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Crysis Preview

publisher: EA
developer: Crytek Studios
genre: Shooters

PIV 2800, 1GB RAM, 12GB HDD, GF 6800GT or better, Radeon 9800 Pro or better
ESRB rating: M

release date: Nov 16, 07
» All About Crysis on ActionTrip

About two years back, Crytek's first-person shooter Far Cry took the gaming industry by storm. What's even more impressive is that it completely blew away the competition at the time. The game also came out prior to the release of Doom 3 and Half-Life 2, making a significant breakthrough in level design and visual effects. From that moment on, UbiSoft rolled up their sleeves and started trimming and improving the game to make it even more enjoyable on the Xbox console. The Xbox port, entitled Far Cry: Instincts, achieved reasonable success, on top of which Crytek and Ubi released an Xbox 360 version (which recently hit stores).

Crytek resolved to continue down the road of providing better and improved technologies for video games. Their latest endeavor promises to make a huge leap forward in terms of physics, visual effects as well as gameplay. Electronic Arts quickly snatched publishing rights under the very nose of its competitor, UbiSoft. Both Crytek and EA said they are going to create "a new kind of gameplay challenge requiring adaptive tactics and customization of weapons and armor in dynamic, hostile environments as mankind struggles to survive in the face of a horrific alien invasion." You read it correctly. Crysis introduces us to a sci-fi plot set in the very near future of man kind which, naturally, involves an alien invasion of planet Earth (what else?).

It is 2019 and Earth is hit by a gigantic asteroid. The North Korean Government makes a quick effort to seal off the chain of islands where the asteroid had landed - that way all discoveries made on the asteroid will remain under their jurisdiction. In the hope of ascertaining more details about this astonishing new object, the U.S. dispatches an elite team of soldiers to scout the area and report back to the Pentagon. Tension rises between both nations and things start to look pretty grim. As fate would have it, the asteroid unpredictably pops open only to reveal a 2km high alien spaceship. Emitting a huge sphere, the ship managed to freeze most of the surrounding land, which in turn had drastic effects on the global climate. This moment marks the very first phase of the alien invasion. Before long, an alliance was formed between North Korea and the U.S. to counter the rising alien threat. The fun begins. You are sent towards the alien ship along with a group of soldiers. As you pass through tropical forests, jungles, and frozen areas, you'll eventually make your way into the very heart of the mysterious extraterrestrial vessel.

Sure, it all sounds a bit cheesy, but it might be just the ticket for a FPS setting. Despite what some of us may think, the developers promised to make a greater effort this time around in terms of story telling. They openly admitted that the original storyline in Far Cry was rather weak and that they intend to improve on that. One of their main goals is to create a generally more immersive and involving plot for players. Incidentally, Crysis tells a whole new tale and has nothing whatsoever to do with the narrative depicted in Far Cry. Well, it's good to know that they are trying to improve on every aspect.

At this point, we don't know much about the content of the game. However, Crytek did throw a few crumbs our way by unveiling some of the game's key features. All eyes turned to this year's Game Developers Conference, where the German development team decided to offer a closer look at the current technology that powers Crysis.

The up-to-date graphical features appear positively stunning, even at this early stage. From what we've seen, things like high dynamic lighting (HDR), soft shadowing, volumetric clouds, per-pixel shading were skillfully utilized to create a full living and breathing environment (it's about as close to the real thing as it gets). The design team is also looking to incorporate as many new ideas into the game as possible. One of the first improvements was creating destructible foliage, so when the action takes place in the middle of a dense forest or jungle, plants and trees will be torn apart as soon as the shooting begins. Apart from looking absolutely awesome, details like these will also have a major influence on how the game is played.

Most of these features also depend greatly on the game's new-fangled physics engine, which has already shown enormous potential. Explosions and gunfire both have a tremendous effect on the environment. Hence, you have to take the time to consider your actions before you strike. For instance, you can easily pinpoint enemy sentries, thanks to plants which will sway and bend realistically each time someone passes through the jungle thicket. This can save your skin and it could prove handy when you're on the lookout for hidden enemy troops. With the new physics engine almost anything is possible. Environment interaction is the name of the game and it's pretty clear that the developers are aiming to make things better and far more realistic than in Far Cry. It's advisable to take caution when using more destructive weaponry, because trees and other objects in the surroundings can easily fall over and squash someone standing in the immediate vicinity (that will surely be a fun way to take out enemies).

Crytek has firm intentions of expanding upon the open-ended style of gameplay that was one of the defining characteristics of Far Cry (at least throughout the first half of the game, anyways). Once again, players have the freedom to infiltrate enemy hideouts and bases any way they see fit. The AI is also being fine-tuned, so you can expect foes to react logically to your actions. In any event, the fact that the game centers on a free-roam non-linear gameplay style a lot more than Far Cry, should be enough to motivate any gamer.

The multiplayer will also be perked up, supporting up to 32 players. Gamers will be able to experience tactical deatmatch and capture the flag modes, in addition to the all-new power struggle mode. The developers also warranted that more energy and time is being invested into creating a technically stable multiplayer mode - which is not half bad, considering the numerous technical issues that plagued the multiplayer mode in Far Cry.

Crysis will certainly present a major step up in terms of visuals. In fact, you could say that Crysis stands on the very threshold of next-generation graphics. In order to run the game with all of the latest graphical facets beefed to the max, you're definitely going to need a pretty powerful rig. The next-generation visual splendor will look best on DirectX 10 and, understandably, a high-end system. This of course entails that the game will run on the MS Vista OS. Seeing how Vista was recently delayed, this has had an impact on the release of Crysis as well, which has been pushed back for a couple of months.

Right now we're keeping our eyes peeled for more info and media on this one; that is until we grab our mitts on a playable version, which should hopefully be on display at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo.



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