Jun 16, 2012
This preview originally appeared in PC Gamer UK Issue 240
Rasmus Hojengaard, director of creative development at Crytek, on the genesis of the idea for Crysis 3: “We wanted to do something with some kind of dome, over some kind of city.”
Well, this is Crysis, so the dome had better be a nanodome. And they just made all of New York for the last game, so that might as well be the city.
It’s 20 years after you shot all the aliens invading NYC in Crysis 2. Everyone’s given up trying to work out whether or not you’re Prophet, whose memories and voice you mysteriously took on after his death in the last game, so you are. And instead of having his voice in your ear for guidance, as you did in Crysis 1, you have the cockney lilt of Psycho, who you played in Crysis Warhead. It’s such a jumble of stuff from the previous games that it almost feels like a remix. The good news is that when you remix New York City with a densely jungled island, the result looks awesome.
Technically the Crysis games always have, but this time the appeal isn’t just technical: this is a cool, visually imaginative place.
The (cough) nanodome the evil Cell corporation have built over (sigh) New York artificially accelerates plant growth, in order to (er) ‘cleanse’ the alien ‘pollution’. Look, I’m not Cell Public Relations, I don’t have to justify their science. I just have to tell you that Chinatown is a swamp now, and six other districts of New York have been spliced with six other natural environments to make this a more interesting place.
The mission I’ve seen starts in a Chinaswamp subway, lousy with creepers and glistening wet. It’s night. Outside, Crysis 2-era aliens are finishing off injured Cell troops, and prowling the waterlogged streets. Argon lights blare from a nearby Cell tower, one of the completely scientifically logical devices that sprinkle a dash of Crysis 1’s jungles in Crysis 2’s cities.
It’s a tight environment: Prophet has a little space to stalk his prey before attacking, but in minutes the mech-like aliens show up in overwhelming force and he resorts to a straight firefight. After the plasma’s cleared, Rasmus tells me there are more open levels than this: it’s not as sandboxy as Crysis 1, but not as tightly directed as Crysis 2. Like some kind of remix. Their plan is to alternate between the two styles, for pacing. The seven visually distinct zones of their overgrown New York make a good excuse to do that.
Rasmus explains that linear play is more popular in the mainsteam, while sandbox is a hardcore thing. That’s not much comfort to those of us who live entirely in the hardcore camp, and were half hoping for a return to Crysis 1 expansivity.
One addition does suggest some playfulness, though: the nanosuit can now hack alien gun emplacements to attack enemies. It’s a simple click-to-subvert interaction, but it opens a few more doors.
The main new weapon, a bow, is also promising. It’s a backwards step in technology, of course, but Crytek are keen to feed the hunter fantasy that made Crysis 1 exciting. And it does have a practical advantage: because of science, and nano, you can fire it while cloaked without revealing your location. If it’s ever bothered you that your enemies sometimes have the chance to fight back when you invisibly kill their friends, this is an appreciated boost to your already ridiculous power. It’s limited only by the scarcity of arrows, and a new enemy: Half-Life 2-style scanner bots, whose inquisitive beams can pull you out of cloak and zap all your suit energy. You’re safe if you kill them first, but when they show up in large numbers, that tactic clashes badly with arrow economy.
The bow also fires exploding arrows, but you’re rarely short of a weapon that can make things explode. Prophet’s nanosuit has been modified to use alien weaponry, but it’s not exactly exotic to the experienced shooter player: two of the weapons I saw lobbed exploding projectiles, the third had two fire modes: assault rifle, or shotgun. Crazy aliens.
I ask Rasmus if they even considered doing away with the aliens entirely, given that players overwhelmingly prefer human opponents. An immediate “no”. He couldn’t estimate a proportion of human combat versus alien fights, but says the city is crawling with both.
I think Crysis 3 is going to be great to explore, in a way that Crysis 2 wasn’t. I’m not convinced it’ll be any more fun to play. Whether you call it consistency of vision or self-destructive stubbornness, Crytek are never going to stop trying to make a mainstream sci-fi blockbuster in favour of the freeform predator sim they’re capable of. They’re good at making weapons feel nice, and their shaders look shiny, but you can always see that more ambitious, more interesting game struggling to escape the Halo straitjacket they shove it in.
If you enjoyed Crysis 2, this is bound to be better. If you’re still pining for the first game, though, Crysis 3 is only willing to meet you half way.
Crytek is building Warface, the studio's first freemium shooter, shown recently at E3. It's also going to deliver Crysis 3, a more traditional FPS, sometime in 2013. Whenever the studio finishes off its current committments, CEO Cevat Yerli told VideoGamer.com, it will be developing free-to-play games only.
