Written by John Yan
on 12/31/2007 for
Crytek came on the scene with a bang with Far Cry. It offered some unique features for a first person shooter, mainly the open island that you can wander around. Now,Crytek is back and this time they are pulling out all the stops with an impressive engine powering Crysis. Did Crytek produce a worthy follow up to Far Cry?
Crysis isn't a sequel to Far Cry as that IP belongs to Ubisoft. You play Jake Dunn, a United States Delta Force operative going by the nickname of Nomad. You're part of an elite group that's power by aNano Muscle Suit. The suit enhances your abilities and also provides an invisible camouflage for you to sneak around in. You're sent to investigate an island that's not all that it seems to be. You'll encounter North Koreans, helicopters, vehicles, and alien invaders. Like Far Cry, the majority of the action takes place on an island but you'll also fight on an aircraft carrier and inside an alien aircraft.
Nomad's Nano Muscle Suit adds a little something different to the game. There are four modes available to the suit giving you various abilities when activated. Maximum armor protects you from gunfire and other forms of damage. Maximum speed lets you run faster and used in combination of the sprint mode, you can really cover a lot of ground quickly. Maximum strength lets you throw things farther, pick up heavy objects, and steady your aim so you don't waver as much when you are sniping or looking down the barrel of a gun. Cloak turns you invisible with a Predator like effect. All of these modes use energy and when you run out of energy the effect wears off. Of the four modes, cloak was the one I used the least. The faster you walk with cloak, the more energy you use and it can drain pretty quickly. Still it's pretty cool to sneak up on someone and grab them by the neck and the cloak did help me out of some hairy situations. After the first few hours, I pretty much ditched the cloak feature opting to use the other three modes instead.
Most of the guns you'll use can be upgrade with some attachments. Various scopes can be used to change an assault rifle into a lethal sniping tool. If you want to clear out areas, attach a grenade launcher to your gun. For those that like to take guys out quietly, an attachment that shoots a tranquilizer dart is available as well. If you like to shoot from the hip rather than looking down the barrel, a laser sight can be attached so you can see easily where the bullets will go. They won't all be dead on with the dot but the bullets will be shot in the vicinity of where you aim with the laser sight attached. To pick an attachment you can quickly bring up a menu that overlays over the weapon giving you the options available. You'll start out with just the basic reflex site and add more as you pick them up along the way. You'll only be able to carry two main guns along with a pistol and a rocket launcher so you have to make some tough choices at times on what you want to carry. There were situations where I opted to carry a shotgun around instead of a sniper rifle and so forth. You'll learn to bring along weapons that will benefit you in certain situations.
During my first few hours of playing, I was pretty frustrated at how inaccurate the weapons were. I had my sight right on the head of the enemy and I had to shoot an entire clip to finally get a bullet into the head. Up close, it seemed enemies took an entire clip to bring down. It wasn't only until I got a few of the scopes available and learned where to shoot did I realize that the game rewards for patience, use of equipment, and a little bit of luck. Once I got the sniper scope and I steadied my hand with maximum strength, I was finally able to bring down the enemy with one bullet from a regular assault rifle with a shot the head. Other scopes provide a general area of where the bullets are going to be at and it wasn't uncommon to see bullet sparks explode right next to a person's head. It was only when I had the sniper scope that I could be really accurate from afar. Running and gunning will use up more ammo then you want to as enemies are tough to bring down so using some patience is the key. Bursting will get you a tighter spread of bullets. It will take a little time to get used to how the aiming and accuracy works but you'll benefit in the long run with some practice and patience.
The funny thing about the game though is even though it takes a good amount of bullets to take people down, a throw of a chicken can kill an enemy instantly. In fact, almost any object thrown at someone will probably kill them making the game pretty uneven as far as what's deadly and what's not. Even spinning barrels can be fatal as one time I threw a barrel at an enemy and it kept spinning on its end. Now, Icould've thrown something else or perhaps shot at it to make it stop but I decided to walk up to it and just as I reached it the spinning motion took me down and killed me even though I had full heath and armor. So it goes to show if you're out of ammo in the game, even ordinary objects can be great weapons.s
Freedom is touted in Crysis where you can wander around various areas of the island like Far Cry. It's not total freedom as there's a slight linear path you do have to follow but you can deviate from the path a lot during the game. I did run into some interesting features by doing this in showing up to areas I shouldn't have a little early. For example, in one building a large group of Koreans came flooding out trying to kill me. I was able to sit in a doorway and see the enemies spawn after each one I killed killing the illusion that there are a large group of enemies stationed in the building. One bug I ran into because of this freedom was I didn't trigger an event to lead to the next mission. It wasn't until I read the message boards and found people with similar problems that I was told to take a trail for a long period of time to go to the next act. Later on in the game I was able to go to an area where I wasn't suppose to yet clearing out the enemies and coming back after I triggered an event in another area. While I didn't find anything to stop me from moving on in the game, you might experience some unexpected behavior because of the design in letting you be free to enter areas from different positions.
