Number of posts : 37 Registration date : 2008-01-17
Subject: [PC] Crysis Sat Jan 19, 2008 4:24 am
I find it amusing when hype surrounding a game focuses solely on aspects other than how the game actually plays. For far too long, the only thing we in the media heard regarding Crysis was how it would make all of our computers fall to their knees begging for mercy, only to then deliver none. I was, and remain to this day, the furthest thing from a fan of Crytekís prior offering Far Cry which struck me as an engine in search of a game.
The idea of an open-ended and utterly gorgeous game world where anything is possible is not a new idea. But todayís rapidly accelerating technology allows for flashier and shinier games that edge us ever closer to photorealism. In this regard, Far Cry was a success. Had it a coherent narrative, believable characters, and competent enemy AI it would have surpassed its potential.
Fortunately, Crysis sees that potential realized. Graphics - 98/100
It is one thing to see a painting, it is entirely something else to see it come to life. From end to end, Crysis is masterfully drawn. It is almost shocking to find yourself on a tropical beach, watching a sunrise from a hut as enemy soldiers patrol the bay in front of you. When you take out one of these boats then commandeer it, it is incumbent upon you to drive around. As the waves splash around you, planes fly overhead, and crabs scuttle about on a small island, the only thing missing is the smell of the ocean spray.
The different settings allow for all the bells and whistles to be cranked up or turned off, or somewhere in between. The game still looks respectable without everything cranked to an 11, but I would recommend hitting www.tweakguides.com for their guide on how to get the most out of Crysis. It is invaluable information because watching how trees sway before falling to a hail of bullets is stunning.
Character models have an impressive skeletal structure that rivals Valveís Source engine, the only engine to date where I found believable faux humans. The good thing about the game is that instead of lone-wolfing it the entire way, you get to interact with your squad and other people at scattered intervals. It honestly felt like a 70-30 split of alone versus team work so nailing how the characters look up close in both day and night time settings was vital. Crytek nailed it, hard.
Sound/Music - 97/100
As beautiful a game as Crysis is, stop and listen. It doesnít matter where you are in the game. It is important to stand stock still and listen as the sound of the breeze whips past your head on the beach, or the clicking of crabs scuttling about your feet, or the footsteps of incoming soldiers tromping first on foliage then on rocks. Whether Crytek hired an army of foley artists or if it was just one person, the sound design in Crysis is as stunning as the visuals. Swimming through the ocean or a small tributary is wonderful in how the water splashes against you, and how it drips from your gun as you emerge.
There are hundreds of lines of dialogue spoken throughout the game and while it is not as complete a novel as the standard Bioware game, the actors perform in their characters with a raw conviction. At first glance, the storyline might be viewed as little more than another Predator clone and while it certainly lifts the "men on a mission while in a jungle" theme intact, the characters... donít really differentiate themselves at all. They deliver their macho grunts with glee, however, and for a unique experience play the game on the hardest setting where the North Korean enemies only speak in Korean. Oh sure, they may be saying things like "Stupid American! I get you now!" but how would anyone in the Western world possibly know that outside of Firefly devotees who need to let go.
As good as the environmental sound effects are, the direction the game takes you via the interior sound design will blow your mind. It remains believably immersive as it goes through phases of excitement to stealth to creepy. The way things culminate in Crysis brings everything together for a show-stopping finale on board an aircraft carrier. If this isnít one of the greatest missions of any game in the past year, I donít know what is. Sure, the ultimate goal of it is fairly simple, but the interaction with the environment and how it echoes in your skull will stick with you for days afterwards.
Controls - 95/100
The controls are extremely tight and at first glance the mouse controls would be problematic. But after playing with it for a few moments, it clicked (so to speak). The game defaults the suit control options to the scroll wheel. Pressing this will bring up a "Simon Says" wheel where you select which power you want your suit to use for the moment. Even while in the heat of battle, players will get the hang of it and be able to switch powers on the fly without accidentally swapping firearms.
As it is a PC game, all the controls can be remapped to your heartís content. Your character responds quickly to your commands, which is helpful considering how fast and furious the action gets. The good news is that it is difficult to accidentally do one thing when you mean to do another.
