chautemoc blogged
Dec 15, 10 11:39pm

Crysis & Crysis Warhead impressions

I finally gave in and ordered Crysis Maximum Edition recently, and managed to complete both Crysis and the expansion Crysis Warhead, so I'd like to share some thoughts (the multiplayer Crysis Wars I put aside for now as my backlog is huge, plus I'm busy with Bad Company 2 already and I'm not entirely fond of Gamespy).

Most likely you're familiar with Crysis by now, but if not, it's been one of the most talked about PC titles for the last few years for a few reasons: it's PC exclusive, it's a big budget title, it's very graphically intensive, and opinions on gameplay seem divisive.

Regarding the system requirements, now is most definitely the time to get into the game if you haven't yet. Three years later, on a formidable mid-range rig (see specs in my profile if you're interested), I could still push only 40-50fps. 60 of course is generally the minimum desired, though it varies from game to game. In Crysis' case, this was very smooth, though I would've liked the extra frames. Note in a few rare sections, fps would drop to 10-30 fps -- brutal. The last level of Crysis was one of these -- aside from the poor framerate, I was very impressed.

Note I highly recommend making use of the Crysis Tweakguide as I did for optimal performance. I went with the 'Cheap Very High' settings you see here. This gives you pretty much identical visual eye candy to Very High settings, but with only the performance hit of High. Aside from that, I brought Volumetrics and Shadows down to Medium, because they didn't make a massive difference and I needed the frames. I would've liked to have left Shadows at High, but they're a known performance killer. That said, the shadows in this game are easily the best I've seen, even three years later.

But enough of that. Despite the trendiness of lambasting Crysis as a pretty tech demo, I really did love the gameplay. Weapons are highly customizable on the fly (Incendiary ammo, scopes, grenade launcher attachment, etc.), which means you can easily adapt to any situation with a key press and mouse click or two. And then of course there are the Nanosuit abilities, which let you cloak yourself for a brief period, increase your strength for improved accuracy, damage, and jumping, speed up for fast travel or escape, or up your armor for tough fights.

It might sound like god mode, and that's semi-true -- on Delta difficulty (which I highly recommend), though, there are definitely some tough fights, but toward the latter half of the game I found I could take on most with little issue by playing smart (i.e. hiding cloaked behind crates, leaning out and headshotting an enemy or group of enemies with my sniper rifle or assault rifle with single shots, and maybe a grenade or two, then hiding again). For the most part, I was having too much fun to mind, though I definitely want to see more of a challenge and more intelligent AI in the sequel (the AI wasn't too shabby, though).

But I think my favourite thing about Crysis is the incredible transition in settings and atmosphere from the first half of the game to the second. I really don't want to spoil this for anyone that is yet to play, but I will say it's made for one of the most memorable gaming experiences for me to date, in ways, similar to how The Matrix was one of the most memorable film experiences for me. If you've played it and know what I'm referring to: I was in complete awe during the entire section.

Crysis Warhead, on the other hand, I found utterly unmemorable in terms of plot, setting, and atmosphere. I realize some of my negativity may be due to playing it immediately after Crysis, and not a year later as likely most did, but regardless, that transition isn't really there. Warhead is essentially more of the same, but without the coolest sections. The gameplay is as good as ever, though, and Psycho is an enjoyable character, of course.

I'm certainly interested in what's to come out of Crysis 2. It's a bit sad it won't be PC exclusive anymore (especially as I really don't buy the piracy argument), but in a sense this might not be an entirely bad thing given the high cost of running the original title at maximum settings -- the limitations of consoles might keep things in check this time around. I am hopeful Crytek is playing it smart though and optimizing properly per platform -- word is it's going to use up to eight CPU cores on PC, so that's assuring.

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Sean Ridgeley

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