Crysis 2: Final Thoughts

Crysis 2's development director speaks out on multi-platform development, the change of scenery, and building a better story for Crysis.

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The lush jungles of the original Crysis gave way to the urban canyons of New York City in Crysis 2--one of many changes developer Crytek ushered in with the latest entry in the first-person shooter series known for its technical wizardry. We spoke with Jan Lechner, development director on Crysis 2, to get his thoughts about the game, fan reaction, and some of the decisions the development team made over the course of bringing Crysis 2 to life.

GameSpot: What was the general feeling among the team when work began on Crysis 2? What did you feel that you needed to prove?

Jan Lechner: First of all, we were proud of what we had achieved with Crysis. Having worked on a game for three years and then witnessing how much people love it feels amazing. Nevertheless, we also knew that there were many areas we could do better and that there was still room for improvement. Crysis was perceived as a technical beast that could melt down the strongest PC hardware. Crysis was made to last long in the rapid progression of PC hardware. But the fact that many people felt they could not max it out on their rig led to negative feedback. At times it was perceived as bad optimization on our end, so this time we wanted to prove that we could do the same on consoles.

The story was probably the biggest aspect of the game we wanted to improve in Crysis 2. We realized that we created a strong universe that would offer plenty of opportunities to meet interesting characters and confront the player with intense situations. The nanosuit should become the real hero of the game and provide the entire fictional backstory for the player to understand where it's coming from. All this came a bit short in Crysis, and we wanted to prove to our fans and ourselves that we can do it better.

GS: What are the advantages of working on a game that essentially serves as a demonstration for your own engine? Are there any drawbacks?

JL: If your game is also promoting your own tech, it naturally pushes you to make the best use of it, develop it even further, and show all its features in its best light. Without CryEngine 3 we wouldn't have been able to achieve Crysis 2. With a highly iterative approach to development we managed not only to push technological boundaries, it also helped us to constantly improve both Crysis 2 and our tech.

GS: Can you talk a little bit about the transition from generally more open-world-style gameplay to the more focused approach for Crysis 2? Was there a specific goal in mind with that decision, or is it merely reflective of trends with first-person shooters?

JL: The decision about changing the game's setting was a very tough one. After the release of Crysis, we immediately started to think about Crysis 2 and whether we wanted to keep the original island and jungle setting or move to an entirely new setting. In the end, we felt we wanted to offer a new experience to our gamers, and that's why we chose NYC. The city that never sleeps felt like the perfect setting for the Crysis sequel. The whole story of Crysis was centered on the island and the government conspiracy, so everything was pretty limited in a local sense. Barely anybody from the rest of the world was affected by the catastrophe, but of course, when people left the island after the big bang at the end of the game, they started to spread rumors about it. So if you ask yourself what the next logical step might be, it was clear that everything would move to the big population centers of the world. This naturally led us to choose New York City.

GS: How do you perceive some of the negative reaction from PC players? Did you expect the vocal vehemence based on a perceived step backward in visuals and sandbox gameplay?

JL: Yes and no. We understand that many PC gamers were expecting yet another big step forward in visuals as we did with Crysis since the game set an incredibly high benchmark, especially in terms of graphics. From the beginning of Crysis 2 development on, it was our goal to exceed our own benchmark and deliver an even better gaming experience with Crysis 2--not only in terms of visuals, but overall experience. The change of the setting resulted in the fact that the gameplay is one of the biggest differences between Crysis and Crysis 2.

It's all about the nanosuit.

A city does not provide you with the open spaces of a jungle, but at the same time a city definitely offers a wide range of new experiences and offers many different areas that players can use as playgrounds. The destruction of the city allowed us to break the game space open, but we also could not overdo it and risk losing the feeling of New York. We added the vertical gameplay and combat approach that provides the player with many interesting and different gameplay layers. The players are not just confined to the ground and streets. They can jump between different floors or onto buses or trucks, drop down into craters and fissures in the streets, and leap from one building to the next. We didn't take a step back in sandbox gameplay; rather, we transformed it into something that we could apply to the setting of Crysis 2. The game combines the intensity of a linear FPS experience with the open sandbox gameplay and spaces Crysis is famous for.

