In many respects, this is an example of emergent gameplay working like gang-busters. The only problem is that, as with all emergent games, there are limits to what the designers can do to ensure the game stays consistently enjoyable. If Crysis is a playground, then there are times when you will feel like you’re getting bullied. You can find you’ve strayed into the wrong area and that you have too many enemies to contend with and not enough arms and ammo with which to do it. At one point I was hounded mercilessly by a helicopter for nearly an hour without any means of losing it or destroying it, and without any chance of sneaking into enemy-packed encampments while in its presence. It’s at this point that the pitiful duration of the suit’s Cloak mode really makes you want to scream ‘WHY? WHY?’ to the heavens above. Of course, when I did eventually bring this persistent menace down the joy was all the sweeter. What’s more, if something irks you in Crysis then it’s usually teaching you a lesson you can apply later. It might have been ‘don’t wander too far from your objectives’ or ‘stop making so much bloody noise’. In this case it was ‘always keep a tube of missiles handy, and don’t waste them on mindless destruction just for the fun of it.’
There will also be times when you get lost, or where – in the early stages – you seem to be drifting from one enemy encampment to another in a vaguely repetitive fashion. The game uses orders and objectives to keep you running through the most enjoyable and action-packed path, but there are times when that glorious geography is too confusing or too difficult for you to make it easily from one to the next. This in turn can contribute to what feels like poor pacing – something which isn’t a regular or recurrent issue, but leaves Crysis feeling less consistent than something more carefully orchestrated like Call of Duty 4.
All in all, though, Crysis is a game that delivers on its ambitious promises. It’s always tempting to dismiss a game that has been so hyped up on the basis of graphics as lacking in gameplay, but every time I underestimated Crysis I learnt that I was wrong. I thought the combat was lacking, but then I discovered that I just wasn’t doing it right. I thought the weapons were ludicrously inaccurate, but then I discovered the beauty of the iron sights, the scope, and the ingenious weapon customisation system that allows you to stick silencers and laser-sights on just about anything in our arsenal. I got fed up with the lack of ammo, but then I learnt to be more adaptive in my use of weaponry and the suit’s Cloak and Strength modes.
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