It is very hard to try and start a sentence post Crysis as this game left me in such a state of awe that the dopamine released left me as a drooling wreck. From start to finish the action is non stop, the graphics are unbelievably beautiful and the user interfaces are innovative and stylish. In short this game is a work of art. There were at least five times where I paused just to admire the scenery overlooking a bay or a giant chasm.
The start of the game begins at 124 Mph…….literally! From then on it only picks up pace, you shortly lose half your team mates to an unknown evil and once the squad leader is speared and dragged into the sky, the scene is set for the protagonist: Call sign NOMAD to take centre stage. The frenetic action is stitched together with a ludicrously unbelievable story line that retains the player's interest and adds to the all too common phenomenon of "Just this next kill, Just this next stage, Just this next chapter………" meanwhile the sun has set, 10 hours have passed and you have become nothing but a Crysis gaming robot!
I don't want to give the ending away to all those who have not played it because it is a little slice of gaming genius smeared all over some truly ground breaking graphics! I'll just leave it at that, you won't be disappointed!
Instead of discussing the plot line I will focus on the gaming experience it gives the player. Set in 2019 NOMAD is a special forces Soldier (In fact this is something of an understatement, NOMAD is an extreme special forces soldier, in fact he makes the SAS look like a group of 17th century dragoons), the unit he serves with is a gathering of the worlds finest soldiers all of whom are equipped with Nano Suits that gives both physical and tactical advantages.
The very nature of the Nano suit gives the game and the way the player can approach it a completely unique and fluid appeal. The suit allows the player to switch between Armour, Strength, Speed and Cloak; when I first heard about this my initial reaction was one of scepticism, the last thing I want to be doing in a first person shooter is fiddling around with buttons and hotkeys! In reality the system is set out very ergonomically and each performance enhancement is carried out using a mouse gesture control i.e. When the centre mouse button is pushed, the physical enhancement desired can then be selected by dragging the mouse toward the chosen feature. Very quick and very smooth. This allows the player to flick through the different enhancements rapidly whilst picking the best possible attack strategy…...Maximum Powerrrr. On top of this the suit looks preposterously cool!
However, don't think you can spend your whole Crysis life as a blurred illusion in the jungle or a bolt of lightning skimming across the ground. The suit has an energy bar that depletes exponentially with the amount of movement required. For example if you were to stay prone while cloaked, the bar depletes much slower than when you are sprinting from tree to tree ducking for cover and once you take a shot or the suit runs out of energy you de-cloak and are visible to all those around. Although I cursed this multiple times (Especially when I suddenly lost cloak in the middle of a machine gun nest) it is an essential branch of the game; If the player could stay cloaked constantly then it destroys the skill involved.
The array of weaponry within Crysis is pretty standard for a first person shooter but it is the way the gamer can utilise and customise a gun that makes it special. The armoury can be modified to suit a particular style of play or a personal preference. The options vary depending on weapons, but most carry the same modifications: Silencer or No Attachment, Tactical Attachment (Tranquillisers) or Grenade Launcher, Flash light or Laser Pointer, Iron Sights (Basic gun sights), Reflex Sight (Red dot in a glass sight), Assault Scope (Scope with limited magnification) or a Sniper Scope with 4x10 Magnification. As you can see this gives the player an immense amount of freedom to 'play as they please' whether that is putting the bad guys down in a myriad of flying bullets or a well placed and silent head shot.
Any situation can be tackled differently depending on how the gamer is feeling or progressing:
Angry? Then jump in the nearest Jeep, accelerate to top speed, point the hood at a number of enemies and oil barrels and bail out of the truck to watch a magnificently detailed explosion of smoke, fuel and body parts that shower the local shrubbery.
Calm? Collected? Cloak in and silently put the enemy to sleep with the tactical adapter, collect the data and cloak out. (A lot more skilful than it sounds, especially when there are more gunmen than at a James Blunt concert)
Bored? Jump up and down repeatedly in power mode laying waste to everything in sight with a rocket launcher.
In fact a personal highlight whilst infiltrating an enemy AA position was cloaking in next to a helicopter and sticking a lump of C4 to it, after carefully escaping through a dense thicket it was time to start picking off the guards with the silenced, sniper scoped Scar rifle I had customised earlier. Once the enemy caught wind of my existence the helicopter took off and flew straight over the top of them at which point I triggered the C4 to witness the aircraft explode into a hailstorm of really hot tiny bits that rained down on the people below. Beautiful. A gaming experience well up there with the completion of Sonic.
Aside from the complete freedom the game gives you in terms of tactics and your interaction with the world around you (The maps are free roaming and the world around you is fully interactive from tanks to twigs) the aesthetics and attention to detail continue to astound throughout. Every single weather condition is executed in staggering fashion by Crytek, from sunrise to sunset, snowfall to rain, and all affect the player to some extent, when playing in the rain or surfacing from a body of water the droplets roll off and stream down the camera at random. Later in the game when roaming around in the icy tundra the frost begins to build up on the camera when still and if static for too long the mask becomes completely opaque, only clearing when moving forward or standing next to a burning vehicle . The game pays so much attention to detail that even the reflex sight becomes frosted making the iron sights the only accurate method to expend ammo.
There are however a few blots to Crytek's copy book, the enemy soldiers as a group are very tactically aware and band together running proven scout patrols and real search operation tactics. Unfortunately as individuals they are pretty dumb……for example a classic way to knock off a lone soldier is to crouch behind an object, cloak, stand up and shoot him, crouch, recloak, stand up and shoot, crouch, cloak and repeat until dead. It's a useful tactic but it is a bit sad the game with such detail lets you down on some of the A.I. Ideally the soldier under fire would realise, run around the object and smoke your ass. It is also a little easy to stealth round a patrol or sneak up to within two inches of an enemy and power punch the guy in the back of the head (Ah who am I kidding that part is more fun than a bouncy castle with wheels!) nevertheless it does make the gameplay a little tiresome when you figure out how to beat the system.
Another small bug in the game is a weapon drop within a building. I'll elaborate; When an enemy is shot the gun he was carrying is dropped to the floor and the ammo/gun can be retrieved. If this occurs in a house or a building of some sort the gun can sometimes become stuck in a wall or the floor and constantly make a *phut, phut, phut* noise which ruins the games well achieved Doppler effect. On top of this the gun cannot be retrieved so the noise has to be endured unless you reload.
Other things that bug me yet are not really considered to be bugs per say include a tank that can't run over a garden gate and a world in which everything is harder than a coffin nail, for instance I switched to max power and threw a twig at a corrugated iron shed which promptly collapsed as well as making the vehicle inside explode alerting every Kim, Jin and Norryata in the vicinity! I mean for crying out loud it's a stick not a cluster bomb!
In it's defence this is a PC game and like all PC games it is inevitably going to suffer from a few bugs. Thankfully such is the calibre of the game that it is just a drop of salt in a river of fresh gaming perfection.