Some people are going to think that it’s a little unfair to compare one game to another, or that it’s bad writing to do so. Usually I could be persuaded to either argument, but not with Crysis. Given the developer, setting, technical details and history of the game, I think it’s only fair to compare Crysis to, you guessed it, Far Cry.
The simplest and quickest way to describe Crysis’ gameplay to somebody is to say that it’s pretty much just like Far Cry, but prettier, without the TriGens and with a load of slightly-broken cheats enabled.
Both games are set on a series of jungle islands and both games see the player, a traditionally hard-headed soldier type, battling against a non-human enemy and saving a damsel.
Whereas that’s pretty much all there was to Far Cry though, Crysis evolves the idea a little by working in some new gameplay ideas and some better designed environments. Not the jungle though – that’s still pretty impossible to navigate and gives the free-roaming illusion despite being mostly blocked off with rocks and waterfalls. No, the new environments come much later in the game, but I’ll keep schtum about them for now because I don’t want to ruin it for you.
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Unfortunately for Crysis, some of these ideas work and some of them don’t. The weapon customisation is one which really, really works and it’s great to see that players can now carry a sensible array of weapons – two rifles, a pistol or two, an explosive weapon, plus grenades and your fists – as well as being able to customise them. Players can now choose to add silencers, scopes, grenade launchers, sights and much, much more to their arsenal. It’s fantastic, even if it does get pretty much redundant once you’ve put a scope, launcher and silencer all on your best assault rifle.
Other parts of the new stuff don’t work so well. The new physics interactions are a mixed bag in particular, probably because Crytek chose to make its own engine rather than using alternatives. The physics can be very complex and useful at times. I had lots of fun jumping out of moving cars or scattering the pieces of makeshift huts with a grenade or two.
On the other hand, the physics can also break completely at times. There were a number of occasions where my car would suddenly slip onto its nose or where I’d kill someone by throwing a chicken at them using the nanosuit's strength mode.
The suit itself is also a bit of a game-breaker, albeit an incredibly fun one. Players are free to use the suit however they want and I didn’t have any trouble getting to grips with it at all. Within minutes I was switching between the different modes and treating the suit as a second skin. The power for the suit drains incredibly quickly, especially on stealth or speed modes, but it also recharges fairly quick too.
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This means that if you ever get in the slightest bit of bother then there’s always a way out. My favourite tactic with groups of guards was thus: using iron sights, headshot as many as possible. As soon they return fire, switch to speed mode and sprint for cover then, as soon as you’re out of sight switch to stealth mode. The enemy will assume you are still behind the rock even as you move behind them. If you have enough suit energy left use strength mode to deal a melee blow to take care of the stragglers before switching back into default armour mode and taking the enemy by surprise once more.
If they wander into a building then just use strength mode combined with your fists to knock the walls in, crushing them with the roof.
The problem here is that it makes the game too easy on anything but the hardest difficulty levels and combat can sometimes become very drawn out as players duck in and out of cover, waiting for their suit to recharge. Killing enemies at distance is also a little bit tough until you get a decent scope too, even with iron sights and reflex sights. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to matter how weak a soldier looks too – I saw a helmetless guard take three shotgun blasts to the face at close range before going down once, while others go down with just one or two pistol rounds.