Campaign For A Better Memory Of Crysis 1

There’s an open stretch of grass between me and the thin exterior wall of a small island village. The place is crawling with enemy troops, who move along the dirt roads and populate the ramshackle buildings in groups of two or three. Defensive turrets would already be firing at me if I my nanosuit wasn’t keeping me invisible, the energy bar barely moving for as long as I remain still.

So I start to run.

You want Advanced Warfare? Crysis did that seven years ago.

Ten feet, twenty feet. As I’m about to reach the wall, I hold middle mouse button and with a flick of the wrist transition into Strength mode. In the same second I turn visible, I hit jump, and use the suit’s ability to propel myself up and over the wall. I’m cloaked again before I hit the ground on the other side.

In the seven years since the original Crysis, there have been a lot of games with empowering movement systems. Just Cause’s grapple; Prototypes sprinting up skyscrapers; Saints Row’s faster-than-cars sprint; Dishonored’s blink; Human Revolutions weird glow-ball slow descent thing. I don’t think I enjoy any of them as much as I do the nanosuit in Crysis 1. It turns every part of that game’s environment into a puzzle.

There’s always some sense of this. In Dishonored, if you want to move from one area to another, you need to predict how far the blink ability will get you before you run out of the magic juice that powers it. That’s a more serious challenge on harder difficulty levels, but it’s still ultimately a simple piece of mental arithmetic. Blink here, then there, then wait, then continue.

Crysis is slightly more involved to think about, because each distinct action on your route requires a different suit mode. There’s no single movement ability that will get you cleanly from A to B, when A is on a beach and B is on top of a building surrounded by enemy soliders and tanks.

It’s also slightly more involved to perform, because there’s no single button to press or hold to perform each action. If you want to move stealthily, you’ll need to minimise your time spent outside of Cloak mode, which means timing jumps, sprints and other mode-shifts perfectly. Or if you’re in a dangerous area with no choice but to confront the soldiers or aliens, you’ll want to find ways to maximise your time spent in Armor mode.

Stringing together these movements in quick succession feels as good as performing perfect parkour in Mirror’s Edge. The difference here is that your supers-suit doesn’t only enable mobility. In Crysis, you’re a tank who can perform parkour.

I move between two buildings, Strength mode, jump onto the roof of one of them, Cloak mode again. I’m in the outskirts of the village now and I can hear chatter of some soldiers in the building I’m now straddling.

The suit’s powers aren’t just bad news for the Korean soldiers who are exploring this remote island, it’s bad news for those ramshackle buildings, too. If you leap upon the roof of a garage built of tin sheets and you want to get inside, you can switch to Strength mode and punch your way in. This isn’t a pre-determined breakable chunk of roof, either; most buildings in most villages through most of the early stages of the game are made from nailed together sheets of metal, and you can punch your way through almost any of them. Destroy the structure of a building too fully and the whole thing will collapse, crumbling into a set of physics objects.

You can’t do that in Far Cry 2 or 3. You can’t even do that in Crysis 2 or 3. Apparently getting the AI to adapt to this shifting terrain was the hardest challenge developers Crytek faced in the creation of the original Crysis, but having solved the problem, they decided never to use the solution again. I can’t understand why. The Koreans are dolts and a joy to manipulate and overpower, but are smart about what’s cover and what’s not, what’s passable and what’s not, and are good at flushing you out of hidey-holes with grenades or flanking. They’re an interesting enemy to fight and Crytek created an interesting environment to fight them in.

I don’t punch my way inside in this instance. Instead I spot a soldier on his own, outside. I drop down in front of him, still cloaked, and grab him by the throat. His face shows highly detailed terror; eyes wide, mouth hanging open. I switch to Strength mode and toss him away like a ragdoll.

On its release, Crytek bragged a lot about how good Crysis 1 looked. The consoles can’t run this, they said. Neither could most PCs. Today it’ll run smoothly on any even slightly modern machine, but time hasn’t dulled its good looks. It never had the bizarre, postcard brightness of the original Far Cry. It slopes far closer to realism, and there’s consequently something muted and muddy about a lot of its colours. But what it lacks in sunny disposition it makes up for with sheer scale.

I’ve always thought Crysis was unfairly maligned for the back half of the game. Yes, the aliens aren’t as fun to fight as the Koreans. Yes, there is an escort mission in which your charge dies of cold if not standing in a bonfire every twenty seconds. It’s not what anyone really wanted from the game.

But it’s also got an enormous tank push across a jungle valley while a mountain cracks open in the distance to reveal a buried spaceship. It’s got zero gravity exploration inside that spaceship which, if unfortunately marked by guff combat, is at least fittingly strange and alien. It’s got the visual spectacle of half the tropical island being suddenly frozen by those aliens, re-painting previously visited locations with ice and snow. It’s got a distant nuclear explosion as viewed from a fleet of military ships which rock from the waves caused by the blast. It’s got an uncommonly large alien mothership in the midst of an ocean storm.

It’s got that little LCD screen ripple when a character presses their finger against a computer monitor.

Crysis turns into a dumb action movie before the end of its running time, but at least that dumb action movie has the decency to be an inventive, memorable spectacle.

It seems a shame that the more disappointing sequels should doom the original Crysis to be remembered solely for its mediocre back half, when I think it’s opening chapters are great, still worth playing, and offer joys which few games compete with.

At this point I realise I don’t remember what my mission is in this village. I’ve completed it before, so it hardly matters. I sneak around the dusty outskirts, tagging distant enemies and silently dispatching any I meet. When I reach the camp’s west edge however, I notice that we’re still alongside the sea. There are white sands stretching down to the ocean and I spot some crabs skittering around.

“Maximum Strength,” my suit chirps. And off I run.

117 Comments

Top comments

  1. Muppetizer says:

    I'll never forget the time I killed a guy with his hat in Crysis 1. It was amidst a massive firefight in the dock warehouse level, I'd been surrounded *ACTIVATE STEALTH* and needed to break away from the action *ACTIVATE SPEED* darting from cover to cover with very little ammo or suit energy left *ACTIVATE STRENGTH* I leapt over a shipping container and found myself face to face with an angry soldier, *ACTIVATE ARMOUR* I emptied my last pistol round in the chamber into his head but rather than kill him it just sent his helmet flying off, as he was stumbling from the shock of the shot *ACTIVATE SPEED* I burst over to his fallen helmet, picked it up and spinning around *ACTIVATE STRENGTH* chucked it right back at his head.

