Crysis (Console) Review

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2007 was a great year for shooters: it saw both Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 released to enormous popularity and critical acclaim. A week or so later, a game was released for PC which would be seen as the benchmark for what modern powerful PCs could do graphically, and that game was Crysis. Now, in 2011, Crysis has been released as a downloadable title for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but with much of the awe its graphics produced stripped away, can it still provide a solid single player experience on consoles in 2011? Read on to find out.

Game: Crysis
Developer: Crytek
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Price: 1600 Microsoft Points/£15.99/$19.99
Reviewed on:

Available on Xbox LIVE Games on Demand and PlayStation Network only.

STORY

Military shooters have never really been known for compelling, deep, or clever storylines and unfortunately Crysis is no exception to that rule. You, Nomad, and the rest of team Raptor are sent in to the tropical island paradise gone wrong to extract a group of archaeologists who had made a world changing discovery on the Korean military controlled island. You are split up on your high altitude entry to the island and as you and your squadmates meet up you find one of them has been hideously murdeded by someone, or something.

The mystery of what it was is revealed not long after when you catch your first glimpse of the aliens and their machinery, which appear not disimilar to mechanical giant squid, but you don’t get to fight them ’til much later. For most of the game in fact you are fighting the Koreans on your way to rescuing hostages, and then assisting a full on American assault of the island. There’s nothing particularly powerful here, characters are extremely shallow and objectives are rarely more original than “go destroy those AA turrets, soldier!”

Suddenly, after you enter the mine, after a slightly old school and out of place boss fight against the Korean General, the entire game changes to being about the aliens. There is a weird, mesmerising level spent floating around the alien stronghold, before working your way back to an American air carrier which you fight to save against the full power of the aliens’ armour for the games finale. There simply isn’t much story there, it just a case of “go here…now here…now here…what the…aliens!”. Whilst this is hardly unusual for video games in this genre, it’s still a pity.

GRAPHICS

Crysis may still be one of the best looking games on the PC today, but even on the much less powerful Xbox 360 it still looks very good. It doesn’t quite match up to the quality of the PC version, particularly when it comes to some of the special effects and shadowing, but it’s still one of the better looking console games out there, and exploring the beautiful, vast and mysterious island is on occasion simply jaw dropping.

Given this it is perhaps surprising that the frame rate holds up as well as it does, but there are a number of occasions, usually involving vehicle combat, where the framerate chugs badly which seriously inhibits the gameplay experience at those moments.

SOUND

No such issues would have been had transferring the audio from the PC version to the console versions, Crysis is a really great sounding game. The guns, highlighted by the precision rifle’s enormous booming shot, and explosions both sound superb.

The game sports its own music which is a real strong point, only hurt by how often it cuts in and out randomly during gameplay at odd moments. The one real downer to the way this game looks and sounds has to be the voice acting which varies between thoroughly run of the mill and out of place cheesiness, meant to recreate banter between troops but usually falling very flat.

GAMEPLAY

Where Crysis does little more than the average contemporary shooter in terms of how it looks and its story, it does manage to differentiate itself in gameplay. Through the nanosuit, your armor and exosuit, you have a number of special functions which serve to expand the breadth of the gameplay. Through this you can choose to cloak yourself, increase your speed or strength, or give yourself armor – you are limited to just one of these at a time and they require power which drains as you use them.

Add to that your binoculars which allow you to tag enemies so that they appear on your radar, and the enemy awareness meter to aid stealthy play, and what you get is a tactical sandbox of a shooter which offers plenty of opportunity to experiment. As you go about your objectives you have plenty of choice in what order to complete them, and how to do so.

The open build of most levels contributes to this, and the vast wide open landscapes make a great contrast with the corridor-after-glorified-corridor system that all too many shooters feature. There is an immense satisfaction to clearing an area out without being spotted, but equally to going in guns ablaze and blowing everything to bits (most objects and buildings are fully destructible).

There are only a small handful of weapons, but the ability to customise your weapon through various attachment options means that you have quite a lot of options to play with – all the typical functionality and a little more is provided: from silencers to sniper scopes, and from grenade launchers to incendary ammo.

Vehicles makes a strong showing in Crysis, from jeeps and boats to tanks, and Crysis pulls this element off very well – the driving physics and weaponry feels good while combat is sufficiently deep and interesting.

Though with this big toybox of tools you have a lot of choice, the way that the AI will approach you is invariably simplistic and mediocre, they move around in basic patrols, and once they see you they will shoot. There is very lacking use of cover, most enemies just stand and fire as soon as they find you, and though the harder difficulties are still challenging it does make the gameplay feel a little stale – the result being a game which forces you to play tactically, and patiently, while your opponents will be anything but. For example, enemies seem incapable of challenging you if you are in a guardtower – even though a simple grenade destroys one – and they will fire up at you like sitting ducks while you pop in and out of cover killing them one by one. Crysis gives you the opportunity for clever play, but it rarely demands it from you.

Once you reach the final stint of the game with the aliens it changes quite suddenly and radically, and arguably not for the better either. You start off floating around the alien stronghold, where any wonderment is quickly overtaken by confusion at where you are meant to be going at each point, before being swarmed by your weird squid like enemy who do little more than charge into you and retreat. That’s really a sign of what is to come in the rest of the game: shooting extremely technologically advanced aliens who also seem to be incredibly stupid.

Perhaps least enjoyable of all are the boss fights, finicky encounters which seem altogether out of place in the primarily tactical shooter – the games finale comprising two boss fights felt more irritating than epic and made me pine for the enjoyable  tactical combat of the first half of the game.

VERDICT

Crysis ports across the console without many major technical hitches. The graphics don’t quite live up to the PC version, but are still some of the best you’ll see on a console. The gameplay thrives where it differentiates itself to the status quo. Crysis offers a style of shooter different to the norm with the freedom of its levels and versatility of your character as well the weapons. Without any multiplayer functionality, it’s unlikely to keep your attention through much more than two campaign playthroughs, if that, but at a cut price it’s a good purchase for those looking for something a little less prescribed than the norm.

7.5/10

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