Fledgling game designers Crytek had a massive hit on their hands a few years ago with Far Cry, a first-person shooter set on a supposedly idyllic island overrun by soldiers guarding a murky scientific secret. Three years on and they’re back with another shooter, set once more on a supposedly idyllic island overrun by soldiers guarding a murky scientific secret…
Why repeat history, you might ask? Yet from the second you start playing Crysis all comparisons fly out of the window. For instance, the storyline has a much more epic scope, dealing with the capture of American archaeologists by the Korean People’s Army in 2019 on an island in the Philippines Sea.
So the Americans send in an undercover Special Ops squad to attempt a rescue, only to discover that what the archaeologists unearthed wasn’t a royal tomb but an alien spaceship encased in a mountain. Unfortunately for the rescuers, the aliens start to become active the moment the squaddies parachute onto the shore.
What hits you between the eyes the moment you head into the tropical jungle is the jaw-dropping quality of the graphics, which look to us to be the most photo-realistic ever produced in a computer game. Light and shading effects through the trees; the pin-sharp detail on rock faces, buildings and faces; blur effects as the earth trembles or you sustain a hit: these are all so genuine that you feel you’re living inside a movie. There’ll be occasions in this game where you’ll stand and just look around in awe when you should be getting under cover to avoid annihilation!
So much is new here, including the Nanosuit your character wears which gives you enhanced strength, speed and armour as well as the ability to be briefly invisible. This gives you a big advantage over your KPA opponents but the AI is sufficiently advanced that they will still act strategically against you, trying to circle behind you and act as a team.
Most of your weapons are relatively conventional – pistols, shotguns, missile launchers, sub-machineguns, etc. – but you do have a wide range of modifications that are better suited to some weapons than others. So choosing which ones to drop and which to pick up can be crucial to the success of a mission.
Effectively the game missions are divided into two contrasting classes. Against the Koreans your targets are the more familiar type of reaching checkpoints, destroying jamming stations or AA positions, gathering intel and rescuing the hostages. You’ll also drive in a tank convoy and order air strikes on ammo dumps and an enemy harbour.
But the moment you hit alien territory you’re suddenly confronted by fighting in zero gravity, which can be quite unnerving. Also the aliens freeze all the territory around them, which provides a completely new set of challenges, plus you have the chance to use and adapt alien technology and weaponry.
It’s a mind-blowing, exhilarating, rollercoaster ride and will change your view of what first-person shooters should be like.
Company: Electronic Arts