Alone in the Dark

PC, XB360, WII, PS2 / Action / Release: Jun 24, 2008 / ESRB: M

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Crysis Review

Today, Frankfurt, Germany-based developer Crytek releases its second game, Crysis. Former publisher Ubisoft owns the rights to the company's debut effort Far Cry, and has developed several console title derivatives with a numbered PC sequel on the way, so Crytek started over with a new property, a new publisher (Electronic Arts), and a new policy of owning its own creations. Not everything is entirely new. Crytek hasn't strayed too far from the impressive-but-imperfect design of Far Cry. Crysis is a large-scale, mainly jungle-set shooter with a relatively linear progression on primary and secondary objectives but an incredibly open attitude towards gameplay. It is not a revolutionary game in the face of Far Cry; the two games are clearly of the same stock. But neither is Crysis a rehash in the vein of most of the neverending string of World War II shooters. "Maximum Game" Crytek has adopted the company slogan "Maximum Game" for the promotion of Crysis--it's a great marketing line, perhaps a bit grandiose but fitting. It also handily sums up Crysis' relationship to its predecessor. Crysis is the "maximum game" take on Far Cry; the version that largely sticks to the same formula but tangibly improves upon it in every way; the younger brother that handily outshines his otherwise-talented sibling across the board.

The ambitious open-ended Far Cry formula is one that is rarely attempted at all in the pure shooter genre, so PC gamers probably wouldn't have complained too much if Crytek had simply made another Far Cry and given it the pristine coat of paint that we know Crysis to have. Instead, Crysis is evidence of a studio whose work ethic and drive towards perfection is paralleled by few in the industry. Every aspect is an order of magnitude or more over its predecessor: the grandiosity, the variety of environments, the storytelling, the customization of play style, the multiplayer offerings, and, of course, the visuals. The biggest new fundamental gameplay element of Crysis is its protagonist's nanosuit, which gives the player the ability to boost strength, speed, or armor, or activate an invisibility cloak. You can only have one of these active at any given time, and each one uses up rechargeable energy in order to prevent overuse. Basically, what the suit does is amplify your gameplay choices--if you're a stealth-oriented player, you'll be cloaking a lot. If you're a sniper, you'll be using strength to leap onto high vantage points and steady your hands while aiming. If you want to take a more straightforward approach, armor is your all-around helpful attribute. Then there's the weapon modification system, which allows you to outfit your guns on the fly with different types of ammo, scopes, attachments such as grenade launchers, and more. It all just works towards providing an extension of your own style of play. Tell Me a Story, I Guess
Those who played Far Cry will know that to say the game's story-related elements have improved is such faint praise as to be essentially meaningless, but Crysis' plot and dialogue really are fine by shooter standards. Crysis is influenced by the Half-Life narrative method, never breaking from the protagonist's perspective except in the optional third-person vehicle control. Although it does feature some lengthy non-interactive first-person cutscenes (they're skippable if you want!), the overall product is done well and remains immersive. The plot itself involes a military operation on a small North Korea-occupied island, where an apparently groundbreaking scientific discovery has been unearthed. Aliens get involved too, blah blah blah, who cares? You shoot stuff. The Power is in Your Hands No, it's still not about the story. And it's really not all about the graphics either. Really. Crysis is about the gameplay. It's about being put in the middle of a dense jungle, being given an objective, and being told, "Get there however you want." You have to be willing to actually do that, though. You can play Crysis as a bullet-ridden version of connect-the-dots, in which case it will feel like a fairly average shooter. If you find yourself in this mentality, just take a step back, look at your island map, and remind yourself that you don't need to pick the straight line between points A and B. It's not always the fastest or easiest, and it's certainly not always the most fun.
In most games, if the guy telling you stuff in your ear (you may previously know this guy from approximately half of all story-driven non-WWII shooters ever made) says something like, "I recommend taking a vehicle and sticking to the road," it really means, "This game will only allow you to take a vehicle and stick to the road, unless you lose or destroy the vehicle, in which case you will be walking along the road." In Crysis, it means just what it says--it's a recommendation, and nothing more. Upon receipt of that particular directive, I completely ignored my overseer and took a shortcut through a swamp. Due to our fairly extensive pre-release coverage in the months--even years--leading up to Crysis' release, I had played through certain parts of the game several times by the time I finished my review, even without taking into account the occasions when I replayed sections of the final build. At one point, I chose to enter a highly-fortified encampment from what I knew was the road I would later drive down upon leaving the base. It was quite out of the way, and required both swimming and foot-slogging. As I approached, I ran into a small squad of North Koreans traveling on the road in the opposite direction, aboard a large armed transport. I quickly picked off the gunner, then tossed a grenade underneath, which just barely toppled the vehicle and sent it tumbling over a cliff as I dealt with the soldiers who had leapt out at the last minute. I don't know if that encounter was scripted, or a genuine result of AI enemies going about their business, but I don't really care. There is such a plethora of possible permuations, and the environments so open, that you are certain to get a divergent set of experiences if you actually attack your objectives in different ways. The next time through, I traveled the same route, but cloaked myself as the truck passed me and eventually drove out of sight. I infiltrated the base stealthily, rationing my cloak energy and taking out my foes with silenced tranquilizer darts. I eventually snuck up into a watchtower while cloaked, quietly strangled the stationed guard, and stole his sniper rifle. Then I went to town.
