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The Crysis Controversy

I don't own "Crysis," and therefore have never played it. Consequently, please accept my disclaimer that my opinions in this piece are more my responses to the community reaction to "Crysis."


"Crysis" is a controversial game. Perhaps not in the same sense as the "Grand Theft Auto" series of games is, but it is nevertheless a hot topic of discussion amongst gamers and PC hardware enthusiasts.

The root of the controversy lies in the fact that no game presently available in the market today demands as much from hardware as "Crysis" does. One of the most clever quips I've seen goes something like this: "Crysis: Not just a game, but also the state your PC is in trying to run this game!"

For sure, "Crysis" is a game that is far ahead of its time, to paraphrase a few industry experts. Some have even observed that it is so far ahead, despite having been on sale now for many months, the hardware available still hasn't caught up to it if a gamer wants to play it "maxed out," or with every detail and piece of eye candy available. It is a very rare contemporary case of the software actually being miles ahead of the hardware.

So far as I am aware, "Crysis" is impossible to max out and expect consistently playable framerates with current hardware; at least it is impossible if you're trying to run the game on a good-sized monitor (say, 24" and above). Even today's top-of-the line equipment is inadequate if you want to run with nothing left in the tank.

Consequently, it is used as an informal benchmark by some hardware reviewers. The logic here is, since it is such a demanding program, it is a good gauge of performance because you can then compare Product A's performance running this game against Product B's.

On the surface, this sounds somewhat logical. The game is an inflexible yardstick; a yard is always a yard, yes?

In practice, though, it's a little difficult to accept because hardened gamers know that certain hardware configurations/designs can perform the same task better than another given hardware configuration/design.

I've not forgotten the huge marketing blitz nVidia and Crytek (the German firm behind "Crysis") embarked on. This made it abundantly clear to me that the game was probably designed to run better on nVidia video cards than it would on AMD/ATi equipment. To posit that "Crysis" was coded and written by its designers running nVidia equipment is not a difficult logical leap to make. (This is impossible to prove from the touch lines, but in my opinion it is a logical assumption.)

This, therefore, makes "Crysis" somewhat invalid as a benchmark, in my opinion. Something that is even just apparently biased (if not actually) should not be acceptable as a performance benchmark because the playing field is not level. This is especially true if you're using performance data from benchmarks as a tool in marketing your product.

Aside from the credible analysis that "Crysis" should be invalidated as a hardware benchmarking tool, there is another reason why the game is controversial. It's a bit amusing to me that much of the discussion that I've come across regarding "Crysis" centers far more on the very steep hardware requirements than on the actual game itself. This is another source of controversy; gamers cannot form a coherent consensus about whether or not "Crysis" is a great game.

Just because it's a great-looking game doesn't mean it's a great game. Graphics alone don't make a game great. Neither do single characters or certain design philosophies in the game, or a new set of sound effects. A video game is the sum of its parts; it's like a good team, where every player should complement his teammate. No one piece (or player on a team) is greater than the whole.

"Crysis" excels in the graphics department, but many have said that it is just another run-of-the-mill first-person shooter that offers very few innovations in game play. The suggestion of many reviewers is if not for a very beautiful dress and great makeup, "Crysis" is akin to a very plain looking girl. Beneath the beautiful veneer of awesome, almost lifelike graphics is a thin gaming experience.

Some say it's not nearly as fun to play as older games, or it's inferior to a few contemporaries (such as "Call of Duty 4"). The implication is that it's pretty, but shallow.

These aspects of "Crysis" contribute to its status of being one of today's most controversial games. It may not be notorious such as the "Grand Theft Auto" series, or even good ol' "Mortal Kombat" and its sequels, but there will always be heated discussions amongst pundits when it comes to this particular game.

I would now like to invite those who have played this game to share their impressions and opinions about it. I am keen to know your thoughts.


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