A team of archaeologists has uncovered some strange artifacts while working on a tropical island in the Western Pacific, but before they could complete their work North Korea invaded the island and put a blockade in place. This is where you come in. As a member of an elite multinational team, you parachute onto the island to locate and rescue the archaeologists. It may seem that the odds are distinctly in the North Koreans' favor, but you've got an ace up your sleeve in the form of your nanosuit. The nanosuit looks like a silver jumpsuit, but it's really a high-tech armor system with a number of functions that can be enabled as needed. The suit can serve as bullet-resistant armor or it can be used to enhance your strength or speed. It can also turn you completely invisible for short periods of time. Use this suit properly and you become a one man army.
At first glance the nanosuit might appear to be just another gimmick, and it would be if it was dropped into a standard by the numbers shooter. But Crysis is not your typical shooter. The island on which the action takes place is an open world and you're free to approach your objectives in whichever way you see fit. Let's say you need to get past an enemy camp. Do you backtrack to commandeer a boat and come in from the sea? Or do you capture a vehicle and speed into the camp with the mounted machine gun blazing? Or do you use your suit's stealth power to sneak into the camp and take out the enemy before they know that you're there? Or do you kick in the speed, cut a wide swath around the base, and avoid a firefight altogether? Play your cards right and you can quickly take out the base and move on. Make a few mistakes and you can quickly find yourself in a mess as the enemy works to flush you out while reinforcements come pouring into the base.
This open gameplay makes Crysis a very dynamic experience and is what separates it from most shooters out there. With a typical shooter you can talk about events in the game with another person and his or her experience with them will be pretty much the same. With Crysis each person you speak with will have a different version of what happened at various points in the game, and you can even replay parts of the game yourself and have the results turn out completely different each time.
Part of what makes the Crysis experience so dynamic is that the enemy AI is not scripted to perform predefined actions. You can save your game right before a firefight and reload it numerous times and find that the battle never quite plays out in the same way. The enemy is adept at making good use of cover and in working together to try and flank you. They'll call out your position to each other and call for reinforcements if the battle begins to drag on for too long. The AI is decent enough, but it still suffers from some of the maladies that are common for the genre. For example, it is possible to build a giant pile of bodies at a chokepoint such as a doorway that won't deter additional men from trying to come through. Also, the battles in the game draw their tension more from the fact that you're usually way outnumbered than they do from the abilities or aggressiveness of the AI. To me the battles in Call of Duty 4 felt far more intense than any I found myself in in Crysis.