It may not be particularly efficient or expedient to carefully eradicate a large open communications base swarming with enemy soldiers, without ever allowing them to figure out just where you are at any given moment, but it is nothing if not deeply satisfying. That works both ways. Once, I was holed up in a small wooden HQ building, sitting in the window and alternating picking off enemies--scanning while cloacked, squeezing off a headshot, then ducking out of sight while my shield recharged, feeling very pleased with my stealthy self. I swear to you, when an enemy grenade rolled up and blew away half the building, leaving me exposed to a group of now very pissed off North Koreans, I nearly shit my pants out of sheer surprise and shock. The extensive destructibility and world physics have attractive aesthetic elements as well. I love throwing grenades into densely wooded areas, not just because they are great for dispersing and panicking enemy troops but because of the natural way they cause nearby trees to sway back from the force of the explosion. Crysis' open-ended nature unfortunately means its checkpoint-based auto-save system will very often let you down, because the route you choose to get to your objective may be considerably more involved than simply drawing a straight line between point A and point B, which means you might go a very long while without the game saving for you. This leads to an unfortunate reliance on quicksaving, something that a bit outdated in this day and age. Undoubtedly it is not a straightforward design issue given Crysis' huge amount of geographical freedom, but it does seem like a more versatile solution could have been reached. If, like I do, you tend towards a careful, tactical style of play with a payoff that comes after meticulously managing a delicate situation, this can be tragically heartbreaking. Beware--save early and often. Turn the page for more on Crysis' single-player campaign. _PAGE_BREAK_ The Very Attractive Elephant in the Room
I have deliberately avoided using the bulk of my words in this review on Crysis' graphics, because Crysis would be a great game even if it didn't look so damned good. It cannot be denied, however, that many are most attracted by its visuals, and this is little surprise. So here: Crysis looks really, really good--if your rig can handle it. There will be times when you cannot help but marvel in awe at the unbridled grandiosity of the epic environments being rendered on your screen. The inspiring feeling that comes with cresting a hill in a game and being presented with a vast, gorgeous landscape is not unique to Crysis, but seldom has it been done with such a superbly--and subtly--tuned sense of natural beauty.
You don't really need me to tell you this. You can view any number of screenshots and videos and rest assured that, yes, Crysis can theoretically look like that on the proper hardware. I played the game on a PC with a Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz dual core CPU, an nVidia GeForce 8800GT video card, and 2GB of RAM. The game recommended maximum settings across the board, with a resolution of 1024x768; I was able to bump the resolution up and keep the game at acceptable framerates by turning down the demanding post-processing graphical option and the anti-aliasing. It really is hard to overstate how impressive Crysis looks. So many facets of reality are well-modeled. It goes beyond the jungle, too. Though everything takes place on the main island, later levels delve into bizarre architecture and spaces that share absolutely nothing in common with anything like what was seen in Far Cry. Some of these sequences are among the most visually surprising in the game. Fair Warning Of course, the downside of Crysis' intense dedication to intricate realism is that the game is not very artistically scalable. It really demands a fairly high-powered PC to coax the full, proper Crysis experience from its processor-pushing code. Some games have a highly defined, self-sufficient artistic direction that is partially, if not heavily, independent of the game's technical demands--titles like Team Fortress 2, BioShock, and even the Half-Life 2 line come to mind on the PC side. Crysis is not one of those games. Its artistic merits are intrinsically tied to its technical ones. This is not an inherent flaw; it is an unfortunate necessary byproduct of trying to push the envelope of realism so far, but it does have the effect of delivering to some users on the low end a stripped-down experience that doesn't represent the core of what the game's visuals has to offer. So it's a good thing Crysis isn't just a tech demo, as many snarky internet armchair pundits have cynically declared prior to the game's release. It's also a good thing the affordable 8800GT just came out. Still, the steep requirements hurt. Running the game on lower settings does have more of a negative effect on Crysis' immersion than it would for most games, because it's easier to tell what you're missing, and the game is intended to supply so much detail that there are a lot of jaggies and off-looking areas when it's turned down. Some later levels become even more demanding, which led me to have to turn my settings down at cetain parts. (For the record, I also found that after playing the game for several consecutive hours, I would start losing performance anyway; restarting the game generally remedied this.) Art Imitates Art
Crysis starts out a little like the movie Predator--in the midst of an armed conflict, you move warily through a dense jungle, continually finding your squadmates gruesomely eviscerated by some unknown, likely non-human, force. In a bit of what is probably unintentional parallelism, you can completely turn the dynamic of the game around and become the Predator itself. Juggling the cloak, the silencer, a high-powered rifle and scope, enhanced strength to steady your aim, grenades for sowing confusion, enhanced speed to stay on the move, and dense undergrowth for cover when not cloaked, you can silently and satisfyingly take out one enemy at a time, leaving fellow enemies to discover their comrades' bodies but unable to locate the killer. You can't play through the whole game as an invisible, invincible sniper, however. Crysis features a range of gameplay that is much broader than what we saw in Far Cry, with some sections that are much more linear and consistently intense. There is even some inspiration taken from the WWII genre; one mission drops you directly into the middle of a nighttime warzone, with massive shells exploding left and right, aircraft being blown out of the sky, and enemies everywhere. It's a more directed experience than much of what had come before it, but still within the context of Crysis' open-ended framework, which is impressive.
