Contains suggestive grotesque and violence references!
FPS games are perhaps the most popular PC games. They come and they go, a very few remain to set an example of what's called extraordinary. In every field, you will see that there is some new innovation that sets up a benchmark to beat and a level to fear of. The German based Crytek did it with their FPS, Crysis.
Breaking a barrier of what’s called impossible, Crysis is not only a graphical benchmark for other games, it’s also a fantastic shooter with amazing customizability, best gameplay and very good playability.
The protagonist is NOMAD, a team member of a Delta Force team sent by the US government. All the team members have a special suit, called the 'Nanosuit'. The suit is capable of four super human physical modes viz., maximum strength, maximum armor, maximum speed and dynamic cloaking abilities.
Set in the year 2020, the Crysis is all about future warfare. The Korean government has discovered something extraterrestrial and refuses to give the information to anyone. An American based scientist team sends a distress call about something that can change the world. A special 'Raptor' team is sent to evacuate the scientists and recover any valuable information. On their quest to evacuation, two team members, Aztec and Jester are KIA and Prophet, the team leader is MIA. Only Psycho and Nomad are there to deal with the Korean government and something extraordinary.
As story unfolds, it is discovered that there is a prehistoric fossil, termed in the game as 'Relic'. It has been fossilized hence its excavation is going on. Suddenly it sends out a strange electromagnetic signal that manages to cloud sub-zero temperatures in near vicinity. The Nanosuit of Nomad however protects him from the biting cold environment. It is decided to launch a full-scale invasion over the evacuation site to discover what exactly is going on.
As Nomad continues to rip apart the Korean soldiers with his powerful Nanosuit, he finds himself in what looks like a naturally built cavern. It is later discovered that a Kyong leads the Korean military and desires a reverse-engineering on the 'Relic' to make him powerful. The cavern later witnesses a major quake and Nomad kills Kyong. Although Nomad manages to evacuate a scientist from the cave, he himself is stuck with no other place to go except an alien opening leading to an unknown place.
While Nomad is inside what looks like a big alien ship, he discovers that there is no gravity and that he must use his Nanosuit's hydro-thrusters to make his way out. He fights a bunch of small alien enemies and discovers a large force of alien enemy units probably preparing to launch an attack on the mankind.
After a struggle, Nomad makes his way out of the big zero gravity structure and moves forward to discover that the alien structure just made a gigantic sphere which engulfs the atmosphere and creates a sub-zero environment freezing everything it touches. The temperature soon drops to as low as -200°F (-129C) but Nomad's suit protects him from this temperature drop. He soon rendezvous with Prophet who manages in reverse-engineering an alien weapon that he uses now. But because Prophet's suit was damaged, Nomad now has to escort him to a small US military gathering nearby.
As the group unleashes forward, they soon tackle a big octopus like alien enemy, who they term as the "Alien Exosuit". Major Strickland draws its attention as the others manage to evacuate but during this, the Major dies. After a short while, the group is now on a US ship where the Admiral is given the orders to nuke the island where the aliens are. Prophet decides to control this situation his way and goes to the island rejecting orders. It is later discovered that after the nuclear attack, the energy sphere grew stronger and aliens started attacking the ship. Nomad and his group must now protect the ship and destroy the Alien Exosuit and their Mothership.
In the end, Nomad is escaping in a VTOL and is given an information that Prophet (who is still on the island) is still alive even after the nuclear attack. Nomad says to his VTOL pilot to turn around and that now they are going to save Prophet and end this once it for all.
In the game, there are endless possibilities. There is huge, gorgeous and exploitable environment. Feel free to navigate around and make your own strategy of killing enemies. You can customize weapons by attaching, modifying or removing attachments. These include a grenade launcher, tactical rounds, laser assisted aim, flashlight, scopes, weapon silencer, fire modes, incendiary and normal ammo, etc. The customization allows you to even kill the enemy your own way.
In most of the cases, you can choose around 3 different strategies which later link to many sub strategies themselves. You can choose to infiltrate an enemy camp by hit and run or you can surprise them by cloaking your way inside and killing them one by one stealthily. You can also choose not to attack at all and sneak past the enemy. You suit enables you to do all that very easily.
