Crysis averted

(Warning: spoilers below!)

I’m not sure if my preference has been stated in this blog before, but I’m decidedly not a fan of Crysis. My taste in gaming is probably pretty questionable; I do love Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Portal just like anyone else, but there have been sacred cows I just didn’t care for. I thought Half-Life 2 was grossly overrated, and I still think the series didn’t really get to the point where I could say "this is a great game" until Episode Two. I’ve also had a general distaste for Crysis. I did beat it, so I can at least say I’ve played through the whole game to know to dislike it.

My problems with Crysis are many: it’s punishing even on today’s hardware, and it’s experienced such a minimal performance jump going from the previous hardware generation to this one that I’ve had to question the quality of its coding. I also felt like the weapons weren’t balanced well, with the alien weapon being straight up weak. The story and the gung-ho, battle-hungry Americans drove me insane. I’ve never cared for how Cevat Yerli represented himself or his company when he’s spoken in public, and the "A Cevat Yerli Game" credit at the beginning of Crysis seems gauche, especially now that the "A Film By" credit is going out of fashion in movies. The vehicles handle badly, especially the VTOL at the end, which I dub the "hippocopter" in deference to Yahtzee’s Zero Punctuation review. And finally, Crysis has the same problem Far Cry did: when the non-human enemies show up, the game suddenly begins to suck, and the gameplay loses the lion’s share of its depth.

Yeah, I’m not a fan of Crysis.

I’m also a writer and reviewer, though, and since Crysis Warhead now stands in for the original in most hardware reviews, the upgrade had to be made. I put it off for too long. I had to bite the bullet and buy the game.

Sojourns into Crysis-land have, if nothing else, been pretty ones. I figured the worst that could happen with Warhead was that I’d see some cool stuff before eventually getting sick of the poor design decisions, poor performance, and so on. Surprisingly, none of these things happened. Warhead is a better-looking game for sure, but I also found that the overwhelming majority of my problems with the original had been ameliorated.

One of the major improvements was getting largely rid of the gung-ho American crap. Psycho is a vastly more interesting and amusing character to spend a game with than the original’s Nomad, due in no small part to the use of third-person cut scenes. The fact that he comes off with strong hints of Jason Statham make him much more likable as an action hero. Any red-blooded male that doesn’t want to spend a game pretending to be Jason Statham or some equivalent British badass is going to be missing some programming.

The more action-oriented gameplay tailors itself nicely around Psycho’s character, too. Where Crysis was slower-paced, Warhead‘s willingness to provide you with plenty of ammo and powerful guns and then make the nanosuited KPA soldiers more common was the right call. Spending less of the game sneaking up on and gunning down helpless KPA jobbers and more time fighting enemies that can actually present a real challenge was a big plus.

The vastly improved alien A.I. didn’t hurt, either. The tremendous shift in gameplay that brings the original Crysis into sub-Doom levels of complexity just doesn’t really happen in Crysis Warhead, where Crytek opts to instead make the alien enemies much smarter. The new ones are more evasive, work in teams, and there are even new aliens that improve the defensiveness of the existing ones. The dynamic has changed radically, and combat regains some of the decision-making that was completely lost when the aliens were introduced in the first game.

Ultimately, that’s what made the title work for me: Crytek finally figured out how not to completely screw up a game with a gameplay shift. The freeze comes early in Crysis Warhead, and the game smartly intersperses human and alien encounters, sometimes combining the two. It completely changes the dynamic of the game, and the more action-oriented pacing goes a long way toward making alien encounters feel less like a dramatic style shift. Compare this to where the trigens are introduced in Far Cry and all of your tactical gameplay is suddenly for naught, or as I mentioned before, when the aliens show up in Crysis and the game degenerates into Painkiller without the cool gun that shoots shurikens and lightning.

