Picture the GameSpy shutdown like a massive power-cut rolling out over an entire continent, plunging a significant portion of gaming's multiplayer catalogue into darkness. The hope is that some publishers have a backup generator, and will allow their games to flicker back to life via an alternate service.
For EA, the shutdown is an excuse to retire some older games from active duty to dramatically shift metaphors and they've now announced a list of casualties that includes 24 PC titles. What isn't yet clear is whether they're planning to re-enlist the most popular games in a list that includes Battlefield 2, Command & Conquer 3, Star Wars: Battlefront 2 and Neverwinter Nights 2.
"Since GameSpy s announcement, our teams have been working to evaluate options to keep services up and running," explains a new post on the EA blog. "Unfortunately, due to technical challenges and concerns about the player experience, we do not have a solution at this time. Online services for EA games on the GameSpy platform will be closed down at the end of June."
"We know some of these games are still fan favorites," the blog continues, "including Battlefield 2, Battlefield 1942, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and Command & Conquer games. We are still investigating community-supported options to preserve online functionality for these titles, such as multiplayer. Significant technical hurdles remain, and at this time we don t have anything to announce."
Despite EA's lack of a solution, the online service GameRanger already supports games like Battlefront 2, C&C 3 and Battlefield 1942; meaning players will have a third-party solution when the shutdown occurs. Currently, then, the biggest casualties appear to be Battlefield 2 and popular mods like Project Reality and the Crysis games.
You can see the full list of games to be retired here. I've picked out the PC relevant ones below:
Battlefield 1942 for PC and Mac (including The Road to Rome and Secret Weapons of WW2 expansions) Battlefield 2 for PC (including Special Forces expansion) Battlefield 2142 for PC and Mac (including Northern Strike expansion) Battlefield Vietnam for PC Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars for PC and Mac (including Kane's Wrath expansion) Command & Conquer: Generals for PC and Mac (including Zero Hour expansion) Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 for PC and Mac Crysis 2 for PC Crysis for PC Crysis Wars for PC EA Sports 06 for PC F1 2002 for PC Global Operations for PC James Bond: Nightfire for PC Master of Orion III for PC Medal of Honor: Allied Assault for PC and Mac (including Breakthrough and Spearhead expansions) NASCAR Sim Racing for PC NASCAR Thunder 2003 for PC NASCAR Thunder 2004 for PC Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 for PC Neverwinter Nights 2 for PC and Mac Neverwinter Nights for PC, Mac and Linux (including Hordes of the Underdark and Shadows of Undrentide expansions) Star Wars: Battlefront for PC and PlayStation 2 Star Wars: Battlefront II for PC and PlayStation 2
I didn t get to play Crysis multiplayer, and pretty soon I won't be able to give it a shot. As you ve probably heard, GameSpy s online matchmaking client is shutting down on May 31, meaning the games that used have to either find a different solution or go offline. Sadly, today Crytek confirmed that Crysis and Crysis 2 s multiplayer modes will no longer be playable. The conclusion of online multiplayer support comes as a result of GameSpy Technology shutting down all their hosting services, Crytek said on its official forum. GameSpy have been providing multiplayer functionality for Crysis and Crysis 2 since they launched. The single-player campaigns in both games are unaffected by this transition, and the multiplayer mode in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Crysis 2 remain playable. While we mourn the loss of multiplayer modes for these shooters, the good news is that many other developers are putting in the effort to finding a solution. Electronic Arts, Activision, Epic Games, Bohemia Interactive, and Gearbox have all announced that some or all of their games will survive the GameSpy shutdown.
