Don't cry for me, North Korea.
I might as well come out and say it right off the bat: Crysis is excellent. From start to finish it's a solid play experience. The opening cutscene – all done in-game – will snare you, and you'll play deep into the night without noticing, until suddenly your eyes rebel. When you wake up your first thought will be that firefight you were in when you surrendered to slumber, rather than food or how desperately you need a shower.
[image1]You can't talk about Crysis without taking a full monty at the graphics. Yes, they're amazing. Crysis is the first game to show that DirectX10 might actually have more meat to it than just the promises of everyone's favorite corporate overlords. Vibrant colors, excellent facial features, great field of view effects, marvelous water effects (especially dripping down the suit's visor), plenty of cool explosions, and several dozen other exuberant adjectives!
This is handy, because as you no doubt know by now, Crysis will take your computer for everything it's worth. The game is playable on some older gaming rigs, but no matter what, your machine has to have some serious testicular fortitude here. If you have less than two gigs of RAM, don't bother; if your video card was made four years ago, it's probably not worth trying. CPU less than 2.4 GHz? Cry yourself to sleep.
Since the game is pretty slick about scaling, however, it usually will present its best face during play. Cutscenes will take the most evident hit, but the game seems to scale things out and smooth over the rough edges. I played Crysis on both good ol' XP, and on n00bz0r Vista, and it acquitted itself well on both operating systems, though Vista (and some fantastic hardware) is necessary if you want to get the best visual experience.
[image2]Okay, now that the requisite blathering on the tech specs is done, and you're trying to figure out if you can sell your fridge in order to buy a new graphics card, let's get down to the brass tacks of gameplay. Different FPS players want different things. Folks that think Gears of War is the best thing since sliced bread (I will politely refer to these people as “console gamers”) may not be prepared for the kind of game that Crysis is; there is little handholding in terms of level design. Crysis dumps you into a large playground, and lets you apply your considerable arsenal of neat guns and abilities to complete your objectives.
That arsenal, by the by, is absolutely stunning in variety and effect. Crysis hands the player plenty of options, all easily managed. The piece de resistance is the nano-suit. With the ability to mod yourself out to be extra strong, extra quick, extra tough, and even to become an invisible predator, you have a collection of tools that let you approach firefights from dozens of angles. Although none of the abilities are so super that you'll be feeling like you stepped out of a comic book, the advantage you have is tangible as you sneak up to tanks to plant explosives, outrun jeeps, leap onto the roofs of military bases, and survive shots to the chest. You feel like a super soldier throughout, but requiring you to pick your power based on the situation balances supremacy against impeccable challenge.
[image3]Fans of Far Cry will recognize the same sort of open play areas that provide the opportunity to explore a new solution on every play through. Loads of objects you can pick up (and throw right into a soldier's face), fixed machine guns, drivable vehicles, and realistic physics all work into the game. Want to hold up a truck convoy by blocking the road? Shoot down some trees. Want to drive a car into a checkpoint, leaping out at the last second to watch the explosion from a safe distance? Light your car on fire. Crysis provides the tools to have some incredible, creative fun.
Not everything about the game is perfect, however. The single player storyline is weak. It's told reasonably well, though the pacing is reminiscent of an amateur porn star's first performance, premature ejaculation and all. [ Editors Note: Dammit Geoff, I already had to find a link for "full monty", you're not helping. ] If you loathed the non-ending of Halo 2, you'll loathe the ending of Crysis.
That aside, however, Crysis isn't so much a short game, as it is a short story. There's perhaps fifteen minutes of real storyline stretched over a little over twelve hours of gameplay on a single playthrough, and just about every aspect of the storyline is predictable and dull. The first two thirds of the game has very little happen other than the murder of an awful lot of North Korean soldiers; the last four hours of the game are loaded with dialog, portentous revelation, and ice-squid-aliens.
[image4]Take fresh Sum of All Fears cream, swirl in some unbelievable emotional reactions from characters, plenty of cliché military chauvinism and self-importance, and more obvious turns in the story than a Meg Ryan movie, and you have Crysis' entire storyline in a light soup. It will not fit in with your low intellectual cholesterol diet, as there's plenty of fat-heads.
As for multiplayer, Crysis is entertaining, though nothing particularly special. It doesn't have quite the same grandeur and open gameplay of the single player game. It is, however, pretty solid, and does work in some of the key elements of the singleplayer in, though it will take some time to get used to how to play multiplayer effectively. Good net code with quick action makes for a respectable show, though not revolutionary.
In the end, Crysis is one of those games that you'll probably love if you're a serious FPS player or a PC gaming sort; folks that want guided experiences may just find themselves lost. If you want a game with fast action, huge scale, stunning graphics, and intelligent gameplay, then Crysis is for you.