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Crysis (PC) artwork

Crysis (PC) review

"I've never noticed that Korean sounds a lot like English."

Crysis (PC) image

The foes you face in the first half of Crysis, members of the Korean People's Army (KPA), are masters of base defense. They hunker down behind barricades and man wisely positioned machine guns. Dozens of flying bullets either keep you dancing away from base entrances, or leaping behind barrels and huts. Forget about trying to sneak in from the side; the grounds outside their digs are decked out with landmines, complete with signs that caution trespassers of their presence (written in English, no less). Suffice it to say that if you haven't stocked up on ammunition, nabbed every grenade you've come across and devised a solid infiltration plan, the KPA will mow you down and joke about your hole-ridden corpse (again, in English).

Invading a base in Crysis is akin to solving a puzzle. You must observe your target, get to know how it ticks and act based on your findings. Of course, there are multiple ways to get through the KPA's defenses, but none of them are obvious. For instance, I entered one of my first bases by ignoring the front gate and running toward a gunner's nest on the side. There, I lobbed a grenade into the nest, destroying both it and its occupant, and I used my suit's "maximum speed" ability to charge past the landmines without setting them off.

When it comes to frenetic battles in the wilderness, though, Crysis' KPA soldiers fight like they've just completed training. They might be able to nail a running target well enough, but their tactical skills are sufficiently laughable that even dealing with a large contingent is no biggie. By falling back and crouching behind a piece of environment, you can easily kite the opposition and pick them off one by one. It doesn't help that these warriors telegraph their next moves by yelling at each other in English:

"Grenade!" one of them shouts, as he lobs an explosive.

Another charges into a wide, open space and says, "Cover me! I'm reloading!"

"Moving forward," I hear, just before disengaging the crouch function and dispatching several troops.

Crysis (PC) image

To be fair, it's not exactly easy to take down an enemy clad in high tech armor like the protagonist wears. Thanks to the armor's five settings, you can boost defense, speed or strength. The other two settings are for stealth and additional upgrades you can attach to any gun, such as sniper scopes or laser sights. Courtesy of this system, you have several ways to deal with any situation. You could go in guns blazing, using the increased defense to absorb bullets as much as possible; crush skulls with superhuman punches; or use the stealth mode to creep past guards.

Wait, that's not entirely correct... Although I've read reports of players being able to slip into bases, I could never get stealth mode to work properly. Whenever I engaged it, enemies would spot me and start shooting, even when I was crouched or tiptoeing. That's when I abandoned camouflage almost altogether and stuck with my favored tactics of either kiting opponents or using explosives to create entrances in fortifications. Hey, if I can't take the subtle approach, I'll take the blatant one.

The suit's advantages don't guarantee an easy victory, though. For instance, I remember clearing a landing zone near a mill that was crawling with snipers and men clad in a cheaper version of the armor I possessed. All I had for defense was an excavator to hide behind, and not the broad side of it, mind you. Sometimes I'd duck between the treads and wait for ground forces to come to me, hoping that none of them were carrying mini-guns. I'd score as many head shots as my luck would allow, then try to take out the snipers with a Gauss rifle. Those are desperate times, but also some of the most thrilling moments the game has to offer.

Crysis (PC) image

Well, not all of Crysis' desperate struggles are great. Earlier in the campaign, I commandeered a tank. Sure, I had superior firepower and delighted in watching troops fly through the air and adversarial tanks and helicopters explode, but moving while aiming was a pain. The WASD keys controlled the tank itself while the mouse aimed its howitzer. This becomes problematic when you're in first-person mode, since you can't see how your treads are angled and can easily become confused or stuck. Movement improves in third-person view, but proper aiming goes out the window. The only answer is to constantly switch between the two perspectives, which is still irritating.

Eventually, the storyline reaches a climax within a crumbling mountain. All of the antagonist's best forces prowl in the darkness of a cave system, and you must put your skills to the ultimate test while in tight, pitch black spaces. At this point, most military shooters would wind down, thrust you into an easy final boss encounter and cue end credits. Crysis, on the other hand, refuses to conclude. It shifts from its "Call of Duty with power armor" premise into a sci-fi themed alien shooter, executing the transition with surprising grace. Then again, the campaign made a point to prepare you for this occasion by dropping both subtle and obvious hints of an alien presence from the very beginning.

Crysis (PC) image

The early outs of Crysis give you vast glimpses of beautiful jungles and valleys: lush greens, cool waters, homey little villages with farmlands... In other words, early battlefields showcased wide open terrain with complex details that allowed for a variety of strategies and carefully thought out firefights. Once the extraterrestrials arrive, though, Crysis nixes spacious locales in favor of closed-in confrontations against monsters that can kill you with ease. Cover-based combat disappears, replaced by aggressive, frenetic conflicts involving barrages from glass-like projectiles and saw-blades attached to crystalline tentacles. It's a welcome change of pace that prevents the experience from souring due to repetition.

After around ten hours of Michael Bay-ish explosions, terrible accents and dead aliens, the game concludes with a "stay tuned for the next exciting installment" kind of ending. Ordinarily, I roll my eyes at a title's reluctance to tie its loose ends, but Crysis left me pumped for a sequel. Thankfully, it's no longer 2007 and I don't have to wait for Crysis Warhead or Crysis 2. It's really no surprise that a first-person shooter highlighted by terrific AI and a successful transition into another sub-genre would leave me pining for more...


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (August 27, 2016)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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