With Great Power Comes Great Game
I’ve always been an advocate of the “Gameplay over Graphics” argument. There’s no excuse for a game to look pretty but have shoddy mechanics or a lacklustre story (Assassin’s Creed, I’m looking at you). But something about Crysis makes me think that the other side might have a point.
From the moment you jump out of the plane at the start (them’s volumetric clouds, people!) and hit the water the game never really lets up with the spectacle. About five minutes in you’re treated to one of the most beautiful sunrises ever seen in a video game. Shortly afterwards you’re pushing your way through dense jungle flora on your way to investigate Korean military activity which turns out to be something else entirely.
If the story is a little bit clichéd at least it’s easy to follow. Cutscenes (when they deign to appear at all) are all handled in the first person, and offer a decent smattering of well acted dialogue and superb motion capturing on the stunning character models. It’s not Oscar material but it is pleasantly B movie.
The gameplay doesn’t fare any better than the dialogue, and whilst that’s not necessarily a bad thing it does mean that Crysis certainly isn’t the revolutionary game it could (and perhaps should) have been. Enemy AI behaviour is subpar, and would make the game incredibly easy if it wasn’t for the fact that they all seem to be wearing lead suits. I mean really – I shot one guy seven times. In the chest. With a shotgun. From four feet.
However it doesn’t do much wrong really, it’s just that Crytek haven’t done much to build on what’s come before. By playing it safe they’ve let themselves down big time. The problem is that no single aspect of the shooting, driving or flying sections stands out as particularly ground breaking, save perhaps in the way it is presented.
Which brings me neatly back to the graphics. It cannot be stated enough how pretty the game looks. Textures are fantastic, the environments are beautiful and the havok style physics have been extrapolated to the nth degree. And the water. I know it’s the Crytek speciality but seriously, you shouldn’t be allowed to have water that looks so... wet.
Although I’ve not noticed much of a difference between the direct x 9 and 10 versions it looks good enough for me to say you definitely don’t need Vista to get the most from Crysis. But – and this is a big but – you’re definitely are going to need a powerful rig to play it.
Anything built over a year ago (unless it was state of the art then) will probably struggle. Crysis is, like the most highly strung of women, most beautiful and very, very demanding. It’s a shame, but without the fancy graphics Crysis really is just another generic shooter – average enough to warrant a play through, but nothing you’d write home about.
I think in Crysis I’ve seen the future. It’s just a shame that the rest of it is so firmly rooted in the past.