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Having played modern shooters like Doom 3, Quake 4, FEAR, and HL2, those will be the shooters that I will be measuring Crysis against.
Also known as That One Game to bring systems down to their knees, Crysis has often been labeled as more of a "tech demo" than a real game by the general public. The minimal system requirements of Crysis is quite high and optimal settings even higher. What if the staggering system requirements were a non-issue? One can finally play the game in its full potential. I recently upgraded my PC to the point where I'm able to keep a steady frame in Crysis on the highest settings, to play it as it was meant by the creators.
Crysis, more than the others, is heavily reliant on visuals to immerse the player in its vast environment. From the lush tropical beach jungles to the way "God rays" shine through the foliage, it is a VERY pretty game no doubt. Sometimes I'd have to idle and just take a deep look at the way vegetation and landscape goes off miles into the vista, like a photograph off a vacation magazine.
First person shooters on the PC have evolved to the point where if the developers didn't fuck it up, it'll play great. WASD. The control schemes of Crysis is complex but intuitive, the lean left-right movement emphasizes the precision of combat; some games have it, some don't, having it allows you to peek-a-boo around the corner is always a big plus in my eyes. The player's nanosuit add new depths to the ways you can approach an objective. I could either cloak my way past the guards, confront them in a balls-out firefight, or just ignore them as I "superspeed" towards my goal. The layout of the enviroment encourages multiple routes to completing the same objective, which adds extra non-linearity to gameplay.
I've heard accounts of fucked up AI behavior, but haven't encountered much of it myself playing on "Normal" and even when the AI messes up at times, like idling when their nearby buddies are sniped, it's not a deal-breaker. On the contrary, the AI is good most of the time, they are able to work in teams beelining my position when I sniped one of their buddies from afar, or check out suspicious movement when I'm cloaked and moving.
As for environment interaction, almost every trees and shacks are destructible and can be smashed to smithereens. I was able to pick up any items and toss it at enemies (who needs the gravity gun when your nanosuit is at maximum strength), take apart sentry towers with missiles, deforest combat zones, and overall just carve a trail of havoc everywhere I went.
Gameplay is more open sandbox than HL2, with higher combat complexity than FEAR. It's loose enough to let the player wander off and explore, but still has progression as the objective dictates.
The storyline is the typical ancient-weapon-alien-discovery explosion hypercombo, the theme of the story itself I didn't care for, what's more important is how it was told. The storyteling fidelity is somewhere between HL2 and Quake 4. Like HL2, the story unfolds 1st person through the player's eyes as the game progresses, and can be very epic at times, a notable instance is in the middle of an armored assault, you suddenly see the mile-high mountain in front of you literally crack away to reveal a spaceship. Right in front of your eyes is the emphasis here, no matter how epic.
Crysis, when on an adequately powered system, is an excellent game. It's not only pretty, but well made, nonlinear with a deep combat system, and just plain fun to play. I'm going to play it again sometimes after I finish Warhead, it's that good.
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It's beautiful, it's wide open, but I felt it only plays average. It's fun to bash up huts in strength mode at first. It's fun to clown around, and generally blow stuff up, but it didn't last. I do have the hardware to run it acceptably at high settings, but I've enjoyed newer games with lower system requirements more. If you can run it and find it relatively cheap, it's worth it though.