Crysis vs Call of Duty 4

December 7, 2007

I wrote a bit yesterday about the three elements needed in a good great game. As it happens I started writing about Gears of War, then it morphed into a Bioshock thing and in the end I settled on comparing the two in order to cover the broader aspects of a great game. Yes, it was a bit of a mishmash I know.

I’m going to delve into that topic again in the near future, but frankly do a better job of getting my point across. The short version is graphics/gameplay/emotion are key. A good game will have two of them, but a great game needs all three.


For now let’s compare and contrast Crysis and Call of Duty 4, which I finished last night at near 1am. Well, actually I finished the game at about 12:30am, but immediately went back to play bits of it over again. I did this because like all great games, it has all three of the above things going for it. The graphics are there, the gameplay is there and the emotion is there. It’s an absolutely stellar title.

In contrast I finished Crysis a couple of days ago, and I haven’t touched it since. I played it, and enjoyed it but I devoured CoD4 and am keen to revisit bits of it. That surprises me, but I suspect I bought into the prerelease Crysis-hype.

So what does CoD4 have that Crysis is lacking? Let’s look.


Anyone arguing that Crysis has lackluster graphics would have to be blind or retarded, possibly both. It’s gorgeous in ways that games have never been before and the graphics are in fact, it’s biggest selling point. CoD4 is damned good looking in it’s own right, and to tell the truth it’s one of the better looking FPS games I’ve played, but it comes in second after those lush Crysis jungles. So, Crysis wins here.

Both games are linear affairs, and the Crysis fans out there will slap me for that. Firstly there is no arguing CoD4 is linear and makes no apologies for it, it’s designed that way. It embraces it’s linearity and it flourishes because if it. It’s an action movie, and you’re the star. Simple as that. Crysis bills itself as being more open, and in some respects it is but it’s not what I’d consider a true open game. Operation Flashpoint from a few years ago was an open game, Armed Assault is a current example as is a flight sim like Falcon 4. Those games give you a huge world to run around in, and a mission to accomplish within it. Crysis on the other hand gives you levels, just like CoD4 but it tries to open it up by giving you some options as to how to finish them. CoD4 is a linear corridor, Crysis is just a wider corridor that tries to tell you it’s a soccer field. If you’ve never played OFP or ArmA you may not realize the difference. So, for me it’s a clear win for CoD4 here. Yes, it’s linear. Yes, it’s a corridor… but the devs know that, and the players know it. It’s packed full of “oh shit” moments, and bits you can’t wait to experience again precisely because of it’s linearity. Every bit of it is polished to a high gloss because the devs knew exactly what experience they wanted the players to have.

Crysis in the other hand has some awesome combat, and absolutely tremendous environments to fight in… but it’s not what it purports to be. You realize that as soon as you hit the first “loading” screen a little ways into the game as it loads the next level. You can’t go back to the beach you landed on, that beach isn’t even on the island any more. It’s back on level one. You also see it within the levels themselves with fake obstacles and clear corridors guiding you from point to point. Yes there are various ways of getting there, but you have to go. None of this is bad in and of itself mind you, it’s just that having been billed as so open-ended I find it’s lack openness sort of annoying. I also found the combat in CoD4 to be more… immediate. Everything seemed more tense and urgent and it really gave a sense of drive that Crysis lacked somehow. I’d give CoD4 the win here because of this urgency to it’s combat and just because it’s honest about what it is. It might also tip towards CoD4 because it’s so very real world in it’s approach. No sci-fi, no supertech. Just real world stuff I can relate to on some level.

You’ve got to care about your character in a game, and you’ve got to care about the characters around you. You’ve also got to hate the bad guys, and you’ve got to develop a personal attachment to the fight such that you will willingly suspend your disbelief and let it immerse you. Crysis comes up a bit short here. The Korean enemy are little more than targets, the aliens are never much more than faceless “things”. Why are they on that island again? I finished the game, but I’ve already forgotten the plot points. Sure I saw my team mates killed at various stages of the game, and there were some attempts at twists and plot structure to pull me in but none of it really worked. CoD4 on the other hand, had me cold from the first level. The urgency was there. I wasn’t playing a game, I had to complete my mission. I was instantly and completely immersed and that drove the emotion. I got attached to the characters around me and grew to despise the bad guys. There were twists and some gut wrenching portions of the game I won’t divulge that created a total sense of “holy shit, I can’t believe that just happened”. This occurred more than once. You actually play more than one character in the game, which I’d have thought would limit the immersion aspect given that you couldn’t latch onto your own identity through the whole game but as it turns out, it helped. Whenever the game would pull me out of the SAS role and put me into the US military role I’d be dying to get back and see how the SAS stuff would play out, and vice versa. It all involved me, and pulled me in just like a great game should. CoD4 for the win in this category.

