An Hour With: Crysis

By Kieron Gillen on November 24th, 2007 at 8:58 pm.

I’m playing dilettante this weekend, dabbling with some of the bigger games of the moment which I haven’t had a chance to play properly yet. Some of them are on Televisual Pleasure Boxes (Mario Galaxy and Assassin’s Creed) but one’s home is on the Personal Thinking Machines whose progress we like to chart at Rock, Paper, Shotgun. It’s Crysis.

Come to Sunny New Zealand. Or Korea. Whatever.

Which is a case where I’m last guy to the party but – hey – it’s Saturday. We can all chill together.

This is how the first hour went.

Firstly, the first hour rapidly turned into more than the first hour, and I kind of lost track. Which is, of course, is a kind of big compliment for this kind of exercise.

Secondly, shit, yeah, very pretty. In fact, as Jim noted in his review, what impresses most is the sense of verisimilitude. It just, in its own way, looks a hell of a lot like real life. There are trees. They look like trees. There are shacks. They fall down like shacks would fall if they’re hit by grenades. There are Korean men. They squirm, terrified, much as you’d imagine Korean Men would if they were picked up by a soldier wearing a strength-enhancing suit.

Not as Macho as the Gears of War men, but they're TRYING.

Thirdly, this kind of matters. As others have said, this is clearly Far Cry 2, in the best possible way. Far Cry, while it mostly recovered now, had a kind of backlash for a year or so after its release, which downplayed its merits a little. That last level left scars and those aliens were kind of tedious. Except… well, that overlooked how there were at least a couple of interesting bits with the aliens – the real problems came in the lengthy indoor levels. When you lost the ceilings, it became a little like Predator, which had never been accurately portrayed in a game.

Fourthly, this is a lot like Predator. In fact, the plot basically positions you as a group of Predators facing off against something even scarier than you are.

Fifthly, you worry about the difficulty level… and then shrug. I’m playing it on Normal. The Hard and Delta seem to offer a lot more difficulty, which opens up Crysis beautifully. As it is, the hyper-tough character (not in survivability, necessarily… just in his ability to change the situation in ways which opponents can’t predict by going invisible, jumping a fence or running away really fucking fast) married to the incredibly large level, leaves a lot of room to both avoid and take out enemies. The biggest problem for me is ammo shortages, as you have to manually go and collect ammo from corpses.

A more decent man than I would have taken the guy out of the turret before driving off.

Sixthly, the size of the levels. Now, in a world where people will rhapsodize over Halo’s ability for encounters to play out in different ways – and justifiably, as Halo is neat in this deparatment – Crysis is on a completely different level. The world both looks and feels so natural that you simply start treating it as a place – jumping up cliffs to get a view of the area, working out enemies’ positions, circling around guards so you can get an ambush. Right at the end of my hour, I’m working my way along the beach towards a village, and I’m aware that there’s dozens of things I could or should be doing, depending on my inclination.

Seventhly, it’s showy. As I approach the village, I’m crawling along until I find myself standing beside a sign. It’s a mine-field sign. Under fire, I start laughing, and wonder what to do. In a moment’s inspiration, I turn on my strength and leap straight up, over a fence, switch to armour for the landing, before switching to speed to get to cover. It’s at seconds like this where the game reminds me of a combat heavy Deus Ex – or rather, a Deus Ex which admitted that being a cyber-enhanced agent would mean you could be the meanest motherfucker on the battlefield, and rolled with it.

Eighthly, I have destroyed many Chicken.

I spin in circles merrily, with my chicken of death.

Will I play more? Hell, yeah. In a year of exemplary FPS, this is up with the best of them.

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    41 Comments »

    1. roBurky says:

      The relationship between Crysis and Deus Ex was something I noticed too. I describe Crysis to people as having the combat Deus Ex wanted to have.

    2. Lh'owon says:

      Will I play more? Hell, yeah. In a yeah of exemplary FPS, this is up with the best of them.

