Written by TechAnise
2007 is promising to be one of the most significant years in history for gamers, as upcoming games are looking more realistic and awe-inspiring than ever. Not only have the expectations for amazing graphics and a compelling storyline skyrocketed, but today’s gamers also desire new features; they want games that contain ground breaking innovations, which no other game has. Perhaps the most imperative aspect in recent games has been the utilization of advanced physics engines, and if a game’s physics is any measure of quality, one would have a hard time finding anything more breathtaking than Crysis.
The die is cast.
Developed by German-based Crytek, the same great minds behind the award-winning Far Cry, the game is a sci-fi first-person shooter and will use the robust CryENGINE 2. Set in the year 2020, players will take on the role of Jake Dunn, a U.S. Delta Force operative who is sent with his team to investigate a meteorite crash in the Spratly Islands, which are located in the South China Sea. The Delta Force troops aren’t the only presence on the island, however, as North Korea has also dispatched men to check out the site.
The game’s solo missions are divided into three acts, creating a more cinematic feel for players. In Act 1, players will perform a High Altitude-Low Opening (HALO) jump onto the island and battle through the jungle against the North Korean forces. The paths that one takes throughout the levels will affect future outcomes, meaning each player will have a unique experience, as well as adding more replay value to the game. While most shooters in the past have been strictly linear, the next-generation of FPS games, such as Crysis, will give the player numerous options to get past his enemies and accomplish his objectives. Furthermore, the landscape will be dynamic, and spontaneous events such as landslides and earthquakes can occur, making the predictable, scripted events of older games a thing of the past. Moving on, in Act 2 the meteor opens up and reveals a two kilometer high alien ship that flash freezes the entire island. The U.S. and North Korean forces realize their desperate situation and become allies, and players change gears as they fight through the frozen jungle against the aliens’ high-tech machines. In the final act, the player will venture into the alien ship and fight the aliens themselves. Crytek has declared the aliens will not be seen until the third act, adding a certain tone of suspense to the game. No one should worry about being disappointed at this point, for reports indicate that the motion animations at this point are some of the best artificial simulations ever made. Oh, and one more thing: this act will feature zero-G gameplay – no gravity.
“We got your back.”
Following in the same fashion as Far Cry, every one of Crysis’s fourteen handheld weapons will be fully customizable, allowing for additions such as targeting lasers, various scopes, silencers, flashlights, grenade launchers, and incendiary ammo. In addition, the game will feature tactical ammunition, or tac, which can have multiple uses, including acting as a tranquilizer, emitting sound, acting as a tracker, and even functioning as an explosive. As for melee attacks, players will be able to punch with their fists, use the butt of their weapons, or even grab their enemies by the throat and throttle them. Even the suit that the player wears – a military prototype Nano Muscle Suit – can change to meet the player’s preferred style of play, as it can be modified in the four broad categories of strength, speed, stealth, and armor. In addition, there will be no health kits in the game, as the player will be regenerating health constantly.
Here is some info on the weapons that are currently known:
- The SOF Combat Assault Rifle, better known as the SCAR, will be the main weapon in the single player campaign mode. It contains a 30 round magazine and can be modified to act as a sniper rifle or silent assassination weapon, as well as being able to fire normal, high explosive (HE), and tac rounds.
- The Light Anti-tank Weapon, or the LAW, is a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher that is primarily used in taking out light to heavy vehicles such as tanks and helicopters, using futuristic heat-seeking targeting and motion tracking capabilities. It can launch 3 rockets without reloading, with a maximum carrying capacity of 9 rockets.
“Don’t mess with the LAW.”
- The Shotgun, whose model is currently unknown, is pump action and has a 6 round capacity.
- The MPX8 is a short range submachine gun that carries 40 rounds and has a high firing rate.
- The GK8 Gauss Rifle uses electromagnetic propulsion to fire metal slugs at Mach 8, making it a devastating weapon at both close and far range. It has a magazine capacity of 40 rounds.