    It's another game that only really communicates in violence, but it has one of the widest and most dynamic vocabularies of any other game of its sort that I know.
    Those last levels though, urgh. I usually finish the alien ship level and then leave it there.
  1. amateurviking says:

    Is it even available to buy from anywhere nowadays? Edit: it is on steam I see, ignore me.

    I feel like the greatest crime that Crysis committed was simply being out of reach of basically everybody in terms of horsepower.

    • Cinek says:

      People perception of just how high the requirements were was grossly overblown. I run it on low-medium details at the day of release on a PC with integrated (!!!!) Intel GPU.
      Majority of people complaining about Crisis system requirements either never even tried to run it or don’t know a thing about graphic settings.

      • frymaster says:

        Yeah, that’s the problem. People think a certain rig is a “medium settings computer” or a “high settings computer”, forgetting that some games can have a larger range of performance requirements than others. When they can’t run the game on the settings they think they can, they say the game is “badly optimised”.

        • Cinek says:

          Yes, this and the fact that Crisis got a stamp of “so high requirements that most people won’t run it”, so most people didn’t even TRY to run it!

          • Eggman says:

            They did try to fix that perception by renaming the graphics presets from “High – Medium -Low -Very low” to “Very High- High – Good – Low.” (Not exactly but you get the idea.)

        • Shadowcat says:

          Perfectly stated.

          I remember being SO annoyed reading the reactions to the game when it came out, because it was obvious that the most vocal detractors were all trying to play it on settings which were too high for their PCs, and rather than reduce the settings (like any sane person), they were raising a huge fuss and giving the game bad publicity.

          I’m confident in that claim, because I played the demo on my well-below-par PC of the day, and it ran just fine! Because I modified the settings to match my hardware, exactly like you’re supposed to do.

          I felt really bad for Crytek. I don’t know how they could have predicted the way that turned out, but the lesson is that people are dumb, and that the only safe way to include extreme/future quality settings in your game is to not have them accessible in the default UI at all.

          ‘Hide’ such settings behind a config file or command-line option, such that it’s not actually possible to enable them without some kind of manual tweak outside of the game, and I don’t think people would complain in the same way. Or at least, not nearly as many (see: people are dumb).

          The thing that made me most angry was that people should have been happy about it — not only did it look good on current hardware, but it was a game you could come back to in years to come, knowing that it would still look good in the future, with the settings cranked up even higher.

          It wasn’t always this way. Looking Glass included a 1024×768 screen resolution option in Flight Unlimited, which I’m pretty sure would have been a slide-show on any machine of the day. I don’t remember people complaining about that.

          • SuicideKing says:

            I could barely run it at more than 20 or 25 fps with a Core 2 Quad Q8400 and a 9600GT on High, without AA on 1024×768. And “high” was the preset that the game auto-detected, I believe I downgraded some things to medium or low. But then the game would start looking bad.

            Maybe if I upgrade my CPU (and my GTX 560, because I’m pretty sure that it won’t be able to handle Crysis at 1080p) I’ll give it another shot.

          • ZROCKMAN says:

            There is alot of false information to say that Crysis is very demanding upon system components , and as such creates a situation where your FPS (Frames Per Second) video are adversely effected or limited. If you use the free version of FRAPS or other like counter , there is a limit to what you can see or do with those. Plus , there are claims that Crysis cannot be played beyond 60 FPS. This is absolutely false , as I have played online @ 200 FPS , and recorded such activity with snapshots in FRAPS. The average framerate is although far lower , approx. 150 FPS , while the opening screen starts @500 FPS. Each individual move with the Nanosuit can create different FPS readings , and the terrain also plays a role in the readings. This is exactly why Crysis is known for having a video card requirement , that expects or tests the video card’s ability to perform or scale graphics. Granted I did so using a new Intel X58 motherboard , which had a Intel I7 950 Quad Processor , 12gb of DDR3 1600mhz system RAM , and (2) Nvidia GTX 460’s ( 1gb of RAM each ) in SLI mode and a 50″ Plasma Internet HDTV. And yes , I was running it at 1920 x 1080p full time , and I also run the Original Crysis the same , but I have also set up different video cards that have scored 7.9 on Win7/64 bit (SP1) AERO in each video category. So… play is lifelike.

        • kyrieee says:

          I think time proved that Crysis was poorly optimised though.

        • ChiefOfBeef says:

          No, the critics are right; at or below medium settings Crysis looked like ass and above medium it ran like ass on almost any machine with a sub-£1000 budget. The very same year I built an ok mid-range machine with 2GB RAM, a 2.4Ghz Q6600 processor and 512MB 8800 GTX GeForce and even on medium the game stuttering until a patch months later. Even then high setting was over-optimistic. What annoyed me most were the religiously devout apologists for this for whom no claim was too ludicrous for them to make and no evidence too clear for them to deny in the cause of making it out to be something it wasn’t.

          Time, and the one single decent performance patch did prove the game to be horribly optimised and abandoned by Crytek too soon after release.

          • ZROCKMAN says:

            What it is with PC’ers who want to demand that a game can be played with Ultra High settings across the board is beyond me , and then they show their system specifications to be less than the highest end installed components. This is like taking the average car from a dealership and attempting to run in F1 racing , which would not produce any desired results. But it can damage your system if you aren’t careful as well. And no amount of overclocking will help , unless you keep the temperatures at a minimum throughout the system , and on each vital component. Which means , any non-highest end components , which are not being cooled , are not supposed to be running this way – nor will they repeatedly perform on any game at Ultra High video settings or resolutions.

