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Crysis hands-on

Wednesday 10 May 2006
After all the waiting, we've finally gone face-to-face with Crysis, spiritual successor to Far Cry and easily one of the most exciting games of the year. But wait. Forget the better-than-life visuals, the stunning environmental effects and triple figure AI IQ - it is the overwhelming, epic and terrifying atmosphere that has left us dazed and blinking.

Crysis jettisons Far Cry's story and characters, and casts you as a Delta Force operative sent to investigate an asteroid crash site located somewhere in a chain of Pacific islands. The North Korean army are there first, however, fiercely declaring 'finders keepers'. When the techno-savvy alien race encased in the asteroid emerges, however, both sides unite to repel the otherworldly invaders.

Instead of simply pumping out a prettier, more effects-ridden Far Cry, developer Crytek is ramping everything up to 11. The multiplayer elements have been given more attention, the epic scale is less B-movie and more War of the Worlds, and Far Cry's already intense action has been tweaked and balanced to emphasise tactical murderising over plain reaction or twitch blasting.

A real-time modding system enables you to instantly adapt to Crysis' constantly evolving challenges. In our demo we were treated to a level on board a US army battleship under assault from the alien force, with us trapped below deck in the rapidly deteriorating hold. By using a gadget-laden suit - this is 2019, after all - we boosted our character's strength in order to block a door with a two-ton warhead, before lugging fallen girders around like cocktail sticks to rescue injured soldiers.

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