Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: First-Person Shooter
|FIMP: Crysis [PC]|
Then, a crunch - the field of view shakes, and a satisfied great white swims off as the screen blurs. Robert done got eated by a shark.
"I just swam out to these islands I never knew existed," he exclaimed giddily to his Microsoft boothmate, "and I was just chilling by this battleship that I had seen far off in the distance. Then I got devoured by a freaking shark!"
No, death by shark probably isn't a reason to run out wearing only your underwear and play Crysis. But it sure was a funny capper to end the reel of physics highlights that Robert was showing to the small crowd at Microsoft's DigitalLife booth. Before Jaws had his lunch, we had just seen Robert send a barrage of gunfire into tree until the entire top quarter - palm leaves included - came tumbling to the ground. Not yet small enough to pick up, he then fired at the piece of wood again until it was a manageable size. He turned on his nanosuit's strength modifier, picked up the hunk of wood, found a hapless mercenary and nailed the sucker dead in the chest with the freshly cut plank.
It seems you can pick up pretty much anything of reasonable size in Crysis. We stuck around for more tomfoolery to see what else Robert could show us, and much of it involved finding fun things to toss around. "Banana rain," he yelped as he picked up a box of bananas. He turned on Strength and tossed it straight up in the air, chasing it with ammunition and showering the screen with fragments of banana. He then picked a loose banana off of a cabin floor and hurled it towards a mercenary, and it probably would have knocked the guy off his feet had it not smashed against the door frame.
The trick that had us giggling the most was reminiscent of Capcom's "Devil May Cry" juggle - grabbing a soldier by the throat with the strength modifier, Robert hurled the poor fellow directly up in the air and fired rounds into him as he fell towards the earth. (Of course, there was no actual juggling.)
There were other goofy moments involving vehicular tomfoolery - shooting out every tire off of a jeep, Robert decided to test whether or not a you could drive a car on rims only. In Crysis' world, apparently you can - but at speeds that seem to top out at eight miles an hour, and providing a nauseating and rickety ride at best. Another reload had him trying to drive that same jeep with the front-left tire shot out. Turning left, it seemed, became... incredibly difficult to say the least. It was a funny sight to see.
The nutty fun to be had just jerking around with the physics in Crysis, however, didn't make us forget about the rest of the astounding technology behind the game. Mountains we saw more than ten miles away from where we stood weren't just setpieces - in the final game, you'll be able to set foot on them. Robert fired a rocket at it and we watched and waited as the projectile disappeared into the distance, finally making its explosive mark almost ten seconds later in what we saw as a tiny puff of smoke.
The level of detail with regards to the surrounding assets didn't suffer on account of the draw distance. Foliage was the most noticable asset in Crytek's previous effort, Far Cry, and this was largely the case here - but it was the lighting that brought everything to life. Lush, dense patches of green swayed ever so slightly in the breeze with the sun's reflection off the leaves changing to match the movement. Shadow rays splayed out from the tips of tree branches, showing off the subtle but effective tricks of Windows Vista and DirectX 10. The demo actually starts out in the thick of the trees, where everything is draped in the shadows of leaves. Once you make your way to the beach, the light coming off the sand and the leaves throws this intense sheen of white at you - high dynamic range effects mimicking the experience of stepping out of a tunnel, seen before in other DirectX 9.0c products but never as intense or as realistic as it was here.
The most stunning effect, however, was the reflection and refraction of light in water. Think back to the first time you saw Wave Race 64 on the Nintendo 64. Think of the leap to Wave Race: Blue Storm on the Gamecube. Seeing the water and light combination in Crysis was another Wave Race experience all over again - and this time it extended to underwater, when Robert took us below the surface and showed us a small group of crabs scuttling across the sand, rays of sunlight briefly shooting off of their tiny shells as they passed underneath.
For all of its gorgeous visuals, Crysis was unfortunately hovering at around 20 - 25 frames per second in 1280x800 resolution. The machine it was running on was a fine system, but we were told that something was up with the drivers. Given the problems a similar machine two stations down was having with Bioshock, we'll give Crysis the benefit of the doubt. Of course, don't expect to be running Crysis smoothly with your single last-gen DirectX 9.0c card with the settings turned up. This is a Crytek game, after all. For fun, Robert turned the resolution up to 1600x900. It dropped to around 15 per, but it was surprisingly still playable - and everything looked razor sharp. We'd imagine that if you turned off the motion blur and depth of field effects that you'd get a much smoother picture - but that'd be taking away an incredibly huge part of what makes Crysis' visuals so immersive.
Is Crysis just a pretty face? No, not at all. Our hands-on time with the actual gameplay was quite brief, as the demo started off with brutal difficulty that cut us to pieces within 3 minutes. On the outside, it wouldn't appear that Crysis is ultra-revolutionary in the gameplay department - just very fun and very intense. Yet, the layers of strategy that can be delivered via the nanosuit - combining speed, strength and camouflage along with your highly customizable weapons - definitely surfaced as we hid behind a rock trying to devise the perfect plan for laying the smackdown on unsuspecting mercenaries. Do you sit back and snipe? Do you turn on speed, sprint like a mother, grab a poor schmuck, turn on strength and hurl him into his buddies? Or turn on the camo and ambush them from behind? A combination of everything? Do you play with the physics and hurl tree trunks their way? We saw the potential here for Crysis to take Half Life 2's physics tricks and push them to a more dynamic, unscripted and truly open level.
Crysis is slated to ship for Windows XP and Windows Vista in two SKUs - a regular $49.99 edition and a special $59.99 edition that comes with an extra amphibious vehicle, soundtrack, and behind-the-scenes commentary. It is also probably almost guaranteed to make you work super extra overtime to get the paycheck for a new video card. Whether or not you think graphics are everything, so far, Crysis' beauty demands that you see it full throttle.
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