Can it run Crysis? If you re using Linux, the answer will eventually be yes. The German developer behind the first Far Cry and the Crysis series announced that it will show off its impressive CryEngine running natively on Linux for the first time during GDC. It s not licensed by as many developers as, for example, Epic Game s Unreal Engine, but State of Decay, Xbox One s Ryse, and MechWarrior Online are some of the games built with CryEngine, which is good news for Linux users and future Steam Machine owners. We knew that Crytek was working with Linux as far back as July 2013, when it posted a job opening for a programmer responsible for creating a Linux version of its 3D engine. Crytek didn t say in the announcement what game it will demo or if it will create Linux versions of its existing line-up, but it did say it will show off its free-to-play shooter Warface and a brand new mobile title, The Collectables. It should be a pretty interesting GDC for Linux this year. AMD will be there to talk more about Mantle, its low-level API that could potentially support Linux down the line, and Nvidia will also be at the show, presenting a session about Porting Source to Linux with Valve s Rich Geldreich.
Crytek have temporarily taken four of their websites offline following "suspicious activity". You can no longer access Crytek.com, Mycryengine.com, Crydev.net or MyCrysis.com - basically, pretty much anything with the word 'cry' in it (er, except crysis.com) is gone until the holes are patched up. If you have an account with the latter two, you'll be asked to change your password when they return, and if you use the same password anywhere else, Crytek are advising you to change it there as well.
Thankfully, Crysis.com, GFACE.com and Warface.com are all safe - as is Ryse.com, mainly because the latter is something to do with 'energy healing', and is no relation at all to the QTE-fest Crytek are developing for the Xbox One. Crytek are "working on getting all websites fully operational again as soon as possible".
Can we talk about Dr. Kleiner from Half-Life 2 and what a huge failure he is as a science person? Sure, the guy cobbled together a teleporter in his garage, but when Gordon Freeman shows up after being gone for ten years, what does Kleiner have waiting for him? The same old clunky outdated HEV suit Gordon wore back in Black Mesa. You’d think that as the leading bald science man on earth, he may have added some upgrades in a decade’s time, something along the lines of the nanosuit from the Crysis series. Alas, no: he left that to the modders of Crylife.
Should I use strength, speed, armor, cloaking... or Alyx? Crylife, created by the two-person Dev.Muffin modding team, is actually a mod for SMOD, which is a mod for Half-Life 2. If you’re not familiar with SMOD, it’s been around for almost a decade and still gets updated and patched every so often. Essentially, it adds new weapons, new enemies, bullet time, and extra gore, making Half-Life 2 crazier, more violent, and more X-TREME. It helps to picture Valve developers sitting around a table in 2004, putting the finishing touches on Half-Life 2, and suddenly Jerry Bruckheimer kicks open the door and shouts “I’m here to help, and my contribution is this GIANT BAG OF COCAINE!” That's SMOD.
There's something very un-Freeman about dual pistols. And yet something so satisfying. So, you’ve got SMOD for Half-Life 2, and now Crylife for SMOD, meaning you’ve got all the extra frentic action of SMOD plus the nanosuit from Crysis. Let’s go over the suit’s powers, by saying them in a super deep, somewhat creepy voice (here's a refresher if you need it) with an English accent: MAXIMUM SPEED Where Half-Life 2’s sprint was really more of a trot, Crylife’s speed will have you zipping all over the map, which is useful if you want to run up and punch an enemy soldier, which is something you want to do. Did I mention there is punching in Crylife? There is punching in Crylife, by holding down the V key, letting you smash wooden obstacles and crates and faces without having to cycle your weapon over to the crowbar, which you no longer have. Punching is fun, though it’s much more effective when using: MAXIMUM STRENGTH It’s not just for Tylenol anymore! Now you can punch things (see above), and the things break or go flying. Also, you can jump, while sprinting, which will give you a nice big leap. You know how sometimes you have to jump onto crates to get over walls and fences, or use ladders, or muck around solving see-saw puzzles by stacking cinder blocks on a board? Now, the environment is conquered by your nanobot-infused super-thighs.
Punch-a-Vort: the City 17 answer to Whack-a-Mole. Which takes us to: MAXIMUM AHH-MUH Armor, well, it lets you get shot a lot more without dying, which is useful because with SMOD's extra enemies and their extra bullets, you will be getting shot extra times. Also, some of the enemies have their own nanosuits, just like they did in Crysis. You’ll definitely need armor you protect yourself against them. Even with AHH-MUH (set to MAXIMUM), I die a lot in this mod.