I recognize I may be in the minority here, and some people like the original far more than Warhead for its more measured gameplay. However, I’d just like to point out that Warhead doesn’t feature an absurdly overlong and nightmarishly irritating-to-navigate floating journey through an alien spaceship. The worst parts of Warhead are the vehicle sections (go figure), but they’re sparse, and none of them are as frustrating and badly handled as the hippocopter VTOL in Crysis. Warhead is able to maintain a consistent tone and minimize the parts of the game (hovercraft section, I’m looking at you) that bleed the fun out of it and turn it into an exercise in tedium.

As a last point: I’d just like to say that, while the C.U.D.A.A.T.s software noticeably improved the look of Crysis for me without impacting performance much, I found Warhead ran perfectly fine and looked much better on its own. Warhead makes a strong case for a 1GB video card, too, but let’s be realistic—if you’re going to be gaming seriously at this point, are you really going to buy a 512MB one?

While I’ll never get over Cevat Yerli’s griping about piracy throttling Crysis sales (gee, Cevat, it couldn’t possibly be because no one wanted to invest in a game they weren’t even sure they could run well), especially after they posted million-plus sales, at least his name isn’t plastered all over Warhead. Now that Crytek has more or less perfected its gameplay, or at least improved it to the point where it doesn’t take a swan dive at a certain point of the game, I can safely say I’ll actually look forward to the next game the studio has in store.

Comments closed
    • agawtrip
    • 10 years ago

    2 years and still talking about crysis?

    can’t they make a game that looks like crysis at best and with the specifications of half-life 2? we all know why half-life 2 named game of the year 2004 – its graphics and performance, (and story, as others say). it scales down to the lowest PCs at that time – celeron, 256MB ram, geforce 3/4.

    • PoohPall
    • 10 years ago

    Great article. Has some valid points.

    The draconian DRM in Warhead was a BIG mistake.

    Unlikely to buy any Crytek PC based titles.

    • yogibbear
    • 10 years ago

    Argh! If only Cervat could spell Crysis as Crisis instead of Crysis. Also… his other game Farcry should be Far cry. It’s fricking two different words. There is a space in between. What a twat. No one can make a cool game when they spell the name of the game incorrectly! OMG!11!111!!!! going to go bludgeon his ass.

      • Meadows
      • 10 years ago

      They can call it whatever they want. It’s their game. Besides, they’re Crytek, it gives them a reason to stick “Cry” in any game or engine name, as well as cry about irrelevant market conditions.

        • Wireball
        • 10 years ago

        Cryogenics, perhaps? Don’t the aliens in Crysis have extreme cold rays? (forgive me, I’ve only progressed a little ways in the game)

    • ThorAxe
    • 10 years ago

    Loved the original Crysis and thought that it was better than Warhead (which was still awesome). I’ve played through both many times.

    On DX9 Enthusiast (64 bit) Warhead doesn’t drop below 30FPS for me and averages around 46FPS.

    • blubje
    • 10 years ago

    cod4mw was the reason I stopped playing video games. too much running around in the same small levels with the same weapons, with 12-year-olds calling eachother gay. I asked myself, “why is this fun”, and never went back.

      • shaq_mobile
      • 10 years ago

      cod4 levels do feel small dont they? even when theyre big, they feel tiny. everythign is super close range. even on the biggest levels, most of the range is restricted severely. the sniper rifles are almost completely useless since any of the assault rifles are capable of one or two shotting someone in HC. it felt like a fun mix of css and classic cod with progressive gameplay mixed in.

    • Krogoth
    • 10 years ago

    I never liked Far Cry. It was a pretty tech demo at time. It was unfortunate that it got hampered by lame gameplay mechanics. It was like 90% of the development time was spent on eye candy and the remainder was done on everything else. “Fun factor” was non-existent. I want my $49 back.

    Crysis was even worse. Its engine is techincally superior to anything else on the market. IMO, the copy+paste, art direction and sup-par performance had ruined any merits that it had. Single-player mode’s gameplay was a half-arse rip-off of Deus Ex I with a dose of Far Cry I thrown in for good measure. FYI, I had only played the demo.