GS: The ending comes as a true surprise. What does it mean for potential sequels? Did you know how you wanted to end the game from the outset, or did it come organically?

JL: The ending pretty much developed over time, but we had a rough idea of how we'd like to end it when we started. We wanted to show the larger scale of the alien invasion and how the events in New York fit into the bigger picture. In terms of what will happen next, we will have to wait and see.

GS: There were some changes to suit functionality in Crysis 2, but the basic functions remained mostly the same. Did you ever consider adding other functions, like time manipulation or something similar?

JL: For sure--we had considered quite a few additions to the nanosuit, but we always wanted to keep it consistent from Crysis to Crysis 2. Since the suit is the core of the Crysis games, and the game experience in Crysis is heavily defined by the nanosuit and its abilities, it was important to carefully develop the suit further instead of changing it completely. Changing the suit drastically would have made Crysis 2 a different game. One of our main goals for Crysis 2 was to evolve the nanosuit to be more fluid, accessible, and ultimately powerful, letting players express themselves in a much better way than the first version of the nanosuit did. We also had to keep the fiction in mind. There are only three years between Crysis and Crysis 2, and we did not want to design completely new features for the suit that logically could not happen in such a short time frame.

GS: If you had made Crysis 2 just for the PC, technology aside, do you think you would have designed the game differently--for example, done a different setting or had a different kind of multiplayer?

JL: We could not have created a game with the scope, scale, and multiplayer features of Crysis 2 if it were a PC-only title. The PC market just does not support that cost of development, but going multiplatform does. The decision to go multiplatform has allowed us to bring a better game to everyone, which has been our goal all along.

GS: From both a visual and a technological standpoint, now that it is out, how do you feel Crysis 2 holds up to juggernauts like Killzone and Call of Duty? What did you learn from those shooters--in terms of what you wanted to have in Crysis 2 and what you wanted to avoid?

JL: We feel that Crysis 2 holds up pretty well. There are many great games out there that are doing a lot of things right, but I truly believe Crysis 2 stands for its own. We enjoy playing other shooters and are often inspired by the great work of other developers, but in the end we are doing our own thing to provide a great gaming experience.

Developing for multiple platforms was a learning process for Crytek.

GS: When creating DLC for a game like Crysis 2, does it ever change to reflect what players are doing in the original release, or have you stuck with a designated plan?

JL: You start with a designated plan, but it changes over time. The production of the first DLC had already started before the release of Crysis 2. There is a small window of a couple of weeks that we can use to analyze what players enjoy the most in the original release and to collect community feedback.

GS: What were some of the things that you learned from the development of Crysis 2 that you think will be valuable for Crytek's next project?

JL: We learned a lot about the development on consoles both from a technical but also design perspective. Coming from a PC history, it required a major change of mind-set in regards to approaching development, processes, design, and technology. All these things are extremely valuable for all of our future projects.

Discussion

292 comments
frankblack789
frankblack789

@euphoric666 you're an idiot. how's that for an immature response?

mothaya
mothaya

this is the ish....really extraordinary

euphoric666
euphoric666

@Chavis02 - your imature response to my comment don't change the game textures or the boring objectives or dumb enemy AI. @blewis1980 - now that i don't have my killzone 3 online, i have more time to spend with your mom. thanx.

x-2tha-z
x-2tha-z

@Snaptrap Crysis 2 doesn't look that bad. It still looks better than most other games. As for the reason to the downgrade from the original, I think Crytek think that the easier it is to run, the more copies it'll sell. Yes, new hardware could run it now but how many people actually own this new hardware? It probably isn't a high enough number for Crytek and EA. I would've liked it if there were higher graphics settings in Crysis 2, but Crytek probably thought if they included higher settings and people didn't have rigs that could handle it, they'd get mad again. It's ****, but this is the result of the moaning from PC gamers. It's a fact they're going to have to live with.