You're not the only one jumping around City 17 like an idiot. Finally: CLOAK... ENGAGED
Thanks to CLOAK, this ambush never got sprung. And I got that big promotion! Thanks, CLOAK! Cloak is fun, because you can walk right up to enemies without them seeing you. As in Crysis, you can’t really do anything violent while remaining cloaked, so it turns into a fun game of, “Can I quickly switch to MAXIMUM AHH-MUH and then carefully insert bullets into everyone before they react?” The answer is yes, usually.
I'm not sure if night vision makes Ravenholm less scary or more scary. There are weapons, new ones, in Crylife, and with SMOD’s iron sights they’re all MAXIMUM FUN to use. Plus, each gun has two slots for attachments that you’ll find while you’re sprinting, jumping, cloaking, punching, and AHH-MUH-ing around City 17. The pistol can be fitted with a silencer, or turned into dual-wielded pistols for the whole John Woo experience. The machine guns can be fitted with different kind of scopes and silencers as well.
Do you like guns and attaching things to guns and shootin' dudes? Here you go. The mod is still in beta, but Dev.Muffin has been patching things quickly. I played it earlier this week and noticed some textures missing and a few other minor problems, but when I went back to the download page the next day, they'd already released a new version fixing the issues I'd spotted. There's also a few extra maps and gamemodes you can access from the "New Game" menu: just scroll past the Half-Life 2 chapters and you'll see them. Installation: Not much entanglement here. You'll need to have installed (and have run at least once) Half-Life 2, HL2 Deathmatch, and Counter-Strike: Source. Download the mod file (it's a hefty one which includes all the SMOD stuff). Open your "sourcemods" folder, which is in your "steamapps" folder which is in your "Steam" folder. Extract the "Crylife" folder into the "sourcemods" folder. Restart Steam, and you'll see SMOD: Crylife appear in your games library! MAXIMUM DOUBLE-CLICK IT, and you're ready to play.
The first multiplayer DLC for Crysis 3 dropped on Tuesday, bringing with it a host of new tropical content including four new maps, two weapons and two new multiplayer modes: Frenzy and Possession. Crysis 3: The Lost Island now has a launch trailer to celebrate the first weekend of jungle-bound mayhem with lots of smash cuts, sunsets and nanosuited parkour.
One of the great things about Crysis 3’s multiplayer is the incredible sense of speed that comes from vaulting up over walls at a dead sprint. That feeling of momentum is only compounded when you’re whipping past trees and fat-leaved ferns in a thick island forest.
The two new game modes will be interesting to play in this new setting. Frenzy features a cycling weapons loadout with limited respawn windows, while Possession invites players to scrap over a single flag and hold on for as long as they can. Both of these modes will thrive in the chaotic wooded environments of the Lost Island.
Stepping away from the skyscrapers of the urban jungle results in a lot of interesting juxtaposition, like high-powered nanosuits blasting at each other from atop corrugated iron shacks or a squad of technological super soldiers advancing along a rickety rope bridge. It all looks fantastic, of course.
I’m about to load up the new multiplayer maps, and the first thing I’m going to do is step into thick vegetation, engage my stealth power and start making predator noises into my headset. Because it’s the weekend, that’s why.
Visions of paradise have tantalized us as summer nears; the Sims 3's next expansion looms on the horizon, a mirage of houseboats and comical krakens and coconut-shell bikini tops. But what if you're looking for something a little grittier? Well, signs are pointing to a possible Crysis 3 DLC—perhaps an island vacation with bullets whizzing past swaying palms.
MP1st has been keeping an eye on Crysis 3's social media streams, and its findings have been curious. Crytek has been publishing images from past renditions of Crysis—namely, the tropical scenery of Crysis 1. For instance, there's this postcard-pretty view of a greenery-swathed waterfall—with what looks like a new weapon in the bottom-right corner.
And then there's the recently outed list of upcoming Xbox 360 achievements, including such wittily named feats as "Totally Oarsome" and "Wish You Were Here." I'm envisioning smacking some canoeing tourists' faces into a crystal-blue ocean with one of their own oars.
