In terms of visuals and gameplay, Crysis is king.
Before I decided to move on, I made one last inspection at the blitz I had just unleashed. An assortment of torn bodies rest around a blazing oil barrel. A man lay sprawled, lifeless against a cold, gray rock. A humvee lay cindering, its passengers as dead as the dirt they lay motionless in. I gaze at my ammo count and couldn’t help but flash a smile. All of this violence was discharged with just four bullets, a single grenade, and just a little help from my military nano suit. As I began to walk down the dirt path to my next objective, a warm feeling of satisfaction fell over me. That’s how you get it done.
Crysis is a game of variety. From throwing a man clean through a building, to floating weightless in a zero gravity space ship: Crysis keeps you flowing the whole way through. Despite the game’s forgettable story, its blindingly realistic visuals, heart-pounding action, and array of super powers will have you coming back for more long after you’ve completed the game through.
Crysis takes place on a vacant Pacific island, hosting a research team which has recently found some mysterious artifacts. Artifacts the North Koreans are very interested in. You play as Nomad, the most generically American male member of Raptor Team. Your job, along with your five comrades, is to infiltrate the newly North Korean controlled island and rescue the researchers who have been taken hostage.
Once you’ve lunged yourself out of an airplane, you’ll quickly find out that when the developers boasted that this was the best looking game available, they weren’t kidding. Crysis looks spectacular. Keep in mind that I came to this conclusion 40,000 feet up into the air while freefalling at night. Imagine how mesmerized I was the first time the sun came up! After being knocked out of the air by a mysterious flying object, your nano suit kicks into Maximum Armor mode and you hit the water hard. This is where the game starts.
Your nano suit is the most important tool you have at your disposal in Crysis, and what sets it apart from other FPS’s. While many FPS’s ineptly make you feel like a super soldier due to bad game design, Crysis’ entire game is built around you being an efficient killing machine. ‘Ole Uncle Sam has dropped millions into giving you an ample variety of ways to kill your enemies, though with a set amount of rechargeable energy, these powers can become expendable and useless in a fight if not used correctly.
At the top of the list is Maximum Strength. Quite simply, it gives you the power to hurl a man like a football, punch through a building, and leap higher than Spider-Man. Maximum Armor protects you from bullets, fire, and (to some extent) missiles, acting as a second lifebar in times of need. Maximum Speed allows you to cover ground quickly, though loses steam rapidly and typically helps you run straight into trouble, rather than away from it. Last on the list is Cloak, the power you’ll probably be using the most if you want to stay out of trouble. Cloak enables you to become invisible, helping you sneak into enemy compounds or dispatch foes close up without drawing too much attention. However, sprinting depletes your Cloak’s energy quickly, and if it drops too far into the red zone, you become visible again. Cloak also burns itself out if you attack an enemy, so if you plan to dispatch your foe without causing a stir, it’s wise to do it from a hidden location.
To further aid you into ruining the Korean Army’s day, you have a small assortment of weapons at your disposal. Crysis is almost Bioshock-like in its list of weapons. You have your typical pistol, submachine gun, shotgun, rocket launcher – every FPS standby is here and accounted for, but the only unique gun you get is given to you 3/4 of the way through the game and is taken away from you thirty minutes later. Unusually, the game’s lack of variety in its weapon choices never bothered me, because not only does each gun pack a punch and can be used in amusing ways along with your nano suit, every gun is easily customizable with parts you find attached to other enemies guns. Want to equip your pistol with a laser pointed and pretend you’re playing Resident Evil 4? Go ahead. What about a grenade launcher to your assault rifle? Easy. You can even attach a sniper rifle scope to a shotgun. I played through half the game with a scope-mounted shotgun just because I was so happy it was possible, if not effective.
Though you have many advantages with your nano suit, you’re still only one man. The Korean Army isn’t brainless; in all honesty, the enemy AI in Crysis is perhaps some of the most intelligent I’ve seen in a video game yet. Snipers will run for high ground, while foot soldiers armed with shotguns and assault rifles with group together to hunt you down. The game feels almost Metal Gear Solid-like in its approach to stealth, as crawling prone through foliage while Cloaked is the smartest way to bypass the Korean’s many patrols. However, if you’re spotted, you’re going to have a colossal confrontation on your hands, unless you manage to slip away undetected. The Koreans will attack you from land, sea, and air with a small collection of vehicles to hamper any of your attempts at compromising their operation. Enemies will attack vigorously, but not without caution, and will effectively take cover, group into formations, or rocket off a flair for help if the fight isn’t drifting in their direction.
Unfortunately, the Koreans are replaced by aliens halfway through the game. The aliens aren’t like the Koreans at all; they will rarely group together, opting out to rather rush your position individually, though some take to high ground to fire projectiles at you. The aliens are tedious to fight and come in only about three flavors, so you’re constantly fighting the same tiresome enemy over and over again. Thankfully the game ends on a cinematic note before fighting them becomes too enervating, but the aliens will hold you back from the likelihood of enjoying the second half of the game in another playthrough.
Thankfully, just about everything you would ever want to do in an FPS is presented to you in the first half. An epic heavy armor battle pitting tank against tank, island hopping to destroy Korean anti-air guns, firing nukes at an enormous alien space ship (though found in the second half); Crysis is just consistently throwing these captivating moments at you left and right. Brewed with its resplendent visuals and enthralling gameplay, there’s rarely a moment where you’ll find yourself spiritless and not wanting to find out what’s going to happen next.
At its current price of $30, Crysis is an absolute steal. Age hasn’t touched this game a bit. It’s still the best looking game you’ll ever see and it’s still one of the best FPS’s to ever grace a gamer’s hands. Though it has some beefy system requirements if you’re planning to play it on anything higher than Medium, Crysis still looks good even at its lowest level of detail and plays like a dream. In terms of visuals, gameplay, and value, Crysis is an exceptional video game and truly an experience you can’t afford to miss.