Crytek combines best of both worlds
Crytek sure enjoys a challenge. First, they created Crysis, still one of the most visually impressive games ever released and a benchmark for PC graphics. Next, they made Crysis 2 and somehow compressed every pixel to take console graphics to another level. So, that leaves this question: Where can Crytek possibly go with Crysis 3? No one understands this dilemma more than director of creative development Rasmus Hojengaard.
“Obviously, we’ll continue pushing technology” he says. “But this game is different in that it’s the most fantastical setting we’ve done; we have a bigger range of what we can do visually.”
For Crysis 3, the German developer’s taking everything they’ve learned making the first two titles and trimming the fat to bring fans the best of both worlds. Instead of the lush jungles of a tropical island or the sparse, virus-ravaged streets of Manhattan, gamers can expect to be treated to a fantastically imagined hybrid of both.
It’s been 20 years since the events of Crysis 2, and a lot’s changed in the world of 2047—none of it for the better. The corrupt for-profit militia CELL Industries has come up with a creative way to solve the ever-increasing problem of the squid-like alien invaders known colloquially as the “Ceph.” In an effort to contain the Ceph population, they’ve constructed giant nanodomes that act as super-greenhouses and cause the flora and fauna to grow at an accelerated rate—while, at the same time, handily keeping those pesky, slimy space invaders from escaping.
The environments inside the dome are a mix of urban decay and lavish, green landscapes that create a novel background for your exploits. One minute, you’ll be sneaking through crumbling buildings as debris wafts in the air around you, and the next, you’ll be knee-deep in swamp water with frogs hopping and butterflies flying about as a troop of Ceph grunts comes down on you with laser blasts. And that’s just one of the seven different mashup environments that players will get a chance to explore.
Of course, CELL wouldn’t do something like building a bunch of nanodomes out of the kindness of their own hearts, but their real purpose remains shrouded. (At least, for now…) Cue the entrance of our hero, Prophet. Yes, that Prophet—the one from the first game. And, just like the rest of the world, he’s changed as well.
After spending the last two decades imprisoned, Prophet’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder, and he’s ready to take the fight to New York’s Liberty Dome with the help of a few new weapons and skills. Upgrades to his arsenal include the Typhoon (a CELL-developed gun that fires 500 rounds per second) and, perhaps more surprisingly, a compound bow.
At a first glance, the Rambo homage may draw up images of Prophet slapping a red bandana on the nanosuit and adopting a Stallone-esque unintelligible mumble, but the advantages of the old-school weapon quickly become apparent. The bow allows players to stay in stealth mode while using it, which makes it particularly special among your arsenal. Of course, if you stock it with explosive ammo, you’re not going to remain hidden for long, so players who favor aggression over stealth will still be able to play Crysis 3 the way they want.
On top of the more traditional human weapons the nanosuit has developed the ability to use DNA-encoded Ceph weaponry. You’ll be able to use superior alien technology like plasma rifles and plasma grenade launchers to deal even more damage to enemies. These weapons won’t be refillable, so players will have to keep an eye on their ammo if they want to avoid being caught in sticky situations.
Of course, skills like the nanosuit’s camo are back as well, but there’ll be plenty of new tricks to try out, including hacking. Hacking allows Prophet to activate turrets that subsequently assault and distract enemies while he makes a break for it. What you’ll actually earn from your new Matrix-like skills remains to be seen, but Hojengaard promises that the hacking skill will play a very important role in the overall story.
The levels themselves are a mix of the open-world construction of the first Crysis and the more linear areas of Crysis 2. “We wanted to both have more sandbox gameplay that you saw in the first game,” Hojengaard says, “but we also saw value in the more vertical and funneled approached of Crysis 2, because each of those provides a different value set for the experience”
In fact, Hojengaard says that the biggest challenge for Crysis 3 is combining the two disparate elements into one cohesive experience. “If you want a really epic visual experience of five buildings collapsing on top of you while you’re repelling down or being shot into a helicopter, you need to make sure that the player’s there at that point and time—and that’s not easy if you have a huge open area to explore,” he says. “If you want the reward to be figuring out how to approach something and successfully pull it off, then you need the big, open, sandbox-y areas. Whatever it is we want to convey, whatever message or tone we’re dealing with, we’ll choose from either. That gives us a really great dynamic range from a gameplay point of view as well.”