Crysis preview: the console experience

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Crytek said that Crysis was too “advanced” to run on consoles when it came out in 2007. Now, four short years later, the state of the industry has changed, and getting Crysis to run on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is more important than it was when the PC exclusive FPS launched to rave reviews. Even after EA and Crytek made the announcement we were still skeptical as to how it would work, but after getting hands-on with the game we’re happy with the result, even if some hefty concessions had to be made.

Once we got used to the idea that we were playing Crysis on a console there was very little learning curve involved thanks to the controls, which were ripped straight from the console version of Crysis 2. Nanosuit functions are mapped to the shoulder buttons, making it easy to throw on extra armor or hide with stealth. But the button layout wasn’t the only thing Crytek took from Crysis 2 – they also brought in the weapon customization, which let us modify our guns on the fly with ease.

Despite being taken from another game, these mechanics work as well in the original Crysis as they did in Crysis 2, if not better. Actually, we felt like it should have been there all along. Besides the painfully beautiful graphics, Crysis’s biggest success was allowing us to use the Nanosuit options and the large, open environments to tackle situations in different ways. Access to the weapon customization wheel improves this dramatically, and being able to throw a silencer, scope, or flashlight onto a weapon on the fly adds even more options, giving us more control of how we initiated a battle.

But we knew that Crysis would feel good – there was no reason to think that it wouldn’t. The real question is how does it look, and the answer is good. Not great, not fantastic. Good. Particle effects are strong, and the environments are just as stunning as they were on the PC, but downloading Crysis on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 and expecting it took look as it did on the highest settings is going to lead to disappointment. With the graphics pumped up all the way the original Crysis is still one of the best looking games around, and some things had to be scaled back to make it work without the power of a gaming rig behind it.

Textures suffer the most from the downgrade, followed closely by shadows, which fail to achieve the fidelity that Crysis (or Crysis 2) delivered. Then again, we’re not sure that we’d have noticed any of these differences if we didn’t play the PC version first. Without a basis of comparison everything looked great, and the large, open environments were just as awe-inspiring as they were before. It wasn’t until we got up close and remembered how strong the presentation was in the PC version that we started to realize that Crytek’s claims that the current generation of consoles couldn’t handle Crysis weren’t entirely unfounded.

Thankfully, it’s sort of a non-issue. Just because Crysis doesn’t look as good as it does on the PC doesn’t mean that it’s still not a blast to play, and we’ll gladly trade graphics for the functionality of the weapon customization wheel any day of the week. Hopefully this feeling persists throughout the entire game, because we’d love to have an excuse to play through Crysis again when it releases on October 4.

Sep 23, 2011

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