      • Apocalypse says:

        Intel did not integrated GPUs into their CPUs until 2010 ;-)

      • ZROCKMAN says:

        I have never had a problem with Crysis , other than 1 single video card that used ATI Hypermemory to scale from 128mb of GPU RAM to 256mb of GPU RAM – which is what was required to play online , while the single player played fine. With that said , what has happened is that Crysis does not really require a very high end computer to play , but , the graphics can test a video card to do what it is advertised or rated at. This is where all of the annoying problems and comments came from.

        In fact , I have as follows : The Original Crysis Special Edition , Crysis Warhead which includes Crysis Wars , Crysis2 Limited Edition and Crysis3 Hunter Edition. If you look at the sleeve or the case of the Original Crysis Special Edition , there are no specifications shown on either to say what system components are required to play the game at all. In 2007 when the Original Crysis Special Edition was made , the booklet only says (under installing the game section) , “Note: For system requirements , see http://www.nanosuit.com. When you are looking at a PC game , most times the requirements are on the packaging somewhere – but not this one. This could have caused quite a bit of trouble , especially where someone has bought the game , and not had a computer system that could run it.

        Originally , I didn’t ever play Crysis , I started playing Crysis Warhead & Wars. But I always wanted to go back and see the difference , so I did , liked it so much , that I sought out and bought 1 of the few Original Crysis Special Edition copies , that has a mission editor included so that you can actually adjust the gameplay. Which I am yet to install or test. These sold for a high price when the game first came out but are still available at a much more reasonable price (if you can find one).

        Looking at the requirements of the entire Crysis series , they are not even close to the requirements of today’s games. Even Crysis3 Hunter Edition requirements (although being only for Vista and Win7) are : CPU= Intel Core2 Duo 2.4ghz , RAM = 2-3gb , Hard Drive Space = 17gb , but the graphics card must be Direct X 11 compatible with 1gb of GPU RAM or better. These are the minimum requirements and any system that is better will play the game slightly better or without any glitches. Compared to other good games , that also play online , such as COD or Battlefield2/3/4 etc. , there definately is no such ability to play these games very well at all with a Core2 Duo 2.4ghz processor or lesser CPU. But it can be done. One such example is COD Ghosts , which can only be played using either Win7/64bit or Win8/64bit , and the CPU must be at least an Intel Core2 Duo E8200 2.66mhz or better (minimum). And the graphics cards required to play Ghosts are much higher , while the game can require as much as 50gb of hard drive space as well. There is , no comparison. While the multiplayer in COD Ghosts is much bigger and better , it is also very well put together , yet still has some things that are too small to fit the larger mould. If I have anything to say about Crysis , beyond the original game , it is that the multiplayer maps are far too small and not very well put together – especially as compared to Battlefield2 and onward. But absolutely , how you can complain about needing to use a Pentium 4 2.8ghz processor to play the Crysis Warhead / Wars package is beyond me – even at the time of the original release , you may have been able to use a 256mb video card , while later releases may require you to have a 512mb video card (which Crysis Warhead / Wars , does not stipulate on the packaging). This too can cause minor or even serious operating problems , when a 128 or 256mb video card is used.

        Notably , Crysis has to be the best game ever created , where the original game plays without much interference from Aliens – but mostly concentrates on the concept of the Nanosuit and it’s abilities against regular soldiers on a more modern battlefield. As mentioned , and stated on the retail version packagings , any system that exceeds the requirements , may allow the game to perform better. So… when you go back and play the original Crysis with a powerhouse video card with 3gb of GPU RAM or with SLI as I do – you get to discover just how well Crysis is put together and why it warrants having , playing and keeping. Not to mention believing how good it really is. To date , I am yet to find any other game that is so well put together , where there is actually , hardly any immature commentary or audio within the game. It is rated correctly , and plays fantastic.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Standard warning: the Steam version includes SecuROM.

      • try2bcool69 says:

        And why should we care about that at this point? We’re all buying games on a digital distribution basis, which means that, should the company go belly-up, all of your games go *poof* anyhow. Such is life, enjoy the ride.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          Putting aside the fact that SecuRom has a pretty sordid history and should never ever be trusted, third-party DRM on Steam is fucking stupid and redundant. Simple enough reasoning.

  2. Rizlar says:

    But it’s a bloody great dumb action movie!

    Discovered that I own Crysis 2 recently, no doubt from some bundle and was tempted to try it. But now I might just reinstall Crysis instead.

    • frymaster says:

      The suit powers are more intuitive in crysis 2 – you activate speed mode by sprinting, you activate large jumps by keeping jump held down – but the game doesn’t quite have that magic, imo

      • Cinek says:

        More intuitive – perhaps, but in many ways worse. People did some maths online and it came out that actually that new nanosuit from crisis 2 is a downgrade, not an upgrade :)

        • Lord_Mordja says:

          Yeah, I played C2 relatively recently and while stealth might have lasted longer and armor was a temporary invincibility, you really felt neutered compared to the first. Speed was a generic, lumbering sprint and if you ran out of energy, you couldn’t run anymore, whereas it made you into the goddamn Flash in the original. If you ran into a group of enemies you could actually knock them flat and defenceless! And while Strength in the first game let you fling people and objects at each other I can’t even remember what it did in the sequel. Then of course there’s the fact that they took out all of the big, semi-sandbox, destructible levels and made them into arenas…

          • Cinek says:

            Yea… maps…. for me the first level from Crysis and the level where you drive a tank were two most memorable moments not only in this game, but in my whole history of gaming as such.
            Trying to keep my tank machine gunner alive while fighting with tanks, helicopters and infantry at the same time (not that you had to do it, but it just felt right)…. or the countless amount of different approaches you could take to complete that first level – for that matter: all of them were played to death in a demo version – cause you know, Crysis comes from these awesome days before Steam when games had proper demo versions… oh delight!

            There were so many good things in that game! The more I think about it the more I’m underwhelmed by sequels (and I bought both of them, including pre-order of Crysis 2).

      • ch4os1337 says:

        Crysis 1 you double-tab space to do a strength jump, double melee for strength melee, double tap shift to sprint mode sprint. It’s actually just as intuitive in the first if you enabled suit shortcuts.

        • KenTWOu says:

          Double-tap sucks, it leads to mistakes and unintentional actions when you’re making the first tap.