    As a result of my bad experiences, I swore off Crysis Warhead and Far Cry II.

      • Meadows
      • 10 years ago

      Far Cry 2 has nothing to do with Crytek. You are right however, since it’s worse than Crysis (which wasn’t /[

    • Konstantine
    • 10 years ago

    Arma 2, which is a Russian game by the way, beats Crysis in Quality.It’s the best looking game that has been produced so far, in my opinion at least.It’s incredibly entertaining and has better dynamics implemented in the game.

    As for Crysis, I don’t think bad coding has much to do with the poor performance that current High-end GPUs produce in Crysis.The game is just demanding, and needs faster Graphics processors than the ones available these days.Let’s hope the upcoming cards will be able to max out These games.

    Of course, if Crytek hadn’t act bitchy along with Blind-VIDIA, and had made the Warhead version DX10.1 compatible, then we wouldv’e seen some
    30%-50% performance increase in the game on Current Radeons.

      • FubbHead
      • 10 years ago

      It’s czech, not russian.

    • bLaNG
    • 10 years ago

    l[

      • Chrispy_
      • 10 years ago

      Seconded.

      Bush upset a hornet’s nest and we’re still paying for it in blood and taxes now. I’d be less upset if our weak-willed prime minister hadn’t jumped right in alongside Bush.

      The gung-ho attitude that non-americans attribute to the US army is justified. The US invaded the middle east, not the other way around. it was offensive, not defensive and even if some good has been done the collateral loss of life has far outweighed any benefits.

    • potatochobit
    • 10 years ago

    you did not mention online play or multiplayer

      • Joel H.
      • 10 years ago

      Possibly because there are plenty of us who don’t give a fig about online/multiplayer? Multiplayer Crysis? No thank you.

    • FubbHead
    • 10 years ago

    I too liked Psycho a whole lot better. The other guy just had zero character, and that is a problem with a whole lot of games these days.

    And I too liked Warhead more than the Crysis, but I still enjoyed Crysis quite a bit. I like it when I can take my time, check out the area, etc, but at the same time, I also like the adrenaline parts.

    I still have some kind of nostalgia towards Far Cry 1 I can’t shake, though. 🙂

    • derFunkenstein
    • 10 years ago

    apple user: what is this i don’t even

    edit: whoops, meant to reply.

    • mph_Ragnarok
    • 10 years ago

    This review took a bit too much from Zero Punct’s reviews…

    Three references? too many.

    Hippocopter (just because you admit it doesn’t make it any less dorky)

    Shurikens,

    lightning.

    Many people probably fapped to that gun from Painkiller, but to be your only joke regarding Painkiller, and one of Zero Punct’s major points in his review of Painkiller is pretty lame, man.

      • Joel H.
      • 10 years ago

      It’s hard to argue he’s “taking” things from Zero Punct when he’s acknowledging them.

      • Meadows
      • 10 years ago

      It would only be better if it had tits and was on fire.

    • indeego
    • 10 years ago

    I’m reading reviews and the gametime is ~5 hours? Seriousg{

      • FubbHead
      • 10 years ago

      Multiplayer?

        • indeego
        • 10 years ago

        Tried Crysis MP and it kinda sucked compared to CoD4g{<.<}g

    • danny e.
    • 10 years ago

    I loved Far Cry. I liked Crysis.
    I refuse to buy Warhead due to the DRM.. but I was told it is short and sucked anyways, so don’t feel like I’m missing much.

    As far as the perpetual “bad coding” comment. Once I see any game that looks as Realistic as Crysis and can run faster .. maybe you can make an arguement… but until that happens I’m just not buying it. I’m sure there could be improvements… but I dont think it’s “bad coding” even if it could be tweaked quite a bit.

    If you think COD 4 looks as realistic then you’re an idiot. It’s not even close. COD looks “good” but not realistic and no where as good as Crysis looks. Crysis doesnt always look realistic either.. and the interiors are average at best… but outdoors the vegetation / beaches .. especially the palm trees and banana trees are extremely realistic looking.