So is Crysis getting back to its roots, eschewing the gloom of a future New York for a jolly jaunt in the jungle? It's pure speculation for now, but we'll be sure to let you know as soon as we hear anything.
MaLDo, creator of the exceptionally pretty Crysis 2 graphics update and spotter of Crysis 3's ropey optimisation issues, has released a new tool for Crytek's latest PC punisher. OnTheFly lets you easily tweak Crysis 3's CVAR values in-game with a single button press. New shortcuts let you hide the HUD, tweak Depth of Field, and load a selection of custom presets. It should be perfect for keeping your frame rate high while your rig's assaulted by the sheer graphical powerhouse that is the first level's moving ropes.
The utility lets you create your own graphics presets, but MaLDo says the ones he provides are plenty pretty, enabling Global Illumination and high distance view even on low. You can also instantly modify the weapon FOV, which Crysis 3 apparently resets after every respawn.
MaLDo is keen to point out that the modified executable is not a crack, so won't bypass the game's DRM. He does, however, warn that the utility is only meant for singleplayer use, and that taking it into multiplayer may result in a ban.
You can download OnTheFly from here. See the full selection of shortcuts it enables below.
O - Hide HUD (Maybe you want to take some beautiful screenshots) P - Show HUD (Maybe you want to locate enemies after taking screenshots :P) I - Modify weapon FOV (Crysis 3 resets weapon FOV after every respawn) 6 - Reload low quality preset 7 - Reload recommended quality preset 8 - Reload ultra quality preset 9 - Activate normal Depth of field 0 - Activate ultra Depth of field T - Activate slowmotion Z - Deactivate slowmotion.
Listen, developers: if you're planning to add Oculus Rift support into your games, you'd better do it quick. Wait too long and modding powerhouse Nathan Andrews will beat you to it. He's unstoppable. Fresh from taming the Source engine to add head and gun tracking to Half-Life 2 and Black Mesa, he's now turned his attentions to the CryEngine, and has a video of Crytek's first nanosuited outing running with the tech.
"I ported the Half-Life 2 VR mod that I've been working on over to Crysis and Crysis Wars (and also Cryengine 3 if anyone is interested in building a game from the ground up with VR support)," writes Andrews, as if it ain't no thing. The mod's not yet complete - as you'll see in the video, it's lacking crosshair tracking and iron-sights, making aiming a bit difficult. Still, as proof of concepts go, it's undeniably impressive.
This may be the thing that pushes me over into actively wanting an Oculus Rift. The device has always seemed interesting in an academic way, but the chance to go Predator through Crysis' jungle island sounds simply irresistible.
Given that modders are geniuses who can do anything (probably?), which games would you love to see running in VR?
In this week's debate, Evan argues that Crysis 3 is the best-looking game in gaming, while Tyler isn't wooed by its tessellated vegetation and volumetric fog shadows. It's undeniably impressive tech, but does Crytek still wear the graphics crown?
We assault, parry, and counter-parry on behalf of both sides in the debate below. Make your own case in the comments, and jump to the next page for opinions from the community. Evan, you've got the floor:
Evan: C’mon, Tyler, have you seen Crysis 3? Go ahead, look at it. I’ll wait here.
Tyler: Oh, I've seen it. CryEngine is technically fantastic. Just like Thomas Kinkade was a technically skilled painter. But do I like his paintings? Not at all. Now Evan, I know you've seen BioShock Infinite. If Crysis 3 is a Kinkade, BioShock Infinite is a Norman Rockwell.
Evan: BioShock is beautiful, and I’ve talked with Irrational a bunch about what they’re doing to make the game look as good as it can on PC. Infinite’s art direction is inspiring, but I don’t think its fidelity and effects approach Crytek’s stuff, to be honest.
Man, we sound like a stereotype of teen girls, don’t we? “Oh my god Tyler, Orlando Bloom is so much cuter than Ryan Gosling, I don’t even know you anymore.”
Which would be a better date, Crysis or BioShock?
