Few games were as lauded in their first iteration as the original Crysis was. Its launch being a real “where were you when…” moment in gaming. The game delivered generously in the graphics department and launched a whole generation of PC upgrades.
Following its inevitably successful launch and glowing reviews it even spawned a sub-culture of gamers / modders determined to build, and then immediately blow up, the largest construction of oil barrels they could achieve, leading to more than one melted GPU / CPU…
Innovative in not only graphics but also physics simulation the killer combo is fondly remembered, even if many cannot tell you the actual plot… other than something like; “Well, there was like humans to fight and then loads of aliens turned up and stuff…”.
Above all the game served as an incredible demonstration of the power of CryENGINE 2 which Crytek had upgraded specifically for the game. This was such a step up from not only CryENGINE but also from Far Cry which it had powered that the connection between the two is often forgotten.
Crytek then added “Warhead” an “Expansion” to the original Crysis which arrived to satisfy those multi-player cravings and boost single player variety.
Crysis 2 was the first instalment to make it to console and despite early enthusiasm failed to gain massive traction with console gamers… this was despite Crytek rolling out CryENGINE 3 which had again received substantial upgrades to power it… the transition from limitless power of PC to constrained console specs was evident and some felt the multi-player modes were a little dry and uninspired.
So we come to Crysis 3, what I believe is shaping up to be the next step forward for Crytek. From what we’ve seen their latest version of CryENGINE (3.4 at the time of writing) has been adapted to offer excellent scalability for console & PC.
In our early preview we were taken through a vastly overgrown, and alien infested, New York in a simply mouth-watering display of the very best CryENGINE 3.4 has to offer. With one of the developers guiding Prophet through this “jungle-in-the-jungle” we got to see not only all the improvements to the engine itself, which were many, but also some of the many gameplay widening enhancements brought to this title.
So let’s cover off the engine enhancements first, from this most prestigious of engine engineering organisations. Crytek have produced the goods yet again with big moves forward across the board. Perhaps one of the most striking is character design, with all the Ceph we saw looking superb, everything from the large muscular tanks to the light and agile hover bots there was clear variety, depth and vision.
Environment design, as we’ve mentioned, was also top notch with the urban and swamp jungle themes intertwined expertly to provide what looks to be a range of different approaches, paths, routes and options. We’re promised fully interactive plant life, which wasn’t available in this preview, but will certainly only add to immersion and feel once delivered. Each blade of the tall swamp grass already looks real and will only feel all the more so when it reacts to movement around it.
Light and colour were also subtly but powerfully realised and it’s interaction with the broken metal, glass, and concrete and its interplay with the nearly ever present water strikingly fresh and clean.
But it’s really the gameplay enhancements we previewed that I’m excited about. Yes past games have had stealth to add to their run-and-gun credentials, but Crysis 3 is going to offer a whole invisible panoply of stealth upgrades. The centre of this is a new tactical weapon, the composite bow. Linked to your suit it not only cloaks with you as you’d expect, but also does not compromise your invisibility when fired. This is obviously a huge change and opens up a far more realistic peep and creep style previously unavailable. Additionally, stealth assassinations give you a further way to stay concealed without feeling helpless.
A further big change, which has me equally excited is that modifications to your all-important nanosuit also now allow you to pick up and use the whole range of Ceph technology, particularly all their pretty awesome weaponry! This was demonstrated ably during our preview and the design, feel, sound, dynamics, function and handling of each of these we saw had a strong individual identity and are clearly going to hugely widen the games appeal, longevity and variety. We have no final weapon numbers yet, but it certainly seems Crytek are pushing the boat out here, giving players a set of choices previously reserved for specialist titles.
Finally one of my favourite mechanics is making its way to the Crysis universe, yup in Crysis 3 we will all be hacking our way through those naught Ceph with all that that implies!
Whilst nothing new in the genre, it still somehow feels special in Crysis 3, perhaps because the visuals and enemy behaviour as so strong that you’re in the game that little deeper. Turning that desperate situation into a winning one can be as simple as finding a way to get near enough that turret to hack it invisibly and watch the panic in the Ceph as they try and respond. Now we don’t know the extent of this mechanic yet, but this could be the most exciting of the additions in my book… we’ll just have to see.
Anyway, that’s quite enough jibber-jabber from me, especially as I haven’t even played the game, but I do just want to leave you with a final thought, or two, from Crytek themselves, which perhaps explain not only the experience, but also I’m guessing the plot of Crysis 3… “Assess, Adapt, Attack” & “The Hunted becomes the Hunter”… nice… bring on “Q2 2013″ so we can flip the table on those mean ol’ Ceph and send them screaming from our beloved Earth!
More details coming as soon as we get them, so get your PS3s, 360s and PCs warmed up…
- Richard “Rax” Burley