One of the major talking points since we first previewed Crysis
was the sheer quality of the graphics. On that front, Crysis
most definitely delivers and even though we were merely playing the DirectX 9.0 version of the game, it's easily one of the best looking games we've ever played - if not the best outright.
The lighting was stunning, especially when you went for a swim - the rays of light and reflections from the water on the sea bed were breathtaking. Of course, lighting on its own is all well and good, but it's never going to deliver a truly immersive experience without some good shadows. It's lucky, then, that Crysis
also delivers on that front too - the shadows are right up there with the lighting effects and really helped to make for an immersive experience.
Well-designed visual effects even carry over to player status and interaction. We already mentioned the animations for guns and the in-game customising, but that's far from the only thing players usually use a plain, straight-up menu for. For instance, when you're under fire, blood splats on the HUD and when your health gets alarmingly low, your vision all of a sudden becomes blurred to the extent that you can barely make out what's in front of you. If you've seen some of the Haze
footage that's on the web, the effect is pretty similar to that - it looks awesome... spray and pray moments can quite literally commence!
One effect that some might find they have to turn off is motion blur - Richard found that this gave him a serious headache, particularly when he was quickly reacting to gun fire around him. However, that could also have been the fact he was playing on an LCD TV that was all of two feet away. The feeling of it filling your entire vision coupled with respectively massive pixels makes it all too overwhelming. Tim had the chance to sit down and play the game on a normal 17" TFT at its native resolution - that proved to be a relatively pain-free experience for him, and he didn't feel a headache coming on despite experiencing a lot of motion blur.
Being able to shoot trees down was undoubtedly cool and it could provide some new gameplay techniques, but there was one notable omission from the early demos. The vegetation didn't move when you walked through it; instead, it was static and it felt an awful lot like the vegetation in Far Cry
- our guess is that it might still be a DirectX 10 feature, so we'll have to wait and see whether it's been culled completely, or just isn't included in the DirectX 9.0 version of Crysis
Not having played on the 17" LCD, I hope it was literally the fact I was playing on an unsuitable monitor rather than its sheer size, otherwise those who have invested in 24" (or larger) TFTs might be in for a bit of a headache. I really hope that Crytek works on the AI to make it more like the original Far Cry
, where enemies surrounded and tried to flank you as well as flushing you out with grenades. C'mon guys, make me think!
During my time playing Crysis
, there were times when the enemies didn't even react to gunfire or shouts from their nearby comrades. The guys in vehicles just sat there and shot at you without attempting to move into more strategic positions. You have a Hummer (even if we're not sure how), so put your foot down and burn some oil fields for crying out loud!
I can't help but think that the game really needs some focus between the suit modes and guns: being open ended for a choice is great but you need a balance between that and forcing a user down a particular route and strategy, but ideally without the player consciously knowing it. That's an extremely difficult feat to successfully pull off and you risk either making it too linear and hand-holding, or open and boring as people take the easiest option. I think the best term is "balance" - it just doesn't feel like there's a slew of "right" options at your disposal at any one time, and a little tinkering can quickly break the game's difficulty altogether.
The game feels very much like Far Cry
so go on that when selecting an appropriate difficulty and I suggest you try to seriously challenge yourself, otherwise you risk ruining the experience. It also needs an extremely involving storyline otherwise it'll easily end up a boring technical demo people will just want to see and not actually buy.
I have to say that I was expecting a lot more from this experience with Crysis
, but as a big fan of Far Cry
, I'm still hopeful that the game will turn out to be at least as good as its predecessor. I came away a little underwhelmed - I remember watching some real-time Crysis
footage back at Nvidia's 2006 Editor's Day and I have to say that the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up then. I just didn't feel the same love when I sat down to play it for the first time at i31 though.
There were times when the AI was good, as a group of enemies worked together to surround me. However, there were other times where it felt like the AI didn't know what to do - I don't know whether that's me playing the game in an unorthodox fashion, or whether the AI is still being worked on. I guess you can forgive that to some extent, given that the game is still in alpha/beta.
However, what I couldn't get over was how you could just run around killing enemies en masse
with your nano suit-covered knuckles. I guess I really need to get involved in the plot before I'm going to appreciate the suit's capabilities, but I can't help but feel it was a little too easy
on the Normal difficulty setting.
I can see where Richard is coming from with his comments about this feeling like a bit of a tech demo - I really hope that the game doesn't turn out to be like that come release. Considering the game is quite a way off going gold though, I'm confident that it won't happen - the rest is down to how well the story interacts with the environments and gameplay mechanics by the time it hits shelves.
If not, there may be a real crisis after all, as this game seems to have been made the de facto
flagship of DirectX 10 and PC gaming in general into 2008 and beyond. Let's hope it can live up to it.