      • skalpadda says:

        I think what bothered me about the suit in Crysis 2 wasn’t so much the functional changes of the suit but that the overall movement model just felt sluggish and weird compared to the first game. I remember being introduced to the ledge grab (which was new) early on and thinking it was neat but then immediately remembering that in Crysis I could’ve just quickly switched between suit modes and done monster jumps to scale buildings and obstacles. There were lots of niggles like that – slower animations, less physics objects, less freedom of movement, less versatile guns (with horrible sights and scopes for some reason), “press F to look”, narrower environments and so on.

        It’s tempting to just say that it was all the fault of the consoles with concessions to hardware, controllers and a different audience, but all I know is that I’d happily replay Crysis 1 whereas I gave up on the second well before the end.

        • try2bcool69 says:

          I think what you were searching to put into words is: It became COD.

          Some people probably thought that was a negative in this case, but I thought the first one lacked direction a little TOO much. I mean, seriously, what is the purpose of all the jungle around you, if there’s nothing to do in it?

          I just finished Far Cry 3 and am starting Far Cry 4. I think they are both better examples of what Crysis 1 was trying to do, but couldn’t.

          • Razumen says:

            The jungle gave you options to approach an area how you wanted to. Of course you could charge right in like Rambo for every enemy encounter, or you could skulk in the trees, stalking and picking off enemies one by one, disappearing and flanking them and hearing their confused shouts. Or you could do a bit of both.The freedom the open setting and the suit powers gave you was a hell of a lot of fun.

            Encounters with enemies were more dynamic and (slightly) emergent, while the sequels went for more boring and easily implemented linear and scripted moments.

    • mattfatnurse says:

      I loved Crysis 1 (and Warhead). But Crysis 2 is definitely worth a play (I’ve played through it a few times, something I rarely do with games), however I’m struggling through C3, it was fun until I got inside the biodome.

  3. Stellar Duck says:

    Thank you, Graham, for putting into writing something I’ve thought for years and years.

    I first played Crysis in early 2008 when I got a new computer (I pirated it to see if it ran and then bought it. I’m shit). I wasn’t expecting much. After playing it I still want them to make more of it. Everything they’ve done since has been dull and void of ambition.

    What Crysis had was sheer joy of systems working together. Sadly, that’s a rare thing these days. Crysis was almost as good as STALKER and Far Cry 2, I think.

  4. Jim Rossignol says:

    Crysis was superb. I was utterly mystified by the widely indifferent attitude towards it.

    • KwisatzHaderach says:

      Don’t forget the stellar mp mode! Was a blast!

    • Nova says:

      Indeed. I regularly defend it against people who criticize the series and usually just mean the second and third installment.

  5. maicus says:

    I played the first few hours of far cry 1 again and again, restarting when the evil monkeys started appearing. I’d be perfectly happy doing that in Crysis as well – I should finally pick it up!

  6. Premium User Badge

    Earl-Grey says:

    Crysis made me feel like a god damned one man war machine, absolutely unstoppable.
    I’d jump over buildings, throw soldiers around like wet tea bags, become invsibile and revel in the chaos I’d just sown.
    Man, I fucking love Crysis and it expandasequelalone.

    • Cinek says:

      Yep. This game basically made you feel like a Predator – something none of the AVP games ever managed to grasp properly. Which is an amazing feat on it’s own.

    • malkav11 says:

      I wanted to feel unstoppable. I never did. Part of it is that even with armor mode on, the protagonist in Crysis is way more fragile than most FPS protagonists. You can die to just a few seconds of sustained fire. (Which, granted, is way more than it would take to kill a real person, but this is videogameland.) For another, you can’t stay cloaked long at all, and doing so uses up even that small buffer against death. And of course, activating strength or speed are separate from either cloaking or armor or even one another, so you can chuck heavy things around but you’ll die in a couple shots and you won’t be moving anywhere while you’re doing it and you’re plainly visible. Or you can dash around, but… etc.

      I dunno. It seems like if you get good at chaining the modes together you might be able to create some facsimile of an exciting super-powered experience, but I never managed that trick. Which isn’t to say that there was no fun to be had at all, but…it wasn’t the experience that I was expecting or wanting to have.

      • Yglorba says:

        It definitely wasn’t the game to play if you wanted to feel invulnerable (which made it a bit odd, since in some ways despite your power suit you were weaker than most FPS protagonists, yeah.) It was in some ways more of a thinky-FPS in the model of Hitman or something — the game was designed to force you to really use all your suit’s powers, and to think ahead about what you were going to do with them.

        I think part of the muted reception the game got might have been because of this — like Spec Ops: The Line, it was a game that didn’t look like what it really was, so it attracted the wrong audience and failed to attract the people who really would have liked it.

      • Andy`` says:

        The trick really was the terrain is your friend. There’s obstacles basically everywhere, grass to go prone in and obstacles to hide behind, and the AI don’t actually know you’re there until they see or hear you, so you really ever only needed to activate a power long enough to do a particular action, popping out to grab their attention and then disappearing and circling round, etc. It was great, kept the tension up, but it did make it harder to learn how all the powers worked and it was tough learning how to be fluid with the suit.

        Probably try editing one of the .ini files, you can amp up the energy, speed etc. to experiment without so many restrictions, get used to it enough then turn it back down and get a better feel for how it all clicks together. In today’s world it would probably be chastised for not having a decent tutorial, but it’s probably better for it. Its biggest strength was that it didn’t drag you along, and gave you room to experiment, and the space to be powerful is there but at first glance it does just seem crippling, and it certainly does not indicate to you that the terrain is the most valuable tool you have.

        Also maybe give Warhead a go instead, I’ve always felt it was a better game, the level design was a tad more linear but it seemed to give more opportunities to really make good use of all the powers (by that point I’d played through Crysis 1 though so I might have just gotten better at using them by that point).

        Also this is an entertaining watch that you can also absorb some neat tricks from: link to youtube.com

        Edit: Also the female suit voice option was the best thing and it disappointed me eternally that they removed it in the later games purely in favour of gravelly man voice (for actual reasons, but dumb reasons imo)

        • malkav11 says:

          Yeah, it’s really a game about evasion and sneaking and surgical strikes. You are a predator, for sure, but you’re not capable of winning a straight up fight (or at least, I wasn’t). And there’s something to be said for that. But it’s absolutely not the advertised power fantasy.

