Crysis may have preceded its noteworthy sequel (well, duh), but it wasn’t available to the widest audience. Not many people had super computers that could blow holes in the moon, so to many gamers, Crysis was a pretty face that was lost amongst the shuffle. Fast forward a couple years and Crytek finally became aware of this and released it on new platforms that were more widespread; the Xbox 360 and PS3. Hitting each of their respective downloadable services for $20, having control improvements, and looking fantastic, Crysis should be in any shooter fan’s repertoire.
A team of soliders fitted with the all-powerful Nanosuits have been sent to an island and have been tasked with finding a missing team of archaeologists. This crack team of scientists has claimed to have found something huge within the depths of the island. The Koreans have also set up shop in this green wonderland along with some other alien force making every task less than easy for the team of soldiers.
Crysis 2‘s story wasn’t a shining example of a golden narrative and most of that rings true here. The main character, Nomad, has been gifted with a voice box, but his dialogue is mostly pretty corny and filled with cheesy one-liners. Other characters can be endearing at points, but no one (mainly the military “bros”) has anything of interest to say to carry the plot along. Info dumping happens often and it can be easy to lose sight of the main goal, leaving Crysis‘ narrative to become rather anemic.
This Crysis may not take place in New York City, but it is very liberating. The vast island is nonlinear and doesn’t lead you by the nose of your Nanosuit to each objective. You’ll see where the primary and secondary objectives are, but that doesn’t mean you’ll want to mosey straight to your destination. Exploration is encouraged because weapon parts and ammunition dumps can be found just out of the way along with opportunities to play around with the enemies. Movement is pretty speedy, so traveling across the island never drags down and becomes tedious. I even opted going on foot for most of game, ignoring the many vehicles in my wake.
Having a looser approach can lead to crafting a play style that fits you. The suit has a few modes: stealth, armor, and speed. Each is regulated by a single quickly-refilling power bar and is vital to anyone’s approach. Marching in the front gate with armor on and a minigun might suit one player, but it may not work for everyone. The stealth camouflage was necessary in my approaches, as I opted to go in as quietly as possible. Eliminating guards without being seen or heard is reminiscent of something you’d see in Predator and twice as satisfying.
The AI is pretty vigilant (with some realistic vision cones) and will punish overly reckless behavior so a more strategic approach will probably make up some portion of your combat scenarios, but Crysis performs best when all of these elements meld together. Plans change dynamically as the scenarios play out and the wide functionality of the suit accommodates that well. An all-stealthy plan of attack may start out well, but using the super jump ability to get a better vantage point and equipping armor to lay down fire not only changes up gameplay, but it demonstrates just how open Crysis really is. I always felt like I was choosing what to do and not the other way around.
While the guns aren’t built into the suit, they carry a similar sense of freedom. Littered around the island are modifications to each gun that can be spread to most of the firearms. Laser sights, silencers, sniper scopes, grenade launchers, and much more can added on-the-fly to make every gun applicable to each unique situation. Each of the weapon slots (two mediums, a heavy, and a pistol) has varying ranges of customization. Outfitting my rifle with a silencer and scope (sniper or red dot) just shows how flexible the customization is and how much freedom the game lends the player.
Crysis has been synonymous with unusually good looking games, and this console iteration holds up well. The framerate can slightly dip in a few (but rare) spots, but it is smooth sailing on every other front. The dense green jungle landscape will leave you a little speechless the first time you set eyes on it, mostly because it is hard to believe that it looks this good. The whole island feels populated yet isolated and the greens and blues that are present in the ocean and greenery really stand out. An incredible attention to detail is found in both the environment and character models, something that was probably hard to translate from the high-end requirements of the PC. Hardcore PC fanboys might scoff at the lower specs given to the consoles, but they would be ignorant if they didn’t see the visual brilliance displayed here in the console versions.
The sound design in Crysis will also please your ears in a similar way the visuals please your eyes. Music chimes in appropriately when firefights emerge and is mostly (and fittingly) absent when going for a sneakier approach. Ambient noises from animals and nearby soldiers (that speak Korean on harder difficulties) lend itself well to establishing a much-needed sense of place. Other sound effects like the suit functions and gunshots also have good noises associated with them leaving the sound package as a whole (except for most of the voice acting) to be pretty gratifying.
Truth be told, the graphical fidelity and crisp audio are the only features that transfers to the last act of the game. In a decision out of left field, the play field is drastically altered in the last third of the game and it hinders the game because of it. I’ll leave out why this happens, but the zero gravity section is borderline sickening and more than a little disorienting when trying to figure out which glowing hole is the actual path. After escaping this specific region the following levels discard the useful utilities the suit yields and becomes just another shooter as the new foes don’t allow for such strategic thinking. The actual act of shooting is gratifying, but the real hook for Crysis is taking advantage of the suit against the soldiers in an open vista. It felt a little soulless when that part was amputated from the game in favor of regular, linear gunplay.
Sequels usually nullify their predecessors from a gameplay perspective, but that is not the case here. Even after completing and enjoying Crysis 2, the original title feels like a different experience and stands on its own two feet as something worth owning. The extensive wilderness landscape ripe for exploration, the Swiss Army knife-like suit, an open mission structure, and the marvelous visual fidelity make sure Crysis is one of those first-person shooters that stands out. Being on affordable platforms and coming it at only $20, this a game we should be thankful for.
+Rich, luscious visuals
+Fresh sense of freedom
+Suit powers and smart AI make for a uniquely crafted experience for your play style
-Last third of the game ditches everything sacred
Final Score: 8.5/10
*Yes, I am well aware that Crysis is on PC and was on that platform first, but I know they’ve gone in and changed a few things and taken out the multiplayer. Because of this, I won’t include that version in my review. That said, the game part is mostly the same, so if you really wanted to, you can apply some of the things I said here to the PC version.