x-2tha-z
x-2tha-z

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@x-2tha-z Sorry I don't find this reasonable as to why Crysis 2 was so stripped down. First Crysis is 4yrs old and modern hardware can easily handle the game at maximum settings so with that said why wouldn't they make Cysis 2 look at least just as good as Crysis or better? Crytek should be aware that most people with high end machines these days are using multiple graphic cards along with CPU's with 4+ cores. They were anticipating for Crysis 2 to be the new benchmark game for their systems. You won't find many mainstream systems with less than 4 core CPU's and graphic cards superior to an 8800GTX. These days a lesser rig would be considered low end.

x-2tha-z
x-2tha-z

@Snaptrap Sorry, I couldn't find a comparison on Gamespot.

WillyChong
WillyChong

@x-2tha-z Wow, your are the richest guy around, owning a bunch of tech toys to play around with. Good for you, considered that lots of people have to work part time to support their family and had limited choice when it comes to buying consoles, PC hardware, software and games. And what we want is not a game that just stand on its own, why the hell a game just stand in the middle of those murky FPS when Crysis just blow all those loser FPS to the ground. If they intended to make Crysis 2 awesome they should have made Crysis lame in the beginning, and even then Cryisis 2 had not much different then Killzone 2, Call of Duty series. The only game that truly memorable in my PS3 is Metal Gear Solid 4, and that cost around RM118.00 (Crysis 2 RM174.00), far cheaper than your average FPS. Good games worth buying, bad games worth dumping! Facts! If you mindlessly buy a game for the sake of playing, then you will make company competing for not the new game ideas, but new ways to fool players and milk even more lame products.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@x-2tha-z Hardware Canucks. Very reliable. Not!

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@x-2tha-z That's a load. With my old system I was able to max Warhead and get at least 30fps, but with identical settings on Crysis I was getting much less. Crytek did a lot of tweaks to the CryEngine 2 with Warhead, and if you look at all the Warhead reviews they will say the same thing and about it's performance vs Crysis.

x-2tha-z
x-2tha-z

@Snaptrap Warhead ran better than Crysis when comparing the games running at medium settings. When played at high settings, they had approximately the same FPS. Point is, if your rig couldn't max Crysis, it couldn't max Warhead.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@x-2tha-z Warhead was the answer to better optimization. Crysis 2 is just the punchline to a bad joke.

x-2tha-z
x-2tha-z

@Draxargh No, I said PC guys so everyone would know who I was talking about. Fact is, a lot of them complained about Crysis because their rig couldn't max it. In their eyes, that was poor optimisation. That's a true story. I seen the posts in forums with my own eyes. The guy from Crytek isn't telling lies (about that, anyway). To stop the same negative reaction, they made Crysis 2 easy to run. I'm not a console guy. See what happens when you jump to conclusions? I own a PC with an i7 920 @ 3.5 Ghz, GTX 295, 6GB 1600Mhz RAM. I'm not a PC guy either. I also own a 360, PS3, Wii, PSP, iPhone, N64, PS2, GameCube, Xbox, Saturn and several other gaming platforms. I'm a fan of games, not the system they're played on. I bought the PC version of Crysis2 and I regularly play Crysis and Warhead at max settings. Trust me, I know how much of a step back it is in terms of graphics. But then, I wasn't one of the people moaning about Crysis.

