So the demo for Crysis has been out for about 2 weeks now. If you’ve been dying to try it out (and see how poorly it runs on that computer you keep telling everyone is “practically new”), download it and have a go. I nabbed the demo via torrent a day or two after it came out, and am only now getting around to talking about it.
“But isn’t Crysis a hotly anticipated game?” you ask. “Haven’t people been waiting months – nay, years – to try this?” you also ask.
“Indeed,” I answer, taking a long, blank look out the window. “But it sucks.”
Yup, I said it. I went there. I can feel the shock you harbor. The outrage.
Crysis sucks. If I wanted to spend 5 minutes scoping out a digital enemy base, only to run in and get gunned down by the one dude I couldn’t see, I’d re-install Far Cry. As much as EA / Crytek continues to try to persuade you that Crysis is not a sequel to Far Cry, it might as well be. The two are basically the same game, disregarding some incredible graphics and a few lame superpowers. Before I explain myself further (I think you’re probably still somewhat aghast), feast your eyes on these screenshots. Even sans interesting gameplay, Crysis does sport some fantastic visuals, and for that, I give the team behind it their due credit.
So now that your eyes have had a brief glimpse of what the future of gaming may hold for them, let’s return back to reality, where things aren’t always as good as they seem.
To be honest, I was mostly interested in trying out Crysis not because I am genuinely interested in playing the game, but because like so many others, I wanted to see how my machine stacked up against the beastly graphics it contains. To that effect, I came away somewhat impressed. Though the game didn’t always run as well as I wanted it to, the graphics are stupendous, even at lower detail settings and resolutions. The foliage is thick and lush, sways gently in the wind, bends away from you as you crawl through it, and generally acts just the way you’d expect it to. The textures were very detailed, down to tiny specks of dust in the road and on the various beaches.
The special effects are also particularly good. Your view is obscured by water droplets as you enter and exit the sea, your armor’s cloaking effect looks a little bit more like what I would expect a real cloaking device to look like, and everything is casting shadows down, sometimes with light rays from the sun spilling through. In fact, aside from all the heavily armed mercenaries constantly trying to pepper you with bullets, Crysis is probably about as close as you could get to a virtual tropical getaway. So where does the holiday go sour?
For starters, the gameplay is not new. As you might be able to guess, this is my major gripe from the Crysis demo. I understand that there’s only so much one can do to make a game stand out from the rest as far as gameplay goes, especially in such a saturated genre at the FPS genre, but let’s get real here; the lack of innovation in commercial games is wearing thin. EA can spend the big bucks and build a team of talented, competent people who can make your computer render an almost photo-realistic exotic island, complete with real-time physics, a vast sound scape, and some of the best digital effects yet seen on computer games. They can take years to make all these things. And yet, despite all this, nobody could come in and deliver a new idea as far as the flow and mechanics of the game are concerned? Not one person?
Secondly (and despite my love and praise for the visuals), pushing the limits of current generation graphics cards is lame. I know that every now and then, the bar must be moved up a notch, and to some extent, I buy into this. But to move the bar up (and subsequently, the hardware requirements) way beyond everything but the most expensive computer is ludicrous. Basically, it boils down to this – Crysis is a game that asks you to update your rig to play it the way it was meant to be played.
12 years ago, I upgraded for Wolfenstein 3D. 2 years after that, I upgraded to play Quake II, and a year or so after that, Half-Life and Quake III. In the next few years I would upgrade my rig to play Morrowind, Grand Theft Auto III, Half-Life 2, and Oblivion. These games were epic, ground-breaking titles. They changed the way games were made, and played. They asked you to upgrade, but promised the satisfaction of an entirely new experience. Crysis offers you Far cry with better graphics. Big frickin’ deal.
So to sum up my thoughts on Crysis (based on the demo) – great graphics, cool physics, neat effects, nice sound, mediocre gameplay, and awful system requirements. I hope that the small chunk of game I bit off in the Crysis demo wasn’t indicative of what the entire game is like, and if that is the case, I’ll happily give it another go when the full product comes out (and happens to fall into my lap somehow). Until then though, I remain impressed and not impressed at the same time. And I hate that.