With all of the buzz surrounding the third installment to the Crysis series, I figured now was a good time to go back and finally continue playing the game that started it all back in 2007 and see where the series has come from that point. So this week I sat down and put on the Nanosuit once again and dove back into the story of Nomad and his comrades in their trek to figure out just what is happening on this crazy island overrun by Korean soldiers.
About the Game
Crysis is the first in the series of the similarly titled games developed by Crytek, a German developing studio. The game was released by EA in 2007 for Microsoft windows with a simplified version being released on Xbox360 and Playstation 3 using the CryEngine 3 in 2011. A beast of software, this game was taxing on even the most advanced PCs when it came out. Actually, the technology to experience the game to its fullest extent was not even really available, thus making the game truly ahead of its time not only in gameplay but in actual performance.
In this game you star as ‘Nomad’, a member of a special branch of JSOC, who has been deployed to a fictional island near the Philippines to extract vital personnel and intel. After malfunctions with the jump gear, you are separated from your group and must find your way back to them. Everything starts to fall apart as you lose a teammate to an unknown enemy that has also taken the lives of a nearby KPA patrol. You decide to continue on with the mission and you start to find that all is not as it seems and the unknown item buried in the excavation site might not be a simple artifact. As the game progresses you are tasked with infiltrating bases for intel, rescuing high value targets and eliminating threats that are attempting to wipe out everything on the island, all while discovering the dark secrets hidden in this forsaken place.
I found the plot and the story to be rather interesting though a bit ill-placed throughout. There were times were combat scenarios were few and far between, which could be good or bad depending on what you want from the game. Some people like to run and gun and use brute strength to wipe out all of the enemy forces which the game totally allows you to do with the Armor and Speed modes of the Nanosuit. Other people, like myself, like to make heavy use of the Stealth mode and suppressed weapons to quickly but quietly eliminate any threat. Both angles have their own pros and cons and the beauty is that you can change up your game plan whenever you want and it will still work. I like to play stealthily because I think of Special Forces soldiers as being silent but deadly. This method tended to draw out combat so it the game did not seem off in pacing, but I could understand how it could be off when you are going full blast and eliminating the town in a few seconds.
The game is sort of a weird mix of both linear and open world gameplay. It is not open in the sense that there are side missions or the ability to roam freely, but the world itself is still pretty massive and it gives you room to maneuver around and ‘breath’ so you could fight however you wanted. On the other hand, it was not extremely linear either. You could explore a little bit but there was nothing to do if you left the main arena of combat except maybe the occasional KPA patrol. I actually kind of liked this method of design though because it provided general direction without feeling like you were being dragged along. You are always right in the front lines of the action as opposed to some title where it feels like you are just missing all of the action.
By far the most valuable weapon in this game is your Nanosuit. It is specially crafted, futuristic set of armor that apparently was based on actual military test materials, to an extent. The armor allows you to make use of four different modes or enhancements to natural abilities. Armor is the default setting and it absorbs a large amount of bullets and other damage. Strength gives you the ability to jump higher and hit harder whereas Speed allows you to run faster. The mode that is by far the coolest and probably the most used is the Stealth or cloak which allows you to be practically invisible and lets you slip past enemies without detection or change locations without the AI realizing it. The suit has a limited amount of energy that is depleted at varying rates while using abilities based on your stance and movement.
Besides the Nanosuit there is a large assortment of ballistic weapons to choose from including: assault rifles, pistols, shotguns, rocket launchers, sniper rifles and grenades; just to name a few. You start out with what is called the SCAR and it is by far the more powerful of the two assault rifles. The common complaint with the game though is that ammunition for this rifle is incredibly rare and almost impossible to find unless you monotonously check everywhere. The other rifle is carried by almost every Korean soldier and thus us easy to find ammunition for. Most of the weapons and ammo you find will actually be found from dead soldiers which is another reason not to try to bypass all soldiers like I did the first time around. Each weapon can also be customized with an assortment of accessories like suppressors, flashlights, holographic sights, sniper scopes or ACOG style scopes. Some also feature under barrel attachments like the sleep dart gun.
No review of a Crysis game would be complete without discussing the extremely taxing graphics for which the series has become known for. The first game was designed on the CryEngine 2, which is the successor from the engine used in Crysis’ spiritual prequel, Far Cry. It was on if the first engines to utilize DirectX10 on Vista. The game is incredibly taxing on machines even now and is often used for bench marking machines even today. In an interview, Roy Taylor of NVidia’s Content Relations he stated that Crysis has “over one million lines of code, 1GB of texture data, and almost 85,000 shaders” At the time of this games release, no machine on the market could actually even run Crysis on its maximum settings and resolutions.
The game definitely shows the graphic quality in-game though. Even on my Intel 4000HD card with low settings, the game looks incredible. The detail in the landscape is amazing, down to the grass and bushes and the lighting during different times of the day. When running this game on a more powerful machine and high settings, this game still competes with modern games and in many cases surpasses the look and depth of the most demanding games of today.
The game also features a comprehensive multiplayer component which I actually did not have a large amount of experience with as it is hard to find maps with full servers. I suspect that after the hype of the third game wears off more people will return but we won’t know until then. The game does allow for up to 32 people per match though as well as a sandbox editor that allows you to create and use your own maps in online multiplayer.
Even in the wake of the amazing final part of the Crysis trilogy, the game that started it all still wows us to this day and many people consider it one of the best PC games of all time. In a sense, I would say that the first game was more innovative than its sequels because nothing like this game had been seen before then. The games after were just living up to a reputation but Crysis set that bar so high to begin with. I think that it will be a long time before any of the games in this series are set to the wayside and I hope people have the opportunity to experience this masterpiece for many years to come.