If you want to engage in combat, engage the maximum armor mode to become vulnerable to much gunfire. Switch to maximum strength mode to jump more than 20 feet high vertically and jump to small rooftops and gain the advantage of height and sniping. If you want to kill silently, engage the cloak mode become invisible to the enemies temporarily and take them out using your knife or hand chocking. Want to just evade the action? Just switch to the maximum speed mode and whiz past your enemies at more than 40 miles an hour of speed. They will not even know what passed them by.
You can also customize your weapon to fit a silencer which will reduce the gunfire sound but will also reduce the damage dealt. You can use flashlight in dark areas but it will give you away. Use the special binoculars to tag your enemies and see their real-time positions using the GPS technology. Plant C4s, remote bombs for some bigger action. Drive a vehicle of your choice, ranging from tanks to hummers to VTOLs, all with advanced controls and camera angles. This game is just not only a shooter, it is a shooter the way you would just want it to be. There is also lots playability as you can always try different approaches and sometimes, different approaches also give you different rewards.
Your enemy in Crysis is surprisingly intelligent. The Koreans know how to take cover themselves or toss a grenade to blow your cover away. They will keep strafing to make it difficult to aim on them. They will use helmets which can resist small bullets from a SMG or a pistol. And when it comes to a mounted gun position, they will make sure that will not cross the bridge unless you decide another way in. They can also handle weapons and vehicles surprisingly well. Thanks to the advanced AI, it all makes sense. The alien enemies are also powerful, agile and quick as a cat. Its just difficult to take a steady aim on them. But a 'Gauss' rifle later achieved can take them down easily provided your crosshair is as accurate as a sniper's. The game though set a benchmark in AI, it had some bugs, some of which were fixed in the standalone expansion to the game, Crysis Warhead. The modern FPS games have a comparatively better AI though but the AI in Crysis is still worth to pose you a big enough challenge. You will also encounter Korean enemies with Nanosuits (Koreans somehow managed to steal the technology but didn't make it quiet as powerful). When these guys show up in multiple numbers, especially when they have sniper rifles and miniguns, you get some challenge.
But perhaps, the most important thing about this game is its graphical quality. It’s very controversial but now I believe that it’s not bad at all. I frankly don’t know how, but CryEngine 2 (the game engine of Crysis) has not only made the development of best game graphics possible but also enables them to run on a huge variety of computers (now, even consoles). It’s much hyped, but is it really that well? Take my advice, it is!!! Sometimes, the graphics are photorealistic, it’s that good! At the time of this review (Nov 2011), there is no game available on PC that matches the graphics quality of Crysis and Crysis Warhead (including even Crysis 2!). Recent games take up more hardware and still do not match the quality of the graphics of Crysis. This is what is called, optimization. The graphics are so much optimized that they are the best (of course) and they still do not demand that much hardware as now-a-days most games demand.
Everything from a cloth’s texture to a big mountain terrain, your teammate's eyes to the big ice sphere, they all look gorgeous. You can differentiate lighting effects in every leaf of a tree and point out the water on the leaves. You can see every snow flake and see a water splash a mile away if you shoot your bullets into the water. To add to this beauty, the environment is equally exploitable. You can shoot trees to make them fall. And it’s not a graphic, when trees fall, they can even kill an enemy standing underneath. You can pick up almost anything and throw it. How about throwing a rock onto a Korean enemy's head? It will work, and it will kill him. Be careful from the bushes and dried up leaves as they make noise and give your position away. You can grab and enemy, switch to maximum strength mode and throw him away at other enemy's to deal damage to them or use him as a human shield. It’s just amazing to see how Crytek gave utmost heed to even the smallest details of the game. It all works out and you will just love it.
I happened to like everything in this game, who am I kidding! I loved it! But the story plot has somewhat failed to impress me. Not that it’s nothing short of a very good story, but it just doesn't appeal to me. Setting the game story in future with aliens is just not the one thing that I want in the best game. Even on this plot, the story is very good but it somehow feels that story was just not focused upon. It felt like the game is just developed to set a benchmark in computer graphics and deliver an excellent gameplay. But, it’s entirely subjective, I guess. I didn't like the plot, and to some others, it is just the one thing that makes the game extraordinary.
Let it be anything, I would term this game as THE BEST game ever, at least in the shooter genre. It’s just not a game, it’s a yardstick for other games in every terms. The best graphics (at the time of this review) and still comparatively low hardware requirements are something that amazed me the most. Moreover, the environment dynamism and excellent playability all adds to the score. All I want to say in the end is, if you haven't yet played Crysis, you are missing one heck of an action!