  7. jezcentral says:

    Ah, yes. This was the time of the mighty 8800GTX and several months later the 2900, *snigger*. Websites were abuzz with frame-rates for Crysis at 1280×768.

    I sometimes wonder if the waaaah! reaction would have been mollified slightly if they had renamed High and Ultra to be Future 1 and 2, which was closer to the spirit anyway.

    Still, the sheer (not shear, Graham) chutzpah of increasing the difficulty by making the Koreans speak Korean, was wondrous. Alas, the cross-platform future denied us.

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      Fixed, but I will continue to make the sheer/shear mistake till the day I die.

      • jezcentral says:

        As long as the articles are this good, you are forgiven. We will always be here to correct you, while tutting disapprovingly.

      • danijami23 says:

        Well if you want help remembering: You shear a sheep, even though sheer (like a cliff) is the one with two e’s. So even though you’d think the similarly spelled ‘sheer’ and ‘sheep’ would go together, they actually don’t.

        I hope this clears that up for you.

  8. Vandelay says:

    So true! As Jim says above, the slight indifference the game received, both at the time and still to this day, is bizarre. It is probably the last great FPS game we have had, far exceeding the sequels (well, the first, I’ve not played 3.) Those that complained the game was nothing more than a corridor shooter with wide corridors, completely missed the huge amount of experimentation that the game allowed.

    Also agree that the back half was not as bad as some might say. The aliens aren’t as interesting to fight as the Koreans, but it does manage to create an awe inspiring environment to play in and is suitably over the top.

  9. ubik says:

    Good post, and a nice reminder that I never finished Crysis. I do seem to recall being annoyed at what I felt were excessive cooldowns on suit abilities, but I recognize that I was probably running up against a game balance decision.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Oakreef says:

    Crysis is basically a Predator simulator and it’s wonderful.

  11. thedosbox says:

    I’ve always thought Crysis was unfairly maligned for the back half of the game.

    The issue I had with it was that the finale (after the aliens showed up) was so disappointing compared to what had came before.

    I must admit to wanting to dig out the old disks and reinstalling it though.

    • guygodbois00 says:

      This comment mirrors my thoughts precisely. But seldom, when I think of Crysis , I remember vividly only the first good part of the game, the rest is a blur. So, good memories overall, are they not?

    • Arglebargle says:

      This part baffles me. Crysis was PROPERLY maligned for its sucky back half. My first playthrough, I ended up using a walkthrough to get past the Alien Ship sequence. It had quickly become irritating, not fun. After that, it devolved into the bonfire BS, and it was quite evident that the game was a quickly sinking ship. I have replayed it a couple of times, but once the Aliens come, I quit. The good part’s over.

      And Warhead didn’t help, as he’s exactly one of the stereotype game asshats that I dislike.

  12. psepho says:

    You inspired me to finally play Crysis Warhead earlier this evening. It turns out the Crysis magic is still just as compelling as ever!

    But I don’t recall it getting a lukewarm reception? I remember it being hailed (rightly) as a new high water mark for the FPS genre. In fact, I can’t remember playing any FPS since Crysis which has surpassed it, to my mind.

    • green frog says:

      Well, the critics loved it: link to metacritic.com

      But it inspired an oddly indifferent or even hostile reaction from much of the gaming community. I remember a lot of people calling it “generic” or “just a tech demo”, and I was flabbergasted like, are we even playing the same game? I defended it then and I’ll defend it now.

      I don’t know if it was just a bunch of idiots who held a grudge because Crytek dared to offer graphics settings their rig couldn’t handle, or what. There was a lot of that.

      It’s a shame Crytek just makes crappy F2P stuff now, but I’ll always cherish what they gave us with the first Crysis and Far Cry games.

  13. Muppetizer says:

    I’ll never forget the time I killed a guy with his hat in Crysis 1. It was amidst a massive firefight in the dock warehouse level, I’d been surrounded *ACTIVATE STEALTH* and needed to break away from the action *ACTIVATE SPEED* darting from cover to cover with very little ammo or suit energy left *ACTIVATE STRENGTH* I leapt over a shipping container and found myself face to face with an angry soldier, *ACTIVATE ARMOUR* I emptied my last pistol round in the chamber into his head but rather than kill him it just sent his helmet flying off, as he was stumbling from the shock of the shot *ACTIVATE SPEED* I burst over to his fallen helmet, picked it up and spinning around *ACTIVATE STRENGTH* chucked it right back at his head.

    It’s another game that only really communicates in violence, but it has one of the widest and most dynamic vocabularies of any other game of its sort that I know.
    Those last levels though, urgh. I usually finish the alien ship level and then leave it there.

    • KenTWOu says:

      I’ll never forget the time I killed a guy with his hat in Crysis 1.

      There is something strange with my/your copy of Crysis 1, my guys are not dying when I’m throwing helmets at them.

  14. Wret says:

    I remember near the very end of the game I was crawling around, found the wounded commander, and as he was laying there talking I thought “Hm, this game has face-melt levels of immersion. I can’t remember the last time a game was so IMMERSHUN”

    I hope what the commander said wasn’t important.

  15. Colonel J says:

    A Crysis retrospective and no mention of the chickens? For shame.

    obligatory throwing chicken at soldier video:

  16. Vesuvius says:

    Those early areas were incredible. I remember strapping C4 to the back of a jeep, riding it at high speed towards a slight ramp outside an enemy encampment, diving out, and watching it crash up and over the wall and halfway into a building where I would detonate it, causing utter havoc.

  17. Pulstar says:

    Too bad there was never a modding scene for it.

  18. SpacemanSpliff says:

    Crysis 1 will always be near the top of my of-all-time lists. There really isn’t anything like it to this day, including it’s sequels.

  19. MadTinkerer says:

    “In the seven years since the original Crysis, there have been a lot of games with empowering movement systems.”

