Somewhere early 2006 my hearth started beater just a little bit faster. We got to see the first images produced by the CryEngine2. A bit later Crysis, the first game to use this new engine, was announced and showcased for the first time and it simply blew me away. After about two years of anxiously waiting for the release of this graphical miracle it finally landed on the shelves, ready to conquer gamers’ hearts (if his or her system was capable of baring this heavy burden). Graphics and physics aren’t everything though and luckily Crysis has a lot more to offer than just some magnificent images.
The year is 2021. An enormous asteroid has crashed on earth on some remote tropical island. North-Korea succeeded in securing the thing before anyone else could and occupies the island with an enormous military force to make sure their new prize is safe from enemy hands. Early on it becomes clear that this rock which collided with our third rock from the sun isn’t what it seems to be. The last time an asteroid of this size and weight bumped into earth nearly all life was exterminated. The US wants to know more about this awkward object from space and sends in an elite Delta Force group, equipped with the newest Nano suits and arms, to take a peek in the island’s woods. Which started out as a simple recon mission takes a violent twist and becomes a bloody fight between Koreans, Americans and a ferocious alien race. The price? Existence of mankind.
Crysis is everything but an ordinary First Person Shooter with fancy graphics. There’s a whole lot more to do than just running around and blowing away everything that moves or once moved. The Nano suited I mentioned earlier offers possibilities of which even the Terminator would be jealous. Stealth camouflage, superhuman strength, bestial speed and bulletproof armor are part of the set of technological tasks this piece of clothing can handle. Your weapons aren’t all that normal either. You need a silencer? No problem, just put it on on-the-fly. Perhaps you wish you had a grenade launcher, special bullets or a scope? Every weapon your carrying can be adjusted to your tactical needs and desires. If you like running and gunning, you’ll need some grenades attached to your rifle and extra armor. If you happen to have a bit more of a fancy for the quiet approach you can put on the silencer, a scope and turn on your stealth camouflage. What I’m trying to say is, you can adjust your equipment to your favorite way of handling things and the situation at hand.
Your equipment isn’t the only factor which impacts the gameplay, there’s also the environment which plays a huge part in how you complete your goals. The world is built in such a way the player is granted an enormous freedom. It doesn’t matter how you do it, you only have to make sure it’s done. The most probable way of entering a heavily defended base is straight through the front door, but this is also the place where the largest amount of troops will be lurking in the bushes, just waiting for you to come along and shoot you to bits and pieces. Not a bad choice, but why do things the hard way? Wouldn’t you rather sneak inside through the back door or jump over a wall while no-one is watching you? You can put down the opposition quietly while progressing through their lines without anyone even noticing one of their comrades has bitten the dust. It’s no Operation Flashpoint where you could run around an entire island just to avoid a tank, but it does come damn close.
The single player can be described with just one word: “masterpiece”. The main factors here are a solid storyline and even better AI. Crysis does have more to offer than just some single player though… There’s also a pretty decent multiplayer mode to say the least! It combines the best aspects of popular multiplayer games like Battlefield with some own, thoughtful elements. I’m talking about Power Struggle. In this mode you’re supposed to destroy the enemy base, but this can only be done with alien weaponry. To be able to use these your team needs to control multiple power centrals to supply the freak of nature with enough electricity to blast away the opposition. To make it all a bit easier you can also conquer bunkers and factories which grant your team forward spawn points and heavily armored vehicles. Apart from Power Struggle there’s also a pretty intense free-for-all mode, but if you’re looking for things like Team-Deathmatch or some simple Capture The Flag, than you’ll be left alone in the dark. There’s no such thing in Crysis. All this multiplayer action is intensified by the multiple gameplay elements found in the single player. Expect cloaked enemies who suddenly punch you in the neck. This, my dearest Fraglanders, is one the most intense multiplayer experiences I’ve had in years.
I probably don’t need to say how great this game looks, I’m guessing every gamer knows this either by reading, seeing of hearing about it (together with the sky-high system specs. Plants that move when you run into them, break on the exact same place where you shoot them, create beams of light like you would expect them to, little rocks casting real shadows, … It’s a very complete picture. The jungle in Crysis is nothing more, but certainly nothing less than what you would see and hear in real life. The soft noise of branches breaking under your feat, leaves blowing in the soft sea breeze, a deafening silence which is suddenly broken by the sound of blasting guns, dying people and falling trees. As I said, a very complete war-zone picture. The manner in which you get involved into Crysis is something I’ve rarely seen before. The intensity and especially the graphics and sound are one of the great aspects influencing this.
Crysis is a wonderful game! Magnificent gameplay in both single- and multiplayer, unseen graphical marvels and audio. Ladies and gentlemen, this has to be THE PC-gaming experience of the past two years and I expect it to be for the coming couple of years as well. Although the game really comes to life on a DX10 machine with Vista, you won’t be disappointed when playing while using DX9. Those great graphics and physics won’t be what you saw in the trailers, but the gameplay does make up for this which makes Crysis a good investment. In my opinion Crysis is everything but a over-hyped game which managed to live up to the expectations. One word: wonderful!