take the graphics. They look great at a distance, but sometimes if you take an up-close view, the textures look poorly done. If Crysis was released a few months ago, they could’ve gotten away with it, but when their competition is Call of Duty 4, Gears of War (for the PC), and Unreal Tournament 3 — all of which have textures crisper than freshly starched pants — it really shows. Crysis is the bane of computers everywhere, too. Running the game on “High” setting (1 tier below direct x 10, as I only have Windows XP) I hovered around 34 FPS with frequent dips to 27-29 FPS, and the occasional drop to the equivalent of a high-speed slide-show. I guess all those beautiful forested levels have a cost.

The AI is awesome for the most part, which makes the few quirks soldiers have, the outright stupidity of alien AI, and the stupid but x-ray vision wielding AI of helicopters that much more frustrating. Of these, the most frustrating is the AI of the choppers. Now, piloting a helicopter in a warzone is not fun, especially zones where people on the ground can hide (i.e.: Jungles). If you live in the States like I do, you can relate to this by the number of reports we get each week of how many helicopters crash in combat due to them getting peppered by small-arms fire.

The North Korean helicopters’ AI tactic to deal with this (since they’re always in jungle environments in the game) is to hover directly over you and then fire with their rocket-propelled depleted uranium rounds that defy friction as they spot you through x-ray vision. Even when you’re invisible, the chopper floats over you, no matter what. Cloaked and running through woods so thick they block 90% of the sunlight? He’ll be right over you. 40 feet under murky water? He will be watching you and shooting through the water. In a building the engine doesn’t allow to be destroyed? He’ll be shooting at the exact point where you are in the building, leaving a nice indicator of where you’ve been on the walls outside (in the form of a line of bullet holes). It doesn’t revert to a search pattern (the soldier AI does start to search, so it’s not like the whole idea slipped their mind), and it doesn’t break off, worried it could get hit by small arms fire from the jungle, It just floats over you, like a deadly satellite.

It’s inconsistencies and let downs like this throughout the game which prevent it from being a masterpiece of computer entertainment. The nano-suit combined with combat in general is a good example of this. With the nano-suit, you can jump 5x or more the normal height you could, run at least 10x faster, batter open the watertight bulkhead doors in an aircraft carrier, and fall around 30-40 feet without too much harm. At the same time, even in max strength mode, it can take 3 punches to kill a normal North Korean soldier from behind, whereas he can kill me in one. It also seems that North Koreans wearing what’s essentially a Kevlar and ceramic version of roman legionary armor can take more hits than me in my multi-million dollar suit. Again, all minor inconsistencies, but in a game that’s supposed to be the benchmark for the upcoming generation of video games, it seems a bit lazy to overlook things like this in development. It’s like they never really decided whether the suit would make you a one man army, or if it simply was supposed to enhance the survivability and combat effectiveness of a clever wielder.

For all of Crysis’ faults, the game up to and including the interior of the alien ship is a tour-de-force. After that, the game loses a lot of its steam. The great sandbox style play which let you pick your fights and the spiffy AI which made the fights that much more interesting vanish; same with the ability to use the terrain to your advantage. Since most of your enemies fly and shoot with nearly perfect accuracy, the fights stop feeling intense and plausible (since you’re strafing and bunny hopping for dear life in maximum speed mode instead of taking cover and sneaking to your enemy’s flank) and start feeling like just about every twitch shooter ever made. There are no three way fights between the various factions at all. Did I mention the final level is a boss fight? Yes, believe it or not, the end of the “future of first person shooters” is a simple BOSS FIGHT. It’s a standard one you’d often see in games from the 80s and early 90s, meaning step one is to knock out this thing, then they lose a bit of their shields, you blow up the next part/weapon, etc, etc. Hardly a suitable mechanic to end to a game such as Crysis, using a boss fight formula which has long been replaced.

Don’t get me wrong, though, because Crysis is a great game which would’ve been jaw-droppingly amazing with a few changes. Had the development team not completely screwed over the game after you left the alien ship, and had they been more consistent with quality control, there would be virtually nothing to complain about.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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