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LTTP: Crysis

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Crysis was a tech demo to sell CryEngine 2.

There was an open island filled with lush jungles and forests to demonstrate the sandbox shooter. A frozen landscape to prove that this engine could pull off the polar opposite of a tropical paradise. Zero gravity corridors teasing the possibilities of a new Descent game. A vehicle chase sequence to prove that they could do scripted events well. There was even an air combat segment which can only be described as a poor attempt to attract lovers of flying machines. Crysis screamed:  “Hey, this engine can be used for just about any game you could think of.” And, to some extent, I agree with that. Unfortunately, this engine cannot provide fun out of the box as Crytek has so clearly proven.

The suite of powers available via the Nano Suit enabled a multitude of approaches to a scenario. Cloak enabled me to play the game like a first person Metal Gear Solid. Directing the suit’s energy towards speed helped me flee from hairy situations while shifting to armor allowed me to absorb more punishment. Then there was the strength ability which was by far the most amusing ability. I could send just about anything flying with one big punch or leap higher than any man with that power. Mixing and matching the powers proved to be very effective. Running super speed at a wall, super jumping over it and landing cloaked on the other side was bad ass.

The tools at my disposal were potent, but the task at hand was achieved more effectively with simple cloaking and choking. The Korean enemies reacted to silenced bullets as if they were being stung by bees — and I might as well have been shooting bees at them since it took so many bullets to down a single person. Only a carefully placed headshot yielded a quick kill. However, as it turns out, I can dispose of enemies more effectively by simply grabbing them and throwing them. They didn’t need to hit anything. I could toss them straight up into the air and they would die. And I didn’t even need to use the strength boost. It seemed like realism in Crysis was only applied to the visuals.

It’s odd to see that I could shoot out some trees, but I couldn’t shoot a hole in the wall to make a daring escape. Where were the priorities? Shacks and other small buildings can have their walls and panels dislodged, but I couldn’t actually destroy anything in the traditional sense. That was disappointing, but I blame myself for misconstruing the screenshots and YouTube videos.

I also blame myself for thinking that this game could run at 30 FPS at 1600 x 900 resolution at “high” settings from beginning to end. Since I was running on Windows 7, Crysis defaulted to its DirectX 10 code path. It was fine for the open sections of the game, but as soon as I reached the snow covered forests with those flying Matrix inspired alien robots, the framerate fell to the 20’s or lower. I waded through that and continued down the narrow path towards the last level on the aircraft carrier. It was here where Crysis froze on me. I didn’t understand why. Yes, the framerate was taking a dive into the 20’s, but why the sudden freezes and crashes? I looked online and discovered that everything would be well if I switched to DirectX 9 mode. And they were right. The game ran smoother and it was no longer crashing.

Crysis’ technical issues were not isolated to the visuals themselves either. There were scripting problems as well. I personally encountered an issue on the “Recovery” mission where the game did not progress after I destroying two tanks. I was not pleased with that at all. I wiped out every Korean soldier in the area before my brother chimed in and pointed out that I was supposed to get an objective update. I didn’t after several reloads of the save file so, I looked for a solution.

My brother’s own scripting bug was comical. On the “Calvary” mission, a helicopter was supposed to show up and he was supposed to take it out to “Secure the harbor”. However, for whatever reason, the helicopter did not appear. He searched and searched and eventually noticed a tiny speck in the air. It was the helicopter. It was kilometers up in the air and was trying to shoot my brother, but since it was so far away, the bullets didn’t even reach him. He tried shooting it down, but since it was so high and was still tracking him, he was never able to get a good look at it. He eventually reloaded his save and the level sorted itself out.

So that’s Crysis? An iffy running, buggy, inconsistent game which dabbles into too many undesirable gameplay sequences. Crysis lacked focus, precision and stability. Crytek was trying to do too many things at once and they let their tech get in the way of what makes a game fun. I’ve seen people use the CryEngine in adventure game “What if?” scenarios like this and I can’t help, but think to myself: “That’s what the CryEngine should be for.”. I felt Crysis was most sincere and honest with itself when I was creeping through the forest floor or wading through a pool of water towards a waterfall. It was beautiful, passive and I was never disappointed then.

Worth A Try

Ratings Guide

For more information on Crysis, visit the official website.

2010 PC Rev 1.0 was used to play Crysis.

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