    It’s almost like quickly traversing a level in an FPS feels better than slowly traversing the level! Almost!

    I am so glad that game designers in this century have figured out that the ability to quickly move across a level in an FPS is better than moving slowly, because those jerks in the previous century never, ever let you move quickly in FPSs!

    I predict that the next innovation will be some kind of “techno-arms” or “backpack” or “extradimensional space” or “you’re overthinking it, they just do it” that allows characters to hold more than two weapons at a time! At long last!!! Because it’s never happened in an FPS before now!!!!!

    EDIT: This might not be the best article to complain about this sort of thing, but I’ve stopped reading articles about CodMoHWarfarce unless the article in question is about how badly a particular modern warfare manshoots has failed to be even as mediocre as the current pathetic standard. So even though Crysis is actually pretty awesome, especially in light of the chicken thing mentioned above, it’s a Crysis article that has me complaining about unrelated games.

  20. Rich says:

    I didn’t play it until recently, but I couldn’t get along with that suite mode wheel. Also I felt I needed to be invisible all the damn time because I was afraid of blundering into unseen troops in the jungle. Maybe I just don’t like fighting in the jungle.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      You can activate the modes with a double tap (I think it might need to be activated in the menu). Double tap sprint to activate sprint mode, double tap jump for jump mode, double tape e for invisibility, double tap back for armour, and double tap punch (or something) for strength.

      It makes it much better than the wheel, and you can usually default to armour mode to prevent suit energy deletion when not needed.

      • SpacemanSpliff says:

        The quick buttons make it a lot easier to combine suit modes, like a sprint followed with a super jump.

        • jezcentral says:

          Ooh, that might get me to try this game again. I also tried playing it with the wheel, and died horribly at the hands of asingle Korean soldier who filled me with lead as I stood patiently in front of him, trying to change from Speed to Strength. I never got past the first level.

    • skalpadda says:

      Hide in bushes to regen suit energy and you can be invisible all the time. As long as you’re prone inside a bush you’re as invisible as when you have your stealth mode on and it gives you plenty of time to figure out where to go next or line up a shot.

  21. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Thanks for the reminder Graham, just went and finally re-bought Crysis and Warhead on steam. A mate of mine sodded off to Malaysia with my disc copy of crysis (He did leave behind Witcher 2 but I hate 3rd person games because I am A Bad Person), and I thought I would re-buy warhead to have it sitting next to its sparkly brother. Crysis 2 is a bit of a Ravenholm. We don’t go there anymore.

    True though that Crysis has some moments that ruin it, but its open-ish world set pieces, like that first big army base and the dock, are some of my favourite gaming memories. Nothing comes close for power fantasy satisfaction. And tech-porn.

    The tanks. Oh god the tank level was cool. Did you know you can get OUT of the tank and do it on foot? So cool.

  22. Jimbo says:

    Much like Far Cry, it was good until the alans / turd monsters showed up.

  23. Eggman says:

    “You can’t even do that in Crysis 2 or 3. Apparently getting the AI to adapt to this shifting terrain was the hardest challenge developers Crytek faced in the creation of the original Crysis, but having solved the problem, they decided never to use the solution again.”

    It’s no great secret that Crysis 2 was a severe downgrade in technical capability in order to fit on consoles. Advanced AI can be quite CPU-intensive. Terrain/building physics is also demanding. :(

  24. Lord_Mordja says:

    I’ve only actually played Crysis once, on middling graphics, with a maximum FPS of around 30, but it’s still one of my favourite games of all time. Warhead was aces too. Its “on rails” level was genius, since you could actually ditch the train completely, drive alongside it, and take out encampments at your leisure. I actually didn’t mind the squids so much, especially when you got into a three-way battle with Korean nanosuits. I should really replay them again, now that I can run them properly.

    I played Crysis 2 a few months ago and it was kind of depressing. Still a decent enough game, but, depressing.

  25. jonahcutter says:

    I always thought Crysis was pretty universally heralded, with the most general criticism being the lameness of the aliens themselves once revealed.

    Maybe that tale got simplified in the tellings to: first half = good, second half = bad. But I remember a lot of high praise for the game in general, and many a review of the later games wishing for a return to the approach of the first.

  26. satan says:

    Fell in love the first time I punched down a shack, it’s a game I go back to every couple of years.

  27. Pliqu3011 says:

    Ahh, Crysis.
    I’ve played through some levels of the first half at least 30 times, and it’s still a fun and unique experience every time.
    While playing C2 and 3, I can’t help but wonder if the brilliant level design in (the first half of) the original was merely an accident. Why would they deliberately choose not to make more of the genius gameplay of Crysis 1?

    I get the feeling that Crysis’ amazing graphics might be a negative in the end, since I know a lot of people genuinely think that’s the game’s only redeeming feature. “pretty, but no content”; they couldn’t be more wrong.

    To anyone who still needs convincing that Crysis is one of the finest FPSs ever made, just watch Nanosuitninja’s “Ironman” videos on Youtube. He’s not only ridiculously good at the game, but also very entertaining to watch. (and that’s from a person who normally hates “let’s play”-style videos)

    • Urthman says:

      Nanosuitninja’s videos are what convinced me to give Crysis a try. His videos are a lot of fun.

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      —-Why would they deliberately choose not to make more of the genius gameplay of Crysis 1?

      Because their management, while really good at pushing the PCs technical edge, were completely obsessed with piracy and pushed hard into consoles which are just a bit rubbish as a platform for FPS games.

    • Premium User Badge

      BlueTemplar says:

      Like this one?
      link to youtube.com
      Pretty great!

  28. nk says:

    Definitely one of my favorites FPS, up there with the likes of Half-Life² and Deus Ex.

    If you have already completed it a couple of times and would like to revisit it with a bit of freshness added, I recommend the Tactical Expansion Mod which adds plenty of weapons, AI overhaul (from theAdvanced AI mod) and lots o’ stuff. Granted, it kind of throws the balance out of whack, but in a fun-to-play way.

  29. Sacarathe says:

    Thanks for this, I’m going to go back and play Farcry 1 again, I loved that game, must have finished it 10 times, and crysis 1 that much too. Farcry 2 once, Crysis 2 4 times, and bored before the end of both crysis 3 and farcry3.