Gameplay - 192/200
The opening of Crysis is stunning. It literally drops you onto a jungle island where things are on the verge of going very, very wrong between North Korean and American forces. The genius though is how the game builds up to a reveal of something far worse, and the leaps forward in storytelling mark this as a vast improvement over Far Cry. It is clear right from the beginning that the developers knew where their story was going, and how best to tell it because it works far better than a majority of first-person shooters. The ongoing philosophy in the games industry seems to be "engine first, story second." While Iíll allow Crysis follows this formula as well, it does manage to take a good story (not great, but good) and tell it well.
I think it tips its hand far too early with what happens during your descent but that may just be me. Immediately after I thought this, I looked at the back of the box and the story is spoiled there too. Go figure. Had this been and promoted primarily as you versus an army of angry North Korean soldiers on an island in the Pacific, the story twists would have taken every one by surprise in the best way.
As it stands now, the game will shock and surprise you especially in how immersive it is. Say what you will about the steep system requirements, this is a game worth experiencing. It makes the game world tangible, so much so that knocking in to things do not cause them to go flying across a room. Instead, a table will lurch, coffee mugs on it spill, and one of them may roll to the ground shattering. A guard outside might hear it and investigate. You activate your cloak and wait for the guard to come inside while keeping a sharp eye on your energy meter as it slowly counts down. When the guard enters you have the choice of sneaking outside and continuing on, shooting him with your silenced gun, or enhance your strength and strangle him with your hands.
The beauty of the game comes from taking in one glorious vista after another, only to be dropped into a war zone. My jaw hit the ground when I began a mission where I was to take out North Korean anti-aircraft batteries in a tranquil bay. As I followed a soldier to meet the local commander, I threw myself prone on the ground as an incoming plane, bathed in fire, scorched the sky over my head and exploded into a near-by mountain. The following mission found me on the beach watching the sun come up as planes soared overhead and AA batteries lit up the dawn.
One of the most cinematic gameplay moments of the last few years was when I found myself driving a tank in a pitched battle with enemy armor while a mountain in the distant background began to fall apart. Words fail to describe the adrenaline rush of racing across open terrain while surrounded by flanking enemies in a world that looks real. It became even more exciting when I bailed from my tank, took out an enemy soldier, then used his missiles to fight it out with the remaining armor. This situation could be handled in one of a hundred ways and it is to the credit of the developer that firefights can be replayed endlessly with different results every time.
Bear in mind Iím not even talking about later when the game gets truly strange, but I will allow that the closer is unbelievable. For the first time it genuinely feels gamey with a boss fight but by that point Crysis had me so completely under its spell I could forgive it. I was worried it may go a haywire towards the end and while Iíll allow the ending should have been more conclusive than it is, it still feels like a complete experience.
I hate another trend in this industry where developers and publishers are more concerned with setting up a sequel rather than providing a rock solid conclusion. Should a sequel present itself that builds on the existing story, fine. But developers the world over need to focus more on concluding the story they tell in the first place rather than leaving players holding the bag expecting dessert immediately upon completing the main course.
Thatís also more metaphors than I should have thrown down but Crysis is so good it warrants discussion of both good and bad.
Value / Replay Value - 95/100
Do not be fooled into thinking this is a long game. Crysis follows the trend of hitting the six to eight hour mark in terms of length, but with so much to explore and so many ways of completing tasks it demands immediate replay. The game is fun, first and foremost. The requirements may be steep but if you can get it to run on your computer then you are in for a treat. It is a well told story, immersive like nothing else in recent memory, and fun. Not to mention it comes with a healthy dose of multiplayer action, augmented recently by Crytekís release of a new map pack.
Other than standard multiplayer options, Crysis has a fun mode called "Power Struggle." Those familiar with UT2K4 will note similarities between the two as players fight it out in "Power Struggle" for control points, ownership of which boosts a teamís prestige points which can be spent on specialized weaponry and equipment. The nuances available in this mode were such that Crytek actually created a tutorial to walk players through their options. I, for one, had no idea I could essentially set my own objectives via interaction with the map until I watched it.
Then I slapped my head and played it until 2 a.m.
Crysis is a masterful game from Crytek and I sincerely hope their next title is equally dazzling. The scale of this game is enormous, and as the player moves from one excellent set piece to another it is important to keep a bottle of Advil handy. Why? Because too many times your jaw will either hit the ground or it will hang open and lock. Either way, not so good for you. But Crysis is worth every second of play time and if you can run it then do so.
It honestly is that good. Bravo, Crytek. Bravo indeed.