Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Crysis Report, Part II

Continued from Part I

We all knew that Crytek would pull some serious technological magic for their second title and it doesn't look like anyone will be disappointed.

According to Crytek, the AI for Crysis has been rewritten from scratch, hopefully resulting in soldiers who will do a better job of using cover, working in teams, and flanking you. The stealth meter returns from Far Cry, so you can tell if you're in danger of being spotted, and you'll also have a set of high-powered binoculars on hand to scope areas out from afar.

One interesting new aspect of Crysis that you have the ability to customize your character's gear. To start, you're outfitted with a specially powered armor suit that can switch between three settings: Speed, Strength or Armor. Each of these settings will come in handy at various times; for example, Strength will allow you to carry heavier weapons, provide more accuracy while shooting, and even dish out more damage if you're forced into melee combat. Switching between these settings was as simple as clicking the middle mouse button and selecting the desired armor setting on the fly. This menu also allows you to customize other aspects of your gear, such as bullet type (armor piercing, incendiary, etc), or bolt-on options for weapons via a rail system found on many weapons I use in reality! The machinegun, for example, could be outfitted with a flashlight (see how simple it is ID?), a scope, or a grenade launcher.

Another improvement is the new environments. While some of the game is set amongst island jungles, players will also fight their way through the ice laden frozen zones of the island chain, across the decks of an aircraft carrier under siege, and even into zero G gameplay aboard the alien mother ship. Thanks to an engine that allows for reaction of a ton of different objects (especially with the help of the unified architecture DX10 design, upcoming GPUs, and PPUs) jungles now become more than stagnant cover. Foliage reacts to contact with other physical objects so that leaves and branches bend and react to human bodies but more importantly, much of the environment is destructible. Trees will fall apart from gunfire and when they fall, if they happen to say: smash into a bad guy's head, that bad guy will take an appropriate amount of damage. Likewise, the frozen objects set in ice by the alien weaponry will have properties that allow it to be shattered by weapons fire.

Perhaps what was most encouraging about seeing Crysis at this year's E3 Expo in Los Angeles was hearing Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli acknowledge the things its rookie effort, the award-winning Far Cry, did wrong -- things like a poor savegame system, insanely difficult endgame levels, and spotty network code that marred an otherwise excellent game with groundbreaking level design and some of the best graphics we'd ever seen in a videogame. Those who've played that will be pleased to know that a quick save function will appear in Crysis as standard (and not just available as a unser downloadable mod). Even Crytek has realized that the difficulty level in Far Cry was pretty high for the average player. Crysis, while still providing a challenge that players can feel good about overcoming, should be a little easier to manage without having to worry about making it to the next checkpoint to save the game. Cevat is hoping the balance between enemies, weapons, and challenges will benefit the player.

Crytek also admits that the story behind Far Cry was a bit cheesy, and its goal with Crysis is to make something closer to a true blockbuster than a B-movie.

Continued in Part III

Sources: 3D Gamers, IGN & Gamespy

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