Joystiq hands-on: Crysis (PC)


The good looks of Crytek's long-awaited PC shooter have undoubtedly razzle dazzled the gaming community, spurring hardcore PC fanatics to upgrade their rigs to the edge -- y'know, the bleeding kind. But does it play well?

Yes. Even if the game didn't look as good as it does, gamers would be talking about it simply for the incredible gameplay it has to offer. The main character of Crysis dons a suit that endows him with a variety of abilities, such as shielding, super speed, super strength and invisibility. These powers give the player a distinct advantage over enemies, and open up a number of tactical options. Interestingly, although the main character has superpowers, he's not invulnerable like a comic book superhero. Blindly running into a battle will typically end in death. Smart, calculated battle plans utilizing all of your abilities are key to surviving Crysis.

For example, we traversed a steep cliff, hiding behind rocks, crawling through the tall grass. There was a small encampment ahead, and we wanted to go by unnoticed. The plan worked, as we were able to get right by the entrance gate. We hid behind a barrel, turned on our invisibility and crawled behind an enemy. The suit doesn't hold much energy, meaning we'd have to be quick. We quickly modified our weapon, added a silencer, and performed a quick head shot on our unsuspecting foe. Our cloak gone, we quickly took cover, hoping not to be spotted. Had we, a ship in the far horizon would've been called for help, and we'd have to engage numerous more enemies. One other enemy remained, and we turned on super-speed, switched immediately to super-strength, grabbed the villain, punched him in the face, and threw him into the ocean. Satisfying? Yes.

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The smart HUD lets you switch between the powers easily and immediately. In addition, you can bring up a weapons customization menu which allows you to change the kind of scope on your weapon, whether or not it has a silencer, how it fires (burst, for example), and more. The potential is incredible, and it only reaffirms that Crysis is a thinking man's shooter, in spite of its blockbuster action moments. For example, we grabbed a Jeep, and started driving down a winding dirt road. Ahead, we saw three enemies surrounding another Jeep. Pressing forward on the accelerator, we jumped out of the car, and had it crash into the other. We turned on invisibility, zoomed in through our scope, and shot the gas tank of our crashed vehicle. It exploded, and triggered a subsequent explosion in the neighboring car, killing all our foes.

It's undeniable that the impeccable visuals augment the experience, but the balance between the deadly enemy AI and the player's powers is what has us hooked. The physics deserve special merit -- we were able to kill someone by switching to super strength, punching a tree, seeing it crash onto a hapless victim below. EA is touting Crysis as a sandbox game, one where the player can go anywhere their eye can see. However, it seems like the real freedom comes from the player's abilities, and the innumerable options players have to decimate those that get in the way.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.