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Was Crysis a masterpiece ahead of its time?

Every gamer worth his salt has tackled Crysis, even today many of us have dusted it off for a quick replay. When it was released in 2007 it was a total system killer, and only a handful of people at the time were able to even touch close to maximum settings at a decent resolution.

So intense are the feelings about the game that in the last three years it has been slated, analysed and hotly debated by anyone and everyone with a keyboard.

When it was released I remember feeling slightly disappointed, mainly because when German developer Crytek unleashed Far Cry I was literally blown away by how incredible the gameplay really was. I wanted to step into the shoes of Jack Carver and explore mysterious islands far away, not take control of some futuristic asshat in a posey nano suit which figured you were so dumb it told you when it changed settings, “Cloak engaged!” … yeah … bite me.

Did anyone else think the suit sucked? I did.

Unlike other high profile games at the time such as those being released by ID, Far Cry received little to no hype and I will never forget the first time I played it. After playing the claustrophic Doom games it was such an expansive breath of fresh air. Very few games have nailed an environment like Far Cry. When I think back, only a handful spring to mind. Half Life for the pioneering first person experience; Mafia for the stunning setting and realistic characterisations;Β  and maybe Max Payne for the surreal and slightly unsettling film noir grip on your senses. There have probably been a few I have forgotten and many I have liked, but those are the handful that always come to mind.

I was probably one of a handful of people who could really enjoy Crysis at release because I was testing a top of the range SLI system at the time – literally three grand of silicon. I didn’t understand all the complaints about performance , these people bitching on the forums clearly had something wrong with their computers. This feeling of rather coy smugness was shortlived when I moved back to an ‘ordinary’ enthusiast system with a single graphics card. “Christ, what’s up with this?” I remember thinking and it was only after a system and driver reinstall that I began to understand the gravity of the situation.

The game was playable if you lowered the settings, but most enthusiast users don’t want to have to do that, even those on mid range cards. They felt the Β£250 card they just bought should handle a new first person shooter, especially when they just bought the hardware a few weeks ago. Many had to revert to gamer or mainstream settings, and at the end of the day it really didn’t shine until you hit enthusiast level options.

Crysis used Microsoft’s new (at the time) DirectX 10 API for the graphics rendering and it was based around the CryEngine 2, a new version of the engine used in Far Cry. People who prefered XP to Vista at the time were equally pissed off as they felt they shouldn’t have to move to a new (and maybe even slightly buggy) operating system, just to get the full graphical featureset. Of course it didn’t take some people long before they found various ways around it, but the tide was set in motion. This hotly awaited game ended up one of the most loathed, just after it was released.

The developers recommended an Intel Core 2 Duo, or Core 2 Quad @ 2ghz or an Athlon AMD 64 2x 4200+ as well as 2GB of ram for Vista. Graphically they recommended a 8800GTS with 512MB of ram. I had a system similar to this, and the game did not perform well at all at the settings I wanted. Worse still if you used the minimum specification system of Pentium 4 at 2.8ghz with a 256MB direct X9 capable card it ran worse than a tired, one legged midget. As many people noted, the game also had a plethora of bugs.

Too many cups of coffee can do this to even the most hardened of soldier

The reviews hit and they were mostly positive, PCgamer in the US gave it 98% which tied it for all time greats with Half Life 2 and Gamespot gave it 9.5 out of 10 saying it was ‘easily one of the greatest shooters ever made’. Some sites like Gamepro gave it 4.75 out of 5 and said it was a ‘great step forward for PC gaming’ while also mentioning that the hardware requirements were too steep.

Bit tech’s conclusion in 2007 was “Graphically the game has the potential to be incredible and already verges on it even on the lower levels sometimes, but the simple fact is that most players will be unable to experience it for a year or two yet. At that point, Crysis may have even been surpassed. For multiplayer, Crysis is a solid enough entry, but it’s not very innovative and is pretty run-of-the-mill in terms of design. “

Crysis became the benchmark tool of the year – if your system couldn’t run Crysis at 1920×1200 with enthusiast settings, then you better just give up and start again, hang your head in shame and go home. It was almost the holy grail for performance. “Yeah, nice system man, but can you play Crysis maxed out at 1920×1200?”. It didn’t matter if that very system had just folded a bunch of units to help people across the globe, if it wasn’t capable of running Crysis, it sucked ass.

Crysis for a couple of years continued to be used as a benchmark tool and over that period of time while performance got better with updated hardware, it still nailed most systems on the market.

The funny thing is, it is still used as a benchmarking tool, we use it on KitGuru. Many of the major sites, even if they don’t use it regularly, throw it into a roundup from time to time to see how it stacks up with the hardware on test. A noticeable percentage of hardware today, still struggles with enthusiast settings, three years later.

Can you seriously think of any other engine released 3 years ago that you could say the same thing? Valve’s Source engine can be literally powered by my watch today.

Was it really a masterpiece of design, too far ahead of its time? or was it just an average game glossed up in a superbitch of an engine? I don’t know about you, but I still much prefer Far Cry.

KitGuru says: Maybe Crysis 2 will tickle my pickle again, who knows.

Discuss in our forum over here or just leave a quick comment below.

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  • Rob

    lol, that was a good read Z. funny but true. the video had me in fits.

  • Eric k

    lol best thing ive read all week, almost pissed meself

  • death dealer

    yeah I cant think of any other engine released in 2007 which still canes hardware. Where are all the new ID first person shooters now anyway?

  • daz

    hahaha, that video cracks me up, and the image. lol I wish they would do that when games dont meet the specs.