Draxargh
Draxargh

@x-2tha-z Judging by the fact that you're calling the PC players "PC Guys" tells me that you're a Console guy, so, here's the deal, it was a step backwards for YOU, because consoles aren't moduler and upgradeable, they're throw-away and replaceable. The thing about being a PC Gamer (Although, I have always ALSO been a console gamer, and still am, and I LOVE my PS3, of which I bought Crysis 2 for because I knew this was going to happen) is that when a game comes out and makes you upgrade your rig, or pushes your rig to the max, that's both considered a good thing and a challenge. I have an i7, a 575 NVidia card, and 8GB of RAM (Which, now a days, processor aside, is pretty modest) because I WANT games that are going to use the tech I have. I like that companies like ID and Epic create engines that are going to push things. The last thing the PC community does is complain about high system requirements, that's why we went PC. Poor optimization and programming is another story.

x-2tha-z
x-2tha-z

All the PC guys complaining about the huge step backward, you're probably the same people who moaned about Crysis being badly optimised when it was first released. You're the reason Crysis 2 was such a step back in terms of visuals. They made it easy to run so you wouldn't all start crying again.

Draxargh
Draxargh

I think the "Dumbing Down" of the Engine is a dumb argument. This gen console can run Crysis 1. IMHO, if Crytek really wanted to make money off of the console market, they should have slightly upgraded the graphics and fixed the end of the game bugs (the falling apart of the world and collision problems.) Crysis 1 works with controllers, I toyed with a 360 controller to play part of the game on my laptop, was acceptable. Crysis 1 is the halmark of "This Generation" FPS. It would have also allowed them to make cash off of the console market, and work on what Crysis 2 should have been... the game to get other developers to realize what NextGen would be capable of. Instead, we get a version of Crysis that falls alarmingly close to the black hole that is The Current Gen of FPS... CoDclones. (Edited as I made the false assumption that FarCry 2 was a Crytek game and built on the CryEngine 2. Still, I think this gen can still handle CE2)

doppelgang
doppelgang

'If you had made Crysis 2 just for the PC, technology aside, do you think you would have designed the game differently--for example, done a different setting or had a different kind of multiplayer? ' the answer to this question is a complete lie. Take Bohemia Interactives ArmA games. Apart from quite basic animations, the game is beautiful, and, in my opinion, is slightly better than Crysis 1 in graphics and definatly bigger in scale. Bohemia Interactive is a small company, with only a fraction of the manpower EA/Crytek has, and yet they make loads out of the ArmA games been PC exclusive! They are still raking it in today, and the game is 4 years old! Not to mention the ease at which they can enhance/add in,expand features in the game due to new expansions, engine updates and community mods (the game comes packaged with ACE2 mod for example). Having such a console based game that is nowhere near mod friendly really destroys the concept of a PC game.....its all about the community!

ambition_def
ambition_def

Crysis 2 lacked the imaginative characters, enemies, zones and story of the first game. The lack of the sandbox didn't really bother me. What bothered me was when you take Crysis and bottle it down to a Half-Life style campaign, with FAR less interesting content than Crysis, you get Crysis 2. It wasn't worth 60 bucks. If they want to reclaim the appreciation they got with the first game they will have to look harder at what made the first game great. Crysis not only set the benchmark for graphics and sound but also was one of the first games that was as epic in story as a major hollywood movie. It was once the best comparison to draw as how new video games play much like an interactive blockbuster. They need to get back to that.

MarbskiE
MarbskiE

crysis 1 was the best FPS game i've ever played. i've played it over 5 times just because i find it so much fun. crysis 2 was alright, but it never made me feel like playing it again after beating the game once. it's lacking something big. i'm not sure what that is, but i'm sure it's the thing that could possibly make me want to play the game again. maybe i hate being confined in such tight spaces? @_@

M_kumar
M_kumar

Crysis 2 should atleast stick to the Crysis engine and only change the environment and story

addicted2050
addicted2050

I never complained about the 1st one being too heavy on my computer, because it was also more FUN than the 2nd one, so it's not all about the graphics (though even on High, that game was more beautiful). Story, characters, sound, graphics, gameplay (this some might find better on 2nd), facial animation, they messed up in all departments. And all that comes under making the game run smoothly? I think NOT! Crytek, you messed up big time, I hope you rot in hell because of it, and EA, you should have been burned at the stake a LONG time ago. Crytek, next time, please, don't disappoint!