      • Meadows
      • 10 years ago

      Warhead can seem short, but it is by no means a bad game. It’s quite good.

      Most of the time the environments of COD 4 fairly match up with what you get in Crysis (with the exception of view distance), but it’s undeniable that character design in Crysis is indeed superior.

      • yogibbear
      • 10 years ago

      Totally agree with everything you said. And similarly to you i haven’t bought Warhead due to the DRM and the length of the game.

      Loved Crysis & Farcry.

      • swaaye
      • 10 years ago

      I also have a hard time believing that people who can make such a beautiful game engine are “bad coders”. They aren’t even 3D engine noobs or some such, they are veteran 3D engine architects with numerous projects behind them. And as you say, apparently nobody else can be bothered to make something as impressive. I feel like I’m living in 2005 with most games I see, cuz they’re designed for the consoles.

      It seems that whenever a game comes along that makes the highly-priced (and prized apparently) PC hardware show that it’s not all powerful after all, people start whining. My god it’s certainly not anything new.

      What’s actually very amazing is that the Crysis engine is crazy scalable. People make it put out nearly photorealistic visuals with the tweaking I’ve seen…
      for ex, §[<http://forum.beyond3d.com/showthread.php?t=45986&page=35<]§ (scroll down) Has another game come along with destructible structures yet? That was one of those gameplay aspects that was hyped and yearned for years ago but when Crysis came along with it in a big way nobody really seemed to notice.

        • Meadows
        • 10 years ago

        You know an engine is broken when you have to “tweak” it to get results.
        The developers should’ve done that in the first place. They didn’t. Even Warhead was a whackjob response to the demand.

        I’m not saying Crysis is a bad game (it isn’t), but it’s coded terribly. When it fails to perform as expected on vastly improved hardware, it kind of tells something about how badly it’s made.

          • glacius555
          • 10 years ago

          You know, I’d agree with you if there was another absolutely stunning looking game with destructible structures that performed well on the very hardware you mentioned..

            • Meadows
            • 10 years ago

            Crysis doesn’t have true destructible structures, it’s just a bunch of physics-enabled elements stacked on top of one another.

            Those don’t differ from the average “boxes piled up” scenario that you’ve been seeing in videogames since 2003. It’s boxes piled up still, but with a different texture.

            I’ll start to be amazed when a game shows up with actual physics-enabled destructible _[

            • no51
            • 10 years ago

            Then you’d get people whining about the performance hit that enabling hardware physics causes.

            • Meadows
            • 10 years ago

            Hardly – physics alone can be solved by better CPUs. Simple problem, simple solution.
            However, it’s more difficult to tackle the weird shader code of Crysis. That’s also the main reason why SLI and Crossfire do nearly nothing in some cases.

            • swaaye
            • 10 years ago

            Unfortunately this simplicity is not apparent to most game developers I guess as Crysis is the only game that lets you blow lots of structures up in a level (in very non-scripted, creative ways.) And yes, I am consciously ignoring the obviously scripted HL2 moments.

            Also, in real life I think the only way to build a structure is to take separate objects and fix them together. I suppose Crysis forgot the nails, but otherwise their method seemed effective to me.

            BTW, who decided to say that Crysis has “weird” shader code? Is this an expert opinion? As usual, when judging Crysis, there’s the small issue of the game being the only game that looks as good as it does so maybe there are reasons for shader issues? Maybe something ghastly such as limitations of the shader language cropped up?

      • RickyTick
      • 10 years ago

      In the end, my overall opinion of Crysis was very good, but I nearly threw it in the trash trying to fly the VTOL. That sucked out loud.
      Warhead was rather short, but still very enjoyable.
      I also played a few hours of Crysis Wars multiplayer. Maybe I haven’t given it much of a chance, but it doesn’t have the same excitement as COD4. imo of course.

