knightsofround's Crysis (Collector's Edition) (PC) review

An euphoria-inducing thrill ride of intense and amazing moments.

If there is anything that pretty much everyone already knows about Crysis it's that the game is freaking beautiful. There is no doubt in my mind that Crysis is easily one of the best looking games ever created. This creates a bit of a problem though. Is Crysis simply a pretty tech demo or is there a hidden gem of a game behind all of that eye candy? The answer to this question is an astounding yes; Crysis is an outstanding first-person shooter experience that almost feels like a high profile Hollywood summer blockbuster mega-hit turned into a video game.

The main thing that needs to be stated when it comes to Crysis is that the game is intense. From the first moment you take control of your character you find yourself sky diving out of an airplane over the beautiful pacific ocean, just off the coast of an eastern Philippines island. This is where you begin your mission as Nomad, a member of the United States elite Delta Force, a group of soldiers wearing special nano-augmented suits. The nano suits play a huge role in Crysis and will be essential to your survival. This offers you a variety of special abilities such as super strength, super speed, cloak, and power armour. You can only use one of these abilities at a time however, and thus must choose wisely based on the current situation. These powers greatly enhance the gameplay of Crysis because you will have to think quickly about which augmentation is best to resolve your current struggle. Do you want to opt for the extra armour and tough your way out? Maybe you want to increase your suit to maximum speed and run for a higher vantage point to gain an advantage over your enemies? Or maybe you want to engage cloak and silently take the enemy soldiers out one by one as an unseen menace? Crysis gives you these options in a sandbox-like environment where the game world presents you with a variety of options on how to tackle each area. No two players will ever have the same experience while playing.

So Crysis gives you a bunch of fancy abilities, but what about weaponry? Crysis has got you covered there too. While there is not an overabundance of weaponry, there are numerous customizable options for each weapon so you can fight the way of your choosing. You'll have access to a variety of scopes, sights, lasers, and so on, and the great thing is that you can modify your weapons effortlessly on the fly to change things up when needed. The weaponry consists of your basic assortment of rifles, shotguns, and SMGs, but also contains some experimental fictional weaponry, as well as my personal favourite: the minigun.

The first half or so of Crysis takes place in the lush island jungles where you will square off against an armada of KPA soldiers (Korean People's Army) and you'll need to use the terrain in combination with your abilities to survive. Fortunately things ramp up and Crysis vastly shifts gears just before this type of gameplay starts to wear thin. From there on, there's no looking back. Once Crysis shifts gears it throws unexpected thing after unexpected thing your way that it's truly mind-blowing and epically memorable. There is a brief sci-fi interlude in zero-gravity just before the island turns into a frozen paradise, and after that you'll soon find yourself fighting off crazy alien machines with a plasma-energy weapon in the middle of a winter storm. Crysis doesn't end here though, as you find yourself frantically on the run trying to escape from the island in the midst of an all-out alien invasion. Eventually you will make your way to an American aircraft carrier after a memorable dog fight over the island with you battling it out against an armada of alien gunships. The aircraft carrier section is where some of Crysis' true brilliance really shines through. There is a rare sequence of notable character interaction and no fighting whatsoever on-board this level akin to that of Half-Life 2, which was incredibly unexpected, but definitely appreciated. The aircraft carrier is also home to my favourite moment of the entire game which has you running in and out of a room full of a pool of radiation trying to fix the reactor core of the ship by pushing the radioactive control rods back into place. All of this might sound a little crazy, but Crysis truly is a complete thrill ride, the second half of the game almost feels like a roller coaster in video game form.

Part of what makes Crysis so amazing isn't just the fact that it just looks amazing, it's that it looks amazing and plays fantastic too. If you've ever seen a screenshot of Crysis then there is no denying that the game is downright gorgeous, but you'll truly need a decent PC to enjoy it because Crysis is, unfortunately, a system hog. If you don't have the latest in PC hardware but a relatively recent PC you should be able to get Crysis playable but you will be missing out on a lot of the eye candy. It doesn't matter though, because even without Crysis on the maximum settings it's still an absolute blast to play. There are so many aspects of Crysis that come together so well though, and the attention to detail in Crysis is absolutely unmatched. When a grenade explodes near your character mud sprays across your goggles and your vision temporarily blacks out with a deft ringing coming through your speakers. When you stand still too long in the frozen paradise your goggles freeze up and ice hardens on your goggles. When you stand too close to a wall Nomad will lift his weapon up near his shoulder to make room for himself. When you are booking it to the hill trying to escape from a torrent of bullets you will see Nomads arms swaying back and forth at his sides and he breathes heavily to reach his destination. It's stuff like this and the feeling of full-body presence that makes Crysis feel truly immersive and makes the whole thing feel amazing. Really when you're running around in a pool of water on an aircraft carrier with flickering lights and alien machines blasting at you from the corners with your feet splashing around and your arms swaying back and forth it's a truly immersive and epic experience, something that definitely needs to be experienced for youself. On top of all that the sound design of Crysis is appropriately intense with the music ratcheting it up several notches when the action heats up, and the themes are epic and anthemic after you've just shot down a bunch of warships as you're flying across the pacific ocean in a fighter jet. It's actually goosebump inducing just thinking about it.

At this point there's a good chance you may have already made up your mind about Crysis, maybe you've written it off as a fancy tech demo with nothing to offer on the gameplay side of things, or maybe you simply just don't have a computer good enough to run the game. Regardless of your reason for not playing Crysis one thing cannot be understated, this game is truly amazing, and is without a doubt one of the best first person shooters ever created. Crytek really has come a long way since their campy first outing with Far Cry and have created a truly memorable game akin to a high profile Hollywood blockbuster summer action movie. A disappointing cliff-hanger ending, not enough story and character development, and poor optimization of the game engine are the only things holding this game back from being propelled to even further greatness in my books. That being said, as it stands, Crysis is without a doubt one of the best first person shooters ever created. It might not offer the absurdly competitive multiplayer you're looking for, but it will provide you with one of the most cinematic campaigns you will ever play, that just makes you feel absolutely amazing while playing it. Whether it's in a few months, or a few years, put Crysis on your list of games to play, because you need to play this game.

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