Thursday, August 30, 2018

Classic Review: Crysis

Crysis, the game that brought even the highest specced hardware at the time to it's knees is now 11 years old. "But can it run Crysis?" became one of the most famous gaming memes of all time. It referenced the fact that practically no PC, neither launch or for many months following the game's release in 2007 could actually play it at it's highest settings. I constructed Maxximus that year with the intention of playing Crysis but only managed high resolution for most of the game, with alien levels grinding it to 10FPS in places. Even 10 years on, many including myself currently lack the GPU power to render the game on ultra detail at 60FPS in 4K, despite being able to run some later games with those settings without issue, but it makes me smile rather than annoyed because... well because it's Crysis!

After recently playing Far Cry, I thought I'd take Crysis out for a spin again. I'm pleased to report that the EA's normally crap Origin platform installs the best version of the game without issue but you may need to edit a config file to manually generate a resolution above HD as that wasn't considered at the time of Crysis' development. I played in ultra detail but in 2K [1440p] as I wasn't getting close enough to 60FPS at 4K. I'm pleased to report that the game holds up very well and I had no issues with it at all for it's duration.

Far Cry, Crytek's original game, 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 standard linear path with dozens of scripted sequences as employed by many developers. For Crysis, Crytek took those elements and enhanced them with an even more free roaming environment, superior AI, added an airborne vehicle and wrapped it up into CryEngine 2, a magically beautiful and realistic graphics engine that can still hold a candle to the first person shooters that followed it but has been surpassed by a few iterations since then to power the Crysis sequels, the Sniper series, Homefront and 2017's Prey.

The gameplay experience is still top-notch especially the majority of the game's campaign that dealt with you killing a lot of North Koreans. You can 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. The the game caters for multiple approaches for the same problem, be it stealth, distraction, long range or just drive in and kill everything!

You have an arsenal of weapons to chose from, mostly real-world fare - pistols, machine gun, shotgun, assault rifle, minigun, rocket launcher etc., all which can be customised with necessary attachments like suppressors, grenade launchers and scopes, basically all the tools you need including your Nanosuit. The Nanosuit is Crysis' true gimmick and it can both save your life and enhance your gaming experience with its different modes, the default being armour which prevents damage, strength for jumping or punching your way through doors (and people), speed for running and a cloak which bends light around your armour effectively making you Predator.

The latter third of the game sadly falters a bit due to it's alien levels. You find your way eventually to an alien ship thingy and the gameplay changes radically from what it was to fighting flying aliens in zero-g! It's thankfully not as misjudged as the infamous "Xen" of the original Half-Life, but it's a bit shit. 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.

It's evident now, looking back at this that Crytek were not just building a game, but a game engine tech demo that had pretty much all of the possible graphical features they could think of putting into it like force-based destructible scenery, enhanced volumetric smoke, realistic surface water behaviour, unpredictable artificial intelligence and physics based combat, all without any regard to people being able to actually play it or not - the fact that it ended up being a great and successful game must have actually been a surprise to them. 


In my opinion, Crysis represents the first game for the way games look like today because one would be hard pressed to find a graphical or physical engine feature in a game now that isn't just a more modern or better version of what Crytek did here. Developers (even Crytek themselves) sadly don't put as much effort into games, or innovate as much as Crytek did for Crysis because that's not what makes money today, instead it's micro-transactions and loot crates.

I'm glad I could go back and enjoy Crysis as it was meant to be experienced after a decade. I feel primed now to play Crysis Warhead, Crysis 2 and 3 for the first time soon.

Pros: Still a fantastic looking game. Nanosuit! Customisable weapons! Kill North Koreans!
Cons: Still can't play Ultra detail in 4K @ 60FPS 11 years later! Alien levels are shit. Boss fights a bit tedious.

Crysis is available to buy today from:
Note that my original experience was with the PC CD-ROM version and this review is based on the Origin digital download version.

Disclaimer: This post uses elements from my own original Crysis review dated September 14th 2008.

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