      • Grigory
      • 10 years ago

      “As far as the perpetual “bad coding” comment. Once I see any game that looks as Realistic as Crysis and can run faster .. maybe you can make an arguement… but until that happens I’m just not buying it.”

      This ^ times 1000.

        • Wireball
        • 10 years ago

        *[< Edit: <]* Oops, FarCry2 is by Ubisoft, and not CryTek. My mistake. I'd complain about being unable to turn off FarCry2 mouse acceleration. You move the mouse a certain distance on the pad, slowly, and your character turns a little bit. Move the mouse much faster to the same point, and your character turns completely around. It makes it very hard to aim. Tons of people are complaining about it. Drives me completely bonkers, unless I play other games while I wait for a solution to be found 🙂 §[<http://www.google.com/search?q=farcry2+mouse+acceleration<]§ Another game where the coding frustrates me is Fallout 3 - but that's by Bethesda. Apparently Oblivion had some similar issues. For the most part Fallout 3 runs great, except for inexplicable stuttering in certain areas (such as southwest of Megaton). I turn to the right, and it hitches. I turn back to the left, and it hitches again. I can do it over and over again, and every single time it hitches - I'm looking at the same stuff I just looked at! What's weirder is it seems to be loading from hard disk every time it does it, and not buffering in RAM. The hard drive light blinks each time I do that. Just for reference, this is on a C2D 3.2GHz, 3.2GB (usable) RAM, GTX260 Core216. Turning down the graphics detail doesn't help much. It only seems to be using about 512MB of RAM for the game. Maybe it's my view distance - I theorize it's caching something just at the edge of sight, then unbuffering it as soon as it goes out of view. I am willing to concede some sort of weird issue with my computer, as my friend has a similar configuration and doesn't seem to experience that - I'm not sure that he's gotten to those places in the game, though. I'm going to see if it still does it after a complete reinstall of Windows 7. I'll leave the Microsoft-supplied chipset drivers in place, /[< instead <]/ of installing the Vista chipset drivers from Intel.

          • Rompbot
          • 10 years ago

          Check out the Fallout 3 tweak guide, it’ll show you how to get the game to cache more data.

      • lethal
      • 10 years ago

      After doing some comparison between the 8800 GTX (the /[http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-285,2139-4.html<]§ §[<http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/gaming-graphics-charts-q3-2008/Crysis-v1.21,758.html<]§

    • Meadows
    • 10 years ago

    I will look forward to their next game if, and only if, there won’t be any “stupid optimisations” like Warhead’s missing foliage or buggy mipmap levels and textures blurred to oblivion and beyond.

      • swaaye
      • 10 years ago

      The funny thing is that I remember that most people didn’t seem to notice those “tweaks” and just thought it ran faster because they !CODED IT BETTAR!

        • Meadows
        • 10 years ago

        I never understood that – the moment I started playing (or at least within 5-10 minutes), I noticed the texture bugs I mentioned above, and gazed at road signs and hillsides with worse textures than a game from 1999, doing so with disgust and amazement. As in, “how could this pass testing”?

    • Convert
    • 10 years ago

    Frankly I could care less about the single player when it comes to this franchise. Far Cry, Crysis and Warhead are all endless marathon traveling games. They had their fun parts but overall they were pretty unremarkable (other than the graphics and the expansive terrain anyways).

    Crysis and Crysis Wars on the other hand are two amazing multiplayer games. Some friends and I get on a local network game over a VPN and go at it on a weekly basis. I don’t know of any other game that gives you this kind of ability to blend in with your surroundings. Crysis Wars is the closest thing you can get to actually hunting another human in a heavily vegetated environment.

      • BooTs
      • 10 years ago

      l[< Crysis Wars is the closest thing you can get to actually hunting another human in a heavily vegetated environment.<]l Way to be creepy.

        • HurgyMcGurgyGurg
        • 10 years ago

        Second that.

