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Pre-E3 2006: Crysis - Storytelling for A New Generation
preview
game: Crysis
posted by: Chris Martin
publisher: Electronic Arts
developer: CryTek Studios
platform:
keywords:
date posted: 06:07 AM Fri May 5th, 2006
last revision: 01:16 PM Fri May 5th, 2006


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Click to read.Storytelling for a New Generation:

You could say the people at CryTek Studios, who brought FarCry to the Xbox and Xbox 360, are very much aficionados. FarCry: Instincts is graphically superb for the Xbox, and FarCry: Instincts-Predator featured numerous welcome upgrades.

But graphics aren't everything, and CryTek isn't about to forget the importance of storytelling.

FarCry Instincts was made akin to 'B-movie' storytelling; good guy loses girl, finds bad guy, beats bad guy and saves girl. According to President and CEO of CryTek, Cevat Yerli, in their next endeavor, Crysis for the PC, CryTek is placing heavy emphasis on the story and the method in which the story is told.

In Crysis, you're part of a new generation of Special Forces working for the United States Government. You're sent to investigate the wreckage of a crashed alien space ship in North Korea.

Of course, North Korea and the US of A don't really get along.

And these two powers end up clashing at the site in an attempt to claim ownership. While you're investigating the ship, it opens up and by means of some alien device, flash freezes the area, transforming the once-tropical area into a winter wonderland.

After this, the United States and Korea have to ally in order to save the future of mankind.


So what's so great about that?

"First of all," says Cevat Yerli, "we don't have any cutscenes."

That's right; the entire game will be played out from the first person perspective of the American Special Forces Soldier. And on top of that, to quote Yerli again, scripted sequences "are all non-existent. They're part of the experience. Part of system experience. What exists in Crysis is [that] the story is all around you; it's being told around you. It's happening around you. The invasion moves on anyway regardless of you..."

It appears that the story will be revealed to the player as the player perceives the environment, listens to other soldiers, and investigates closely the first contact of the alien beings. So for the gamer, what at first may feel like he or she has no impact becomes slowly more and more impact as you progress through the "real-time storytelling."

This style of in-game storytelling is reminiscent of what made the original Half-Life so progressive. Very cool stuff.

From a storyteller's perspective, Crysis is an ambitious project. CryTek is dropping the tried-and-true methods in favor of a more interactive, more discovery-oriented story. Though dropping cutscenes isn't new (again, Half-Life did it, so did Half-Life 2), telling the story with neither cutscene nor scripted sequences hasn't been done before and will prove a challenge.

But I think I understand how it works - bear with me. The advancement of the story will likely show up in segmented epiphanies for the player; learned Ah Has. And when the player understands what to do and what's going on, he or she will end up - in theory, mind you - more seriously involved in the story than when led by cutscene and scripted sequence (which notoriously force the player to pull out of the story).

In this way CryTek is taking many lessons from Hollywood filmmaking and the "Invisible Style" (a term meaning that the cuts and progressions of scenes are invisible to the naked eye).

Only, it's the Invisible Style from a first person perspective.

Crysis also features a dynamic storyline. Help some other soldiers out pinning down the enemy, or if you perform badly, those characters who called for reinforcements will actually think less of you. Even to the point of causing some drama within the ranks. Taking this idea further, as you complete objectives in any order, the order you complete the early ones in will affect the outcome of the later ones, or even the morale of troops.

As far as customization goes, Crysis has you covered. You can customize your battle suit, your weapons, and even the bullets of your weapons.


Customizing your Suit:

The battle suit can divert energy to and from these three characteristics: Speed, Strength, and Armor. Increase speed and you can actually outrun enemies, quickly rush a tank, or get around the side of a group of enemies. Increase strength and you can rip off the top of the tank and, maybe, toss a grenade in. Increase armor and you can actually become a walking tank. Of course, when you're diverting the energy budget to any one specialty (which can be done at any time) you're actually taking away from the other two characteristics. So the strategy is in finding the most effective trade-off for what you need to do.


Customizing your weapons:

There are a number of options when customizing weapons (many of which haven't been disclosed). What we know is that you can install a scope and work from afar, maybe try some inferred sight and pick off bad guys in the dark, heck, just go for the classic laser sight and increase your aiming proficiency. This isn't the entire list of weapon customizations. We'll know more at E3.


Customizing Bullets:

Yes, you heard correctly, customizing bullets. Not only can you divert power in your suit and deck out your weapons in Crysis, but you can also customize the stopping power of bullets. First you can use a specialized bullet that puts enemies to sleep. Or if that's not you, maybe go for an incendiary bullet that explodes on impact. Or how about this GPS bullet that can attract enemies who think the lifeless metal round is actually you. Suckers.

The gameplay is going to remain varied as well, featuring four differing locales. With each locale, the game will force the player to use what he or she has, essentially using the environment to your advantage.


A Theme A-day Keeps the Boredom Away

The 'jungle' theme, the first of the four, is dense with foliage and one's field of view can be obscured by trees and underbrush. Also, unlike in other games, trees and foliage actually can be knocked over, causing some neat environment destruction.

Next is the 'frozen jungle', or the 'frozen paradise' theme. The frozen paradise, as a contrast to the 'jungle' theme, offers a completely different type of gameplay. Shattering and freezing objects when firing can have affects on your enemies; furthermore, fragments of shattered ice or objects can become projectiles.

The 'human base' theme centers around epic combat. The focus of this theme is the taking away of the safe places of the hero. Mainly, this means that as the epic combat ensues, the world around the hero, the safe areas will fall.

Finally we have the 'alien ship' theme. Here you'll see zero-g gameplay similar to parts of the upcoming "Prey." There will be less obvious and less known threats, too, such as alien weaponry. And you'll see different architecture, in contrast to the previous theme the 'human base.'

The CryEngine2 is simply amazing. Capable of volumetric clouds, real time ambient maps, depth of field, motion blur, subsurface scattering, HDR lighting, and some incredible soft lighting, Crysis is easily vying for best looking game I've ever seen. But even if you don't know what all of those things are, you can still marvel at the graphics. Still, going beyond the graphical prowess of the CryEngine2, it's the way the environments seem to react to things you do that make the game really come alive; trees fall, logs roll, ice shatters, buildings crumble-all in real-time.

Crysis will be at E3 this year, so we'll have more on it in short of a week. Until then, tide yourself over with some trailers and pics courtesy of GameTrailers.com.

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