05 January, 2010

Review: Crysis

written by Blain Newport on Monday, January 4, 2010

Developer: Crytek Frankfurt
Platform: PC
US Release: November 2007
Genre: First Person Shooter
Price Paid: $14
My Score: 3 of 5

I wanted to like Crysis more. I really did. It's a true PC game, and I'm tired of playing cheesy ports. Saint's Row 2 stutters so badly while driving that some missions are borderline unplayable. GTA4 has a terrible frame rate. Red Faction: Guerrilla runs too fast. Borderlands has performance and networking problems. And Mass Effect has an inventory interface designed by monkeys on drugs.

But the basic experience of them is good, so I overlook the technical issues. Crysis is the opposite. Technically, it's very good. The lack of an option to bind separate keys to suit modes was my only technical complaint. But the experience of playing the game just doesn't do it for me.

The guns are weaksauce, often requiring multiple shotgun blasts to down an unarmored foe. It felt like playing STALKER again, always going for the head shot because it was the only way to do damage.

The powers are okay. Once I figured out the suit shortcuts, double tapping was pretty cool. It meant I could switch powers at will. But none of them felt that super. The distance I can cover with super speed / while cloaked felt paltry. Three jumps with super strength completely depleted my energy. And armor mode only made it so later enemies took two attacks instead of one to kill me. And this was on easy difficulty.

It turns out there's very little difference in the difficulty levels. Health regen rate and some interface tweaks are about it. I'm playing Crysis Warhead on the hardest difficulty, and it's practically the same game. Why put in four difficulty settings if they don't make an appreciable difference in gameplay?

There are a lot of design decisions that don't make sense. Having all sorts of options on all the guns was silly. Who puts a sniper scope on a shotgun or a laser sight on a minigun? Why give the player all this useless garbage to futz with? Why are there keys for leaning left and right? This isn't Rainbow Six. This is monsters and gauss rifles and nano armor.

It's not a bad game. I'm not sorry I played it. It's just confused about what it wants to be, so it ends up not being anything of note. I'm playing Warhead because it seems likely to have a more interesting story. Plus seeing my own character through another's eyes could be interesting. But Crysis itself is just okay.

Addendum (added 8AM, Jan. 5, 2010)

After talking about music so much recently, I neglected to mention it, and that's a shame because Crysis has very nice music. It sets an epic, heroic tone, and I enjoyed it.

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