reviews\ Oct 7, 2011 at 10:00 am

Crysis HD Review


You gotta love it when someone says that a certain something sets a standard that’s so high that it can’t “possibly be done on consoles”.  No, I’m not talking about Battlefield 3.  I’m talking about Crysis.  When the first-person Crytek-developed shooter came out in 2007, the team said that the game ran on such a high-end basis that it could never, ever work on a console.

Granted, that was a long while back, when the PS3 and Xbox 360 were just getting off the ground in terms of audience, both online and off.  The team has since changed their tune, since the sequel, Crysis 2, managed to release just fine for consoles along with PC.  After four years, it looks like someone’s ready to eat crow, because not only is Crysis available for PS3 and Xbox 360, it hits the systems in downloadable form.  Yep, no Blu-Ray or high-end media here, you just need about 4 GB of hard drive space.  Take that, skeptics!

So how does the game fare after four years AND a sequel that includes multiplayer?  Oh, yeah, we should probably warn you that Crysis on Xbox 360 and PS3 does not have any sort of multiplayer functionality.  What remains, though, is a fun single-player campaign that will take you a few hours to get through – more on a higher difficulty setting.  You can think of it as your own brutal playground, whether you want to sneak up behind someone and shoot them in the head, or let loose in a tank and destroy a helicopter out of the air.  (Yes, it can be done.)

The freedom to go all out with wanton destruction is a huge plus for Crysis.  Crytek has furthered its Far Cry engine to new heights here, letting you destroy structures and tear apart enemies with precision with a variety of weapons and tools at your disposal.  You’ll need them, because squads come at you out of nowhere, and even badder enemies that take more damage are waiting later on in the campaign.

Along with firepower, you also have the power of the Nanosuit.  This specially designed hardware lets you activate certain powers for a limited time, such as the ability to run at top speeds, turn on extra armor (perfect for battling tanks), or use a cloaking device to get close to Korean soldiers and mow them down.  Using these abilities is a blast, and being able to pick up objects and throw them is helpful when you’re temporarily lacking in firepower.  Plus, a helpful on-screen HUD shows you where most of your threats are so you can plan accordingly.  This territory was covered more in-depth in the sequel, but it’s nice to see where this stuff got its start.

You can also climb into vehicles.  The lower-end cars are good for getting around the island, but you’ll want to get your hands on some serious firepower to level the enemy, including jeeps with turrets on them (you can switch from behind the wheel to the firing mechanism with one button press) and tanks.  The more firepower you have, the better, and it’s pretty cool seeing what kind of damage you can dish out in these babies.  They won’t last forever, though, so make sure you know when to eject.

Crysis’ sound design is impeccable, even four years later.  Yeah, some of the voicework is suspect, but the effects are outstanding and atmospheric.  You’ll hear soldiers realistically call out for you and the sound of bullets zinging past you as you run for cover.  The music cues are still the best we’ve heard in a while, with dramatic tunes kicking in when you’re gearing up for battle.  Sometimes it doesn’t know when to stop (until the next checkpoint), but it's no big deal.

Then we get to the graphics, the department where Crytek initially thought the consoles couldn’t handle what was happening.  Lo and behold, the team does a remarkable job in this department, not only including every ounce of destruction that made the PC version so sweet, but doing so without sacrificing the speed.  The game is a sight to behold, with huge explosions, above-average soldier animation, and gorgeous island design.  You can even tear down the palm trees!  We could’ve done without some certain texture pops, but, really, it’s cool to see how well this thing runs.

Yeah, Crysis could’ve used multiplayer to justify its $19.99 price a little more, but that probably would’ve meant months more in development time, only to have Crytek say, “We gotta cut back.”  In the end, this game is worth taking in as it is.  No, the story’s not the greatest, and the difficulty can definitely stack up later on in the campaign, but the gameplay remains excellent, and the visuals hit the mark, especially on the downloadable front.  If you need a shooter fix to hold you over until Battlefield 3 drops later this month, check this out for sure.


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