Having consumed every FPS title from Doom to Halo 2 and clocked up more virtual kills than Arnold Schwarzenegger, things were getting so repetitious for fans of the FPS genre it was becoming like some Ground Hog Day type nightmare. Indeed, bringing home the same old shooters time and time again was beginning to leave one with the same feeling of despair Bill Murray felt waking up every morning to Sonny and Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe’.
However, just when you thought it was time to give up hope and swap your bath foam for a toaster, along come an obscure group of German developers with one of the most innovative and spectacular First Person Shooters ever to grace the PC. Developed by a company called Crytek, Crysis is a FP shooter of such incredible aesthetic genius and superb gameplay; it actually makes you go slightly weak at the knees.
In terms of storyline, it follows a refreshingly simple narrative, with the player taking control of Nomad, an elite member of US Special Forces who is sent to investigate the occupation of a remote desert Island by North Korea. Nomad and his force are tasked with the rescue a group of Western archaeologists who have found themselves abducted by the fanatical general Kim.
However Nomad’s crew do have one big advantage. They are all encased within a high – tech Nano Suit which can be manipulated to either provide impenetrable armour, stealth invisibility (think Predator), greater strength or speed. However these attributes are dependant on the suits energy which gradually depletes and must be constantly recharged.
Although the player can basically tear through the level like Luke Skywalker on speed with a machine gun, they must also keep close watch on their energy levels. Infiltrating a base crawling with enemies might seem easy when in stealth mode, but if caught in the open without enough energy to reach cover, you might find yourself as doomed as the guy in Kill Bill after he gets done by the 5 point exploding heart technique.
So Nano technology certainly gives the player the power of a super hero but, like a Jedi Knight, you are not invincible. The game is challenging, but the potential fun which the player can have with these abilities; whether you choose to infiltrate quietly through the forest, stalking Korean patrols and picking their members off one by one, or simply blasting straight through the front like Steven Segal, is endless.
The game is also complemented by graphics which to say the least are extraordinary. There is nothing quite like looking out across the lush green forests through the haze of butterflies and across the waters of the bay, to lift one’s spirits during the depths of British winter. The levels are also, even though they appear vast, deceptively small like some inverted version the Doctor Who Tardis. This really takes away any feeling of linear gameplay which so consistently plagues other titles.
However, the biggest problem with the game comes mid – way in. Although the first half of Crysis is like a combat simulator, the second half turns into this sci – fi/ War of the Worlds type battle, no longer against Koreans, but against a load of rubbish aliens. This is a truly disastrous turn of events which leaves the player feeling like a small child who has gorged the best bits of their roast dinner and is now left with spinach and sprouts. Half heartedly continuing the game, the player comes to realise as they hark back nostalgically to the prior levels, Crytek certainly did not save the best until last.
However this can be overlooked like the mediocre second dish of a master chef contestant who still managed to bowl the judges over their first. Cytec produce enough wonders in the first part of the game for Crysis to secure its place as one of the greatest first person shooters of recent times. For a group of relatively unknown designers to come in and completely innovate the entire FPS genre with this calibre of game is no mean feat. First person shooters will not the same again, but one cannot help wondering: if this is only their second game release, what could possibly be next?