- The XM214 Hurricane Chaingun is an 8 barrel Gatling gun that can dish out 200 rounds in a matter of seconds and is capable of clearing out sections of forest. It can only be used with strength enhancements to the nanosuit.
- The FY71 Assault Rifle is the primary weapon of the North Koreans, and is modeled after the AK-47. It is open to many additions such as silencers, scopes, and a grenade launcher.
- The MAC5 Assault Rifle is shrouded in mystery, as it has only been seen on a purchase screen.
- The SOCOM Pistol is the primary secondary weapon, carrying a 20 round clip.
- The Bauer 1980 Pistol, like the MAC5, has only been seen on the purchase screen.
- The Shi Ten is the North Korean machine gun, which has 500 rounds when mounted on vehicles and 200 while on a tripod.
- The AutoTurret, an updated version of the Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) found in today’s military bases, has the added ability of firing rockets.
Other devices in the humans’ arsenal are C4 explosives, claymores, anti-tank mines, and grenades.
Little is known about the alien armory, but some weapons have been revealed:
- The Molecular Accelerator freezes the humidity in the air and fires deadly nails of ice at a rapid rate. A result of the nature of its architecture is that it has infinite ammo.
- The Molecular Arrestor is one of the most anticipated weapons in Crysis, as it can fire a beam that freezes almost any object, which can then be shattered.
- The Singularity Cannon creates a miniature black hole which can suck anything of reasonable size into the abyss.
“You can run but you can’t hide!”
So far, there are five tanks and four lighter vehicles that are known to aid the human’s land-based assault. The aliens possess four-legged machines known as hunters, which can hurl objects with its’ massive claws or fire at enemies with an ice gun. In addition, they possess “scouts” that transport the hunters and the most common alien foe: a pilotless robotic airborne unit dubbed “the trooper.” As for heavy aircraft, there are several types of jets and helicopters, not to mention even more sea-based units, such as destroyers and submarines. Not much has been announced regarding how the player will control and interact with the myriad of vehicles.
Oh yes, there will be explosions.
Although Far Cry’s multiplayer mode was prone to many bugs, glitches, and cheaters, Crysis promises to make a fresh start with completely new networking code. Seven official maps have been announced, each supporting up to 32 players at once. There will be three different modes: Tactical Deathmatch, Team Tactical Deathmatch, and Power Struggle. The first two are simply what they imply; the classic match going to a certain number of kills. The tactical aspect of it refers to players being able to customize their soldier and weapons to suit their own gameplay style. However, the mode that everyone is keeping their eye on is Power Struggle, which integrates many ideas from older games. The player will start out as a stripped down soldier with only the most basic equipment, but can buy better weapons with credits that are accumulated from kills and other objectives. Each team will have either an offshore submarine or an inland structure for a base, which will be equipped with automated turrets to prevent the enemy from camping near the spawn points. The key to attaining victory in Power Struggle is to acquire and maintain control of certain strategic locations on the map. Although this is similar to the Battlefield 1942 system found in many war games, the zones will not just be marked as a circle on the ground, but rather they are factories or sea ports which will manufacture vehicles that are essential in battle. Once a zone is captured, the player will be able to buy vehicles for a certain number of credits via a purchase screen. While a player may have multiple vehicles, only one can be controlled at a time, while the others remain locked away in a relatively secure position. However, the enemy can still find and get access to these vehicles by sneaking by and picking locks, as well as jumping into any vehicle that has been abandoned.
