As part of an aggressive campaign of procrastination, I finally played Crysis. Thankfully, despite also featuring a conflict between America (good guys) and North Korea (like China, but not a major trading partner, so okay to portray as universally evil), it was not a huge pile of crap.
If you remember my review of Halo, which you shouldn't, because I never wrote one, I was a bit annoyed that the game starts off by firmly establishing the Covenant aliens as the Threat to Humanity and just as you're in the habit of sticking grenades to elites and meleeing hunters to death, suddenly the flood comes and you're spending all your time shooting popcorn. A twist is cool and all, but it felt like too much, too soon.
Thankfully, Crysis avoids that. There are several solid hours of using advanced technology to kill North Koreans in a variety of imaginative ways, such as shooting them with guns, shooting them with other guns, beating them to death with guns, and using guns to shoot nearby things which then explode and kill them. And this one time I ran over a guy with a humvee, but that was only because I missed with my gun. In all seriousness, the physics do offer some neat options beyond just shooting them, such as explosions and making roofs collapse on them. Or, use strength mode and one punch will send them flying.
Along the way the game gives fairly open areas to work in. It's not quite a sandbox, but you're given more than just "use this route if you like to get shot or this route if you are smart". Rather than walled-in levels, you get bits of map in which you can freely move about. Not everyone needs to be killed to complete the objectives, but since killing is half the fun (the other half is their screaming), I almost always did a sweep to make sure I didn't miss anyone.
The open areas give you options, as well as your enemies. You might think you're so sneaky to stealth over to the ledge and then use strength to jump over and hit them from the other side, but it turns out they were already going that way to try to sneak around and flank you. Yep, the ol' double-switcheroo. You can attack from all sides and get attacked from all sides.
I actually found myself getting a little antsy, when were the aliens going to really show up? I wanted to shoot some! Sadly, I had to continue to make do shooting North Koreans. Oh the drudgery of mindless human slaughter. But finally, after a few attacks by aliens who somehow always knew when it was a cutscene so we couldn't shoot back, finally I got to get stuck in a mountain and wander into their cave temple base thing. Yea.
The game ends up making Marines look like total pussies, not because they are, since earlier one takes on the giant scary monster that is the second to last boss single-handed to buy time, but because they are contrasted with the super-human guy. Oh what's that, a little rock fall has me stuck half a mile under a mountain? You guys go, I'll just find some more guns and shoot a hole out if I need to. What's that, gravity just went away? No problem, I'll just float right along and shoot anything else that flies. The carrier is getting blown up? Hang on, I need to go get my nuclear grenade launcher, but not before I go into the nuclear reactor and sheer strength to push down the malfunctioning control rods.
Sadly, the game gets a bit less awesome toward the end. Due to the necessity of having a bajillion aliens attack rather than just a few at a time, the player is given various unlimited ammo weapons, such as an alien gun and a humvee machine gun. Even though the game was never stingy with ammo, it was something to at least pay some attention to, making this a strange contrast which I didn't much enjoy. The flying part was even worse, until I realized that while the gun was an ilose button, the missiles were an iwin button. The last level on the aircraft carrier suffered from some major bugs. The game didn't seem to be certain whether I should or should not fall through the floor, so I had to keep going back a few save points to find one where the floor was properly defined as being impenetrable to feet. The really bit aliens were also at times unsure of whether they should be on the flight deck or a hundred feet up.
The ending might have been really cool, but it ended up being more of a relief that I had finally gotten past the physics bugs and could now play again, just in time to realize that the game was over. And that they definitely wanted me to buy a sequel.
My suggestion is to buy it; it's only $20 on Steam. Maybe in a few years I can give you an outdated review of Crysis 2. And in a few weeks, Crysis Warhead.