January 11, 2012

Crysis is a culmination of FPS gaming. Although a few years old, it still is one of the best in the genre. In some ways, it is still better than Crysis 2, since the latter goes in a different direction and considerably departs from the essence of the genre as we previously knew it.

I was always interested in Crysis because I liked the original Far Cry a lot. It was the FPS with most advanced graphics at the time, and Crysis continues the tradition as it’s developed by the original Far Cry team, Crytek. (Unlike Far Cry 2, which is a continuation of the franchise but team-wise not related at all.) Even in 2012, five years after its release, Crysis is still gorgeous.

At this day and age, it is very easy to purchase and play games. I just use Steam whenever possible, and I have a Windows 7 Home Premium Boot Camp partition on my 2010 iMac. The game plays quite nicely with maximum graphical settings. I did run into a technical problem on the last level where it just crashes. Turns out there is whatever glitch that’s fixed by specifying a special command line option in Steam that uses DirectX 9 instead of DX10 for the graphics API.

Here’s a gameplay video that fairly accurately captures the feel of the game. (Not by me, but I remember going through this level.)

The two gameplay innovations compared to previous FPS-es that you can also see in this video are nanosuit customization and weapon modifications. Nanosuit is what powers you and provides you armor, strength, speed and all these things that you must balance to accomplish your goals. Especially interesting is the cloak mode that I found has not so much use in Crysis but is vital in Crysis 2. I was mostly just in armor mode in Crysis.

As you can see, Crysis is a “jungle shooter”, similarly to Far Cry and Far Cry 2. I guess jungle is a fairly easy and flexible environment for game designers, as it provides great affordance for field of vision, you can obscure the view, you can add variance in terrain height and scatter open ground and water bodies in the jungle.

The video shows the importance of sniping. It’s not actually quite as extreme and you will have a lot of close-quarters combat too. But it is a sandbox shooter, meaning you can choose your own path, and you can approach the town in many different ways. In the situation seen in the video, I would probably have tried to fight my way through to the guard tower and from there, clear the town from an elevated position.

To its credit, Crysis doesn’t use the dirty trick found in earlier Call of Duty games and Far Cry 2 — endless enemy respawn, where enemies just keep coming at you. Once you clear an area, that’s it.