Crysis: Review’d – Part 2

April 26, 2008

Crysis logoMissed part one? Check it out here.

The AI of the enemy soldiers delivers most of the challenge in Crysis. When it’s one-on-one – you vs. a single enemy – they don’t stand a chance. When there’s a group of bad guys, however, the odds are somewhat evened.

Patrols will respond instantly to suspicious noises like gunfire by fanning out and searching the surrounding area. If you give away your position you should expect to be pinned down by enemy fire while one or two Koreans try to flank you. This means movement is key – and you’ll derive a sadistic pleasure from the “de-cloak, down a couple of enemies, re-cloak and reposition” routine.

One major shortcoming in the AI reveals itself when you come across sniper towers. Assuming you can take out the current occupant, if you climb up you can effectively take out any enemies nearby with impunity… As long as you duck from time to time. No one will attempt to climb up or throw a grenade to flush you out. In fact, the only reason for not staying put would be if they call in a helicopter.

Crysis Screenshot 2For most of the first part you’re given a goal – usually something like “get to the science station on the other side of the island” – and it’s up to you how you complete it. More or less. Let’s be clear – this is not some sort of free-form Oblivion or S.T.A.L.K.E.R-esque RPG where you’re given an island to explore at your leisure. You’re on a mission soldier! You do have some freedom of movement, but it’s by no means total.

To give you an idea of how the tactical gameplay works, let’s look at the kinds of choices you can make when faced with an enemy encampment: a) rush straight in, guns blazing; b) creep round the side in the undergrowth; c) use stealth and patience to pick off the soldiers one by one; or d) bypass it altogether by hijacking a boat downriver and sailing past?

Okay, there’s more to it than that, but you get the idea. Often your movement will be restricted by insurmountable physical obstacles, like walls of a ravine, but it never feels linear like Half Life. It regularly opens up and it’s up to you and your nanosuit to take on an army of Korean bad guys.

And it’s a lot of fun. The game throws some variation at you in the form of enemies with the same super-suit as you, but generally speaking it sticks to a tried and tested formula of sneaking around, ambushing patrols, and blowing up trucks and buildings. Great!

Until the second part. (**MODERATE SPOILERS**)

Crysis Screenshot 1The last third of the game changes gear somewhat, starting off with a section where you’re floating around a buried alien spaceship. Then there’s an escape flight in a VTOL, and finally a series of super-boss battles with various alien nasties.

This represents a significant shift in pace and style – characterized by a much more linear, run-n-gun approach in contrast to the sneaksy stealth that preceded it. It’s a little disappointing, but not so much that it condemns the game.

There’s still plenty to enjoy in Crysis – not least the outstanding visuals – but sadly it narrowly misses out on classic status.

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