After a troubled drop from a military aircraft, Crysis leaves you on the beach of a sprawling, wild and sparsely populated island in the South China Sea.
Your Nanosuit, a supercharged piece of military technology, is damaged during the fall and left without power. "Ah," you think. "They're going to gradually introduce each ability so I can grow accustomed to them one at a time." Then all power is restored 15 seconds later.
This is typical of the game as a whole that it doesn't slowly steer you forward like a cheerful, hand-holding big sister. Crysis prefers that you work things out for yourself, tripping up and grazing your knees along the way. The upside is freedom - boundaries so distant you don't even notice them. The downside is the grazed knees.
Your first hour will be spent flailing around, using your toys clumsily and being repeatedly killed. Then, sooner or later, you'll come across a village and begin to look at everything differently. That wall? It's not a wall. It's a hurdle. Maximum Speed will bring you instantly to its edge, and a brief flick of the mouse will see you shift to Maximum Strength and clear it in a single bound. While still in the air, another flick activates Maximum Stealth, turning you invisible before your feet even touch the ground.
Five seconds later and you're inside a building, recharging and undetected. Then it's time for Maximum Armour and the attack, you as an unstoppable force throwing hapless drones through buildings with one hand while firing a customised assault rifle with the other. Now you're thinking with Nanosuits.
You're on this island to rescue a group of American scientists being held hostage by the North Korean military some time in 2019. Something, we're told, has been found inside a space rock that recently crashed to Earth there. Something alien that we hope will be fun to shoot, but which we fear might be as tiresome as the Trigens from Crytek's last game, Far Cry.
This is the introductory exposition you'd expect from an action-packed summer blockbuster, and as equally simple-minded and dismissable. It's there to set in motion the beauty and spectacle that ensues. Fortunately, Crysis happens to be the most beautiful and spectacular game ever made.
It's tempting to pussyfoot around with weasel words such as 'among', 'could be' and 'we said the same thing two issues ago, twice', but no. Look at the screenshots. This is awe-inspiring, and not in a lazy, misapplied superlative kind of way; I mean that it causes mixed emotions of reverence, respect, dread and wonder, as inspired by great beauty.
This is a game that will make you gape as mile-high mountains topple and alien ships blot out the sky. The action is unrelenting, and things just keep getting bigger. It may have a blockbuster plot, but it succeeds in surpassing the scale of the silliest Bruckheimer movie.
This would imply that it's not all fragile enemies and poorly constructed housing.Those aforementioned villages are the action bubbles that have been talked about since Crysis was first announced, and they take up the first three hours of the game. These are the parts you'll play repeatedly, because the fun comes from experimentation.
Can you accomplish your goal and escape without engaging a single enemy? Find out. What happens if you shoot down a tree, break it into smaller pieces and then throw them at the North Koreans? Find out. Then do it again, but different. Can you blow up a propane tank by throwing a chicken at it? We found out the answer to that one for you. It's 'yes'.