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bit-tech grapples with a Crysis

bit-tech grapples with a Crysis

Mere stills cannot do Crysis justice.

Wow.

Er, wow.

Uh...

Wow.

Sorry. Our collective brains appear to have stopped functioning here, as we write having just gotten our hands on the show-stopping shooter, Crysis.

Remember those videos? Remember the screenshots? The ones that looked absolutely bonkers? Yeah, those ones. They're real. The game absolutely, 100% looks just like that - and plays even better.

Gameplay: Crysis is simply the best-looking game we have ever seen, ever. Foliage moves as you walk through it. The lighting is spot on. Enemies can crouch behind bushes and shoot through the leaves at you. There's an absolutely outrageous depth of field effect as you focus on things close to you, such as the sight of a rifle. Clouds roll along next to you as you climb a mountain. The whole thing looks, frankly, cinematic.

The gamplay appears to be, from the two levels we saw, basically the same as Far Cry, with the same mix of outdoors and indoors scenery. With that said, the massive improvements to the environment add a whole new dimension to the experience. There are some nifty arsenal improvements, too. Your gun is completely customisable, with add-ons and bullet types all changeable. We saw a great type of bullets called Tag Rounds, which contain a sleeping chemical. The idea is that you can surreptitiously fire at a number of enemies and tag them, then use secondary fire to take them all down at once, injecting the chemical into their blood and avoiding one seeing the other getting shot. As they all collapse in a comic heap, you're free to run over and execute them, safe in the knowledge that none of their mates will be any the wiser.

Hardware: We saw the game running on an Intel Extreme Edition dual core processor, 2GB of RAM and X1900 CrossFire. The frame rate was very good, considering the fact this is still relatively early code. A Crytek spokesman said that this was "Definitely going to be a game worth upgrading for. You're going to need to get some new hardware to play this properly."

We saw it running in Direct X 9 mode, and Crytek suggested that DX10 would not bring much more to the table other than increased performance for cards that support it. Obviously, there is a lot of physics going on in the game - calculating all that foliage isn't easy - and we asked Crytek how they were handling it all. They confirmed that there are no plans to integrate Aegia PhysX support, and that all the physics routines were written by themselves. Most of the processing is done on the processor - making use of multiple cores where they're available - and some processing is even offloaded to the GPU where it can, although to quote the Crytek rep, "We're going to be keeping the GPU pretty busy most of the time just with graphics, though."

Crysis is truly the next PC title to really get revved up about. Crytek would not formally confirm that the game could hit before Vista does next January, although that was rather the impression that we got.

Let's keep our fingers crossed for a Christmas release - and start saving up for the dual-card graphics setup, too. Let us know your thoughts on Crysis over in the forums.