    Thanks for the memories.

  30. SlimShanks says:

    Now, I appreciate that there are many cool things one can do in Crysis, but personally I found that the game was ruined by ai limitations. Why have all these cool abilities when in most fights, you can simply alert the enemies, run away a bit, run around a corner, and shoot them one by one as they file out in front of you. Doing this I beat the first half of the game on hard without really using suit abilities. Then I got bored and went to play a better game.
    Also turtles look amazing in Crysis.

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      “hey guys I played the game in an un-fun way and it wasn’t fun”

      Really not sure how to answer that one

      • SlimShanks says:

        Well you see, game mechanics are quite pointless if there is no need for them. Unnecessary mechanics are a bad thing, for the reason that not everyone wants to create artificial challenges for themselves in a game. Crafting engaging challenges is the developers job. I have seen writers here at RPS decrying games for poorly constructed challenges, so I thought I should point out that it happens here, in Crysis.

        • Hedgeclipper says:

          I agree the AI wasn’t perfect (although I thought it was generally pretty good given what it was doing) but finding an exploit and packing the whole game because one exists seems a bit counter productive to me if you’re looking for a fun experience.
          And assuming they agreed with you it would seem to me that the lesson for developers would be not to write better AI but to concentrate more on liner shooters in the CoDface style where there’s so little game-play there’s nothing to exploit.

        • KenTWOu says:

          @SlimShanks
          If you want a series of artificial challenges created by devs not by you, this game isn’t for you. Try something more linear, more focused instead, where devs create specific scripted obstacles around game mechanics you possess. This game is about freedom and emergent gameplay, it’s really hard to balance them out in a systemic way. There is no need to limit that freedom by artificial obstacles. That’s why there are balance issues in Crysis. And they always will be in games like Deus Ex, Dishonored, Crysis or Ubisoft’s Far Cry.

        • Razumen says:

          The thing is Crysis wants you to accomplish missions however you see fit, none of the game’s mechanics are worthless because they’re all viable options-just because one is easier than the other doesn’t invalidate the rest.

          It’s a different design philosophy than most games, where everything is laid out beforehand by a level designer who knows exactly where the player can go and what they must do to proceed. That kind of approach is a lot easier to implement than the open-ended gameplay of Crysis-which because of it’s ambitiousness, obviously will have more exploits and balance issues.

          Honestly, so many shooters are rather braindead affairs in gameplay, I love games like Crysis that offer me a situation and say; “OK, here’s what you’re up against, here are your tools, now figure it out and get to work.”

  31. Urthman says:

    Crysis has been in my Steam library forever, but I recently gave it a try and am really loving it so far. It runs well and looks fantastic (although I think Far Cry 2 looked even better, with much more modest system requirements). Alternating between Stealth mode and Maximum Speed crawling works pretty well for slinking through the jungle. Unlike other stealth games where I try to quietly clean out an entire area, stealth here seems more about reconnaissance and sneaking into the perfect position from which to kick off a crazy action sequence and then disappearing to laugh at the next wave of Koreans who show up and try to figure out what the hell just happened.

    Was this the last major FPS that was entirely built around what a PC was capable of? It came out a month after Episode 2 and even Valve’s next single-player game, Portal 2 (!), was built around the limitations of aiming with a gamepad. Will we ever again get a major FPS designed purely for PCs present and future?

    • SpacemanSpliff says:

      The system requirements will make more sense in the third act.

  32. Holysheep says:

    I loved Crysis 1 … but the ballistics and lack of feeling of the weapons were SOOO shitty.

    Should have weapons been great, and should there have been no aliens, the game would have been at least 50% better…

  33. shaydeeadi says:

    Crysis is one of the rare games where I instantly restarted it upon completion and did it all again but harder. Such a fun game and shines as an example of letting the player get on with it.

  34. Jamesworkshop says:

    Yes the visuals of crysis did get tech demo status which is a shame because it did far more than most games in terms of gameplay and physics, a ton of games look good today but they are often heavily static and have much smaller environments

    quick save and quick load, almost unheard of today (the in level loading times are brilliant) .

    link to youtu.be

  35. toshiro says:

    I haven’t thought about it until now, but crysis really set a bar that no-one seems interested in breaking or hell, even equal. I don’t buy AAA shooters anymore because of this, but it seems there will always be an endless supply of 14 yo boys buying those fucking games. God I’m tired of them.

  36. K33L3R says:

    Started playing this last week for the first time, wished I’d picked it up sooner because damn it is so good

    So good its got a good chance of joining Bioshock 1/2, System Shock 2, Halo, Half-Life 2, Deus Ex as one of my favorite FPS’ (so far). The story is meh but the actual gameplay and player freedom is amazing, I don’t feel like I’m being talked down to by the game, like the developers have enough respect for me as a player to solve a situation on my own and let me learn from my mistakes

    Another thing I’ve noticed is the AI, the NPC’s seem to co-ordinate their actions (like searching for you, they fan out into a line and advance in one direction), sometimes it falls apart but for the most part seems rather smart, its refreshing

  37. Howard says:

    Absolutely love this game and have done since launch: hell, I even enjoyed the end of the game!

    Question though, to the here-gathered knowledge base: has anyone had any luck running it recently? Having just got my hands on a GeForce 970, I downloaded it again from steam, intending to giggle at the silly FPS I could now get, but I simply cannot get it to launch at all! Crysis Warhead loads fine (thought is stuttery) but the original game just wont have it at all. Any thoughts, anyone?

  38. vorador says:

    Definitely the best of the three Crysis games. Sadly, since that Crytek has gone downhill. The second was designed with consoles hardware limitations in mind, and lost the best parts of the first becoming a rather mediocre FPS. And I didn’t even bothered with the third game.

    I should try to replay it with some mods someday.

    • Cinek says:

      Try Mechwarrior: Living Legends. It’s one of the best mods… well… ever made.

  39. Bob says:

    After beating the game legitimately I did a replay with some ini edits that powered up the abilities a tad. It was hugely entertaining I must say.

