Shooting Kryptonite

“Can it run Crysis?” Yes it can.

Crytek’s 2007 shooter really pushed the boundaries of graphics technology at the time. People complained they couldn’t run it because of the high system requirements, but no one complained about how it looked. It still looks great even today; a testament to how forward-looking PC development can be. Five years of graphics card improvements and Crysis still requires relatively high-end hardware if you want to set everything to maximum.

Of course none of this would matter if the gameplay had aged poorly but the multi-hour campaign feels fresh after years of heavily scripted corridor generi-shooters. Your objective is here. You’re over there. Have at it! It’s not quite Far Cry 2. Terrain on the island, plot events, and other factors funnel the player forward. I would describe it as a ‘linear sandbox’ shooter in the vein of Halo’s many iterations – except with much bigger sandboxes. Interactivity demands freedom, the more (usually) the better.

Nomad is human in much the same way that John-117 is just another space marine. Paired with an exoskeleton which can be super durable, fast, strong, or invisible, the pathetic North Koreans defending the island don’t have a chance. Right?

One on one, two on one, three on one. Piece of cake! I wish it was ever that fair. For all of the tactical power and freedom given to Nomad, he’s fragile – incredibly so – and his enemies are numerous. Excepting 100% headshot efficiency I doubt there’s even enough ammunition in the entire game to kill every last enemy. For all of the super-soldier trappings, Nomad is not an Army of One.

First-person shooters are often about feeling like a badass, something Crysis nails particularly well, but Crytek understood something which too few developers have: if I’m Superman there must, must, be Kryptonite.

I spent eight-odd hours sniping North Koreans from the bushes and those were some of my favorite gaming moments of the year to date. I wish the game had ended there. Alas, Crysis falls to the “Flood Syndrome”, a game-altering enemy which shakes up the mechanics of the entire game. The aliens are first encountered in a painful pseudo zero-G level which couldn’t end fast enough.

Nomad returns to fresh air, emerging into a suddenly frozen landscape dominated by long-dormant aliens, an invasion force thousands of years off-schedule. From that point forward I can count the times I’ve switched suit modes out of max armor on one hand. It’s not a bad game as generic action/shooters go but the magic is lost. Suddenly we really are that super soldier who can use any vehicle, any weapon, and eats aliens for breakfast. More to the point, I’ve done this a million times before. I’m shooting back from muscle memory, not engaging my brain for tactical decisions and never once consulting my map on where to go.

Nomad is human in much the same way that John-117 is just another space marine.Maybe a successful shooter has to have diversionary levels. The obligatory aerial bombardment sequence in a military FPS, a tank sequence, a helicopter sequence, etc. The “good” half of Crysis has a couple vehicle sections but the tanks are just as fragile as Nomad. Pair this with my mediocre skill and suddenly I’m figuring out how to take out two tanks by my lonesome. Is that a brick on that crate or a block of C4? Will the cloak last enough to get across the wide-open area? Driving the tank was the worst part: slow, easy to spot, and not much of an upgrade. Fighting back on foot was the real fun.

Crysis wouldn’t have had much of a plot arc if the aliens hadn’t emerged and their eventual redesign in Crysis 2 shows Crytek understood some of the mistakes they made. It would have lost some Hollywood-style pizazz if it removed the ability to drive a tank, but it would have been a better game.

About David Hughes

David Hughes is an Editor for Splitkick. PC gamer, mod lover, screenarcher, and Elder Scrolls fanboy.
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