Tomorrow marks the five year anniversary of the Crysis franchise.
The science fiction shooter series began on 13th November 2007 with the release of Crysis for PC, a launch that carried much fanfare. Here was a shooter that was part open world sandbox, a fitting follow-up to the company's first game Far Cry, part graphics showcase. The hype for months before launch was that Crysis was the best-looking game ever created. Not only was your PC not good enough to run it - no-one's was.
Three and a half years later Crytek released Crysis 2. But there was a catch: the game was no longer a PC exclusive. Crytek had, according to some, sold out. And as more information about the new New York setting emerged and this new choreographed sandbox was laid bare, fans of the first game accused the developer of dumbing down the core Crysis gameplay to accommodate the console audience.
Video game graphics achieved using the DirectX 11 standard provide a solid indication of the visual power of the next Xbox and PlayStation, Eurogamer has been told.
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It's been just over three weeks since Crytek released its first proper game in three years. With Crysis 2, the Frankfurt-based developer has delivered a technically excellent, graphically superb shooter that is groundbreaking in many respects. It delivers state-of-the-art visuals, effects and physics onto five-year-old console architecture, and in stark contrast to its predecessor it manages to run extremely well even on relatively middle-of-the-road PCs.
Has Crytek "sold out" to the console audience with its first triple-format release? Or is Crysis 2's new vision for the franchise a necessary shift, fundamental to the continued existence of the world-renowned German studio?
This is a strange situation. I'm writing a preview of a single level in Crysis 2 at the same time a leaked version of the entire game is filtering into thousands of hard-drives around the globe.
Can consoles run Crysis? It's a question Digital Foundry has considered on a number of occasions in the past, based on tech demo footage Crytek released showing its state-of-the-art CryEngine 3 running on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The recent Xbox Live Crysis 2 multiplayer demo allows us to revisit this topic once more, this time with the benefit of being hands-on with live code.
As boss of EA Partners David DeMartini is in charge of more games than seems possible for one person. There's BulletStorm, Crysis 2, Alice 2, Reckoning and Portal 2 (maybe) to worry about, and untitled games from Respawn Entertainment, Insomniac, Starbreeze and Suda51 to keep on the straight and narrow.
Talk to anybody at Crytek about Crysis 2 and they'll quickly start explaining things. Eager to be helpful, they'll tell you about the game's move from the "open sandbox" of the South Pacific jungles to the "choreographed sandbox" of a ravaged Manhattan. They'll speak to you about the changes made to the Nanosuit 2.0, which arranges its powers in tiers now, allowing you to select either stealth or armour first, before augmenting it with the likes of speed, strength, and the new tactical option that lets you eavesdrop on distant enemies and get a better sense of your surroundings.
Last year, I went to Frankfurt to see a man who could make water flow from a rock. He could do it with a couple of clicks, actually, and then all it took was a couple more to turn the rock into a pile of rocks, and then a small mountain. Finally, he set the mountain on fire. After that, I probably asked if he had a "spawn helicopters" dropdown handy because, y'know, that's just how I roll.
It's just over two years since CryTek released its astonishing first-person shooter Crysis, and despite enormous technological leaps in the PC space, it remains the single most important game available for testing graphical performance. At maximum settings, even the most powerful available combination of CPU and GPU still cannot run this game at 1080p with a sustained, v-synced, 60 frames per second.