Everyone playing will have a dynamic rank that changes based on the number of credits accumulated, and this rank will determine how many vehicles and weapons a player can access. The ranking system will also help maintain the balance in the game – an issue that has ruined many multiplayer games in the past – as more advanced players will not gain as many credits from killing new players. So, players that are only armed with a pistol should not worry about being hunted down by someone in a tank, although the higher ranked players will need to be more careful, since players will be rewarded much more from defeating someone above them. This scoring system is expected to help keep players fighting against others of the same skill level. Crysis will also bring a new level of realism to gaming, as players will not simply run over objects, collecting materials. If a fighter plane runs out of ammo, players will actually have to land and retrieve more themselves, and damage will be patched up by using welders, not by collecting health kits. Perhaps the most thrilling aspect of the multiplayer mode will be the way alien technology is incorporated into the game. Each map will have from one to five alien crash sites in randomly selected regions, and these will contain special cores, which can be used to integrate the alien machinery into human gear. For example, a tank could be modified to use molecular arrestor cannons, capable of shooting ice shards. However, these cores must be brought to a captured point in order to be used, and that won’t exactly be a cakewalk since the other team will know where it is and will come after it. Once a team starts to get more of the cores in their possession, the game will gradually shift in their favor, so attaining these cores is essential to claiming victory. There are several ways to win in Power Struggle, but the most momentous method would be to construct a nuclear bomb, made possible by the alien cores, and destroy the enemy base in one shot. One last noteworthy bit on multiplayer is that matches can last up to five in-game days – the equivalent of ten hours in real life.
Crytek is supporting official mods for Crysis and is monitoring the development and progress of these projects. Obsidian Edge II: Theatre of War is the sequel to the original mod made for Far Cry, and will be based on using stealth tactics to overcome the enemy. Ten multiplayer modes and ten single-player missions are currently in development, which will most likely set back its public distribution to a month or two after Crysis is released. A second mod that Crytek is endorsing is Navy SEALS: Covert Wars, which will mix in role playing elements to the tactical shooter, and is on schedule to be distributed on the game’s release date. Another pre-planned mod is Stepping Stones: Pacific Theatre, although Crytek has not yet given the development team the SDK in order to start creating it. It seeks to recreate both the famous and minor battles of World War II and put the player in the shoes of a common soldier, all the while creating a realistic feel by making the vehicles, weapons, and environment historically correct. Crysis will come with a sandbox editor that will allow anyone to create and edit custom maps, all of which will have multiplayer support.
“Don’t shoot! Appreciate the scenery!”
CryENGINE2 will be among the first game engines to utilize the DirectX 10 framework in Windows Vista. Two-dimensional clouds are a thing of the past; Crysis will have clouds with depth and volume. Maps will be rendered in real time, meaning the angle of light and shadows will change as time passes. The sea will be ever-changing, as wind patterns will affect the waves, creating shadows and highlights underwater. Motion blur and depth of field will simulate real human vision, as things will come in and out of focus depending on how far they are and how fast they are moving. Facial animations for troops are captured from real humans’ expressions, creating a level of realism never before experienced in a game. Environments will be destructible, meaning forests can be cleared and components of vehicles can be blown off their chassis. Advanced rope physics will allow vegetation to bend and sway with the wind and rain, as well as creating rope bridges that will respond to players’ movements. Other features that the engine will support are subsurface scattering, parallax mapping, HDR lighting, advanced particle mechanics, occlusion mapping, and parametric skeletal animation. In addition, draw distances will be up to 16 km, meaning you can see everything from one end of the island to the other.
The artificial intelligence in Crysis will be some of the most advanced and realistic simulations of human behavior ever seen. Enemy soldiers will constantly challenge the player with tactical maneuvers such as setting up ambushes amongst the scenery, working together in groups, and adapting to any changes in the environment or surroundings. The AI will respond to sound and even notice when a player makes too much noise moving through the forest. The troops will display typical human behavior when not in combat as well, such as smoking, yawning, talking with each other, waxing cars, patrolling the area, and/or saluting superior officers, among other actions.
Although Crysis could undoubtedly take a toll on even the most expensive gaming rig, Crytek has announced that it will be playable on computers a couple years old, running on Windows XP. That’s good news, considering Nvidia’s GeForce 8800 series is the only lineup of graphics cards that even supports DirectX 10. In the past few years, as developers and consumers have moved towards the more standardized system specifications that consoles have brought, the PC fanbase has been steadily declining; however, with the constantly released graphics cards and processors that only PC users will be able to take advantage of, computer games will always have the advantage as far as performance goes. The question as to how much longer the PC will survive in the industry is left unanswered for now, but it’s clear from upcoming games like Crysis that it still has a few good years left in it, if not more.