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ever since i first heard about this game, i have wanted to play it. and frankly speaking, i was not in the least disappointed with it!
my test system: intel p4 3ghz 1gb ram total 410gb free space radeon 9700 pro windows xp
graphics -------------- first impressions with this game are influenced by the stunning graphics. the scenery of the island, the waterfalls, the caves, the coves, the waves lapping up on the beach is astounding. i was playing at 1280x1024 mostly and it was quite smooth (25fps). towards the end of the game, it does start getting a bit choppy, and i had to lower resolution to 1024x768 to get decent graphics.
one thing that i have to comment on is the way that dx9 is used here. you have lights swaying around in rooms, hot air coming out of pipes refracting etc (like you see on african safari documentaries in the distance!). these effects are very nicely done and are very realistic.
the rest of the graphics are great too. reflections of water on cave walls, and reflections of you and the surroundings in the water look good.
gameplay -------------- but don't get me wrong... the graphics are only the icing on the cake for this game. the gameplay is stunning too. on the whole the game is a simple first person shooter, but the levels are designed quite well. there are 21 levels in total, and they take you all around the island. throughout the game, you use vehicles like inflatable boats, buggies, 4wd vehicles, patrol boats (with guns!), trucks, forklifts and even hang gliders to commute around the island! the hang gliders are fun because you can fly around the island, admiring the stunning scenery (that is if you don't get shot down by the patrol helicopter gunships!) this vast range of modes is what sets this game apart from other first person shooters like max payne 2.
weapons are quite standard... machetes, falcon 357, p90, mp5, m4 assault, ag36, oicw ass ault weapon, jackhammer shotgun, sniper rifle, machineguns and rocket launchers. Most have 2 firing modes. Nothing really special here, but quite easy to use in general. Sniper rifles are fun on sniping missions, although sometimes you are so far away from the target that accuracy is difficult to achieve.
The levels are designed generally quite well. Like most games, they get harder towards the end. In my opinion, the levels near the end are wayyyyyyy too hard, even on the easiest setting. The game turns into Serious Sam near the end, where you are flocked by monsters with nowhere near enough ammo or protection. (But still very fun to play!)
The plot is a typical mad scientist, evil scheme kinda thing. All good clean fun :) To help narrate the story, there are numerous cut scenes, as with most games. These are reasonably short and to the point, but not too short - just enough to keep you interested in the story.
AI and Physics ---------------- The AI of the enemy can be set according to how you're playing, or as default. On both settings it is reasonably good. The usual things are present - they hide behind rocks when reloading weapons or when wounded. Sometimes they do sneak up behind you too, or circle you. If you are in a jeep driving away and they spot you, they won't run after you, they will find a jeep of their own!
The physics is called ragdoll physics by Crytek. And after playing for a while, you know why! Dead bodies falling from helicopters, watch towers etc look realistic. When you shoot at lights, they sway around like a proper light should, and the lighting effects in the room look good too. Sometimes you are on higher ground than the enemy, and there are objects to roll on them like barrels. These bounce and slide nicely.
Everything on the island is interactable. Unlike other games, you can shoot through leaves of a shrub whilst remaining hidden. You can trip over chairs in rooms, interact w ith objects like phones etc.
Sound ----------------- Sounds great on a 5.1 Creative Inspire 5300 speaker set. You can often feel someone or something behind you, and you know which way to turn and shoot because of that. There are lots of dialogues said by both Jack Carver (thats you) and the enemy throughout. Ocassionaly, you will hear the same things being said twice, but this is a minor flaw. There are humourous ones and they do keep you entertained well.
Flaws ----------------- - Monsters all look the same. - Some dialogues are repeated. - Few minor bugs, but I'm sure they will release a patch soon. - You really do need a good computer to enjoy this properly.
An overall fantastic game... this might not revolutionise the gaming industry like Half Life or Doom 1, but this game features the most cutting edge technology available right now, and it is showcased beautifully with DX9 graphics. Gameplay is very good, you wouldn't expect any less! Overall about 25 hours of gameplay, and more if you try out the harder settings.
Go out and buy this now! If you don't play games, then buy this to admire the graphics!