Because there's such a vast amount of area to cover in the island, you'll be able to commandeer some vehicles to get you to places faster. Boats, tanks, jeeps, and trucks are some of the many vehicles you'll be able to use. The vehicles have damage areas and on the automobiles, you can shoot out the tires so they are harder to drive. Sometimes I used this to my advantage when I saw a truck load of North Koreans heading my way. Later on you'll be able to fly a drop ship so you'll get to experience land, sea, and air travel all inCrysis. Enemies also have a helicopter that hunt you down relentlessly so you better be packing some RPGs to take them down because they don't leave you alone. Like Far Cry, the vehicles compliment the first person shooter areas of the game giving you a little variety other than running and gunning.
Crysis' enemy AI is actually really well done mostly. Sure you'll come across some instances where they do something really stupid but for the most part theCrytek team has done a good job in instilling some intelligence into the characters. When confronted they sometimes fall back to cover and shoot around objects. A nice scripted event was seeing a flare shot up in the air as I was taking on some enemies signaling a call for help. When taking down people manning machine guns, you'll see anyone still alive run over to take up the position and try to gun you down with the more powerful gun. You can't just hide as when spotted, they'll try to flush you out with grenades. I did see some really stupid things though like an enemy manning a machine gun with his back towards me swinging it around while I took out his buddies. He never got off the machine gun to confront me so it was easy pickings. The aliens you face though are pretty routine and primal in their actions. I had more fun taking on the North Koreans and found while they don't take as much damage as the aliens, gave me a more variety in encounters.
The main star of the game though is the incredible engine that Crytek has developed. If there's game that will bring even the fastest computers to its knees, Crysis is it. If you saw the movie of all the effects that Crysis has, you'll get the idea on how powerful and unique this engine is. One of the things that impressed my right off the bat was that some of the trees were destructible. Shoot a tree at a certain point and watch it fall down. It's not predetermined as you can shoot it at different spots and see it break at the point of the bullet impacts. Not only can you break apart standing trees, the ones that fall down can also be further broken apart as well with your gun fire. One of the coolest moments was during a firefight with a few Koreans, I started seeing trees topple over from the stray gun fire between myself and the enemies.
Speaking of the foliage, the game really does a great job rendering a realistic jungle environment. The various leaves, shrubbery, high grass, and trees move around as you past through. The island has portions of very dense plant life making it great to hide in. There are various types of grass and trees giving the environment have more variety.Crysis has the most realistic depiction of outdoors I've seen and Crytek has done an incredible job crafting an island setting to play in.
Crytek also did a great job of putting in everyday objects so the island doesn't seem so barren. Some buildings have fruit, tools, beds, and other every day objects laying around that also react to you.
The world is also inhabited by wild life as you'll see frogs, chicks, crabs, and even fish. While they don't pose any danger to you, it's nice to see something other than humans running around in an open island. The animals, while a small touch, add to the sense of illusion that the island is alive.
BioShock may have incredible water effects but Crysis comes close and some say surpasses that game with how realistic it is. An interesting feature is when water splashes on you or you come up from underneath, your vision is blurred as water runs down your visor. It produces a pretty distorting picture that clears up as the water flows away. The way objects under the water get distorted when you are looking from above is incredibly realistic. Watching waterfalls in certain areas is pretty calming as the engine produces such a nice slight rainbow effect where it hits the ground.
Weather effects range from the perfect sunny day to an incredibly cold blizzard like conditions. Scopes are rendered useless in the extreme cold weather as the lenses fog and freeze up. It's a neat effect when witnessed the first time. Something that I have never seen done is the simulation of a tornado. During the sequence where you pilot an aircraft, you can get caught in one of these which render yourself useless as you are spun around in circles. The engine's flexibility is really shown in these areas offering up different variables to the environments when weather is thrown in.
