Note: this blog has been migrated to Medium, with the articles here available to preserve permalinks Please see this post at https://medium.com/@ianrbuck/crysis-review-6f6eb811b055
"Can your computer run Crysis?"
Despite the fact that it has been five years since Crysis came out, you still hear this every once in a while (usually in jest). I definitely wasn't worried about my GTX 670 and i5-3750k having trouble.
I had psyched myself up about the visuals so much that my initial impression was "well this doesn't look half bad..." and then I remembered how old the game is. And I nearly peed myself. Even the cutscenes were rendered in the game engine, so the game always had a consistent visual style. The only downside was that in order for 3D to work well I would have had to turn off a few things like motion blur and shadow effects, and even then there was a faint halo around a lot of objects. I decided that I wanted the full Crysis experience, so I played it in 2D with everything set to the maximum.
The appeal for anybody who plays Crysis is of course the beautiful graphics, so I wasn't expecting much from the story or gameplay. As it turns out the gameplay was really good; the controls were nice and tight, even when you drive vehicles. Even flying a VTOL (those flying things in the screenshot above) and floating around in zero-gravity was intuitive, which is saying a lot.
Although Crysis is obviously a linear game, the map was usually open enough that as long as you are going in the general direction of your next objective (which is what your character, Nomad, would be doing anyway) you won't feel constrained at all.
The one area where gameplay suffered was the enemy AI. I found them laughably stupid, and took great sadistic pleasure in luring large numbers of them into small choke points where I could easily mow them down.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there were a couple of areas where I really wasn't given sufficient tools to complete the objectives. One example was a map where I was trying to destroy a few anti-aircraft emplacements. I ended up having two enemy helicopters following me around, and I only found one rocket launcher on the entire map. It was a pretty open map so I may have missed the others, but they weren't in any of the obvious places. So I ended up just running around cloaked as much as possible until I managed to complete my objective. Oh, and once that was complete the helicopters magically went away.
The nano suit is the biggest aspect of the game (besides the graphics) that differentiates Crysis from other military shooters. The suit allows you to choose between several modes: strength, speed, armor, and cloak. Thanks to the nano suit you can play the game using a variety of play styles. One of my favorite things to do was to sneak into a complex cloaked dual-wielding a couple of silenced pistols with laser sights. It then became a nice little exercise in shooting everyone in the head one at a time before they figured out that I was there (and given that the AI was so stupid they would only figure out that I was there if they got a nice long look at me while uncloaked.) Ninja Nomad.
The story can be summed up pretty quickly: North Koreans and aliens on a tropical island.
|Koreans and Aliens. On a tropical island.|
Once you know that, nothing will surprise you. There were no plot twists, no sudden betrayals or finding out someone was a double agent or anything. But I was fine with that, because that wasn't why I was there anyway. That being said, I did like the ending; it was a satisfying "hell yeah!" at the end of a nice ten-hour campaign.
One last thing: on the latest episode of the podcast I said that Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was a great chicken-carrying simulator. Well I am here to tell you that Crysis is even better. In fact, it is the best chicken-carrying simulator I have encountered to date. They even die when you throw them at maximum strength!
If you are at all interested in playing Crysis, now is the best time to do it. The game is old enough that it is really cheap (it comes free if you pre-order Crysis 3) but it is still new enough to look good.
As always here are a few miscellaneous screenshots, and you can see my full gallery here.