      Oh yes. It’s sometimes hard to pin down what exactly makes it so good ā€“ the gameplay isn’t hugely innovative, not as such, and the content isn’t all that imaginative really ā€“ and just saying “awesome graphics!” doesn’t sound very credible.

      But damn. All it takes is a few minutes play to realise what an incredible achievement Crysis is. It’s a nice showcase of exactly how much technical prowess can add to gameplay.

    3. Thiefsie says:

      Similar to what I was thinking… at which point I decided I better go on holiday and then upgrade my pc when I get back, not worth playing through in rubbish graphics for me frankly… it’s just that little bit less special

    4. Chemix says:

      To be truly like the gameplay of Deus Ex, they’d have to do away with the health bar concept and do full area specific damage. Beyond that, it is rather fantastic, if predictable; it plays out like a Hollywood scifi-action-flick (see: Predator + Independence Day + Raiders of the Lost Ark + The Day After Tomorrow).

      The only major gripe you’ll see from me is the optimization, and the seemingly random FPS drop that appears in the tedious frozen-island escort-mission level. Plus the lack of a more life like AI and better damage differences for non-head hit locations.

    5. Pidesco says:

      It’s dilettante not “dilentente.”

      Carry on.

    6. Chis says:

      I’m playing Crysis at a mere 1024×768. Even with everything on high lowering the res to that is enough to raise the FPS on my 8800GTS to 30-40fps… and it still looks utterly gorgeous, if a tad pixellated.

      But it is NOT just a pretty face. The combat is excellent: movement, mouselook, jumping all just FEEL perfect.

      Coming to Crysis after finishing F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate was just comical.

    7. John P (Katsumoto) says:

      yes, Crysis at 1024 is the way to go. Complain about the jaggies all you want, but I personally think that playing at 1024 on High/Medium is nicer than 1680 on medium/low, cuz what Crysis excels at is the lighting and the sheer DENSEness of the objects and detail around you.

      Anyway, as for this article – 100% with you, BUT… please write part 2 once you get past the 6th or 7th level? I’d be very interested on your point of view here. Both Graham Smith and Jim Rossignol’s reviews seem to agree that while the second half is very different, it’s still very good. I’ve just completed it, and while I agree the second half is very different, I’m not so convinced about the quality.

      I don’t fall into the LOL ITS NOT HUMANS THEREFORE ITS SHIT camp, but I do really think there is a big drop in the whole experience. I would be interested in the rest of the RPS camp’s opinion.

    8. James says:

      The attention to detail is superb. Infact, they’ve somehow managed to capture the intense boredom I feel everyday in gaming format. For a title about stealth suits, aliens and Koreans it’s not very endearing.

    9. Pidesco says:

      You sneaky little man.

    10. Garth says:

      How does it play on DX9 cards? Is it worth getting if you dont have DX10?

    11. Dracko says:

      Kieron, I keep hearing disturbing rumours of enemies taking tons of bullets before going down. Is this truth?

    12. Steve says:

      Iā€™m playing Crysis at a mere 1024Ɨ768. Even with everything on high lowering the res to that is enough to raise the FPS on my 8800GTS to 30-40fps

      I’ve had the same experience. When I first played it, I was running Medium with a GTS640 on 1280×1024 and the frame rate was quite bad. Then, after some playing around today, I tried 1024×768 with medium textures and physics but high post-processing effects and water etc, and the performance is much better! Only when stuff is getting seriously crazy does it slow, and even then its really not that bad.

      Due to a rather stupid download manager I have that produces windows ballons when a download has finished, my Crysis kept popping into window’ed mode, when a balloon appeared. Suprisingly, this isn’t that bad either, at 1024, the jaggedness dissappears because of the actual size of the window, and even though the windows desktop is being drawn, the framerate is still the same. I’m probably gonna buy the game now as I have played the demo to death today, now that it runs well.