SPBoss
SPBoss

They chose a city because consoles can't handle tons of hq foliage, they should of just gone down two seperate paths. one for pc, one for consoles

WillyChong
WillyChong

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

WillyChong
WillyChong

I regret buying the PC version itself, its a recycled concept, its overused and abused by all first person shooter and third person shooter. I'm surprise that the developer have the guts to say that the story was the strong point, considered that the Nanosuit is nothing more than a alien based technology, and the Koreans copycats mystery is ditch to the trash can like it never happened. And believe me, the only reason we only see humanoid or aerial aliens is that they using human and helicopter animation rig to pave way for less memory consuming. This is another dark chapter for PC gaming. >:(

neverdiephoenix
neverdiephoenix

This is the most disappointing game i've played this year, more disappointing than DA 2. And i realize only disappointing games need to have a "Final Thoughts interview"

Rocker6
Rocker6

@y2kern When you make a bad console port like Crysis 2 for the PC,of course it wont sell well,nobody wants to pay for bad ports.Im still regretting my purchase,I should have waited for a price drop.And how are games first made for the PC when in Crysis 2 you can see "Press start to continue"(fixed with a patch,but it still proves this is a port),and "Adjust your TV setting" BTW Crysis and Warhead had much better sales than this game and that proves PC games can be very profitable if done right.

maffaxxx
maffaxxx

@jamsparrow: COD is a standard, but Sandbox was another one: and they ditched it because consoles couldnt afford to sustain its complexity: yet another CoD clone: did the gaming world need one? They dumbed it down, scaled it down, and all for multiplatform 's sake, and on top of that, plot is an entagled, uninvolving mess pivoting on the suit, the suit, the suit, prohpet prophet prophet: shut up already! Their choice, but they really FUBAR their own distinct franchise. I hope they will learn from this lesson and go back on their steps ASAP. In the meanwhile, im back to Far Cry.

ash162
ash162

@defender1978 ya i missed that too but supposedly the nanosuit voice is that of prophet and not the suit ai's

Monohydrate
Monohydrate

GS: How do you perceive some of the negative reaction from PC players? Did you expect the vocal vehemence based on a perceived step backward in visuals and sandbox gameplay? The response to this question was hilarious and totally doesn't answer the question at all. Sounds like the sort of answer you get from a politician when you ask them a question. Yeah PC gamers were clamouring for a step backwards from directx 10 to directx 9 with even more linear on rails gameplay. Well done on exceeding your benchmark Crytek.

Monohydrate
Monohydrate

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

ameerjoe
ameerjoe

CRYSIS 2 is a lot of dissapointment. not even close to CRYSIS 1. im a PS3 gamer and i've played CRYSIS 1 before.CRYTEK shouldn't make CRYSIS Multiplatform. they should just stick to PC. they f*** up a great game

rthanujaya
rthanujaya

what is this guy talking about ??? story is the biggest failure in crysis2..

jamsparrow
jamsparrow

guys, you do realise, they had to make a big change to get the attention of console gamers. yes, they made a few bad changes. but guys, multiplayer similar to COD was a good idea in my opinion to show the gaming world that we are at the standard of battlefield, cod etc. I bought crysis 2 and i having fun with it. I did play the first crysis a bit and i know how good of a game it is, but guys cmon, support the crysis 2 for the series so it can be greater the next time around

Wolfmother0791
Wolfmother0791

@howie1926 I know just as many people who pirate on the 360 as I do who pirate on the PC. The only difference is that the PC gamers usually actually buy the game in the future, even if it's just because the game is on sale on Steam. Piracy is a lame excuse for bad games getting bad sales.

