Just a couple of weeks ago all had seemed lost for Crysis, the once hugely anticipated PC game that was supposed to blow us all away with its photo realistic graphics and interactive environments. The demo had been released and people were taken aback at how it brought even high-end gaming systems to their knees. And, on top of that, our fellow office buddies - the bit-tech lads - had taken a trip over to have a play with a preview version of the game a month or so ago and upon returning - well, to say the gameplay under whelmed them would be an understatement of Ian McAskill proportions. However, having had a short amount of time with the full version of the game myself, I'm here to tell you all is not lost - far from it! In fact, things are just as they should be.
Before I continue, though, I should probably give you a bit of background information. For those that don't know, Crysis is the spiritual successor to Far Cry, the sleeper hit of 2004. Just as with Far Cry, it's a first person shooter (FPS) set on a tropical island that is soon to become one of the most hostile places on Earth. Now, mindful of avoiding stepping on any toes, I won't tell you anymore than that. I'll leave the rest of the gameplay and story analysis to our regular game aficionado Stuart Andrews. However, hopefully, you get the idea that a game set on a mountainous, jungle-covered island gives rise to the potential for some truly breathtaking scenery, which is a huge part of what Crysis is all about.
It's this visual gold mine that Crytek has been trying to exploit by creating a game that, even if its gameplay, storyline, and replayability is below par, will still set hearts racing. And, for the most part, this is exactly what it has achieved. At its highest graphical settings Crysis is simply stunning and even when settings are lowered a bit it is still a game that has to be seen to be believed. So, what exactly is it that everyone's complaining about?
Well, the problem is, getting those highest settings is proving considerably more difficult than people anticipated. You see the key to peoples grumbling's is that over the last year, and particularly the last six months, we've been spoiled by a veritable cascade of top tier games. In fact it's a subject that Andy has already felt compelled to explore in his Gaming Matters piece, even suggesting this could be the greatest year in PC gaming history and I'd struggle to find a compelling reason to disagree.
All these games gave us amazing graphics, great gameplay, and for the most part, a gripping story as well. However, the best part was that, although pushed to their maximum settings at the highest resolutions they would give even the most expensive systems a stern test, they were very scalable and even a moddest system could find a decent compromise between performance and fidelity. So, when Crysis came along we just expected more of the same. How wrong we were.