Previews

Crysis

Hit below the fanbelt

Look at that! That's what a game should be about. Punching a speeding car so hard that it crashes on your fist. This is not Far Cry. The nanosuit your character wears in this spiritual successor turns you into a full-blown superhero, and it renders you near-unstoppable.

That means they've had to make your task exponentially harder to compensate, of course. This time you're taking on whole armies, fleets of vehicles, aliens the size of volcanoes and stranger things still. The resulting conflict is action of a higher order of magnitude. Every ten seconds something explodes, and a Crysis explosion is a hell of a thing to see.

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You and a small team of similarly nanosuited marines are sneaking your way across a Pacific island, toward the place where a very large alien craft fell from the skies. The place is crawling with Korean troops - with whom the US can't risk a war - but you and your black ops comrades are firmly off-the-books, plausibly deniable and fifth-freedom. That means you can kill them. Your teammates have their own objectives rather than following you like dogs, so they don't cramp your style for the brief sections when you're with them. And you don't need to stick together much, because as you can see, one nanosuit tends to be all you need for a given situation.

So what's left for the devs to do on Crysis? Well, the chickens are too relaxed. Right now the chicken AI is simplistic, and when an earth-quaking explosion epidemic erupts around them, they seem improbably aloof. See that car? There's probably a chicken waddling calmly across the road behind it. Personally I think they should keep this in - after the deafening bangs, scorching shockwaves, screams and gunshots, the sight of a unflustered hen sauntering around as the shells tinkle to the floor is rather soothing. And if you don't feel that way, you can always pick it up and throw it into a fence.

Yes, you can pick up, throw and even beat people with live chickens. You can pick up, throw and beat people with anything smaller than a car, and in this I include wheelbarrows, spades, tree trunks, grown men and even most of a car. At one point in my playtest I shot a man's helmet off, caught it, beat him to the ground with it, shot him again and dropped it on his body. Anything smaller than a tree can be held in your left hand while you fire with your right, even when you're using an assault rifle or shotgun, so alternating between bonging people with a spade and shooting them in the face is seamless. They even encourage you to beat people when they're down by introducing a chance that a fallen soldier will get back up if you don't. This, again, is what a game should be about.

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Crysis is nuts. Whacking people with a log is every bit as central as fighting ice-spitting aliens in zero-G. It might look more serious and realistic than Far Cry, but the stuff it lets you do is just absurd. You expect a successful and wealthy developer like Crytek to go all 'professional' and make a serious, pared-down game like Half-Life 2, concentrating on doing a few things really well. Instead they've gone crazy with seemingly superficial niceties such as being able to break vegetation at the precise point you shoot it, grab anything that's lying around, and customise every weapon. The result is incredibly freeform, incredibly fun and incredibly silly. However sinister your sleek nanosuit looks, you can't keep a straight face wearing it when you're holding a bunch of bananas to throw at the Korean military.

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