    13. Cruz says:

      Reviews like this chip away of my resolution to not play this on anything less than DX10. My 8800GS was purchased in expectation of this, but I was underwhelmed at the sp demo. I may pick it up yet.
      Good read as always.

    14. Jim Rossignol says:

      Bads take slightly more bullets than they should, but it’s no where near as bad as many other FPS hip-point-boosted ammo sinks.

    15. Thelps says:

      Dracko: Enemies do take a good 5-8 rounds to the chest before dropping, although, reassuringly, a headshot is always a one-bullet kill, assuming you don’t hit their helmet by accident (if they’re wearing one). At anything above normal difficulty you’re going to be doing 90% of your killing via headshots anyway, since a couple of bullets will take you out, even in armor mode.

      I found the second half of the game very cool, myself (except the aforementioned ice-jungle escort mission). It’s utterly different to the first half, no longer about stealth and silent kills, much more about traditional FPS run-and-gun. I just found the sci-fi context of the aliens personally appealing and found the cinematic element ramped up somewhat with a lot more NPCs and large scale battles with friendlies assisting clearly put in to make up for the loss of the feeling of empowerment gleaned from murdering an entire village of soldiers without triggering any alarms. The VTOL mission is an odd change of pace but I found it was pulled off sufficiently well that it didn’t grate either. This is all fairly subjective stuff though. Some people really seem to hate the sci-fi takeover of what is up to that point a very traditional, quasi-real world stealth FPS.

      Special mention has to be made for the Delta difficulty too. It’s a whole different game on this setting, and much more fun in my opinion (although I haven’t got past the halfway mark on this difficulty yet, so it’ll be interesting to see if it all becomes frustrating when cloaking isn’t a surefire ‘get-out-of-combat-free’ card anymore).

    16. Chis says:

      Delta is the best way to play. Rather tough if you try to Rambo through it, but still – sadly – somewhat easy if you go the stealthy Predator route and cloak everywhere.

      I tried going back to normal once just to see how the difficulty changes… and was more shocked by the dodgy “English dubbing” for the Korean soldiers!

    17. schizoslayer says:

      It’s wierd how I see people say the AI is flakey when I’ve seen it be nothing but consistent.

      The only info I can glean on teh subject has been: “bad guys don’t always turn to look at you when you shoot at them.” and “They can take many bullets to kill.”

      To the first point: The bad guys will look at the loudest most obvious event occuring. If your weapon has a silencer this means they will look at the bullet impacts and wont be able to figure out your location because they are modelled on people who are scared and panicy not on computers who know the normal of the hit impact and can invert it to find the players location.

      To the second point: Headshots. Hell try shooting guys in the leg. This is a future war and body armor has come along way. Aim for exposed parts of the body and you’ll do better. Hell aiming at all will improve matters. I kick myself when I do’t get a headshot because unless I’m using the railgun I know that even a sniper round won’t drop a guy wearing body armor.

      This is the most human seeming AI I’ve ever had the pleasure of slaughtering. At no point have I ever felt like they are a computer doing complex maths with powers of telepathy.

    18. Chemix says:

      I find the AI to be a bit flinchy and always on guard, and while they should be, there should be some sort of at ease mode, perhaps if only at the beginning. They seem to be constantly moving and always looking to kill you specifically above any other enemies. Even in the escort mission, they are clearly aiming at the player, and only in rare occasions attack Prophet (IE you left him with 4 drones behind him)

      There should also be some way to steady the scope out side of strength/prone mode, I mean is aim really that wobbly with a stand (which would be a nice attachment)?

    19. Zell says:

      I love your description of this game. I can’t really play it, something about the voice acting and the backstory writing just repulses me. I feel like I’m being herded into a world that’s not real and that I don’t like. So I quit.

      But I love the version if that you see, and I will keep hoping that somebody else will license the engine.