Much like Far Cry, there is a point at which the game largely shifts. In Far Cry, it came when the mutant Trigen took center stage; in Crysis, it's aliens. Along with that shift in enemies comes a shift in gameplay. Past that breaking point, there is a good deal less of the open-ended, large-scale gameplay that defines the first two-thirds of the game or so. First things first: it's a lot better this time around. For one thing, the environments actually change thematically in an interesting way as that happens, and in some cases the gameplay veers off into completely unusual avenues (a zero-gravity segment is one of the most unusual bits of gameplay, and one of the most visually well-conceived). It doesn't feel like the rude shock that I, and many other gamers, had when Far Cry pulled the same stunt. The Other Caveat That's not to say it's all brilliant. Crysis is undoubtedly at its best when Crytek is doing what it does best: large, open environments. The more directed, most plot-driven, closer-quarters sections later in the game are well-produced and for the most part very entertaining, but not nearly as impressive or robust in gameplay terms as the earlier parts. I imagine it would be difficult to really ratched up the pacing and narrative as the end of the game approaches while sticking to a somewhat nonlinear gameplay, but that doesn't change the fact that those bits just don't feel as thrilling in the end. I also rarely enjoyed extended vehicle sections. Using a jeep or speedboat to speed up a journey from one point to another as part of your own self-planned route is fine and dandy, but levels in which vehicles are the centerpiece, or in one case are absolutely mandatory, were considerably more frustrating than fun for me. The goal was clearly to mix things up, but the controls and overall tightness need some work. So That Bit's Over With
In the end, despite a few frustrating levels, Crysis is an amazing experience. Far Cry was one of my favorite shooters in recent memory, but it seems now more like a rough draft in preparation for Crysis.
Those who play through a game once and are done with it forever will find a shooter that is likely to somewhat adapt itself to whatever style they naturally gravitate towards--after all, it still plays just fine as a standard shooter. Gamers who love replayability will find they are able to play through many of the game's missions over and over and over again, trying entirely new styles of play. The world physics, the ability-enhancing suit, the gun modifications, the destructible environments, the wide-open environments, and everything else combine to provide an impressive gameplay canvas that can be painted over again and again. A closing tip: save your missiles for the helicopters, and you will be saved a whole lot of grief. Turn the page for notes on Crysis' multiplayer mode. _PAGE_BREAK_ One of the more surprising things about Crysis is how much effort has been put into its multiplayer component. There are two modes, and they are as different as can be: one is a standard deathmatch with four maps available, and the other is an incredibly involved team-based objective game called Power Struggle with five maps available. Power Struggle has each team attempting to destroy to the opposing headquarters, either with a nuke-equipped vehicle or with captured alien technology. This is done by capturing a tech factory or alien crash sites, and is augmented by capturing auxilliary factories that produce other useful goodies such as tanks or boats. Meanwhile, you gain points which to purchase personal weapons and equipment, in a Counter-Strike-like fashion. Items can be bought at spawn points, which are also generated by capturing bunkers on behalf of your team.
It's all quite deep, certainly moreso than I expected. It may almost be too deep. In most of the matches I played, I felt that there was much more being offered than my team was able to competently use in any realistic way. It feels like if it were a bit more focused, like the similar mode in Unreal Tournament 2004, it would be less overwhelming. I was rarely able to play a game in which my team had meaningful coordination. There will surely be a contingent of players that gets deep into Power Struggle, because the potential is there. It is a very fleshed-out multiplayer mode, and one with a lot of opportunity for rewarding teamwork, but I suspect it will be a bit daunting for many players. The fact that the playerbase will be somewhat fractured by DirectX version will not help the community overall: while DirectX 10 players can join DirectX 9 servers, the reverse is not true. This is due to a variety of gameplay-affecting graphics and physics features only enabled in the DirectX 10 version of the game.
Deathmatch has largely the opposite problem; it feels too simplistic and standard. It's what you would expect: a bunch of players are dropped into a map and given a time or frag limit. This is fine, but little details like the game not checking for enemy proximity when spawning you in often turn deathmatches into nonstop spawn-kill-fests, and the presence of the nanosuit doesn't really add enough to the overall multiplayer dynamic to make Crysis' deathmatch more attractive than any number of other big-name multiplayer offerings this season. The Whole Package I don't think most gamers have been thinking of Crysis as a multiplayer-oriented game--I certainly haven't--so, if anything, the ambitious but flawed multiplayer mode will likely be a pleasant surprise, at least to try out. It doesn't add lots of value, but the Power Struggle mode might be right up some players' alley. What does add more value is the impressive Sandbox Editor that is included with the game. It's quite user-friendly compared to many game editing tools, and hell, you can do ridiculous things with enormous chickens. Hooray!

