Crysis - Xbox 360 Review

Today's review comes courtesy of a new contributor to the site, Robert! We will be seeing more from him soon!

Set in the future, Crysis takes place on a small island primarily controlled by the KPA (North Korean military), where you control 'Nomad' a member of a U.S. Special Forces team (Raptor Team) that uses a newly developed armor called a Nanosuit (it uses nanotechnology to do neat things like optical cloaking, armor hardening, or exponentially increasing your speed and strength).

 With an array of customizable weapons, numerous vehicles, and multiple strategic options for each encounter, your 7 or so hours spent on the Lingshan Islands (where Crysis takes place) will be filled with amazing sites, tactical flexibility (run-and-gun, sniping options, or stealth options to bypass certain objectives), and, as far as first person shooters go, one of the better single-player story lines you'll find in modern shooters.

Graphics - 8.5:

When Crysis first released on the PC it was, for lack of a better term, a beast. To get the highest quality out of the game you needed to have an uber-rig that cost two arms, a leg, a firstborn child, as well as triple-mortgaging the house. In short, it's gorgeous. It has aged quite well and for the sake of this review, I'll be covering just the Xbox 360 version. Fortunately hardware has come a long way and the 360 handles the strain Crysis puts on it quite well, I can think of a few times where the the different particle effects (smoke, explosions, sun glare, motion blur) mashed together on screen made the framerate drop for a moment, but it was rare (hence the reason it was noticeable). There were times where, in some of the outdoor environments, that the draw distance wasn't exactly ideal for sniping, however, it is a bit unrealistic of me to desire perfect draw distances out as far as 300-400 meters in game (based on the range-finder in game) in the hopes of reaching out and touching someone with a sniper rifle. Beyond some of those little quirks, the game is stunning and runs quite well on the 360, with it's lush, and huge, outdoor environments and the detailed, compact indoor levels. Some of the more in-depth graphical features that really stood out to me was that while you walk (which, by the way, when you look down, you see your legs!) through foliage it will actually rustle and move with you; a very neat feature that added to the depth of the game.

Sound & Music - 9:

The music in Crysis, to be honest, is as forgettable as it is distracting at times. While you do have a mini-map w/ a friend-or-foe indicator on it, I found that I played the game mostly by sound, listening for footsteps, the rustling of leaves, the rumble of an engine or straining to hear when a patrol unit reports in to their central command. Outside of the forgettable music, Crytek focused a lot of energy on the ambient sounds and the different effects and it pays off in many different ways. Hunting / evading solely by sound is completely possible and there are times when you'll be crawling through the jungle and you'll accidentally rustle the leaves of some foliage and your breath will catch as you strain to hear whether the KPA heard it and are sending a patrol to investigate. There were certainly parts where you're just trudging along from one point to the next (through the extremely open environment, you don't need to make a bee-line from point A to point B, you can take any number of paths) and you'll hear the snap of a bullet fly by your head then you'll hear the sound of the rifle a moment later. It's simply surreal.

Gameplay - 8.5:

The controls in Crysis are fairly run-of-the-mill first person shooter; decent, responsive, and adds just enough control to allow access to all of the armor abilities and special weapon customizations, while staying away from overly convoluted control schemes. It's fast, responsive, and works quite well whether you're trying to nab pin-point accuracy for sniping or simply going full auto the throw as much lead at a target as you can. Most buttons have two purposes, for instance, if you tap the X button, Nomad will reload his weapon, however, if you hold the X button in, Nomad will pick up whatever is in front of him (enemies included, and you can use them as shields!), tapping the Right Trigger while holding something will lightly toss the object or holding the Right Trigger will 'Strength Throw' which hurls the object (or person) with immense strength (throwing bottles to distract guards, or this them with one, is loads of fun).

 Ah, the gameplay... Crysis is, quite frankly, a first person shooter. It plays like one, it looks like one, and it feels like one. Which is good, as it's not trying to be anything different. What makes it different than other run-of-the-mill shooters is that you actually have a story that is interesting (*GASP*) and enjoyable without trying to be overly dramatic, or cheesy. Crysis takes itself seriously, adheres to the initial story and plot line that it starts off with, and stays with it the whole way. I likened it to an excellent marriage between Halo: Combat Evolved and Half Life 2, and really, I think that's spot on. The multiple avenues of approach to an issue, the level of customization for weapons (you can add silencers, tactical mounts, grenade launchers and change the sights for most firearms), as well as the vehicle combat are all inspiring, deeper than they appear to be on the surface, and the variety adds plenty of re-playability to the game and is in no way a case of a developer trying to add too much content / too many features to a first person shooter.

Intangibles - 7:

Given the multiple paths that you can take, and the different options for altering your weapons (plus the fact that you can stick C4 on trees to blow them up to crush the KPA) there are some fantastic options in-game to allow you to achieve your objective in different manners adding to the replay value quite a bit. It is, however, still a first person shooter and, at times, feels like it's "on rails," though, the different tactical options certainly provide variety to the way you tackle obstacles which adds more depth to the game than other blockbuster FPS games. The multiplayer mode on Crysis is a bit lackluster and difficult to locate any servers that are worth playing on, likely due to the age of the game, so I'd be interested in hearing your opinions on the matter.

Overall - 8.5:

 Crysis is a solid first person shooter that is definitely above the average cut when it comes to scope and quality of gameplay. Fast-paced action, multiple ways to complete an objective, and the satisfaction that comes from downing large waves of enemies is certainly a lot of fun. Rarely do I ever feel so satisfied after the single player campaign in a first person shooter (I think that the last time I felt that satisfied was after Half Life 2's campaign credits rolled), but with Crysis it was a blast. I highly recommend spending the 6 to 8 hours or so in the campaign if you're in the mood for a solid FPS that doesn't have a convoluted and hole-filled plot line.

-  Robert/T1ckles: a gamer whose name inspires fear into the hearts of his enemies (generally fluffy bunnies, squirrels and perhaps mouthy children playing FPS games).

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