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Stop the presses: Everything you've heard about Crysis is true. It's a first-person shooter game that features a massive Lost-like island to explore, revealing it in naturally occurring areas that can take several minutes to sprint through and hours to fully experience.
Crysis simulates that island and its tropical ecology by employing visual technology so sophisticated that bullets fired through sun-streaked foliage cause leaves to shiver, while massive explosions thousands of meters away can produce clouds of dust that settle gradually over jungle canopies like smog.
Remarkably, everything in Crysis is interactive, from coffee cups and barrels to destructible shacks to the trunks of felled trees, which you can pick up and wield.
Your opponents, organized around the island in organic detachments, are not only tactically devious but work together with uncanny efficiency. And even without a gun, you're a lethal weapon, kitted out with special nanotechnology that lets you hit, run, and jump like a superhero. Developer Crytek promised something that would "move the shooter genre forward substantially," and with Crysis, it is firing on all cylinders.
Crytek has also produced something of a flawed masterpiece. Your enemies are smart, but only to the extent that they play better hide-and-seek. Rules that apply to you are occasionally broken by the creators to ramp up a challenge, violating the game's internal logic and creating some of the most unnecessarily irritating moments in the story. And at the eleventh hour, the game's much-touted sense of openness gives way to a design that narrows as you advance, culminating in a final battle where someone barks orders at you like a drill sergeant reading a grocery list.
That is not to say Crysis isn't exceptional, and often extraordinary. But appreciating what it offers--an unconventional "emergent" adventure in an unspeakably beautiful setting--depends primarily on how you choose to engage it.
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