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New Alone in the Dark Trailer

Atari has released a new Alone in the Dark trailer, showing ingame footage set in Central Park. Developed by Eden Games, the new Alone in the Dark is set for release on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 some time next year.

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"i'm going to file this trailer under 'pointless' i believe. trailers like these just make me ..."
- Steve Gibson    See all 20 comments


Crysis Goes Gold

Related Topics – Crysis, Alone in the Dark, Gone Gold

Crysis, Crytek's long-awaited and gorgeous-looking Far Cry followup, has gone gold and entered the manufacturing process. It will hit stores November 16. "We are extremely proud of what we have been able to accomplish with Crysis," said Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli. "We wanted to push the boundaries both visually and with open-ended, non-linear gameplay and we believe the end result delivers that vision." Though the title doesn't hit for another couple of weeks, gamers can whet their appetites and test their system's worth with the single-player demo. Those interested in the game are also urged to read our chat with Yerli about the technology behind Crysis in order to plan their system upgrades accordingly, and our preview of the full game for more gameplay details.

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"Good news, wonder if they were waiting on the demo feedback at all? In any case, day 1 buy for me. "
- nutcrackr    See all 22 comments


Crysis Full Version Preview

As the single-player demo of Crytek's Crysis was nearing release, I was able to play through the first several hours of the game for some quick impressions. Though I have long been anticipating Crysis, particularly as a great fan of Crytek's debut effort Far Cry, my substantial playtime today, the longest unbroken period I have yet spent with the single-player component, cemented its position in my mind as easily one of the most impressively ambitious upcoming action games. She Blinded Me with Science Crysis opens in a transport aircraft flying above a small island in the South China Sea, where a science team studying some extraordinarily bizarre artifacts is being held by North Korean troops. You and the rest of your squad of nanosuit-equipped super-soldiers is being sent in to extricate them and deal with any North Korean resistance. It is billed as a routine mission, but, unsurprisingly, things don't go exactly as planned. For one thing, there seem to be a lot more North Koreans than anyone expected, and on top of that, some third force seems to be killing friend and foe alike, as well as doing odd things such as freezing large research ships and putting them in the middle of the jungle. It is clear that Crytek has taken the widespread complaints about Far Cry's story and dialogue to heart. While Crysis does not appear to be breaking any narrative ground, is it considerably more convincing simply by way of being less ostentatious, and by having its plot delivered with fairly well-acted characters and a plot that actually has an element of pacing to it. That's the Way I Like It Still, the story is hardly the star of the show here. Those who enjoyed Far Cry's wide-open take on first person shooter gameplay will feel right at home in Crysis' even more extreme take on it. While I am not a particular fan of ultra-realistic gameplay that requires one to take the same kinds of precautions one would if genuinely living in the game, I do appreciate gameplay that is still rewarding if played carefully. Crysis, with its enormous environments and ability-boosting nanosuit, does not overly penalize risky behavior but also cannot be completed simply by running in without a plan. The nanosuit--which as you probably have read by now confers you either great speed, enhanced strength, tougher armor, or near-invisibility at any given time--serves basically as an extension of your gameplay choices. If you want to take out a cluster of enemes at mid-range, throw on speed to rush into their midst, then switch to armor and equip a shotgun. If you want to hang back and pick them off, equip strength to steady your aim. If you want to grab and strangle them, it might be best to cloak yourself as you approach. You are likely to gravitate towards some methods overall--as in Far Cry, I preferred playing as a sniper as often as possible, whereas PR rep Andrew Wong of publisher Electronic Arts noted he often takes the gung-ho Rambo approach. Happiness is a Warm Gun
Crucial to being able to arm yourself properly is the on-the-fly gun modification menu, which allows you to equip weapons with all sorts of scopes and attachments. Pistols can be armed with laser pointers, rifles with silencers and under-barrel grenade launchers, and so on. A John Woo aficionado might arm himself with dual pistols, whereas a more careful player who is out of rifle ammo might drop one of the pistols and attach a laser pointer for better precision. That same sniper might also stick a sniper scope onto his assault rifle and steady his aim with enhanced strength--it won't have the same accuracy as a true sniper rifle, but it'll do. Most weapons also have at least two firing modes corresponding to intended range. Rifles generally switch between single-shot and burst fire mode, with one attachment allowing them to fire quiet, high-powered tranquilizer darts. Even a shotgun can be turned into a vaguely precise weapon by fitting it with a reflex sight and switching it to its narrow band fire mode. I Can See for Miles Like Far Cry, Crysis features ridiculously massive environments separated by fairly infrequent load times. As you complete your objectives, new ones will be given, both essential and nonessential. You can nearly always take any number of routes to reach your chosen destination, involving foot travel, swimming, and machine gun-armed trucks and boats. A map displays your primary and secondary objectives and allows you to figure out your basic path of travel. Though I still feel that PC shooters have some room to improve in the area of vehicle controls, vehicle control here works well for the most part, particularly in the optional third person driving mode, and I feel it is noticeable more solid than in Far Cry. You really do have a great deal of freedom in your exploration. For variety's sake, I tried several different approaches to one outpost, all of which seemed to work fine. The most obvious path was to steal a jeep and drive along the main road, shooting my way in through the front. I also tried coming in by foot through the underbrush, making less noise as I approached. For an even stealthier entrance, I grabbed a boat and went around behind the outpost, only to find it guarded there by a minefield; I shot out the mines with my pistol. Finally, I took the boat even farther, past the minefield, and found an area that seemed safer to dock, but which was guarded by no shortage of troops. Despite being the most out of the way, the last entry point was also closest to my objective, making the various points of entry all feasible for different reasons. Most likely, players will end up playing the game instinctively according to their own preferences for stealth or all-out assault. Break My Body
Crysis' impressive physics system leads to all kinds of unusual situations, some of which can be unexpectedly dangerous. Though the game has not been billed as "fully destructible" or anything to that effect--because it is not--there is a fairly impressive amount of potential destruction to be had. Large solid concrete buildings are, well, solid, but more flimsily constructed shacks of sheet metal and wood can be blown apart with grenades or even punched apart with the aid of enhanced strength. This can happen to your benefit--dropping in on a surprised enemy through a new hole in the ceiling--or to your detriment--many enemies now having line of sight to you. There are numerous situations that will result in you losing your cover entirely. Trees, even thick-trunked ones, can be splintered and broken, so they may not be as reliable for protection as they seem. In a few instances, I thought I had found solace in an ammo-filled makeshift command center, only to have three of its four walls blown away by an enemy grenade, leaving me face to face with a whole squad of enemies who wasted no time in opening fire. This physics modeling can be more directly deadly as well--a falling tree may cause you to lose your cover, but it will also cause you to lose your life if it lands on top of you. Of course, laying waste to an enemy-infested jungle might net you some tree-induced kills of your own. As far as the visuals themselves--Crysis looks great. It seems largely unnecessary to point that out further at this stage, and the videos and screenshots speak for themselves. That's how the game actually looks, at least on an expensive enough PC. I was running the game on an Intel Core 2 Extreme quad-core processor at 3.0GHz, with a GeForce 8800GTX and 4GB of RAM, at a resolution of 1680x1050. The framerate was smooth for the most part, and appeared to be around 30fps with occasional dips. It never chugged, except for during a few particularly intricate scripted sequences. Everyone knows by now that Crysis is a looker. Fortunately, it is no slouch in the gameplay department either, despite the cynical assumptions of some that it would be a braindead beauty. Crysis builds on the gameplay principles of its predecessor and pushes them further, while reasonably upping the narrative elements and wrapping them in best-in-industry technical graphics.

