Crysis has been one of the most watched and most talked about games for the last few years. It promised to be the best looking game ever made, and it promised to deliver a deeper, richer and more engrossing first person shooter experience than its pseudo-predecessor FarCry. And it managed both.
It's probably impossible to review Crysis without spending great lengths talking about how good the game looks. So I'm going to get it out of the way first. Crysis looks amazing. If you have something like an 8800gts and a couple gigs of ram and a dual core CPU, you can probably play it with everything on high at a good resolution. And in this state, it looks utterly beautiful. The sunsets are breathtaking, the island foliage is gorgeous, the character models are astounding and you will feel like you're experiencing something very special when you play this game.
Right, that's the visuals done and out of the way. So what about the story? You play as a USA supersoldier type (with a fancy high tech suit called a nanosuit), you're part of a team sent to explore why an American team of archaeologists was taking captive by North Koreans just as they were making an important discovery. Things just get better and better from there. Need an example? GIANT ROBOT ALIENS! It's no more of an interesting story than you'll find in your typical FPS game, but it's a pretty solid plot by FPS standards. The game also looks utterly gorgeous, by the way.
The game presents many playstyles through the customisation available. Your weapons can be customised - you can attach and detach silencers and torches, you can switch between different types of scope and you can even use tranquilisers for non-lethal takedowns. Your usual assortment of weapons is in here. And then there's your nanosuit. The nanosuit might just be the best thing about Crysis. It has a small energy bar which drains through use and recharges with rest, meaning you can't use it too often, you have to be selective, which gives for a deeper and more tactical experience. With the suit, you can turn invisible for short periods of time, become super strong, super fast or have super armour.
Just to give an example of how that may play out ingame, you spot a camp up ahead with enemy soldiers patrolling. You drop into stealth and sneak past them to take cover behind a building. Using strength you leap right up on top of the building, then survey the scene from high up, tagging enemies with your binocs so they appear on your radar (just like FarCry). You then use strength to smash open the roof of the building, so you fall inside. Switching to speed, you tear out of the building towards the Koreans, faster than they notice you. You then switch to armour and take down all the enemies at close range with your weapons, while taking reduced damage yourself and also giving them no chance to react or call in reinforcements. And that's just one of the ways you can approach that particular situation. With your tools available, there are many, many other ways you can attack the enemy. Crysis is an extremely deep game when compared with your typical shooter. Oh, and it looks utterly gorgeous, too.
And the AI is utterly wonderful. The North Koreans will take cover, try to suppress and flank you, use grenades creatively, and also check out things that interest them. This is one of the more interesting elements of the AI. They queue up and remember things that happen, then order them by importance. If an enemy sees something rustling in the bushes, he'll come over to check it out. If you thick quick and lob a grenade as a diversion, he'll immediately turn to check it out. But if he doesn't find anything over there (like, for example, you) he'll turn around and resume his original search. It's very refreshing to play a game where the enemies don't just have more health, but are actually smarter. Crysis's AI also facilitates various playstyles, if you want to play the game as a run n gun, the AI will react as you'd expect. Similarly, if you prefer to play the game as a stealthier, the AI will facilitate this, without being specifically designed for either playstyle. Crysis has some awesome AI. The game looks amazing, too.
The style of the game changes quite a lot over the ten or so hours you'll spend playing. The game is split into roughly three acts. The first act takes place in the lush jungle foliage. The second act takes place entirely in zero gravity, where the recoil of firing your weapons will propel you, and spent shell casings float around in the air. It feels like you're underwater. The final act is also on the jungle, but it's been xenoformed by the aliens into an icy jungle - there are some truly epic battles against aliens here. It's quite refreshing to play a game that changes so much over its length, as so many games - especially shooters - tend to stagnate in those final few hours from doing the same thing over and over and over. Crysis does not suffer in this way. The game just keeps on throwing new set pieces and scenarios at you. You never feel like you're playing filler. The game also looks utterly fantastic.
Crysis also features a great sandbox level editor (which is actually pretty easy to use once you get to grips with the basics), and your typical assortment of multiplayer modes. But really, it's the singleplayer experience that shines, and the technology that backs it up. Crysis is probably not the best game of the year, but it is nevertheless a magnificent achievement which every FPS fan or techhead should play. If you like deep, clever shooters then Crysis delivers, if you like fast paced firefights, Crysis delivers. If you like beautiful visuals, astounding technology and magnificent physics, Crysis delivers. Oh, and it looks absolutely beautiful.