So, in the comparison we have Crysis winning in graphics and CoD4 winning in gameplay and emotion. That explains why I’ve already started playing CoD4 again and have yet to go back to Crysis. Yes, it’s graphics are stunning but I’ve seen them once and they’ll still be there next week. CoD4 has some situations that I’m eager to play through again, just to witness it all with fresh eyes.

Crysis has stunning graphics, pretty good gameplay, and emotion, well… that just wasn’t there for me. Two out of three should make for a good game, but not a great one and that’s how I’d define Crysis. Excellent in some areas (graphics) but overall just good, not great.

As said initially way up above, the graphics 4 in CoD4 are certainly not sub-par, they’re just not quite as good as Crysis. I think on it’s own CoD4 is a winner in that area as well giving it a solid showing for all three of my key categories. By my own definition that should make for a great game, and that’s exactly what CoD4 is.

Overall win for CoD4.



  1. To be perfectly honest: I couldn’t disagree more. That said, I went into Crysis anticipating a game like Far Cry: mediocre gameplay, poor story, awesome graphics. Meanwhile I went into Call of Duty 4 with the intention of having the same kind of experience as with number 1 and 2..

    Crysis over-delivered, whereas CoD4 failed on every possible front. In terms of graphics there is no doubt, on one hand you have the prettiest (and most demanding) game ever made… on the other hand you have an outdated looking title that’s plagued by small linear areas, bland textures and an overall feel of ‘this doesn’t look a whole lot better than CoD 2’. It definitely looked sub-par after having played games like BioShock, World in Conflict, The Witcher, The Orange Box, F.E.A.R., Crysis and Unreal Tournament 3 – all of which looked MUCH better.

    Emotion? Well, neither title is intended to be an emotionally gripping tale, unlike say… BioShock or Half Life. That said, CoD 4 was gripping at the start, then immediately ruined whatever headstart it had by presenting highly forgettable characters and horrible plot twists, as well as a completely forgettable ‘story’. It might have had the awesome cutscenes, but it didn’t have the awesome scenes (e.g.: Aliens vs US marines of Crysis – which WAS awesome… AND in game). In terms of atmosphere, pulling you into the story and presenting an escape from reality (which is what games, like movies and books, are intended to be… NOT an emulation of it!) Crysis totally wins out. And even if CoD 4 did have anything still going for it by now, the silly rap music destroyed any of that.

    As for gameplay. CoD 4 presents an experience similar to it’s predecessors, but even more linear, featuring even more (and much more annoying/immersion breaking/fun ruining) infinite spawns, pitiful friendly AI, the pathetic checkpoint save system and generally seemed to do it’s best to ruin the experience all around. Plus it was totally overshadowed by it’s, far superior, predecessors in this respect.

    Crysis on the other hand presented gameplay much more enjoyable than it’s (spiritual) predecessor – and generally a lot more engaging. It felt very open, allowing you to play the game the way you wanted… rather than forcing you in one, extremely specific, path (CoD 4, I look at you). While CoD 4 may have admitted it was a linear shooter, so did Half Life 2: Episode 2… but Episode 2 never felt restrictive, dull, or plain irritatingly linear. CoD 4 did, all the way through… well, after the first level (on the boat) that is.

    Overall – Crysis for complete and utter victory. But then, I used to like CoD… part 4 was just an overall miserable disappointment. I thought Far Cry sucked, so I never got my hopes up for Crysis… which proved me wrong completely.

  2. Is this guy for real?

    Ok you could present a reasonable case for COD4 being inferior to Crysis. But all you did “Droniac” was bleed fanboy all over the keyboard.


  3. Fanboy moar Droniac.

  4. I have to agree with Droniac in that I too found CoD 4 to be inferior to crysis. Ignoring the graphics for a moment because while crysis is better in that department i dont think its that important. The use of the graphics is, to create a feel of atmosphere, but both did that well.

    CoD4 was very linear but worse for me had no interactivity. Shooting seems to paint bullet holes onto walls rather than give the feel of firing a gun. In contrast crysis has some very meaty weapons and explosions destroying scenery and moving/shattering objects. Crysis feels like a war, CoD4 feels like a game, ESP those absurd respawn areas.

  5. Wow, that analysis is even worse than Droniac’s.

    COD4 is known for it’s weaponry and a feeling of weight to it’s firearms. As for “just painting holes in walls.” You do know that COD4 is the first game to properly simulate bullet penetration?