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Crysis Single-player Demo Released

Related Topics – Crysis, Alone in the Dark, Demo

A day earlier than expected, the Crysis single-player demo is now available. The 1.77gb download includes one single-player level, and also allows you to look at the Sandbox 2 editor. The full game arrives November 16.

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"this game is nothing more than farcry with a nano-suit, better graphics and crappyer frame ..."
- pbmader    See all 525 comments


Crysis Public Demo Delayed Again, Now Oct. 27

Related Topics – Crysis, Alone in the Dark, Demo, Delay

It seems the shenanigans involving the single player demo of Crytek's upcoming PC-intensive shooter have no end. Fansite inCrysis now reports that the demo, which includes the Sandbox 2 real-time level editor, will not be released for public consumption until Saturday, October 27. However, it will be available for download today to those who pre-order the game from the online EA Store. Crytek delayed the demo in late September mere days before it was originally scheduled to arrive. At the time, Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli promised gamers "the Crysis single player demo will now be available everywhere on October 26th, 2007." While you're waiting, we recommend you check out our recent chat with Crytek about Crysis and its technology, and maybe read over those suspicious system requirements one more time.

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"Well never trust EA, I never really have but for others to know. They don't know how to program ..."
- Demond4231    See all 84 comments


Crytek's Cevat Yerli on Crysis Tech

Since its announcement, Crysis has been heralded as the new benchmark for real-time video game graphics. Of course, that visual splendor comes with system requirements, which developer Crytek recently released. Having played Crysis both in single-player mode and in multiplayer, and with the game's demo scheduled to arrive tomorrow, I delved deep into the technical side of Crysis with Crytek boss Cevat Yerli. We discussed system requirements, scalability, mod support, multiplayer, and much more. How will your system stack up? Read on. Shack: What kind of market do you think will be feasible for Crysis, a game that pushes a lot of graphical limits? Cevat Yerli: We are creating a high-end PC game, just as the industry has seen numerous times in the last 10 years. We assume it will be seen and accepted and hopefully embraced as such. The quality of Crysis was the number one reason we made the development choices we did. Shack: Do you worry it will be too demanding for most gamers' machines? Cevat Yerli: We are not really concerned. Its not more demanding than Far Cry was and Far Cry was a big success for us. Crysis is just more optimized and looks better at the same demands of Far Cry relative to the past. We scaled back to 3 years old gamer configurations, just as we promised. Shack: How scalable will the game be; that is, how much of the "full experience" will users be getting on a machine that is more towards the minimum requirements? Cevat Yerli: The overall answer on this is difficult, but let's think it scales you one generation back, providing you lower visual fidelity and ambiance, with the core gameplay being the same effectively. However you will perceive the core being less impressive if you experienced the high or very high setups, but not vice versa--e.g., if you didn't see Crysis on high or very high before, you will have a great experience with your machine. Shack: How significant are differences between the DX9 and DX10 versions of the game? Are there any actual gameplay distinctions? Cevat Yerli: For single-player the difference is only in visual quality, there are no gameplay differences. Visually the imagery has more depth though 3D post processing, looks more cinematic through motion blur systems interacting and surfaces are more crisper in detail and 3D. The lighting and post processing goes through an extended next-generation HDR rendering system. In multiplayer when you qualify for very-high settings, that is high-end DX10, you will experience tangible gameplay improvements that actually make tactical difference and lets you feel like you play single player in terms of cinematic experience. Shack: Generally, successful multiplayer is fairly low-req in order to allow for the largest possible userbase. How do you feel about the prospects for your multiplayer mode in the face of the numerous heavy hitters releasing this fall? Cevat Yerli: We see multiplayer in two extremes. One is the low, medium, high version that scales games low and high in regards to your PC spec, offering you a certain fixed gameplay. We try to be as good as we can there without losing the low-spec gamers. But with very-high you will need high-end DX10 to qualify for an experience that is essentially the future of multiplayer games, but now. This means you will also get gameplay experience that pushes options, emergent gameplay through more advanced simulations and graphics that define and impact gameplay. Examples of this are breakable geometries, soft-vegetation that interacts with characters, battledust that is synchronized across users to change the atmospherics, day-night cycles that can change tactics completely as you play. We certainly hope through our ongoing community support and commitment to offer the best online experience for the future for our gamers, that gamers will become Power Struggle fans and help us to be the best multiplayer game. (Note: Check out our Crysis multiplayer beta preview for details on Power Struggle mode. -Shack) Shack: How much, and in what ways, will Crytek support the mod community? Will it ship with an SDK, and if so, what can modders expect from it? Cevat Yerli: The community will launch through www.crymod.com with having the game editor Sandbox 2--more than levels--being released with the game both in 32- and 64-bit versions. The C++ SDK will launch by mid-November. All in all we can say that the modding community can create complete new experiences, a RPG, a Racing game, a golf game... Whatever they want. They can mod Crysis into a pirate shooter. We look forward to this... Anyone? Shack: Is there dedicated support for 64-bit and dual- and quad-core processors, and if so how does the game distribute its tasks? Do you suggest a higher-clocked dual-core over a quad-core, or is quad-core performance enough to give it the edge? Cevat Yerli: We support both 64-bit and multi-cores. Multi-core will be beneficial in the experience, particularly in faster but also smoother framerates. 64-bit and higher memory will yield quicker loading times. We recommend quad core over higher clock. Shack: What is the main limiter for Crysis in terms of GPU, CPU, or RAM? If users are near the low end of the requirements, which should they upgrade first? Cevat Yerli: We would say first CPU, then GPU, then memory. But it must be in balance. If you are balanced, we are more CPU bound then GPU, but at the same time at higher CPU configurations we scale very well for GPUs. Shack: How extensively does the game support widescreen aspect ratios and options such as custom FOV? Cevat Yerli: We support widescreen as your monitor's response back to our engine query. Custom FOV is not supported. Shack: Do you have any insight to how well the upcoming range of cards will support Crysis, not just on the high end but lower down the ladder as well? Cevat Yerli: Very, very well. Stay tuned for more on this. In mid November you will see the new NVidia cards. They are a blast for Crysis and really, really very good deals.

