fast blog

In terms of enjoyment, Crysis is superb in the first half, and really not worth the bother of the final third. It turns from a game as free and open as the earlier Far Cry into tightly scripted crap, as dreadful as a Medal of Honour expansion pack. I suggest you play it to get as far as the mine entrance many times, go through the alien section a couple of times, but go past the point where you meet Profit just once to enjoy the pretty pictures, if you can keep awake long enough. I’d guess, offhand, Crytek designed the first half of the game, and Electronic Arts the second.

Crysis has some vehicle sections. I don’t like being forced into vehicles in FPS games, and I’ve never understood why they get put there. In too many games, an otherwise perfectly good FPS turns into a dull motor with gun simulation. Sitting in the turret and shooting things in the sky is plain boring once, and having to do it in game after game is so dull. Yup, in the second half of Crysis, prepare to fight off the sleep as icy jellyfish swarm in the sky. It’s monotonous.

At least, in the tank section of Crysis, in the first half, you might get put in the dratted thing, but you can promptly get out again. The tank becomes one more weapon you can use to get through the level, admittedly a big one with a big gun. It's a pity the same isn’t true of the VTOL section, towards the end of the game. I don’t like flight sims, and I don't like this flight sim. If I wanted to buy a flight sim, I’d buy a flight sim.

I think what’s happened is someone’s thought through the gameplay used in the first half, especially the nano–suit and the weaponry. The results are very good and very fun. I really do think someone’s rehashed Medal of Honour: Waste of Money for much of the final third, as though doing some dreadful again might make it seem less dreadful after all. It feels just sitting in one machine or another. No tactics, no subtle, just shooting. I don’t know why they bother. They’ve taken an excellent engine and thrown it away. It’s bad.

The graphics are technically superb, and the landscape design is dramatic and thoroughly believable. They're the next stage in the graphics war. Crytek solved water in Far Cry. In Crysis, they've solved sunlight: dusk, dawn, night, bright light, they're all there. Well, so it seems to me; the machine I’m using is a year old, running XP, so isn't good enough to see the best that Crysis has to offer. But what I do see is excellent.

In a number of the earlier sections of the game, the landscape is designed to give you a good range of choices of tactics, alternatives for solving the problem. I enjoy that kind of thing immensely. In the second half of the game, too many times, the landscape is carefully design to prevent you having any choice of tactics. You must do what the game designer wants, and nothing else, and it's usually something stupid toboot. Yeah, see that little corner of the map with an obvious trap and an obvious way to avoid it? Yup, you have to go into the obvious trap. It’s designed for the lazy marketeers’ excuse, the lowest common demoninator, and the designers involved seem to have decided their lowest common demoninators are unimaginative, even stupid. It’s dull.

The alien section doesn’t have the impact of the Half Life Two alien section, although the Crysis section is still very good and worth exploring. The Half Life 2 alien space was squeaky clean and shiny, as though their aliens weren't just nasty bastards out to kill you, but they had Lady MacBeth’s obsessive cleaning insanity as well. The insane Victorian machinary of Doom 3 was a core part of its claustrophobic and looming atmosphere. The Crysis alien section doesn't have the same dramatic impact. Crytek do outdoors best, Valve and ID do indoors best. All the same, it’s worth stopping behind after you’ve defanged the indoor jellyfish to have a jolly good gawp.

The music is ordinary. It certainly doesn’t interfere with the game, indeed, it clearly does it’s job of building atmosphere and tension, but it does so in such a safe style. Am I the only person who noticed the incredible music of Doom 3? So many games, including Crysis, are disappointing in comparison.

The physics of the game are stunning. Beware of hiding behind a tree, a tactic I’ve used in many FPSs; in Crysis, trees can get shot down too. Yup, my character’s been killed by a tree landing on his head. There's a great deal to the physics in the game, and the power of the character's suite, that can be explored by going through the first half of the game a few times. There’s a lot of evil sadistic fun to be had. In fact, there’s so much scope here that I’ve been back through just to play around.

Overall, the good parts of Crysis are like Far Cry, but more so. They’re very good indeed. But the bad bits of Crysis are like Medal of Honour: Deadbeat. Fortunately, Crysis is such a big game that the good half is bigger and better than most complete games.