It’s been a long time coming, but Crytek’s original PC-pushing behemoth has finally made its way on to the home console. Some hardcore elitists will no doubt be rolling their eyes at the graphical downgrade (as surprisingly slight as it may be), but there can be no doubt that allowing more gamers a chance to experience the title after the multi-platform sequel is a great thing. Crysis runs on consoles just fine, so now only one question remains; just how well has the gameplay stood the test of time?
You take on the role of Nomad, an American soldier granted superhuman abilities by the cybernetic wonders of the nanosuit. The sounds of ‘cloak engaged’ and ‘maximum armour’ will be familiar to anyone who played Crysis 2 (and if not, why not?), although this time they can be turned off or replaced with a female voice. What fans of the sequel might be disappointed in however, is in the omission of upgrades of any kind. No longer can you increase the energy meter or add any of the bells and whistles you may expect from late-game enhancements – Nomad is as powerful at the end as he is to begin with.
The tropical island on which the action takes place is pure Crytek magic. Crabs move along the sandy beach, the plant-life is thick and lush, and the only thing around to spoil it from becoming the perfect holiday spot is the presence of the Korean army. Each stage is set out in such a way that you move from A to B; it isn’t open world like Far Cry 2, but the chapters do often allow for a sandbox style of play particularly during the first half of the game. The day-night cycle is mission specific, triggering once a certain point is reached, and the hue of an orange sunset complete with light shimmering through the tress is as impressive as you might expect.
Presentation is a tremendous selling point for the Crysis series, but that doesn’t mean it is all style and no substance. The fact is, this game is extremely playable; the action engages and the shooting mechanics click. The one complaint we might level in this regard is in the floatiness of the controls –movement just isn’t quite as tight as in Crysis 2, plus navigating the terrain can be irksome given the lack of climbing as well as the clumsy jump mechanic. Given the amount of walking you’ll be doing, it can be irritating that sprinting is limited by the energy meter, mostly down to just how quickly it drains. You’ll have to switch smartly between the sprint, cloak and armour modes available (each can now be activated at the touch of a button) and split second timing can mean the difference between life and death when ambushed.
If you’ve ever read up or seen videos of Crysis, you may be aware that the game undergoes a something of a shift about two thirds of the way in. It’s true… there is something more sinister going on in the tropics that is alluded to in the very first chapter, but the truth isn’t revealed until much later on. This gives a sense that Nomad is unravelling the truth behind a mysterious threat unlike anything you may have expected, though the story never becomes anything other than serviceable. Given the freedom afforded earlier in the game, it can be jarring as the tone changes and every chapter becomes a desperate struggle to survive (you know you’re in for it when you’re handed a weapon with infinite ammo) and the Korean forces have disappeared from sight. Strangest of all is the extensive level that kicks this off – entitled ‘Core’ – which does away with the standard waypoints and drops you into a twisting set of areas full of charging enemies.
As with most modern shooters, the bosses in Crysis are very few and far between. The ones that do exist aren’t particularly enjoyable, with the final battle being more frustrating than genuinely challenging as you attempt to avoid all manner of flying foes looking to knock you to the floor. There are also a number of occasions where taking a vehicle is the best way to manage things, and on a couple of stages you really aren’t given much choice. Controlling them is thankfully easier than Halo’s warthog, though some gamers may find it preferable to hop out and take care of things on a more personal level.
There are a few issues with the conversion that must be mentioned before you go thinking that it’s all been plain sailing from the PC version. On the PS3, we frequently experienced the music cutting in and out at strange intervals as well as a few hiccups in the enemy AI. A few times, Korean soldiers would bob up and down in place, although such moments were admittedly rare. Far more frequent was a reduction in frame rate and the temporary yet off-putting freeze upon reaching checkpoints. As stated, Crysis is one graphical powerhouse, but it seems clear that Crytek had to play with the lighting effects (with the game now running on the CryEngine 3) to hide certain removals from the PC version to make everything look so impressive on home consoles.
As a budget title available for download over Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network, Crysis simply soars. It’s worth noting that the multiplayer component has been removed, but then you can’t have everything. It’s purely as a single-player adventure then that the game will be experienced, and what an experience it is, allowing players access to a beautiful and tense world full of character. This isn’t Far Cry and it isn’t Crysis 2 – it’s a game that stands tall off its own merits. PC users have no reason to make a purchase here, but for everyone else, Crytek’s smash hit is one of the best downloadable offers to date.
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