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Crysis Q&A

Related Topics – Crysis, Alone in the Dark

EA's Crysis website has a community Q&A up, asking Crytek's Cevat Yerli, Eric Lagel and Felix Leyendecker about the game.

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Crysis Q&A

Related Topics – Crysis, Alone in the Dark

An Audience with Crytek on Computer & Video Games offers another Crysis Q&A, asking Cevat Yerli about their new game, developing for the PC and the success of Far Cry.

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Suspicious Crysis System Requirements Released

Related Topics – Crysis, Alone in the Dark

Much to the dismay of the wallets of many a gamer whose PCs teeter on the edges of obsolescence, developer Crytek has released the official system requirements and recommended specs for its upcoming PC graphical powerhouse shooter Crysis (check out our recent single-player and multiplayer coverage). At the bare minimum, gamers must sport an Intel Pentium 4 at 2.8GHz, an Intel Core at 2.0GHz, or an AMD Athlon 2800+--with the clock speeds upped to 3.2GHz, 2.2GHz, and 3200+ respectively for Vista users--and 1GB of RAM, or 1.5GB for Vista. Video cards must have 256MB of memory and be at least of the NVidia GeForce 6800 GT or ATI Radeon 9800 Pro chipsets, with Vista-owning ATI users requiring at least a Radeon X800 Pro. Finally, Crysis will consume 12GB of hard drive space. Those who have played the Crysis multiplayer beta may find their minds boggled by the claims made by the above requirements; though admittedly not final software, the beta suggests that the listed requirements are, to say the least, impractical for playing Crysis. As far as what Crytek recommends: an Intel Core 2 DUO at 2.2GHz or AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+, 2GB of RAM, and an NVidia GeForce 8800 GTS/640; as Crytek is a technology partner with NVidia, no ATI equivalent was explicitly stated. This January, Crysis lead designer Jack Mamais told Shacknews that Crysis would be "even more" scalable than the studio's Far Cry was at the time of its 2004 release. "A three year old graphics card should be pretty good," he said. Indeed, today's announcement claims Crysis is "playable on gaming rigs up to 2-3 years old," which is likely to be more of a technical truism than an appraisal of the situation in practical terms for most gamers. Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli acknowledged the game's demanding nature in today's announcement. "While these specs affect how Crysis will perform now, we have also optimized Crysis so that the game scales forward 1-2 years," he explained. "We want to make sure that Crysis' gameplay, visuals and performance improves as technology does." In a matter of weeks, NVidia plans to detail a line of Crysis-capable, DirectX 10-compatible graphics cards spanning a range of budgets. Crytek is also expected to release a public demo of Crysis prior to the game's November 16 release date.

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"Doesn't sound too bad. The question is: are they going to pull a BioShock with rootkit ..."
- the archvile    See all 142 comments


Crysis Preview

Related Topics – Crysis, Alone in the Dark

GameSpy has the latest Crysis preview, offering their multiplayer impressions.

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Crysis Q&A

Related Topics – Crysis, Alone in the Dark

Shooting For Perfection: The Cevat Yerli Interview on Game Informer offers a chat with the Crytek CEO about --what else-- Crysis. Questions are about DirectX 10, console possibilities, Ubisoft doing FarCry 2 and more.

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Scaled-Down Crysis on Consoles Depends on PC Version Success

Related Topics – Crysis, Alone in the Dark, Crytek

Console gamers and the world at large might get a taste of Crytek's beautiful shooter Crysis after all, as a version of the game could be coming to consoles--in a downscaled form, of course. Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli told Game Informer the development of a console version of Crysis would depend entirely on the game's success as a PC title, which will render 90% of the computers in existence obsolete when it retails November 16. "What happens next we haven't decided yet, because first we want to see how the game is received, publicly and critically, ratings wise, et cetera. We believe it will be received at least as strong as Far Cry. I hope personally a 5% average increase," Yerli said. "That would give us an argument to, 'OK, let's see how we can bring Crysis to consoles.' The engine right now is running on consoles so there's no reason why we couldn't." Crytek has not begun any development of a console version on any platform, but Yerli said these "derivative" renditions would certainly not have the graphical fidelity of the PC version. "You cannot get Crysis as it is on PC on any console," he said. "What you would have to do is compromise the design and the level design--in order of the PS3 and Xbox 360 regards you have to fulfill the memory constraints." For more on Crysis, check out Shacknews editor-in-chief Chris Remo's recent single-player and multiplayer hands-on previews.

