Crysis is a PC gaming legend for reasons that have little to do with its actual content. Released in late 2007, it had recommended specs that quite frankly didn’t exist until at least a year or so later. While such a high ticket to entry no doubt affected sales at the time, it ended up being a hit and is no longer a real issue nowadays since running it is no problem on even a mid-range computer.
CryTek has since moved on and released two sequels, the most recent of which came out just a couple of weeks ago. With the recent release of Crysis 3, I thought it would be fun to go back and see what the big deal was all about and to see if it indeed holds up nearly six years later (an eternity in video game years). Put on your Nanosuit and hit the jump for maximum review.
Well, the first thing to say about this game is that even years later it still looks as good as pretty much anything else out there. Crysis takes place on a lush, remote South Pacific Island which houses a research facility dealing with mysterious goings-on. When the island finds itself under the occupation of North Korea’s military, you (a black-ops type named Nomad) embark on a mission to infiltrate the island and rescue the scientists. As you progress, you and your squad mates discover its true secrets, and it will take all of your skills and abilities to survive.
Thankfully, Crysis gives you a a ton of tools for getting the job done. There isn’t a huge variety of weapons to choose from, but what you do find is highly customizable. You can instantly add scopes, silencers, and lights to most weapons with the push of a button and tailor your arsenal to suit your preferences.
Speaking of suits, the true star of Crysis is the Nanosuit your character wears throughout. While Nomad is a ‘best of the best’ type, this game recognizes that a full-frontal assault of enemies would be pure suicide. What equalizes things is the suit which allows you to instantly alternate between super speed, super strength, hardened armor, or cloaking technology. You can alternate between any of them with a simple mouse-stroke and it takes effect immediately. This allows for some of the greatest emergent moments in the game. For example, you can race from cover, punch a jeep and knock it over, and then make yourself invisible while the KPA soldiers are looking for you.
The only problem with this system is that it is somewhat unbalanced. The stealth camouflage is by far the most useful ability because its energy meter relates to your movement. Speed and strength deplete quickly and leave you a sitting duck, which leads to the player taking a more cautious approach for the sake of self-preservation.
As with Far Cry (CryTek’s first game), this game is at its absolute best when you are staking out bases and figuring out how best to eliminate enemies in a massive navigable game environment. Unfortunately, it also shares a negative characteristic of its predecessor. About halfway through, a (for lack of a better term) sci-fi enemy emerges and effectively deflates the game’s biggest strengths by forcing you along a path that you dare not stray from.
It’s such a shame because the free-flow gameplay is really incredible and affords a ton of play-styles. There are some truly stunning sequences where you can bob and weave between cover, popping out to pick off enemies and disappear back into the jungle. Once the second-half enemies arrive, combat leans more in the direction of emptying a clip into them and whittling down their health. It’s not necessarily bad, but it definitely feels like a letdown after the thrilling first half.
2007 was a year full of great games and Crysis more than earns its place among them. Even in the saturated landscape of First Person Shooters, CryTek carved out completely new territory with this title. It’s somewhat fitting that the Crysis trilogy’s timeline runs concurrent with this generation of consoles, as it shows just how far ahead PC gaming is in terms of tech and innovation. It took most of us a couple of years to be able to get caught up with what this game was trying to do, and in spite of some issues with pacing and balance, it has been well worth the wait. PC gaming is a far healthier place now compared to when CryTek first arrived on the scene, and I would argue that’s not just a coincidence. Far Cry was a pretty-yet-uneven tech demo, but it was with Crysis where they really threw down the gauntlet declaring just what games are capable of, and the console crowd is scrambling to catch up almost six years later.
[+Still looks amazing] [+Outstanding shooter] [+Nanosuit chaos is fun] [+Massive environments] [-Second half of game is weak] [-Nanosuit abilities unbalanced]