As far as First Person Shooters (FPS) go, Crysis is a shining beacon of hope that shows us that there is still room for change in the genre. Inventive gameplay that is familiar yet distinct capitalizes on a story that blends a compelling military drama with an otherworldly Sci-Fi adventure. Crysis is another stellar example of why 2007 is the best year in gaming to date.
The game begins humbly enough, Nomad (The man you play as) and his team parachute onto a small island located off of the coast of Asia. Your team’s goal is to find and rescue a team of researchers who have discovered some sort of strange artifact. Things go south quickly as a strange creature separates the team during their descent and then proceeds to kill one of your teammates. To make things worse, as soon as the North Koreans get word of your team’s presence they begin gunning for you around every corner. Clearly a case of the Mondays, and a set up for a very good story.
For those of you who want to get a taste of Crysis and play through the brief opener that I have just summarized, feel free to download the singleplayer demo here.
One of the game’s trump cards is the inclusion of the Nanosuit. The Nanosuit is a full body suit that Nomad and his team are equipped with, it grants them superhuman abilities and makes each member of the team a one man army. Nomad’s abilities are extremely helpful and you will find yourself using them often. Maximum Speed is one of my favorite powers, with it Nomad is able to run extremely fast for roughly four seconds. It may not seem like much but it does wonders for escaping a hairy situation or running around a group of soldiers and gunning them down before they can react. One thing to be wary of in speed mode is that you can actually hurt yourself if you are running full tilt and happen to collide with a large solid object, I laughed out loud when I found this out for myself. Next on the list is Maximum Strength, Nomad will be able to jump higher and punch with enough force to sent a pickup truck end over end (No really, you can actually do that in game). The real perk of strength though is the ability to eliminate any and all recoil from your weapons, it’s a plus that I wish I had known about earlier into the game seeing as I can’t hit the broad side of a barn with a shotgun… at least not in a game.
Cloak is the next skill and it is arguably the most useful. No matter what side of the argument you are on, everyone will agree that Cloak is used much more than the rest of the skills. I mean come on, Nomad is invisible… what else do you need to hear? Well I guess there is one downside, firing a weapon will disable cloak so make sure you’ve got Nomad in a good spot. Finally on the list of skills is Maximum Armor, this skill is nice for the players who fancy being a tank. Bullets will do less damage and you can feel like an action hero when you run Nomad into a room full of guns and come out the other side without a scratch. This is the power that your suit will default to when you run low on energy or take a lot of damage so don’t think the Nanosuit isn’t looking out.
Another very cool feature that ships with Crysis is the weapon customization system. Most weapons have a myriad of add-ons that can make or break your career. Silencers, grenade launchers, precision scopes, and different types of ammo are only some of your choices. Heck, you can even try slapping a precision scope on Nomad’s machine gun, switching to exploding munitions, and enabling single-fire mode if that tickles your fancy.
So then what of the actual combat? The game controls extremely well and the shooting mechanics seem to be spot on. Shots make logical sense, a head shot is going to drop an adversary right quick whereas a shot in the ass is only going to serve to piss him off. One thing you’ll want to remember though, the North Korean soldiers are an organized fighting force and they are equipped to the teeth. Don’t expect to be fighting a ragtag group of people with guns, these guys are sporting body armor, heavy weapons, jeeps, tanks, and attack choppers. If you think you’re going to walk all over them then expect to find Nomad full of holes rather quickly. Strategy is key, and the enemy AI makes certain of this. You’ll find yourself relying on those trusty binoculars to tag enemies so that they appear on your map; if you neglect to do this the enemy force will split up and flank Nomad and you won’t know where they are (Get this, their camouflage actually does make them harder to see!).
Beyond the excellent challenge that the North Korean forces provide, you’re not going to be shooting at them forever. Crysis is not your everyday shooter, as Nomad progresses he’ll eventually run into the much-touted alien race that has found it’s way onto the island. If the above screenshot isn’t indication enough, the stuff hits the fan quite spectacularly and nobody is spared. This portion of the game can best be described as hectic and you’ll really feel a sense of urgency as everything falls apart. The developers did show some mercy by giving Nomad a nice addition to his arsenal, but you will still be biting your nails well after the credits roll (If you remember, Crysis is a trilogy).
Multiplayer fans will find that the action of the singleplayer game translates over fairly well. The environment is not as destructible as it is in the single player game but the Nanosuit is powered up and ready to go. You’ll quickly learn what it is like to have a cloaked soldier sneak up on you and pop one into the back of your skull. This mode is not for the faint of heart, strategy will win the day and you must learn how to best take advantage of your Nanosuit.
There are two flavors of multiplayer action, Deathmatch and Power Struggle. Deathmatch is just what you would expect, kill or be killed; everyone is out to get you and you are out to get everyone. Maybe I’ll go back on what I said, for the most part tactics will go right out the window in any Deathmatch game, Crysis is no exception. Power Struggle is a change though, you’ll need to work as a team to capture various facilities that dot the map. As you capture these structures your Nanosuit will gain more powers (Your Nanosuit starts out with limited functionality) and you will have access to more powerful weapons and vehicles. This mode can be a ton of fun or a huge disappointment if your team sucks, but this is hardly a complaint… you’d be hard pressed to find an FPS in which people actually cooperate with one another.
For fans of the FPS genre, consider Crysis your messiah. It plays like a dream and it is the closes thing to photorealism out there. Aside from the hardware requirements (Which the game will grow into), Crysis is absolutely epic. I award Crysis a ten out of ten, not because it is perfect (As I’ve said, no game is perfect) but because it is pure unadulterated fun. Expect to see even more incredible action as the series continues, it’s a trilogy so expect at least two more games!