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As with Far Cry, Crysis is an open-ended game with many ways to meet objectives. An addition to the previous Far Cry formula is that most weapons may be modified with devices such as suppressors, telescopic sights, and targeting lasers.

The protagonist, callsign Nomad, is also capable of selecting various modes in his military prototype "Nano Muscle Suit." The suit is capable of four modes: armor, strength, speed, and cloak. These modes allow him to absorb and heal damage, lift and throw heavy items and enemies, reload and run faster, become invisible and reduce noise output, respectively. Due to the ability of constantly regenerating health, the game is completely devoid of first aid kits. All of these actions, however, use rechargeable energy reserves that power the suit; energy is recharged most quickly while in armor mode. The suit can be quickly switched between modes using a rapid mouse gesture system, which adds a strong tactical element to combat.

The suit's integral mask has its own HUD, displaying typical data like a tactical map and current energy levels. The view is electronic in nature, shown in-game through things such as a booting readout and visual distortion during abnormal operation. Onboard utilities include a two-way radio, PDA and audio-visual logging capability, with features like image zoom and night vision provided by optional equipment (given by default in single-player).

The artificial intelligence (AI) in Crysis also aims to be realistic and believable. Enemy soldiers constantly employ tactical maneuvers, work as squads, hide and ambush amongst the scenery, and adapt to changing environments and conditions. AI soldiers will also respond to sound and subtle movements triggered by the player's movement. While not engaged in combat, the AI soldiers will also exhibit typical and lifelike behavior, such as smoking, yawning, talking, urinating, waxing cars, patrolling, saluting superior officers, etc. Sometimes these actions depend on whether or not the player was detected earlier. If Nomad has not been sighted in some missions, he can find some enemies sleeping upon arriving to his destination. In contrast if he has been spotted they will all be alert.