Star-Fired Beef

Steam Challenge – Crysis

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This is part of my Steam Challenge Series (the full list is here).

Time played: 20 hours

This is the first FPS I’ve played for a good while, and as such it took a little time to readjust to the controls and feel of it. I’ve spent so long in MMOs that I instinctively hold a mouse button in order to move the camera, which is frustrating when it makes you waste ammo and/or attracts attention. But I got back into the groove, and Crysis was a very enjoyable FPS that lived up to the hype it received over the years.

As a game that was released in 2007, only a couple of years before I got my mid-range-at-the-time computer, my rig was able to play it reasonably well, but it showed why you basically needed a cutting edge rig to play it when it first released. Even today, it is purrrrty. I noticed the same level of quality in the tropical areas of ArcheAge, which uses CryEngine 3. I was able to run Crysis smoothly at the top settings, which made for a breathtaking experience at times.

The game takes place on a remote subtropical island off the Korean Peninsula. You are a special forces commando (of course, seems like most FPS games in the last 10 years put you in that role), wearing a nanosuit that enhances your capabilities. By switching modes, you are able to run faster, gain superhuman strength and jumping ability, become more resilient to damage, and even cloak. The suit also gives a logical way for you to regain health without needing medipacks or health pickups. It’s very consistent with its in-game logic, so immersion is easy to maintain.

The game is on rails, but there is a lot of space to work with in order to complete objectives in your own way. There are subtle barriers – mostly cliffs – that contain you so you don’t go off script. The story is okay, but not great. It’s fairly predictable once you have done the first couple of objectives. I much prefer games like Half-Life and Portal for their stories than Crysis. It feels like the story is more of an excuse to show off the technology than anything.

The AI enemies are simultaneously really well done and also dumb as fuck. If you pick off a sentry that is in view of others, it will trigger calls of alarm and perimeter sweeps will be made, if they haven’t already spotted you. They fan out and try to surround you if they can. However, it is ludicrously easy to draw them into a bottleneck and slaughter them as they appear, even on the hardest difficulty setting. Add to that, the cases where they bump into each other, causing them both to fall over, and the cases where they all bunch up outside the room you’re hiding in, allowing you to pop out, shoot one, then pop back in without them coming after you. Those latter cases are rare, but it was still disappointing when it happened.

There are really two distinct parts to Crysis. There is the jungle fighting part, the first half of the game, and then there is the “everything’s gone to shit” part. I liked both – the jungle part, while really fun, was very much in danger of dragging on too long, so the second part was way more enjoyable than it might have otherwise been, simply because it changed things up. The boss fight at the end was suitably epic, although for some reason it was the one time I had to drop my graphics settings to low, otherwise my graphics card would overheat.

The ending was clearly signalling a sequel, which I appreciate – one of the things that bugged me about the Half-Life – HL2 transition was the apparent lack of continuity – but it also robbed me of my sense of closure for the game. I don’t have Crysis 2, nor do I have an overwhelming urge to find out what happens next – as I said, the story wasn’t fantastic – so I’m left feeling a tiny bit unsatisfied.

I’m sure I can live with that, though. The overall verdict is positive, but I’m not putting it up there amongst the best games I’ve played.

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