Character models offer up some great looking enemies as well as great facial reactions. Watching the faces contort as you have them by the throat is pretty humorous. There's also a good variety of faces so you won't get tired of seeing the same one as much. The vehicles are also nicely done as well. The real world jeeps, trucks, tanks, and cars look impressively done while the futuristic drop ships have a nice shape to them. All use some nicely detailed textures that breath life into the polygons.
While Half-Life 2 really showed what a good physics engine can do, Crysis's physics takes it to another level. One great example is how the various shacks in the game can be taken down. While the construction of these crude housing elements may be good to take a nap in, they won't offer support when vehicles or large objects are thrown at it. Various panels will start to crumble and eventually you can knock enough of the building apart to level it to the ground. You'll see the various parts of the building react to one another as they fall to the ground generating a pretty impressive effect. One time I was having a fight with a helicopter and took it down with one of my rockets. The falling helicopter landed on a tin shack and I watched as different parts of it fell apart and collapsed as the helicopter came into contact with it. Good thing I wasn't standing in there when it happened.
Multiplayer contains a game called Power Struggle which can be confusing. It's not something you can jump in and be ready to play as you'll have to go through the tutorial to really get the feel of the game. Since you are in aNano suit, you can actually get away fast or try to power your way through tough areas when you respawn making it a little less vulnerable once you come back into the game. You'll spend your time in Power Struggle capturing points, building vehicles, and try to launch a nuclear weapon are you enemy with impressive results. Your goal is to take down the enemy base and while there's a lot to do, it does offer something different than the usualdeathmatch.
With so many great effects, the game does suffer from having really high requirements that will most likely alienate a lot of PC gamers out there. I had the game running on an Intel E6750 with 2GB of ram and aGeForce 8800 GTX card and I still had to turn down a few features because I ran into some areas that slowed down the game. Crysis is a game that might have come out a little early as the technology to get smooth gameplay with a lot of features on is overly expensive currently. Something that might help is to run the game on DirectX 9 and use some hacks to open up most of the graphical features that are locked into DirectX 10. You'll get better framerate and picture quality that's pretty much identical to a DirectX 10 machine. Even so, you're still going to need a strong PC to really play the game well.
Bugs are also present and some that really irked me. For starters, any loading of a game in the Contact mission resulted in me being booted to the desktop. I had to reload an area before it to get back into the game. Frustrating yes and one that i hope they can fix soon. Another bug I've seen is small things can kill you or the enemy. Besides the spinning barrel I mentioned, I've seen enemies stumble running over a pile of dead bodies I've created and die on the spot. There was also an issue with the cursor and the menu when I first installed the game where it wasn't clicking on the spot I pointed. While I know there's going to be a few bugs with a game this big, the save bug and a few others need to be addressed as soon as possible.
The game's strong points though are earlier on with the game focusing on traditional weapons and the North Koreans as the enemy. It takes a step backwards when the aliens are introduced and you have to fight through their environment. The third quarter of the game does bring it back a little with the final act on the aircraft carrier being an average affair. The game does offer an interesting variety other than the first person shooting with some vehicle levels thrown in for good measure. No one can doubt the engine's capability and thusCrysis suffers from bring out too much too soon. If only our computers were powerful enough to really play this game in its true form but alas most of us are going to have to turn down many options to get a playable experience. Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun with most ofCrysis and I really enjoyed the freedom you are allowed when going through the game. I still go back to it from time to time to relive some of the moments and to try and kill the enemies in interesting ways other than using a gun. Overall, I'd recommendCrysis if your machine good enough to have most of the features turned on. Otherwise, wait until your machine can catch up to the specs this game needs.
The game takes a powerful machine but it does offer some great visuals and some fun gameplay for the first half. Once the aliens come it goes a little bit downhill.
Rating: 8.9 Class Leading
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
I've been reviewing products since 1997 and started out at Gaming Nexus. After writing for a few different sites that went under, it's nice to bring back a site that's not dependent on revenue and just wants to deliver news and reviews of products.
I'm married, and enjoy first person shooters, sports games, and real time strategy games.