griffinmanzz200
griffinmanzz200

I have bought every game Crytek has released until now. From day one of hearing about the multplatform approach I was worried that the game wouldnt be as deep and hit all of my expectations "like the first one did" technichally and gameplay wise. This game is technically junk compared to the first one. They can spin it how they want and im glad they are making money as a business but they have lost a huge junk of money and profit in the process. Here is my point. They could have just released the game on consoles and made the same money they are now from consoles but they tried to do pc as well. But they half assed it. PC is a separate market and since most of the game was made for console it wouldn't have taken much cost to tailor it to PC. BUT what they did was just slap a sticker on it saying look it worlds on PC but they didn't spend any money on taking advantage of the PC. They basically tried to make money from two different markets while only investing in one.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@howie1926 Companies don't shy away from making PC games, they just expand to different platforms in an attempt to make more money. Crytek made plenty of cash from Crysis. I complain because a game that had so much potential to build off it's predecessor was stripped down in order to make it playable on 5yr old hardware.

howie1926
howie1926

Wow this is sad. I really enjoyed playing Crysis 2 and still do. To see so many people complain because it went multi-platform so people who can't afford an expensive computer can play it is a joke. Do you know WHY so many companies are shying away from making games for PC??? Because of all the pirating.

mischiefmeerkat
mischiefmeerkat

the graphics in crysis 2 were a no win situation with most enthusiasts to begin with. they complain that it's a step back, but then complain when their rig can't handle it. you can't have it both ways. you're not gonna see real life visuals on a celeron. personally i think it looks better than the first. and graphics don't make a good game anyway. people like don't even play the game most of the time. they just get their e-manhood on by showing off that their rig can run the latest game in 100+ fps

y2kern
y2kern

@rocker6,games are always made on the pc and ported down to the consoles. meaning that the potential is always there. they just dim it down to work on the consoles properly. even though there is piracy on the 360 and the ps3 it is not as rampant as the pc. when you look at the charts, crysis 2 is selling very well because of the console versions of the game. it takes 2 - 3 years to create a good game engine like cry engine 3 and developers would want to capitalize on it by making a profit in the end, and pc gaming is not as profitable as the consoles.

x-2tha-z
x-2tha-z

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

wedran123
wedran123

Im hoping EA makes up for this steaming pile of DUNG with battlefield 3.....

wedran123
wedran123

Sorry crytek...i was a fan since far cry 1....but you F***** UP.....a lot.....and thats why PC gaming is dying....because developers try to put a game that was MADE to be played onto a pc to consoles.....just because america buys it.....

addicted2050
addicted2050

"The decision to go multiplatform has allowed us to bring a better game to everyone, which has been our goal all along." Really? Better game? Don't play MP, but in the SP department, you gotta get a reality check Mr. JL!

addicted2050
addicted2050

For those thinking we PC gamers are hating, we have a good reason. We were following Crytek's amazing games, and then suddenly you see a huge leap backward, and you WILL get disappointed. For those who liked the 2nd one, very well, I got no problem with you, but for me, it is a HUGE disappointment..

addicted2050
addicted2050

Okay, here's what their 'new focus' brought, in my opinion: Graphics: No improvement, I understand, but a step backward? Facial animation sucked! Not as beautiful as the first one. Remember's Pshyco's amazing expressions? that glint in his eyes? that smirk of his? Compare that to the animation here. Noticed Strickland's zombie looking eyes? AI: Again a step down, amazingly dumb AI. Gameplay: Guns sound like waterguns, the game is too easy. Gameplay is okay though, not many complaints. Story: First one was cheesy, but enjoyable. Characters were nice in the 1st one, but not a single likable character in the 2nd one. Nomad wasn't an interesting character, but atleast he talked. And the story wasn't really enjoyable until the last half hour or so. Physics: First one had much better physics, in fact, there don't to me much physics going on in the 2nd one :P Only improvement? Good framerates all around. I was enjoying it a little at first, but then disappointment over the steps backward started to sink in, and I lost the enjoyment about a little after halfway through. Damn you Crytek, for simplifying it for the consoles and ruining our experience. Crytek was my favourite company, but now I am never gonna buy a game from them again, that's for sure. EA is destroying all. First Dragon Age 2 came as a big step backward, now Crysis 2.

tframp420
tframp420

Should have asked him where the hell the DX11 patch is...