Tyler: Psh, Gosling is way cuter, but I see your point. If not technical quality, we're arguing a subjective preference for one style or another. But we can still argue it. Art criticism is valid, and if it isn't, my doodles are just as special as Crysis 3’s art direction, because that’s just my opinion.
Evan: We have to consider both sides, though. Crysis is totally concerned with maximum performance, and that theme extends to the technology that drives the art as well as the art itself. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all, but Crysis also wins from a quantitative standpoint. The gun models are carefully animated, but they’re piled with polygons. Wall textures in obscure corners of levels are given an unusual amount of care, but they look higher-resolution than any other game. In terms of raw texture quality and the 3D and 2D assets Crytek puts into the game, it’s evident that Crysis 3 is the prettiest thing on PC. Even the damn grass is innovative.
Tyler: I see we've hit the semantics hurdle already. It's hard to avoid in debates like this, but let's try to leap over it. “Prettiest” can mean a lot of things. I’m not taking it to mean “great anti-aliasing” or “look at all that grass!” To me, it could mean Limbo’s black and white film reel or Mirror’s Edge's stark playgrounds. Can you argue for Crysis 3 on those grounds?
Evan: Sure, but as PC gamers we’re interested in what our handmade machines can do. If someone asked you “I just built a PC. What game will really show me what my hardware can do?” would you recommend Limbo over Crysis 3?
Tyler: Alright, maybe not, but if you want to go technical, mods make Skyrim and GTA IV way more fun to look at than Crysis 3's rusted metal and overgrown foliage. iCEnhancer is insane.
Evan: iCEnhancer is a terrific mod. It’s a great demonstration of what’s possible on PC. And I don’t want to shrug off the effort it took to make it, but it isn't a comprehensive approach to creating something visual and interactive. It’s CG for the sake of CG. It’s novelty, to some extent, like the Star Wars special editions. Great visual design originates from an artistic vision and having the technology to convey that vision. Crysis has both sides of that.
Tyler: So you agree it’s not just about cranking up the polycount, but I disagree that Crysis nails the vision side of things. If I were going on vacation, I’d much rather book a tour through Skyrim’s snowy peaks and shimmering lakes.
Evan: Yeah, it’s obviously not all about stuff like polycount, but if we’re comparing two 3D, first-person games, the technical quality of assets matters. It’s the reason Skyrim’s characters appear slightly flat to me—they feel like inexpressive NPCs, and Psycho feels like a virtual person.
Skyrim's Mr. Corn Cob Horns
Crysis 3's Psycho
Tyler: Your counter-argument is vanilla Skyrim, but I'll go with it anyway. Yeah, it's got some blurry bits, but a trip to New Zealand with my glasses off is still better than visiting a movie set with 20/20 vision.
Skyrim is so full of character and variety. It's got this unique sense of scale, where mountains somehow feel like huge miniatures. It's got- well, I could go on, but instead I'll just show you my tribute to it:
Crysis 3 just doesn't do that to me—It's got some lovely swaying grass, but for all that foliage it doesn't feel alive.
Evan: Skyrim is pretty, but not nearly as impressive. I guess I judge visual experiences more on how intensely (and how often) they produce that feeling of “I can’t believe this is coming out of my PC.” Or “I can’t believe this isn't pre-rendered.” Those moments that raise the bar in my mind of what computers can do. Crysis does that more than any other game for me.
Tyler: Does it? Crysis 1 got us so used to holding the series up as the benchmark for PC power that it’s become our default, but it’s not 2008 anymore. Have you seen Witcher 2 with ubersampling? It’s called “ubersampling,” man, how could we ignore it? And don't forget about RAGE. We didn't totally love the game, but damn it looks good.
Sorry buddy, id is still the tech leader. Since you like comparing characters:
A passive gaze in RAGE.
Evan: Two bandanas? CryEngine can only render one; I am defeated.
But yeah, I actually had forgotten about RAGE. It speaks to id’s technical strengths that they can take a brown setting and make it look that beautiful. I’d be willing to say that RAGE’s acrobatic mutants are better-animated than Crysis’ bad guys. But I’d rather be in Crysis’ sunny, overgrown jungle than RAGE’s bright, barren desert.
