After years of waiting and anticipating Crysis has finally arrived! The big question is – was it worth the wait? The short answer is “Hell Yes!”, while the long answer is more complicated…
First off is the system requirements – this game is mean on your PC. It will stretch any system to its limits. I am running on a Q6600, 8800GTX, 4GB system, and there were some noticeable slow downs at first. However, by using the first 20 minute section to tweak my settings, managed to get it running at 30 fps with all the settings on High and AA on 4x. Now I do have Vista and can use Very High legitimately (There is a hack to get it working on XP), however I found the trade-off between increased image quality and frame rate drop really didn’t make it worth it. Also, AA seems to kill any frame rate you had – 4x was the maximum I could put it on without watching a slideshow.
Having got the settings just right – the game ran very smoothly and it looks jolly good! In fact, it is by far the best looking game I think I have ever played. This is in part to the excellent technologies running behind the scenes, but also in part by some excellent art direction and all rounded off with some clever level design to show all this off. But everyone knew this game was going to look good. It was the one thing that was certain before its release. But how does the rest of the game hold up?
Let’s start with the AI. it is, in general, excellent. In groups they will pin you with fire and try and flank you, running in guns blazing and making a lot of noise is a sure fire way to let them get prepared and take you down before you even get close. They also follow realistic patrolling patterns and react appropriately suspiciously if they think they spot anything unusual. They occasionally stand around stupidly and sometimes you feel they could be a little more aware when you snatch people from the back and pull them off into the bushes. Also the seperate groups of enemies seem to not communicate with each other at all, meaning you can make a lot of noise in one camp, but go up the road and the others are oblivious to anything happening. Although, it would make it rather gruelling if everyone knew where you were at all times, so this limitation seems to work well and gives you a chance to try lots of different things.
And try them you can with the nanosuit. This is what makes the game special. There are four main modes and each one has its own uses and each one enables you to do insane things to take down the enemy. Speed lets you zip across open expanses, leaving yourself exposed for a minimal amount of time. You also can jump further and even without using the suit energy, you still move faster. The downside is that you can take a lot less damage than other modes. Strength allows you to jump higher, punch harder and throw thigns further. This is one of the main modes I use for combat – jumping in and out of huge blocks of cover and punching guys in the face is just so satisfying. Then you get Armour. This is kind of your default mode and allows you to take a few more bullets than you otherwise would be able to. Using this with a mix of any of the other modes works well – it is hard to win firefights without being in this mode for some of it. And finally there is Cloak – by far the most fun mode. Using this mode you can sneak right past people, or sneak into the middle of camps and slowly pick off the dudes one by one. I used this most often as it gives you time to scout out areas, and even allows you to sneak past a group of dudes, saving you ammo and time.
The levels in which you cause mayhem range from truely excellent to decidedly medicore. In general, the early levels are better. They are much more open-ended and you get so many more ways to do things than it seems you get later on. I don’t spoil anything by saying that when the aliens arrive – things get a bit more linear. This all ties in with the story – which is your generic one-man-army-against-his-superiors-and-an-alien-invasion-to-save-the-world affair. It works well in the setting and is an excellent way of showing off the engine – I just hope the next part in the story is a bit more innovative. And yes, I said next part. The story is designed as a trilogy and Crysis is jsut the first part. As such, the story ends somewhat unsatisfactorly – which is why I hope for a wee bit more story innovation in the next part, whenever that might be.
Speaking of the ending, the final sections are a bit linear, but they also have some excellent, if cliched, moments. The escort and defend job, the defend an outpost and the flying missions all seem straight out of any other first person shooter, but they all work well and are good fun for the most part. I say that because I hated the flying mission. It is quite short so I can live with it, but as Roger, who I was on teamspeak with at the time, will tell you…I got annoyed with the controls. You have to shoot down other flying things, and I found that by the time i turned to face them to shoot at them, they had flown towards me, shoot me a lot, then were behind me again. This happened very often. I even turned up the sensitivity for the mouse all the way and it still didn’t help. So please, Crytek, make the flying better/don’t do another flying level.
Multiplayer! It helps extend the life of the game greatly, so it is bonus when a single player focused game comes bundled with a nice multiplayer. The Power Struggle mode is where you must capture energy point to power your prototype factory to build advanced weapons to destroy the enemy base. It is excellent fun and I think with a patch to sort out the connection problems and a few balancing issues, it will be very popular. It also comes with plain old deathmatch, but no team deathmatch – which means you must go to Power Struggle if you want a team game. This is all well and good, but team deathmatch doesn’t need a good team to be fun, whereas with a bunch of idiots on Power Struggle you’ll find the flag hopping you end up doing extremely tedious.
Reading the review may make it sound like quite a medicore game – but it isn’t. The way everything comes together make this an excellent game. Apart from the alter levels becoming slightly more linear, and the absence of team deathmatch, this game is damn near pefect, and I hope Crytek continue to support it for as long as they did for Far Cry.