Sunday, September 14, 2008

Crysis: Maximum Review

Crytek's original game, the award winning masterpiece of free roaming island hopping Far Cry is among the highest rated First Person Shooters of all time. It was noted for it's extraordinary draw distances, superbly drivable land and sea vehicles and it's sandbox approach to the outdoor levels which allowed the player to choose their own route to an objective rather than the usual way other developers confine you to one linear path with dozens of scripted sequences. Now Crytek has taken all of those elements from Far Cry and enhanced them with an even more free roaming environment, superior almost unpredictable AI, added an airborne vehicle and wrapped it up into a magically beautiful and realistic graphics engine for their next game - Crysis.

I've written a load of info about Crysis previously, so I won't repeat myself for this review. Suffice to say, everything I previewed came to pass with bells on. The whole gameplay experience was top-notch especially the majority of the game's campaign that dealt with you killing a lot of North Koreans. You could sneak around the island picking them off one by one in your heavily armoured and souped-up Nanosuit or go for a full-frontal assault depending on your play-style or your mood on that day. The the game caters for multiple approaches for the same problem. For instance just to see if it could be done; I assaulted the same enemy compound a few different ways: Once I sneaked in via a nearby stream underneath the buildings like some sort of high-tech ninja and reached my objective using suppressed weapons. A second time I took up a high-ground sniper position and picked off the sentries and heavy machine gun nest operators allowing me access unhindered. A third time I launched a rocket at their gasoline supply creating a successful diversion away from my exposed infiltration. And my personal favourite: Driving straight through the main gate in a pickup truck to an easily defensible position close to my objective which included taking out a few enemies by blowing up my truck's gas tank once I was free. I've no doubt there's other approaches as well perhaps from the coast to the West or the jungle to the East, but I had to move on.

You have an arsenal of weapons to chose from, but choose carefully as you can't carry everything. In addition to your pistols which you can set to fire two bullets at once - and carry two of them so you can fire an awesome 4 bullets at once - (that's just the pistol!), you also have a machine gun, obligatory shotgun, a SCAR assault rifle (that you'll run out of ammo for very quickly and need to replace with a N.Korean rifle), a sniper rifle, minigun, rocket launcher and more, all the tools you need including your Nanosuit. Provided you set up your hot-keys for it's different functions correctly the Nanosuit can both save your life and enhance your gaming experience. There are 4 operational modes, the default being armour which as the name suggests prevents as damage for as long as you have power, strength for punching your way through doors and jumping greater heights, speed for running short distances as quick as lightening and a cloak which bends light around your armour effectively making you a Predator. Unfortunately all these abilities are generated from a central power core which is expended in seconds but it regenerates via solar collectors in a short time. The only bad thing about the Nanosuit is that you don't have one in every FPS.

It is later in the game, perhaps 66% of the way through that the game falters for 2 reasons, graphics issues and the alien levels. While Crysis has been praised for some of the most incredible graphics ever seen on the planet putting all current consoles to complete shame, it has been slated for those same graphics being so badly coded that they will grind a system running even triple SLI GeForce 9's to a near unplayable state in the final third of the game. It's frightening to think that machines the equivalent and perhaps even more powerful than the vaunted Maxximus could be reduced to 10FPS here when we enjoyed completely fluid High-rez DirectX 10 up to that point. A shocking let down to have to reduce some of the graphics settings to in order to complete the game.

Part of me is not upset at having to reduce graphics quality however, as the final levels of Crysis concentrate on finding and thwarting the alien menace. You find your way eventually to the Alien ship? or whatever and the gameplay changes radically from what it was to fighting flying aliens in zero-g! Still that particular section isn't as bad as the infamous "Zen" of the original Half-Life, but it's a little naff nonetheless. Improvement comes later when you escape from the ship and proceed to the final showdown on board the USS Constellation aircraft carrier which was for the most part thrilling and exciting in it's own way but not as good as when you were battling the N.Koreans.

Final Verdict: Crytek managed to recapture the awe and wonder of Far Cry for the next- generation of systems and while it's two major issues prevent Crysis from knocking Half-Life 2 off of it's "Best Game Ever" pearch, the game is still one of the greatest entries in the FPS genre and one I hope will continue through it's planned sequels and expansions.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****


Anonymous said...

Not that this matters to you but isn't a lot of the game a HL/HL2 rip off?

The fact you need a computer from 200 years in the future to play it without it falling to pieces on you is a different issue.

I rate this game EC-10. All copies and the systems they were played on to be scheduled for incineration.

Bruce Russell said...

So it's "good," but is it "groin-grabbingly good"?