Maybe You Missed It: Crysis Trilogy
Crysis: The Game That Started it All
In the gaming industry there a few games that benchmark the graphics capability of the hardware that run them. Crysis is one of those games. PC review magazines had their hands all over Crysis as a benchmarking tool for graphics processors and central processors when the game came out in 2008. It was a standard for benchmarking for a long time.
Where does that leave the sequels? Well, to accurately understand that, you must look at all aspects. Crysis introduced a lot of features that were new to shooters in general. It had a S.T.A.L.K.E.R.-esque leaning, lots of platforming options with the “strength” ability, and overall allowed the player a fairly free range of movement. It had what was called the “Nanosuit” which was the protagonist’s biological-suit that served as a weapon against a very powerful enemy. It had multiple abilities, all activated individually and all using differing amounts of the suit’s “energy.” When just using the suit, you were particularly vulnerable, but once you activated an ability, you became a weaponized killing machine.
The main abilities were strength, speed, cloak, and armor. Strength could be used to jump higher and do powerful melee attacks. Speed could increase your running speed to a humanly-impossible gait. Cloak made you almost undetectable. Cloak was only really effective while not moving, as your cloak only kept you hidden while low to the ground and/or you were not in motion. Armor made you impenetrable by bullets for an extremely short time. Armor was the last resort, and depleted suit energy extremely quickly.
As far as world goes, Crysis was open-world, in a sense that was nearly impossible to render at the time. You needed an extremely high-powered PC to be able to run at even “medium” quality. Aesthetically, it was beautiful, the environment was very “real” and everything interacted with each other in a certain way. Trees would sway with the wind, in the direction of the wind. You could even use a gun to shoot down branches of trees on the beach.
As far as story, Crysis offered a captivating, but still somewhat linear story. It kept you guessing at times. I found that I kept thinking the game was almost over, and was continuously reminded I was wrong. The length of it was daunting at first, but it wasn’t too bad in the end. The characters, while seemingly emotionless in their facial expressions at times, offered a very good connection to the story. Many of the missions drudged on very long in an effort to accomplish a quite elaborate objective. Many times I found myself surprised that I had not even scratched the surface of the objective. I felt extremely rewarded when I ended up finishing one of the objectives. I had a sense of accomplishment after having traveled far and wide to do what the mission ledger required.
Overall, Crysis was ahead of it’s time in more than just what everybody knows it was for. Graphics were only part of it’s innovation, and that alone still impresses today.
Crysis 2: The Runt of the Litter
Crysis 2 was the first game to showcase Crytek’s new CryEngine 3, which was heralded as one of the most innovative game engines to be designed. Albeit it was very innovative, speedy, and had many applications. Although, Crysis 2 was a rushed mess, the game itself was very good. The story was well done, but it was too short. Compared to Crysis, Crysis 2 was also a cakewalk in terms of story length. The story left me not nearly as satisfied with my successfully completing objectives. Despite being short, the game introduced some new and frankly interesting features. You could platform around using a mantling ability when on walls to reach places that weren’t previously possible in Crysis. This was at the cost of some of the original Crysis’s features. You could no longer use the speed or strength abilities, and leaning or going prone for more tactical combat was something you just couldn’t do.
Graphics-wise, the game looked much different, Nanosuit 2.0 as it was deemed, had a much more “polished” look to it. The enemies looked somewhat different, and not necessarily in a bad way. The open-world of the original Crysis was clearly scaled down to accommodate the new set of effects and graphical enhancements, as it was no longer open-world.
The abilities felt much different in Crysis 2, as armor lasted much longer, even a good 10 seconds of armor vs the seemingly instant depletion of the previous Nanosuit. Cloak lasted longer, but not while moving. Cloak also seemed much more effective, as you could sneak through an entire area and not be detected. Running depleted energy fairly quick, but not nearly as quick as in the original.
Overall, Crysis 2 was a step in the right direction, but it definitely was missing something. I think Crytek was on the right track, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing it.
Crysis 3: The Saving Grace
As far as trilogies go, Crysis follows a fairly familiar pattern, the original being best, second being less than desirable, and the third being a step up from the second. Crysis 3 introduced a much more aesthetically pleasing look to the existing feel of Crysis 2.
The story was much more emotionally connected. An existing character who was absent in Crysis 2 comes back in Crysis 3. He serves as your “guide” helping you along the way, and periodically having cut-scenes with tantrums and emotional outbursts. While he was familiar, and offered a more personal touch to the story, it seemed very out of place. At times, he felt annoying and at times I found myself upset at his monologues. The story was longer than the second, and drew you into what was going on more. I felt the need to go back the previous games to enrich my knowledge of the story. Yes, you could understand the story by itself, but it provoked a desire for me to replay the previous games for an unbiased and unabridged version.
As far as graphics, Crysis 3 had less closed-off levels. I had landscapes where you’d run through very large fields of grass, or go into extremely large warehouses, but it was not nearly the free-roaming levels of the original. Crytek clearly made a very good effort at making it seem more open. To the untrained eye, it was very open, but that was an illusion. The open spaces seemed more open due to the open sky around you, the various enemies patrolling in a spaced out pattern, and the layout of the environment and it’s items being cleverly placed. The quality of the graphics was highly improved upon from the second, but I still wasn’t convinced that it was a “major step.” I feel that they had the potential to make it leaps and bounds better, considering the 5 year gap between them.
Gameplay mechanics also disappointed the core Crysis player in me. Sprinting no longer used your energy, unless you were armored or cloaked. Cloaking seemed to last longer. Armor was much improved, and depleted much quicker than Crysis 2, but still seemed to last too long. With Crysis 3, they introduced a “Predator Bow.” You could stay cloaked and fire this bow and you would not de-cloak like when shooting a firearm. Also introduced was the ability to hack items, sentry turrets, mines, and other equipment. This allowed you to deactivate mines, make turrets fight for you, and retrieve items in lock boxes. They also brought back being able to use alien weapons, which was a nice addition.
Crysis 3 was the game that saved the trilogy on some levels, but it still felt like it was missing something. Despite feeling that way, it was much more satisfying than it’s predecessor, so I walked away not feeling so disheartened.
Ultimately, the Crysis Trilogy was a good one, and despite being different between games, I highly recommend taking time to play all three if you have yet to do so. If anything, you can tell if your PC can run it. I think anybody would enjoy this trilogy if they enjoy playing shooters.