Crysis

Review

posted 12/31/2007 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PC

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.


B+
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.


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