  • Bret

    Crysis rocked ! I prefered Far cry too though. I remember when it was released, it was almost a redefining genre game.

  • steve

    Far Cry wasnt that good, it was fun but I got bored, the AI was rubbish

  • fluffychicken

    lol, great writing, funny ! The nano suit was a bit gay when you look back. you ended up looking like someone out of the Village people in it.

  • Tom Blown

    Lol I need a laugh tonight Z, thanks πŸ™‚

  • Tech Head

    I remember cursing the game when I got it, it crashed everytime I got past the first bit and I couldnt figure out why. They patched it and it cured my crash, but then caused graphics to corrupt, like rock surfaces. it really was a mess of a game.

  • i love porn movies

    I still play Crysis, I bought the game and my video card just wouldnt handle it. I put it on a shelf and managed to get back to it a year later when I updated.

    Did it run well? did it shit!

  • Robert

    I still play it too, I love just messing around and shooting people in the head.

    Anyone using a 8800GTS now with it? bit it runs like pants.

  • far flung corners

    Crysis was a bad game, it looks good if you had a high end system, SLI or crossfire, but it ran like shit. still doesnt run great and ive a 5770!

  • Frenk Luminious Cheese Grater

    Its a good game, people who said its not are idiots. love it and still play it. It was buggy however.

  • Francois Lebon

    People actually said nvidia made them rush it out to sell cards and it wasnt ready.

  • Drabit

    Does anyone remember it ran well on ATI cards, then they patched it and it suddenly ran like shite? all sorts of rumours about it being a nv stitch up.

  • Dark Knight

    You should do a reflection of Mafia, that always gets missed, glad to see you mentioned it. Mafia 2 is out soon

  • Forcefield aura

    It was such a hog, and took like a week to install on my hard drive, I think I went out shopping and came back it was taking so long

  • Gareth Cringle

    heh, Doom, I remember that, I loved it, got a bit boring though.

    Anyone remember the AI in far cry, it was retarded.

  • 14th century

    This always played better on Nvidia boards, was no joke.

  • dark mass

    had a chuckle reading this eating my dinner. Crysis was epic, I was never annoyed I couldnt play it. but when i got a system good enough to do it, I was overjoyed πŸ™‚

  • Bret Powers

    It was a tough game too, the suit was terrible, the powers lasted about 8 seconds. I remember going into stealth mode. sneaking into a forest area, standing between about 5 enemy waiting for the right time to pick them off and the suit failed. I got my ass kicked from there to sunday. funny in retrospect, but I do remember wondering why the fuck it looked so cool and was powered by a single AAA battery.

  • Daz

    I think when they built the suit they ran out of parts and ended up just slicing a few double A batteries into it. used to fail in the middle of everything. they needed to tune that a bit better. no point having stealth options if you can only peak your head out from behind a tree for a second.

  • far flung corners

    My funniest story was getting stuck in a vehicle. my legs went through the bottom of it, so when it moved I moved in tandem. I became a part of the car. all sorts of bugs in this game, they got most of them sorted, but the physics implementation was pants.

  • Dilbert

    I fell through the ground and went into a freefall of nothingness. it wouldnt end. had to close teh game and reload, then it corrupted πŸ™‚ was a mess initially, but I still loved it.

  • dark lord

    the game was a pretty piece of shit when it came out. 3 years later, its still a pretty piece of shit.

  • Derek

    I thought it was ok. I quite enjoyed playing it, even though my PC just died when I tried high settings. It really needed two cards in the early days. a strong single card now can handle it at modest/highish settings.

  • Dax

    I enjoyed it too. didnt run great for me either and I had a 8800GTX at the time. havent tried it in a while, might pick it out of my pile and give it another run though on the new system

  • Sean

    I loved far cry and I was expecting much the same game. I hated crysis, hated the the setting, the suit, the crappy performance, over the top storyline.

    Far cry 2 was crap too.

  • Henry Forest

    Found this from google tonight and had to comment.

    That was a really good read, and I looked around the reviews. some quality editorials here, ill hang around. thanks (love the video btw, very funny!)

  • Stephen Ross

    great writing. funny while accurate. hard to do πŸ™‚

    Keep up the good work

  • Larry Greeves

    I still cant get this game to run right. I bet in 30 years time they will still be trying to get it to run well with AA on

  • Flint Exeter

    I found so many bugs in this game, things disappearing. enemies locked into objects or motionless. AI was broken. but it was still fun !

  • Tim Webb

    I am probably the only person alive to not play this until recently. worked well for me on the GTX480 πŸ™‚

  • Ross Limpster

    Beat it three or four times and I still play it. was a classic game and im looking forward to Crysis 2

  • Terry Makedon

    IT plays better on ATI graphics cards πŸ™‚

  • ET

    “Valve’s Source engine can be literally powered by my watch today.”

    Since you used “literally”, you’re now bound to tell us what watch that is, what hardware it has, how you connect it to the input and output devices, etc.

  • oh, how my tongue in cheek comments get missed by the masses πŸ˜‰

  • Pingback: Crysis tops Steam game charts – 3 years later | KitGuru()

  • Dethstar

    About as LINEAR of a gaming environment as I have ever seen (almost as bad as Metro 2033) , badly written code and known to play favourites with particular hardware. I can live with the last problem as I have various machines but the first one. Never. It was medicore at best but with some nice eye candy which seems to fool people into ignoring the medicority in the gameplay. Fun for a short while but ultimately an unfufilling experience due to the linear environment.