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"UT3 will be out on Nov. 14th with this shipping 2 days later? jeezus, where will I find the time?"
- cell9song    See all 31 comments


Crysis Single-Player Hands-On

"Crysis is the most advanced game ever built," declared an NVidia representative at a recent Electronic Arts-hosted event showcasing Crytek's impressive followup to Far Cry. Held aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet in Alameda Point, California, the event allowed invited press to play through a level of the single-player game as well as spend some time with its two multiplayer modes. We have already spent some time with Crysis' "Power Struggle" multiplayer mode via the in-progress multiplayer beta, leaving the bulk of that day's impressions to center on what is undoubtedly the focal point of Crysis, its single-player campaign. So does Crysis live up to the title of most advanced game ever built? It's a weighty claim--and in terms of the game's technical graphical accomplishments, presumably the area of merit for a video card manufacturer, one that is tough to contest. Generally, the indiscriminate pursuit of realism in video games is a trend to which I am at best essentially neutral. With Crysis, however, many of Crytek's considerable attempts at recreating reality--at least as much as is reasonably possible within the admittedly limiting scope of a first-person shooter about a nanosuit-enhanced super-soldier--feel not indiscriminate but instead concerted attempts to work alongside the game's overall design aesthetic and, in a few cases, dispense with some nearly ubiquitous video game abstractions. She Was Cold as Ice...Paradise I played through a level entitled "Assault," a conspicuously Far Cry-esque jungle mission tasking my nanosuit-armored protagonist with destroying three anti-aircraft artillery tanks. While Crytek has shown plenty of evidence that Crysis breaks away from its predecessor's iconically tropical locales (check out our brief hands-on with the level "Ice"), most of the substantial preview time has been dedicated to the wide-open island environments for which the studio is known. According to Crytek co-founder and president Cevat Yerli, who was present at last week's event, the alien spacecraft integral to the game's plot will have a growing effect on environments as the plot progresses, resulting in the cryogenic wastelands seen in much of Crysis' media. Last week, though, it was North Koreans in jungles. The game starts out with an in-engine, first-person sequence in an airborne transport, as a fellow soldier wielding a nanosuit and a gruff British accent trades banter with one of the less-exorbitantly equipped conscripts sitting by your character. The level of detail in the characters is truly ridiculous, and fortunately their visual style, dialogue, and voice acting remain convincing throughout, never approaching the supremely dumb level of B-movie cheesiness that permeated Far Cry. Upon landing, Far Cry's heritage--the good parts--become much more evident. The three main objectives are simply scattered across the map, with the route to reach them all up to you, be it by foot, by jeep, by boat, or some combination. This is one of those games that, provided a powerful enough machine, makes you constantly check at first that, yes, you are the one who is actually controlling this in real time and, yes, the things on the screen are actually happening because of the way you are moving the mouse around. Even as a Far Cry aficionado, I had to continually remind myself that it was possible to stray far off the beaten path for any amount of enemy flanking of conflict avoidance. For the most part, video games are not this uncompromising in both the level of top-notch visual fidelity and the level of broad geographical freedom; more of one tends to come with less of the other. Suffice it to say, it all looks absolutely gorgeous. With a delicious color palette and plenty of contrast, a day/night cycle so subtle and effective I hardly even noticed it was happening at all until significant time had passed, and a lack of overreliance on many of the "next-gen" graphical tricks that developers often hammer on in realistic games simply because they can, Crysis avoids falling into the trap of being muddily realistic at the expense of having a style. Rebuilding the Fourth Wall Along with its notable stabs at graphical realism come some interesting facets of gameplay. For one thing, simply as a result of the game's high level of detail and subtlety of texture work, enemy camouflage in many cases works as intended--at one point, a North Korean in combat fatigues was standing several feet in front of me (I could see him on my radar!). While he couldn't see me because of my advanced nanosuit cloak, I couldn't see him simply because he blended so well into the foliage. Firing my shotgun blind straight ahead resulted in a cry of, "Argghh!" and a slumping corpse. One of Crysis' more uncommon design goals is apparently to try and graphically represent, as best as currently possible, what the player character's hands are actually doing at any given time. If you pick up an object to throw, you will see your character's hands grab it and hold it, then throw it naturally. If you climb a ladder, your hands will actually climb each rung, one by one, grabbing each rung at the correct height. Most crucially, if you pick up ammunition or weapons, you actually reach down and pluck them off the ground. This kind of blatant disregard of a core FPS abstraction in place since at least Wolfenstein 3D has been done by a couple of other games before but feels particularly at home in Crysis. Building a Better Suit Contrary to what Crysis' marketing videos might have you believe, your power-granting nanosuit does not turn you into an unstoppable killing machine. Crysis, like Far Cry (though hopefully not too much like Far Cry) is a difficult game. Using your nanosuit well is what will help you stay alive, not something that will allow you to trample over foes easily. To some extent, Far Cry pushed the notion of allowing players to set their own paths in achieving certain objectives, and Crysis' nanosuit is actually an extension of that philosophy. Crysis attempts to refine and expand on that formula, and the suit, with its one-power-at-a-time functionality, allows the player to essentially amplify a particular angle at any given time. If you're taking the stealth route and infiltrating a camp of enemies, turn on your cloaking. If you're rushing in to grab a lone enemy by his neck and drag him away, activate enhanced speed. If you want to act as a sniper from a convenient vantage point, boost your strength to jump up to tall rooftops and steady your zoomed-in aim. On top of that, your angle is further facilitated by being able to change your weapon attachments on the fly, with multiple types of scopes and equipment such as undermounted grenade launchers. You can even use the suit to help deal with the game's approach to picking up weapons ammo--if you need some bullets, it can be dangerous to run out into an open street and have to individually grab the useful loot strewn around on the ground, whereas in most games you could simply run straight over it and be replenished. Here you can run out with super speed, toggle on your enhanced armor, and dash out again, avoiding staying in the line of fire too long and getting some extra protection while you're there. She Blinded Me with Science In addition to its sense of visual realism, Crysis attempts to push useful in-game physics as well. Just as the manual pickup mechanic ties into the game's power system, so do its physics interactions. Though it cannot be described as any kind of fully destructible world, Crysis does make a concerted effort to allow your strength-augmented fists to punch through roofs and walls, and provide plenty of splintering wood and shattering glass. Foliage will also splinter and shred when perforated by bullet fire, and you can even pick up the realistically-broken branches. Because Crysis is a video game, there is still plenty of asshole physics--objects tend to have that bizarre floaty quality that seems only loosely based on actual physics. And it is, oddly, apparently possible to do more damage to a soldier by hitting him with a box so flimsy that it utterly shatters on impact than you might do with a direct hit from a high-powered rifle--this concession to Video Game Reality is likely a deliberate design choice intended to encourage the player to experiment with as many world interactions as possible, rather than an oversight by the physics team. All that said, it is quite fun to beat down the sheet metal wall of a ramshackle command structure, taking its inhabitants by surprise, or ripping away a roof to throw a grenade down into a hut--and grabbing guys by their necks and beating them senseless always makes for good times. Plus, with enhanced strength enabled, you can throw tanks around! It's Like a Tiny God Much of this, at least on the visual side, is contingent on owning what must border on military-grade computing hardware in order to get the full experience offered by Crysis. For the first time in my various extended hands-on experiences with the game, everything was both visually jawdropping and running at a silky smooth framerate. I'm not sure what the systems on hand were running, but judging by their massive, imposing appearance and unholy processing capability, they were surely powered by some kind of tenuously contained nuclear fission reactors. Hopefully, the game is scalable to some extent, but Crytek has made no bones about the game's intention to ride not only the cutting edge of PC hardware, but probably some more enthusiastic stabbing and bludgeoning edges as well. This is a game that should be played on beefy machines for the full experience--but, with what appears to be careful integration of visual ambitions with overall design themes, that is a goal that seems to be unusually justified. Still, hope remains for those with less monstrous PCs. Back in January, Far Cry and Crysis lead designer Jack Mamais told us that Crysis would be "even more [scalable]" than it predecessor, though surely that comment is relative to the years in which each game is released. "A three year old graphics card should be pretty good. You'll have to turn things down--shadows, particles--but people who get the big machines want to have everything so we're going to be really jamming on those big machines," he said. "But for the guys who don't have that kind of budget, they'll still have a really good experience and have fun. It won't be cutting edge with the graphics but it'll be super good. The gameplay is everything."