    20. oryly says:

      Chemix: You can steady the scope (and reduce recoil) with strength mode.

      I find that the AI doesn’t really learn if you use stealth mode. Rather than having someone guard the back, they all look in the same direction. It’s too easy to outflank them.

    21. hobbes says:

      Take too many bullets to kill an NK?

      Not me.

      I take the damn silencer off.

      Really, the silencer drops the single bullet damage massively. I mean, yes, you should be aiming for the head, and never, ever shooting from the hip (you’ll miss with nearly every bullet doing that) to get quick kills, in which case the silencer is fine, but I was amazed how much quicker they went down without the silencer on. 2-3 bullets rather than 5-8.

      Oh, and so far, the only problem I’ve had with AI is that they are pretty much helpless if you’re up in a watchtower. You can take out whole camps that way. Pop up on cloak, shoot a few, duck down again,re cloak, pop up again…. They don’t seem to realise that a grenade would really spoil your day when you’re above them.

      Though, that said, their use of Grenades to flush you from cover is pretty good most of the rest of the time. I would say most of my ‘in cover’ deaths have been when someone sneaked on to my flank and laid a speculative death egg in my general direction.

    22. Kieron Gillen says:

      I must admit, the whole “Enemy is too strong against bullets” thing entirely passed me by playing on Normal. Enemies dropped plenty fast enough, even at a range, even with silencers.

      Maybe I just aim straight?

      KG

    23. Thelps says:

      I’ve definitely dumped 8 silenced-pistol rounds into an enemy soldier at a range of 10 feet or so before he died. They most certainly all hit, all in the torso area. This was on Hard Mode though.

      I take the point, though, that body armor technology has probably advanced a lot in the intervening 13 years.

    24. hobbes says:

      I’m playing on Delta, purely because its the only mode where the NPCs speak Korean. Which forces crosshairs off, also, so might well be why shooting anything other than aimed shots is a good way to miss for me. Haven’t tried it on Normal, so couldn’t say.

      Does anyone else go out of their way to avoid killing the frogs, BTW? I’m not sure why, maybe its cause I like watching them hop. The frogs give the game at least an extra percentage point as far as I’m concerned.

      Oh, also, why is there a clearly British guy in an American black-ops unit?

      On which note, I had an idea for a mod that I can’t be bothered to do. For a new difficulty level called ‘SAS’, where the game’s exactly the same as Delta, but you have no super-suit.

      Why SAS? Because everybody knows that a) The SAS are MUCH HARDER than Delta Force. and b) everybody also knows that the MoD would never shell out that much cash on equipment for a squaddie.

      I think the only thing you would have to do (other than disable suit powers) is provide a grapple hook of some kind, because there are a few bits you can’t reach without super jump.

      Does anyone feel like putting that together? I give the idea freely.

    25. terry says:

      Glad to see someone else endorses the tactic.

    26. terry says:

      The projectile chicken tactic I meant, my link got eaten :(

      http://www. youtube.com/watch?v=CG32eYCAxpw

    27. Bob Arctor says:

      In DX you could be a super-agent running round cutting people up and taking bullets.
      It just took a while. It’s an RPG, that’s how it rolls.

    28. Sombrero says:

      THIS NEEDS A PREDATOR MOD!

      think of multiplayer with 1 guy who has all the suit powers on all the time so someone who’s super strong & can go invisible everywhere but in water (but not super fast) & to baance it they have to see in a crazy colour mode and maybe they don’t get as much armour and they only get 1 gun.

      and everyone else has to kill it but they don’t get any powers just chainguns like blain.

      WHY DIDN’T CRYTECH IMPLIMENT THIS!?

    29. Jim Rossignol says:

      Maybe they were very tired?

    30. Eschatos says:

      I want this. But I wonder whether this or Far Cry 2 will be better.