        COD4 and gillie suit is close, though.

        • Convert
        • 10 years ago

        Think paintball. It’s not creepy at all.

        When it’s you against another person and you have the ability to be strategic, other than simply running down a corridor waiting to run into someone like all other FPS games, it’s pretty fun.

    • snakeoil
    • 10 years ago

    apple user: abandon the steve jobs cult and….. oops wrong place.

      • Meadows
      • 10 years ago

      Do you ever get bored of being stupid?

        • sweatshopking
        • 10 years ago

        i dont think anyone gets bored of that. god knows i dont. ask my wife;)

        • MadManOriginal
        • 10 years ago

        I actually got a chuckle out of his comment.

          • DrDillyBar
          • 10 years ago

          self deprecating humor ftw

          • FubbHead
          • 10 years ago

          Me too 🙂

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 10 years ago

    I think you’re a bit too harsh on Far Cry. That game is like the /[

      • Kaleid
      • 10 years ago

      When it comes to normal maps, as well as shadows etc.. wasn’t Deus Ex: Invisible War released before Far Cry even?

      According to wikipedia:
      Release date(s) NA March 23, 2004 (Far Cry)
      Release date(s) NA December 2, 2003 (Deus Ex invisible war)

        • ssidbroadcast
        • 10 years ago

        Sure. I played Dues Ex 2 and the experience was forgettable. I don’t even remember normal maps being used, so apparently they did not use them to great effect.

        So I’ll concede with this: Far Cry is the first game /[

          • Kaleid
          • 10 years ago

          I certainly do agree that DE2 was not very great (especially compares to the first game), it was very disappointing but it did use a lot of new technology before many other games.

          To see some of the textures see this website (both original graphics and with enhanced. Pictures are roll-over..)
          §[<http://www.john-p.com/textures/DX-IW/<]§

      • swaaye
      • 10 years ago

      HL2 is so overrated that it rather annoys me. I don’t even like the gameplay much because it is one of the most linear (and linear-feeling) shooters I think I’ve ever played. It takes the “locked, fake door” level design school of thought to new heights and has some quite annoying game areas to boot.

      The graphics are so static and pre-baked too that it’s only really impressive from a artistic point of view. The textures and overall coordination of everything is superb but those shadows coming through the floor aren’t so much. Oh and the tiled water shader = lolz. Morrowind did that better (only partly kidding).

      People love the engine cuz it’s “so fast”. Well it’s fast because it isn’t really doing all that much!! It’s also one of the only game engines I’ve experienced that couldn’t do audio without horrible stuttering for the first year of its life.

        • indeego
        • 10 years ago

        For its day and age I thought it was fantastic. They really set an atmosphere and character development well. Playing it for the first time in the past few years I can see why one wouldn’t be impressed.

        I wasn’t as impressed with the episodes after, and never bothered with Ep 2 as I didn’t want TF2, I just wanted Portalg{<.<}g

          • Wireball
          • 10 years ago

          I concur. I particularly enjoyed the vehicle sequences. Those were a bit linear, but at least they gave you a wide path to drive in and choose your course. Certainly a great improvement over games of years prior.

          …Man, now I want to create or find a HL2 multiplayer vehicle racing map, with Combine choppers, antlions, and zombies. And a zombie flagman. Whomever wins the race, he jumps down from his podium and eats your brain.

      • HisDivineShadow
      • 10 years ago

      I’d have loved the Die Hard of FPS’s if I didn’t get stuck killing invisible guys and suddenly the heli won’t come pick me up because apparently an invisible guy is bugged in a tree somewhere and reloading the save or even a save before it leads to the same problem.

      Kinda shut me down on the game cold, that. Yes, it’s patched to the latest.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 10 years ago

        maybe it’s the Live Free or Die Hard of FPS?

          • ironoutsider
          • 10 years ago

          I don’t agree with either of those opinions. I lived HL2 and Crysis. I think they were both great games. COD4 is freaking awesome though.

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