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Crysis Multiplayer Beta Impressions

With Crytek nearing its release of what is arguably the most graphically intensive video game yet developed, hardware manufacturers (as well as Windows owner Microsoft) are hoping Crysis will fuel interest in PC gaming and high-end gaming hardware. Over the last couple of years, the game's visually groundbreaking single-player mode has been showcased extensively, making the game one of the most exciting upcoming PC exclusives. Less publicized, however, has been Crysis' multiplayer mode--and, as I recently found during the multiplayer beta currently being operated, there's a lot more to it than one might have guessed. Crytek's debut effort, Far Cry, didn't generate a long-lasting, robust multiplayer community, so with Crysis the company has gone back to the drawing board, crafting an ambitious Battlefield-esque mode called "Power Struggle" that encapsulates large-scale teamplay with land-sea-and-air dynamics and plenty of control points.

Essentially, each team vies for control of a factory, which allows production of a nuke-equipped tank capable of destroying the enemy team's headquarters. To make the battle more interesting, players can also gain control of defensive bunkers as well as optional factories producing helicopter-like aircraft, boats, and other such useful equipment. On top of all that, alien crash sites litter the map; they must be controlled in order to create advanced alien technology to aid in the battle against the opposing team. As in Counter-Strike, players are not assigned to specific classes but are rather able to buy new equipment and weapons at the beginning of every round, with more kills and captures conferring more money with which to suit up in purchase zones. All of this is combined with Crysis' nanosuit featured in its single-player game. With the suit, players can apply one enhanced effect to themselves at any given time: great speed, enhanced strength, toughened armor, or a personal cloak. Particularly useful in multiplayer is the ability to augment weaponry with various types of zoom scopes and other attachments. Cloaking seems like the most useful nanosuit ability to employ in multiplayer, since it provides obvious advantages when attempting to infiltrate and acquire an enemy-controlled structure, while speed is useful simply for traversing the large map included in the multiplayer beta, particularly early in the game.
As teams capture more bunkers, which contain forward spawn points, they are better able to push the enemy back from the crucial central factory and spread outward to grab the peripheral factories. Crysis' Power Struggle mode is very much dependent on teamwork, and requires each player to have a fairly good understanding of what is going on and where it is useful to be at any given time in order to be most effective. If playing against an uncoordinated team (or one not up to a sufficient player count), it can be fairly easy to capture territories with little resistance, since there are so many to capture. In general, the game demands a lot of coordination to really work. It is not enormously difficult to sidestep most of the game's large scale dynamics and simply go straight for the nuke tank, which is possible for teams earning a lot of money through kills and less ambitious captures. Of course, if your opponents have been doing their jobs, they will have plenty of their own equipment to stop you in your tracks. The bottom line is that, from my experience, Crysis' multiplayer is certainly enormously full-featured, but it requires a lot of effort and coordination put in for it to really give all those features back. Compared to a somewhat similar game like Enemy Territories: Quake Wars, with its dynamic per-player mission system, Crysis' multiplayer may simply be too complex for its own good.
Considering the game is already targeting a niche audience with its fairly steep system requirements (on my slightly out of date GeForce 7800GTX and Athlon 64 X2 4200+ with 1.5GB of RAM, the game recommended the lowest graphical settings across the board, with a resolution of 800x600; trying to boost that resulted in chugging framerates), it may have a tough road ahead of it, with such notable multiplayer offerings as Team Fortress 2, Quake Wars, Halo 3, and more jeopardizing gamers' free time. Gamers with machines able to do the game justice and a love for large-scale team-based gameplay may find exactly what they want in Crysis' Power Struggle, which is undoubtedly extensive, but for most gamers, the showcase will continue to be Crysis' single-player game--which, it cannot be overstated, is truly incredible. Check back later this week for hands-on impressions. Click play on our audio player below for an excerpt from ShackCast 11 discussing Crysis

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