Psycho in his debut role on Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Tyler: No fair choosing such delightfully dramatic lighting.
Evan: I just like the idea of Psycho telling me a ghost story behind that flashlight.
Tyler: It'd probably be way better than some silly story about slapping a “Nanodome” over New York. Forget about people faces, there’s something really special about RAGE's rock faces. Look at them for a while, and you realize that they haven’t had a tiled texture slapped on like, say, almost every other 3D game before RAGE. The whole surface has been hand painted with virtual texturing. Yeah, that’s something John Carmack invented. Have fun with your dumb non-virtual textures.
I asked id’s Tim Willits to help explain, and he said something that's hard to argue: “Michelangelo could not have painted the Sistine Chapel using procedurally generated textures.” Hear that? id Tech 5 would totally be Michelangelo’s preferred engine if he were alive today. Alright, maybe that's not exactly what he was saying, but it makes the point: an engine that removes limitations from the artist enables better art.
Evan: Virtual texturing is an exciting technique, and I’d love to see it used and iterated on more. But innovations in how flat, static surfaces are rendered don’t excite me as much as the improvements Crysis 3 made to lighting, animated vegetation, and character tessellation. The game has more moving parts, and they all feel authentic. Here’s a trailer that pans through some of the improvements:
Tyler: Alright, so that’s some stunning simulation. I especially like the “dynamic water volume caustics.” Still, I think you might have something else to say about “flat, static surfaces” when Arma 3 comes out. Its scale is incredible and the lighting is gorgeous, but check out that repeating ground texture. Blech! It and Crysis 3 would benefit from id’s technology and artists.
Evan: Oh, whatever. Arma 3 is a huge step forward from Arma 2, and I could even write a massive defense of Arma 2’s visual design, flawed as it is. The animations are rigid, and most of the textures look like they were picked up at a garage sale, but it’s one of the few games (with Crysis) where I go out of my way to run through grass because I love how authentically it animates.
It’s easy to be critical of all of these games. I don’t like Crysis 3’s overuse of motion blur (though some console commands can help with that). But we’re here to name a king—the best-looking game on PC. And I think Crysis’ sci-fi setting, neon weaponry, uncompromising approach to movie-like effects, and Crytek’s incredible engine represents the best-yet combination of aesthetics and technical quality.
Tyler: We'll see about that. You managed to derail my train and put it on the tech track, but now I’m re-railing it: objectively, both CryEngine and id Tech are superior to Unreal Engine 3, but BioShock Infinite is still better-looking. It’s got more style than Crysis 3 has blades of grass, and that’s where it counts. The magic isn't in the fancy shaders or even virtual texturing: it’s in the idea-havers and the art-makers.
Follow Evan, Tyler, and PC Gamer on Twitter to react to our battle prompts as they happen, and see how the community responded to this one on the next page.
@pcgamer modded or un-modded? Because I'm pretty sure you can make Skyrim look better than real life if you install enough mods.
— superkillrobot (@superkillrobot) February 20, 2013 @pcgamer technology wise? Probably. Art direction? Imagination? Notsomuch.
— Tony Heugh (@standardman) February 20, 2013 @pcgamer Definitely, no contest.
— Jake (keyboardN1nja) (@keyboardN1nja) February 20, 2013 @pcgamer For me, I gotta say Battlefield 3.
— Tribesman Gaming (@tribesman256) February 20, 2013 @pcgamer it is definitely, by far, the best unmodded game in terms of raw graphics ever. It just is. Real time caustics. 'Nuff said
— Kai Moseley (@Kibby_Cat) February 20, 2013 @pcgamer Yes, from a tech perspective. Psycho's model is IMO the most realistic looking human model in a game yet, coming from a #BF3 fan.
— Gerardo Pena (@Tobi5480) February 20, 2013 @pcgamer Crysis 3 does look fantastic, but something. about the snowstorms in Skyrim just blow me away.