Crysis

I just love this game.

I don’t know what the CryEngine 2 did differently compared to the other engines, but the whole aesthetic it creates for Crysis (a game released in 2007!!) still looks better to me than most of the stuff I see today. A lot of modern games — even the “realistic-looking” ones — have this aesthetic that makes the game objects look soft and too polished. Objects in Crysis (especially vehicles, weapons, buildings etc.) have this rawness to them that makes it feel like they have weight. It’s hard to explain, but a big contributor is probably the lighting and especially the fact that most objects are destructible, i.e., most of the environment reacts to your actions, something that’s still absent in most games a decade later.

The setting of the game is Lingshan Island(s)–a fantasy archipelago under North Korean rule. The islands have been shaken up by some mysterious events, and you are there with the US Special Forces to investigate.

Another layer that helps sell the imagery is the incredible audio. Weapons have a real punch to them and the explosions are seismic (run away from those grenades!). The surround sound is wonderfully immersive.

The game is not all about the tech though, even if it’s deservedly remembered because of it. It’s a semi open-world game with very large maps and a liner mission progression. The open world maps invite different solutions and the “Nanosuit” allows you to pick between stealth and Rambo mode. I’ve found that somewhere in between is probably the most rewarding way of playing, depending on the situation.

There’s one mission in a beautiful valley where you have to drive a tank and push through the North Korean tank and infantry units which use rocket launchers. Without revealing more I’ll only add that it is without a doubt one of the most epically orchestrated battle scenes I’ve ever played.

But keep in mind that it’s largely a slow-paced game. At least I believe it was meant to be like that. If you want to be a Rambo-type killing machine, you can certainly knock yourself out with it. But I find the Predator-type stalking to be a much more rewarding experience. After all, you’re playing a US special forces operative, not some world war soldier on the front-lines. It’s an incredibly rewarding game if you take your time and find optimal solutions to each objective. The story can be a bit cliche, but I find it pretty satisfying to be honest. It keeps you on your toes, and there is definitely an interesting aura of mystery about what’s causing strange events on the island.

(Regarding the Steam version) With that said, it’s unfortunate that most people (myself included) still have to go through the effort of fixing the broken executable file (securom seems to be the culprit). If you’re playing on a 64-bit system, you’ll probably have to find third party solutions (google “Crysis 64-bit fix”) to even get in to the game.

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