    I honestly don’t think either is superior, they are both great FPS games in their own respect. COD4 is a great military action game and Crysis is a great sci-fi adventure tale. Both games have technology backing them that suits the gameplay, pace and mood of each respective title.

  6. Totaly agree a few months ago i was really antisipating the release of Crysis, but wasnt that bothered about Call of Duty 4. I have to say Crysis was a good game but didnt live up to all the hype that drew me into purchasing the game. Call of Duty 4, well i got this because a m8 who beta tested Xbox360 multiplayer said that it was good and i should get it for PC.
    OMG have never played a game a second time until COD4 the Gfx are mint and have that dirty element to them that makes most games and CGI look fake.
    The Story is beleivable and had me hooked quickly, as stated in the reveiw you really do hate the antagonists and know why you do. You also do have the urgency of the situation driving you forward, and the “Holy Shit” parts of the game realy drew out emotions that no game has ever done to me previously.

    COD4 is by far the best game i have ever played and i will play it again. Iv already completed the game twice on diferent difficulties and if the standard game play wasnt enough Arcade mode is fantastic.

    Multiplayer is really good and i struggle to put it down. Tried Crysis MP once, lasted five min then whent back to COD4.

  7. Dude its an opinion, and CoD4 is far from the first game to do bullet penetration, try IGI & IGI 2 from 5 years previous. I have both games and thought that playing CoD4 was lackluster after playing Crysis because nothing moved, and felt there was little punch to the weapons. Do you think I could play the entire game without noticing that bullets went through walls?

    Personally Crysis had more of the war feeling I was looking for, I was emmersed in the game. CoD4 felt like a game, yes a very good game but still I was thinking about game play terms like checkpoints etc rather than the action or storyline.

  8. Immersed with an ‘I.’

    But see whereas I’m quick to point out that both games are great titles, you simply rag on one and glorify the other. That tells me that you are a fanboy, tell me I’m wrong?

  9. Have to agree Crysis has amazing graphics but is to short and the best bit is fighting the Koreans not the Aliens. Crysis 2 and 3 will probably be more of the same. COD4 was both a dissapoint and a welcome addition to my game library. It was an interesting change from WW2 but i felt it was far too short although that criticism goes to Crysis too.

  10. Im not raggin on the other I play both. Actually thats unfair I am ragging on one but in response to an article which I see took the wrong slant. If someone says to me, ‘should i get CoD4 for PC?’ id say yeah its pretty good. If some says ‘CoD4 is better than crysis’ Then yeah my response to going to be negative for CoD4 because i dont believe it is.

  11. If I had to choose between the two, I’d go Crysis. For me the main point of Crysis was the freedom of how I could go about doing my missions. I always loved games that let me roam freely. I have played COD4, and it is a good game. But if it was up against Crysis then I would say it just isn’t as good. Crysis also offers the most amazing graphics ever, and the cherry on top being the AMAZING physics that turn the game into a war. As for weapons, CoD4 obviously has MORE, but the Crysis customization was just brilliant. I loved if I ran out of ammo for my sniper rifle I could whip its scope onto my AK and still attempt to snipe. Also then there is the silencers and the laser sights blah blah. I would congratulate CoD4 on its immersive story line and thrilling gameplay. I liked them both, but I loved Crysis (despite its shit storyline).

  12. […] mixng up the game play with the new spy missions, the graphics are playable, but as pointed out by Adam Baum, they couldn’t bring themselves to break out of their traditional 1990s-esque linear plot […]

  13. Crysis isn’t something you really want for the single player. The graphics are nice and the single player will give you a lot of fun until you near the end when it becomes a Halo borefest. All you do is progress and shoot aliens. I wanted to play the game a second time bt I found myself so bored that I resorted to multiplayer instead. Now though the instant action lacks in quality, the Power Struggle game is truly something. Never before have I seen a FPS successfully throw nuclear weapons into the equation and not make the game unbalanced.

  14. I enjoyed both games in the end, but it did take a while for me to get used to COD4’s weapons. Crysis on the other hand was very easy to adapt to, choose any rate of you you wish, crank on a suit power and away you go. I also liked Crysis’ story better, but COD4 had a slightly better ending.

    And I don’t know what pisses me off more, infinite enemy spawns in COD4 or the fact that I can’t enjoy Crysis on maximum details without my computer turning into a slideshow projector.

    Far Cry was 200 times less linear than Crysis.

  15. and Badomen I have to disagree with you about “bullet penetration” in COD4, obviously you haven’t played a game called S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

  16. Well I’ve played both and am throwing in with Crysis. Let me be clear here, both were GREAT games.

    First let’s get the graphics out of the way. Crysis wins period.

