Stunning graphics and amazing combat. We love skulking around the jungle.
Aside from obvious graphical improvements, Crysis lacks real innovation.
Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way up front. On a properly configured Vista machine with DirectX 10 hardware, Crysis is the best-looking game we've ever played. Its jungle environments are lush and realistic, with plenty of wide-open areas and just a handful of loading screens in the entire game. This incredible level of graphical detail is what PC gaming is all about.
|Stealth tactics make sense when you’re on foot, but when you’re driving a 60-ton tank, you need not be subtle.|
Screenshots don't do this game justice. Seeing Crysis in action will take your breath away. The perfectly rendered jungle scenes, gorgeous beaches, and water that looks better than the real thing set a new high mark for PC graphics and far surpass what we expected from a first-gen DirectX 10 title. Even more surprising, when we tested the game on DirectX 9 hardware, it still looked stunning—although we missed the fancy depth-of-field effect that is used fairly liberally on DX10 systems.
As for the game, it's carved straight from the generic first-person shooter playbook. There are bad guys (North Koreans, this go around), who are doing something they shouldn't (unearthing an alien artifact), and a hero (you) with powers (via a supersuit that lets you jump higher, run faster, and be invisible) that make you uniquely capable of accomplishing a challenging goal (saving the world). It’s all very predictable. The game mechanics aren’t particularly innovative either—we've done all this before.
That's not to say Crysis isn’t a fun, well-polished game—it definitely is. It's just not revolutionary from a gameplay perspective. The game’s by-the-book weapons include pistols, a shotgun, a rifle or two, and a submachine gun, which you customize with different add-ons—scopes, silencers, grenade launchers, and a few others. While this level of customization could have added some needed depth, you generally end up choosing between the silencer and grenade launcher, depending on the number of baddies you want to take out. Because you'll pick up all of the weapons and add-ons within the first hour or two of the game and you gain absolutely no new suit capabilities beyond those you start with (armor, superspeed, cloaking, and superstrength), character development feels extremely stunted.
Where Crysis really excels is in actual combat, especially at the higher difficulty settings. While the AI seems mildly stunted at the default difficulty, at more challenging settings it’s more realistic without seeming prescient. The brilliant AI, combined with the open maps, which let you scout an encounter unseen and then approach from the best possible side to crush the enemy, is the game's saving grace.
In Crysis, merely shooting a bad guy isn’t the only way to kill
him. You can literally blow his house down.
On easy, Crysis is a forgettable run’ n’ gun shooter, which you'll finish in a few short hours. When you crank the game up to the highest difficulty setting, it's a much more tactical experience. You must silently dispatch your enemies while evading detection or you’ll be killed. To up the immersion factor, the game also forces you to use iron sights and the Korean baddies actually speak Korean. You won't know whether they're talking about the weather or one just saw you skulking through the undergrowth.
Crysis is undoubtedly the type of game that will make your console-playing buddies take note, but compared to other recent shooters, there's virtually no character development. Luckily, the combat is outstanding, more than making up for the game's minor failings.