    Has it struck anyone else how the recent sci-fi/action films seem to base their aliens and alien ship design, on those in Crysis?

  40. Chaz says:

    Crysis was the game that made my, at the time of release, PC weep. Even on low settings the demo ran like a turd. Not the shit off a shovel kind but the toilet blocking chocolate log kind. That was about the time I took a break from PC gaming and ended up eventually getting an Xbox 360 and gaming on that for a few years.

    I remember Crysis at the time being like the last big PC exclusive. It seemed to me at the time that PC gaming was on a big downward turn. All the big PC titles were drying up as developers turned their attentions to the consoles and all that was left were shoddy console ports for the most part.

    I kept an eye on RPS to keep up with the PC scene but all my gaming for about 3 years or so after Crysis was on my 360. It wasn’t until the indie scene on the PC really began to take off, which rekindled my return to PC gaming. The upswell of the indie gaming scene really reminded me of the halcyon days of gaming on my Beeb and Amiga when you still got home brew style games that felt niche and creative, rather than bland games made by committee to appeal to the broadest possible audience.

    I never got to play Crysis at the time as my PC was too lacking, so for me I’ll always remember Crysis as the last big AAA PC game that marked the end of my PC gaming days for a period of a few years. I have played it since of course on a much better PC and yes it is good, well apart from those last few levels.

  41. PhilKenSebben says:

    I forgot the feeling this game gives you. Rebuying as I’ve wasted $7.50 on far worse things lately and it comes with Warhead.

  42. ResonanceCascade says:

    I’ve alway called Crysis “Jerry Bruckheimer does Deus Ex.” It’s an absolutely brilliant action game (for the first 2/3) that doesn’t get nearly enough credit. Hopefully if more articles like this keep coming out, it will eventually break free of the myth that it was just a “dumb, pretty shooter.”

  43. Timbrelaine says:

    Huh. I thought it was just another FPS with extra graphix. I’ll have to give it a shot.

  44. fish99 says:

    Loved Crysis, especially on delta difficulty. Yes the last third of the game was hit and miss, but the big open levels before that were great fun. Warhead was pretty decent too (and the first Far Cry). They had the blueprint for the perfect FPS there in terms of the gameplay and level design. It’s a real shame the way the series went in Crysis 2&3, both the scope of the game and the direction they took the story. Chasing those console dollars hasn’t worked out too well for them.

  45. Synesthesia says:

    Crysis was excellent! Good piece.

  46. RPSRSVP says:

    The delta difficulty mode is referred to as the Jack Bauer mode, you’ll see it if you browse the Crysis folder.

    Crytek+CDPR or Naughty Dog would have been a dream team for me.

    Yes, the “Can it run Crysis” meme was a thing but the engine was far more scalable than people give it credit for.And I have yet see anyone implement a temporal AA with such a minimal performance hit as Ryse does.
    If people think Crysis was a poorly coded game, take a look at Ubisoft’s Unity…

    • funkstar says:

      ‘Can it run Crysis?’ was an achievement on the 360 version of the game, even, when the first level loaded.

  47. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    Well said, Mr. Smith! Couldn’t agree more, unless I had bothered to play the sequels.

    For me, that “dumb action movie part” was just as memorable as the rest of the game, and in a good way. I don’t think I could stand a whole game of ’em, but the final boss fights constitute some of my favourite moments in gaming — particularly Warhead’s since the final moments went off in perfect fashion. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the details of it, but there was something about it being right on top of me as I sat in a tower or on a roof with my last rocket, and I felt maximum awesome when it collapsed and exploded in whatever way it did. (Watching the fight on Nanosuitninja’s channel, as recommended in a comment above, I feel my version of it played out significantly differently, and not only because I was comparatively terrible at it.)

    I’ll also echo the call of “Deus Ex” from several comments above. While they’re completely different games in general, Crysis felt remarkably similar in terms of how I ran around in Deus Ex doing actiony things: Always with a maxed-out speed/jump aug as soon as I could manage, cloak when it mattered, and occasionally some couch-throwing when I felt like something different. Well, except couches don’t kill people in Deus Ex, and I don’t think Crysis has couches. Crysis also lacked the x-ray vision I always went for in Deus Ex, but that made a lot of the sneaking more exciting.

  48. Premium User Badge

    BlueTemplar says:

    It’s funny, my major disappointment with Crysis 2 was how bland aliens became compared to Crysis 1 – of course one reason is that Crysis 1 reveals them very slowly, for MAXUMUM Dramatic Effect.
    Aliens are hard to do well in FPS (can you actually give many examples of better made aliens? Half-Life 1 Xen was pretty cool too, especially for the time…), and I found the “cold” feature of them very cool (and it makes for some stunning levels in Crysis Warhead).

  49. SuicideKing says:

    You’ve made me want to give the game another chance if and when I upgrade my rig.

    And I guess they never used the AI because it was too intensive for the consoles and only now are PC CPUs good enough.

  50. XhomeB says:

    What saddens me the most is that Crysis 2 and 3 have a completely – COMPLETELY – different “feel” than the original, both in terms of their stories and gameplay mechanics (I won’t even get started on how much they ruined the whole experience with C2&3, what a downgrade in every possible way).
    The original was actually brilliant in its simplicity – it was your typical action movie about aliens invading the Earth (with two opposing forces – USA and N.Korea caught in the middle of it), sure, but with fun characters, some “Predator”-like moments and the memorable “freezing” twist. It was nothing new, but remained deliciously simple, logical throughout (!), had some mystery to it and I wanted to see more of it. I wanted to see a sequel picking up where Crysis 1 left off.
    Then came Crysis 2 and suddenly, everything became a total, illogical, overly complicated mess, the Nanosuit became the main focus of the story instead of a mere tool at USA special forces’ disposal, the aliens were changed for the worse, it felt like a completely different game set in a different universe, as if Crysis 1 never happened. C1 kept me interested, C2 turned out to be dumb and – what’s worse – BORING.

    C1 set the foundations for a great series, C2 and 3 completely and utterly spat on everything that made the original great. It’s really, really disappointing and I can’t help but wonder “what the trilogy could have been”.