    31. Thelps says:

      Just throwing this out there: Apparently Crysis is slated to have 2 more sequels, and the ending of this apparent trilogy is already planned and known to the developers. Rather than provide a link to a website (the original revelation was done via an IRC chat with Cevat Yerli) just search this info on Google.

    32. Craig says:

      Get both.

    33. Trezoristo says:

      I played the game on medium and my PC could barely handle that, so I’m looking forward to doing it again in about half a year, after my next PC upgrade.

      I especially liked the first half of the game. I played on delta and did a bit of stealthy gameplay and a bit of action hero gameplay and loved it both. Just as I grew accustomed to some of the more advanced tools the gameplay switched, and I consider the second part of the game to be far less enjoyable than the first.

      The aliens look cool, but apart from that I hadn’t to much fun fighting them. I had the feeling the game resorted to a more simplistic type of shooter. Because of the strength and the speed of the aliens cover becomes pretty much useless. I had the feeling that there wasn’t really any need for complex alien AI because of the more simplistic gameplay.

      I fear for the sequel of this game. I enjoyed the frist part of Crysis infinitely more then the second part, while at the same time cliffhanger suggests that in Crysis 2 (or whatever it will be called) we’ll see more of, if not exclusively, the last.

    34. Chris R says:

      Thelps hit it right on the head in his post. In my opinion, the first part of the game and the second part of the game after the aliens are introduced work together extremely well. The whole game is ramping up to the showdown between humans and the aliens, and it does it extremely well. Sure, there are a few parts that are annoying and whatnot, but overall it’s bang on.

      My first play through of the game was on Delta difficulty, and it never really felt that hard honestly. The suit enables you to get out of any situation, and I loved messing with the NK soldiers. Just make sure to tag everyone with your binocs first, so you know their exact location and won’t be surprised by a soldier showing up on your flank. Silenced headshots are also vital to surviving on Delta difficulty. I never took the silencer off my guns, since doing so would give away my location.

      The second part of the game with the aliens and the escort missions weren’t overly difficult on Delta. I was a little worried about how I was going to survive, but it’s a non issue really. Crytek was able to balance the last fourth of the game perfectly for that difficulty.

      Crysis is sublime, and exactly my cup of tea, from start to finish. I can spend hours in each stage or map killing off all the enemies.

    35. H says:

      The ammo was a problem for me, primarily because I had to hunt weapons in thick jungle when the bodies vanished. I ended up playing Myst and hovering my mouse over lots of bushes until ammo became obvious.

    36. Kieron Gillen says:

      H – I’m having similar ammo problems. I use the Binoculars, which highlights them if you’re near enough.

      KG

    37. Thelps says:

      My favourite Crysis moment:

      The final assault on the mine containing the alien technology and the hostages. That bit where you’re almost at the mine entrance, having sneaked your way up to it (or blazed through the impossible odds of multiple machine-gun toting jeeps and soldiers) and all of a sudden rocket and machine gun fire starts raining down from the ridge above, onto the last line of enemies from a row of friendly soldiers.

      A true ‘here comes the cavalry’ moment if there ever was one, and executed perfectly, in my opinion. I just adored the feeling of sneaking amongst panicked enemy infantry as bullets sprayed up at the ridge and down all around me.

      Anyway, I’ll stop myself there at the risk of sliding into fanboyism (still can’t shake the feeling it might be too late for that…).

    38. Piratepete says:

      Jeez I’m outta my league on this website. I struggled with the demo on normal.

      Maybe I’m getting old

    39. Chris R says:

      Thelps,

      That is a great moment. The first time I was playing I thought they were shooting at me and I quickly dove for cover before realizing that they were my guys, haha. It’s really a shame about what happens to those fellows though.

    40. schizoslayer says:

      zomg spoilors!

    41. Thelps says:

      Sigh, you’re right Schizo. I will self-flagellate for ten minutes with ‘MAXIMUM STRENGTH’ turned on, as penance for my unthinking plot castration.