Yerli considers DLC and premium gaming services, both of which Crysis 3 publisher Electronic Arts is very fond, to be "milking customers to death."
"Right now we are in the transitional phase of our company, transitioning from packaged goods games into an entirely free-to-play experience," he said to VideoGamer.com.
"I think this is a new breed of games that has to happen to change the landscape, and be the most user-friendly business model."
Yerli says top-flight games Crytek produces still require a $10 to $30 million budget, they'll just get an entry price point of, oh, zero dollars. Obviously, they'll be monetized through the sale of upgraded items. Is this really milking consumers any less? More of his thoughts on freemium model at the link below.
Crytek: All our future games will be free-to-play [VideoGamer.com]
Jun 7, 2012
Sorry if that sounds a little "glorious master race", but hey, when you look at what Crytek are able to do with the wet stuff in this DirectX 11 tech video, there's really no other way to describe it.
One thing though: that sort of chop would look at home somewhere in the North Atlantic. So close to shore? It's a little much.
"It's your call how you want to do this", says Crysis 1/Crysis: Warhead veteran Psycho at the beginning of EA's official Crysis 3 trailer. It's a nod to critics of Crysis 2 who missed the original's wide-open approach to combat: despite the return to New York City, Crysis 3 promises to bring back a bit of that freedom.
Freedom is represented here by a few different routes through an area, and there's more emphasis on Prophet's new penchant for archery than his various suit powers. Nontheless, Crytek's ability to orchestrate massive environmental damage is still very much present and correct: if blowing up a dam is the kind of thing they'll stick in the first trailer, hopefully there's some truly vast crumbling mountain/flying park-style chaos waiting for us down the line.
See below for some new screenshots. They're pretty, but rather staged. Can Crytek hit this high bar they're setting for themselves?
Check out Evan's preview from earlier in the year for more on the game. What do you think, readers? Is the E3 2012 bow fatigue setting in, yet?
Here's a great trailer for Crysis 3, shown today at EA's E3 press conference. Crysis 3 is out next February for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.
But now, our nanosuit-wearing protagonist (Still Alcatraz? You know, I weirdly love Crysis 2 and I can't remember what happened to the dude in the end)… anyway, our nanosuit-wearing protagonist is ready to stick some arrows into 'em.
And hey, over there by a tree is one of his victims, stuck with an arrow like a chump.
Lookin' good, Crysis 3.
May 29, 2012
Last June Crysis 2 was suddenly removed from the Steam store. The game was "expelled," in EA's words, because a separate agreement with another download service violated new rules from Steam, EA said.
This contract conundrum between Crytek and digital distributors seems to've been resolved: Crysis 2 is back on Steam as a $40 re-release. The Maximum Edition bundles existing multiplayer map pack content for the game. This version of the game is also available on Origin today, duh.
What's in Crysis 2's Maximum Edition:
Bonus XP - Access to preset classes plus a custom class
Scar weapon Skin - Scar assault rifle digital camouflage
Weapon Attachment - Day 1 access to scar hologram decoy
Unique Platinum Dog Tag - Display your multiplayer rank and stats
The Maximum Edition also includes the content of C2's Retaliation and Decimation packs:
Nine additional multiplayer maps supporting all game modes
Two new weapons - FY71 Assault Rifle and M18 Smoke Grenade
If you purchased Crysis 2 on Steam before it was removed, you can upgrade to the Maximum Edition for 50% the cost, EA says.
May 16, 2012
Man, it's tough being Prophet. Today I fought an alien with a flamethrower built into his face. He was trying to kill a tree. It's weird, ever since we built a giant dome over New York and accelerated the plant growth the alien population have gotten really serious about gardening. I took a picture of myself using the remote nano cam and waited for them to pass. You're my only friend now, nano cam.
As a supersoldier fused into a nanosuit that gives me superpowers, I have few regrets, especially since that day I found out how to go to the toilet in this thing. There is one thing I'd do differently though. When the brass asked me if I wanted to "enter the nano dome to destroy the alien menace with this bow" I shouldn't have said "hell yes." Man, I really hate domes.
I remember how things used to be five years ago, roaming sunny beaches punching sheds to death. It was the best time. Now I'm forced to roam this broken city posing on logs, fighting aliens and taking pictures of myself. That way, maybe the people outside the dome will see, and finally understand. Being an invisible, super strong, super fast, well muscled, bro-tastic, robo-tastic supersoldier simply isn't that awesome.
Apart from the parts where I get to shoot the bow. Those are pretty great.
There are aliens, a composite bow, and a whole bunch of rubble. It all looks pretty. Really pretty. Really really really pretty.
(We saw a few of these shots when they were leaked a few weeks ago, but most are new. And real official-like.)