It's all thanks to our recent visit to Crytek's Frankfurt studio, where we got to see what the developer has been up to since the success of its last title, Far Cry. Here, CEO Cevat Yerli explains how Crysis marks a departure for the studio, why there are no plans for a console version and what's going on behind the doors we weren't allowed to enter...
Eurogamer: Up until now you've been best known for Far Cry, so comparisons with Crysis are inevitable. How well do you think your new game will stand up?
Cevat Yerli: The one thing they have in common is they're developed by Crytek. The gameplay in Crysis may represent Far Cry here and there, because we have a trademark gameplay which is about being smarter than the enemy.
But in Crysis there's more of a transformation going on, more xenomorphing - the aliens actively change the world, and the player has to continually adapt to survive.
The way players survive challenges, whether from North Koreans or the alien enemies, is through using the nano suit, customisable weaponry and open level design. That forces the user to think about how to engage the enemy, and the amount of interactivity we have in the world immerses you.
Eurogamer: What sets Crysis apart from all the other FPS games on the shelves?
Cevat Yerli: The nano suit and customisable weapons are big additions. They change the way you play completely. You can play any scene differently, try this out, try that out, and you should be feeling like a super badass as a hero who is conquering everything without being seen.
You get a top quality science fiction story. Everything is tangible and believable but still there's this alien element. Weapons look realistic, the world looks realistic - it's grounded in reality but it's still science fiction.
The bottom line is the freedom offered by the AI system, and the gamer's freedom. But also the visual fidelity - with Direct X10, and even the Direct X9 version, the visual direction we pushed in will resonate very strongly with gamers.
Eurogamer: There's a lot of hype about the visuals in Crysis. But what if you don't have Direct X10?
Cevat Yerli: As a PC game developer you have to make sure your game runs on two to three year old PCs. In fact, the current specification we're planning for is even four year old PCs.
If you're a gamer who bought a new gaming PC two or three years ago, you can play Crysis, and you will get visuals that will compete with visuals of that time. Of course you won't get the super Direct X10 graphics, but we are competitive.
Eurogamer: During our visit you've been demoing the game with DirectX 9. Why is that?
Cevat Yerli: For different reasons. We're still receiving drivers which are crashing, that's the main reason. We don't have a stable driver yet. We have drivers out there on the market but we are pushing the drivers so hard that we are getting all the time multi-core drivers, dual core drivers, or multi-threaded drivers essentially, with multi-threaded architecture.
Until we get it on Vista running on multi-threaded drivers we don't want to show any more, because we are getting performance impact on Vista. We don't want to make Vista look bad either, because it's not Vista's fault - it's the driver right now. So we're working very closely with Nvidia to resolve these last issues we have with systemic performance... There are a lot of driver issues on the market.
DirectX 9 just runs smoothly for us. We've been working with it for five or six years now. I would even say some DirectX 10 games out there won't look as good as ours running DirectX 9. Or as a competitor friend said, Crysis will be the zenith of graphics for probably the next two or three years. It's not me saying it, it's another guy saying it. I won't mention who...
Eurogamer: Are you completely confident that the DirectX 10 issues will be resolve in time to hit the November 16 release date?
Cevat Yerli: Yes, absolutely. We will resolve them in the next two weeks actually.
Eurogamer: So far Crysis is only set to appear on PC, but you've clearly invested a huge amount of time and money in the project. Can you afford not to do a console version?
Cevat Yerli: Yes, absolutely. From a business point of view I think we'll see a return of investment, clearly. When I look at the forecast it works out already for us.
Which is the reason we said at the beginning we wanted to focus on quality - because ultimately it's quality that makes sales. I don't believe in games which are shallow and sold by marketing only.
We said, 'If we'd buy Crysis ourselves, then we have done our job.' And if it sets new benchmarks in the genre - like visuals, like AI - and we have a sense of focus, we will see a positive effect.
The reason for no consoles is simple: any console development would have deviated from our efforts. It would have distracted us, it would have forced compromises because of memory limitations on those platforms. We'd have to design different levels, and it would have been more difficult to create the sensation of a living world.
Eurogamer: So there are no plans to bring Crysis to consoles in future?
Cevat Yerli: The only way I can see Crysis on consoles right now is as a variation of it. And I don't have any plans right now for a variation of Crysis.
Eurogamer: You have a PlayStation 3 R&D room here, but there doesn't seem to be an Xbox 360 room. Why is that?
Cevat Yerli: Actually we have one, but it's separate. PC and 360 are in one room. The PS3 room is separate because we have some secret technologies being developed there which are not related to CryEngine 2. Our PS3 development is going deeper than many people assume right now.
There are competitors right now who have PS3 technologies up and running. We had our initial version up and running, but we said there are too many compromises.
Yes, we could have commercialised the engine business et cetera, but we felt that if you want to make console games one day - if you want to get groundbreaking results and do things people think are impossible, you need technologies and solutions for that.
The platform itself has a lot of power, but the technology has to provide a framework for the developer so we can unleash that kind of gameplay.
Eurogamer: Do you have a room for Wii R&D?
Cevat Yerli: We have Wii development but it's very small, it's more like testing ideas. We don't have a project at this stage.
We have a console game in development right now which won't be announced for a while. It's a complete departure from Crysis and Far Cry, it's not a first-person shooter. For that, we're optimising technology, but for another reason, the future in general, there is a dedicated PS3 team.
Nintendo Wii is certainly on the radar. We will do something for Nintendo Wii - the question is when. I think some time maybe in three or four years, but nobody knows when.