    Next, COD4 had WAY too much corridor feel. So many times in COD4 map boundaries were immersion breaking jokes. Something you’d see in games of 5 years ago and not be concerned, but games of the level of COD4 need to move to the next step, as Crysis has done. Crysis, at least, made the ATTEMPT to confine the player in a realistic way, i.e. high rock walls, sharks, offshore frigates, etc. COD4, you basically hit the Twilght Zone invisible wall.

    Next, Crysis attempted, and succeeded IMHO to use a destructible environment as a gameplay element. COD4 had almost none.

    If there was one environmental element COD4 had over Crysis it was the ability to shoot through walls. If Crysis had incorporated this, it would have swept the gameplay in every aspect for me.

    Again, I enjoyed both, but I am in the exact opposite camp of Baum, I have almost no wish to replay COD4, where I find myself back with Crysis on regular basis, attempting new ways to accomplish a mission, i.e. killing no one, killing everyone, using darts then hand killing, etc. etc. Try that with COD4.

  17. I don’t have the required specs to play Crysis, so can’t compare the two. I can only say that i’m now playing COD4 on the PS3 and it’s certainly jaw-dropping at some points! ..Definitely one of the very best games i have ever played.

  18. Since I just got a new video card to play both, I just had to leave my two cents.

    For me, COD4 wins. Hands down. The reasons why can’t be described in an analytical framework, but it should be possible to explain.

    a) I play my games on hard the first time through. COD4’s Veteran was much more difficult than Crysis’ Delta. [note: I did love the use of Korean for Crysis’ Delta though]
    b) I think games should play like games. As pointed out, Crysis tried to push the envelope of realism.
    c) I didn’t like Crysis’ destructable environment – didn’t think it changed tactics much.
    d) When my levels are open, I like them *open*. The last 4 levels of Crysis ruined that for me. But the 2nd and 4th levels I really *really* had a lot of fun with (excepting the follow-the-road part of level 2).
    e) I abhor glass ceilings. Just have SAMs shoot you down if you go too high, anything but a glass ceiling.
    f) I followed the Crysis hype machine. I saw nothing that was mentioned in early interviews with the company heads. [But I’ll forgive them if they admit to it, and just say they didn’t want a DNF]
    g) I like checkpoint-driven games. They prevent me being ripped out of the immersion to micromanage my saves (which I can’t help doing).

    By those points, COD4 won. It goes with the other games that I love, like Far Cry, Deus Ex, and Half Life 1.

    Crysis goes with games I though “meh” about – *gasp* Half Life 2, GTA3, and StarCraft. For me, they’re good, but only when I’m in the mood for what they deliver.

  19. ok, so i’ve read all of the posts, and I must say.. Badomen, let ppl share their opinions. Stop calling them fanboys or fangirls because that’s just plain stupid.

    I’m not into the whole military shooter thing. I love games such as Heroes of might and magic and Oblivion and fantasy themed ones. But out of boredom, I did try them both and this is what I think : In terms of graphics Crysis wins by far. In terms of gameplay, Crysis is yet again the winner (It really sucks you in and gives you that war feeling). Cod4 is really intense action, but is NOTHING NEW. IMHO I think even the first half-life is better than cod4.

  20. I guess COD4 is for those who like straight-away action and bullets flying all over. Just kill everyone!!

    Meanwhile, Crysis is for those who like to play slowly – those who don’t really want intense action. It gives you an option to play it your style.

    Both have great stories, Crysis gives you that anxiety whereas COD4 gets interesting with the villains going missing… and especially after that Nuke bomb! – wow! that was an awesome scene!

    Anyways, i personally played COD4 after just finishing Crysis and COD4 looked really dull. As far as shooting through the walls is concerned, i dont see why it is so “attractive”? compared to crysis’s physics, it is just nothing. Besides, when you are standing behind a wall and your enemy shoots at the wall from the other side, you can see the bullet go but it will never hit you! its a half-baked effect that looks lame.

    For me, Crysis rocks… i have never played such a great game since Max Payne. As far as COd4 is concerned, i do enjoy shooting bullets all over the place, but the checkpoint system is really frustrating.

  21. i think cod4 is better since i didn’t play crysis
    HE HE HE HE !!!!!

  22. CoD4 u play the role of 2 guy name SOAP and JACKSON. Good ratatatatatat.. Smoooth Shot. esp. using SNIPER.
    While .. Crysis ummmm… im playing it now.

  23. FYI, after a long hiatus I’ve revived these posts (and the comments) on my new blog located at http://attentionspun.com

    Come visit sometime.

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