Crysis Feature Preview - Building a New Kind of First-Person Shooter Story

Crysis may have cutting-edge graphics, but developer Crytek is also looking to deliver a story that's just as advanced.

Blasting away at aliens and soldiers may seem like a familiar theme for a first-person shooter, but developer Crytek is looking to elevate the formula to new heights with Crysis, one of the most talked-about games on the horizon. In our previous coverage of the game, we've focused on the technology in Crysis, since the game promises to deliver, for all intents and purposes, truly next-generation graphics. However, there's going to be much more to Crysis than just pretty visuals. The designers at Crytek are intent on delivering gameplay and storylines that are the equals of the technology. Please note: this preview story may contain minor spoilers of some of the story elements in Crysis.

Crytek is building an incredibly flexible story into Crysis.

Despite Crytek hitting a home run with Far Cry, the designers have looked back on its development and thought long and hard about all the things they could have done better. For example, an obvious issue with that game was that the story in Far Cry was never really central. Jack Mamais, the lead designer of Crysis, described Far Cry as a bunch of different mission tied together with cutscenes. That's partly the result of Far Cry being the company's first game, and also because Crytek felt it was in a race to finish the game before Half-Life 2 and Doom 3 shipped. With that learning experience under its belt, and with its reputation firmly established, Crytek focused on developing the story in Crysis first and then building the game and the cutting-edge technology around it.

The basics of the story are fairly well known at this point. Crysis is about an alien invasion and the end of mankind, and it takes place after a strange asteroid lands on a remote Pacific island. The United States sends a carrier task force to the island, but the North Koreans get there first, and your character, Jake Dunn, is part of a US Special Forces team inserted onto the island. The game has three parts. The first will involve you and your team battling the North Koreans around the island. The aliens reveal themselves in the second part, and they kick off a global climate crisis. Finally, the third part takes place in the alien's environment, involving some kind of zero-gravity warfare.

What's interesting about Crysis is that how you get through the game can vary every time you play it. Mamais told us that the designers wanted to get away from the linear storytelling experiences found in most action games. "You always have to go from point A to point B, you always have to kill some people, but we're trying to make things a little bit different," he said. "We're putting a twist on it, like maybe you're not going from point A to point B, or you don't kill this guy to win."

You'll be able to make decisions throughout the game that affect the fate of your friends and enemies.

Crysis is a game that will forgive failure, so you don't have to worry about being perfect every time. For example, you'll battle alongside other Special Forces operators who are part of your team. Each of these guys may have an important role in the game, but if they get in a bad situation and you can't save them, they can be killed off before they can perform that role. In most games, this would require you to reload to the most recent save point and attempt to get the rescue right, but in Crysis, you will be able to proceed with the story anyway. The latter parts of the game might turn out to be a bit more difficult as a result, because the dead comrade in question might have had some critical piece of information that would have made your life easier, but you'll still be able to complete the game without them.

We saw another example of this concept when Mamais showed us a level about halfway through the game. After allying with the North Koreans, you learn that incendiary weapons are effective against the aliens, so you have to fly a vertical takeoff and landing transport over to the North Korean ammo dump to load up on them. Along the way, you'll receive an SOS from a North Korean squad caught in a battle with alien troopers, at which point you have plenty of options. You can fly over the encounter and ignore the North Koreans' plight, or you can land. If you land, you again have options. "We can watch the battle, we can help the aliens, we can kill everybody," Mamais said, "but the key is that one of the guys has a gauss rifle, so if he goes down, we can pick it up and use it. But until then, you can't get the gauss rifle until a much later mission." There's a recurring theme of risk-versus-reward throughout the story. If you pursue some of these side missions, you may burn through your ammo supply faster than if you had skipped them, but at the same time, you may find some other benefit, as well.

Crysis is scheduled to ship for the PC this winter.

How you get through the game will be affected by the difficulty level that you choose to play at. Crysis will ship with a number of difficulty levels, and we're told that the easiest will be easier than that of Far Cry, but we're most interested in the hardest difficulty level, which is appropriately called Delta. We're told that it's going to be brutal, and that the action will be more realistic. The controversial checkpoint save system from Far Cry will return, but the good news is that the game will also support quicksaving and quickloading, so you can avoid situations where you have to replay whole sections of the game if you die.

The amount of storytelling flexibility being built into the game is impressive. The designers took us on a virtual tour of the USS Ashcroft, the fictional aircraft carrier in the game. While the aircraft carrier isn't modeled in its entirety, a significant section of it is, and you'll be able to walk around below deck through various spaces or watch the activity on the flight deck. A special algorithm will make sure that there's always activity buzzing around you, and you may overhear the crew talking about your exploits. You can also have a bit of fun by provoking a Marine guard to shoot you if you attempt to get past him too many times, at which point you'll be treated as a hostile and have to battle the entire crew. (Which will probably make you glad that Crysis has that quicksave option.)

All things considered, and Crysis should deliver a single-player campaign story that will be worth playing through over and over again, which is a highly unusual feature for a shooter. "It's cool because it plays different every single time," Mamais said. "We want the whole game to be like that. You're writing your own story when you're playing your game. You're creating your own entertainment." The entire story seems like it's light-years past that of Far Cry, and if Crysis can pull it off, the game will deliver a next-generation story along with its next-generation visuals. Crysis is scheduled to ship this winter.

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136 comments
spar_hawk
spar_hawk

Could this be the real Halo killer ?

heroface
heroface

So... when is the "official" announcement of the 360 version gonna come along then?.. this is the only games site without an assumptionative article (not sure if that's even a word mind) It looks AWESOME!! I take it you've all seen the map editor tech demo? WOW! it's also my new favourite games site.. thank krabstikz for that one Edit: MY GOD YOU GUYS ALL TAKE YOUR PCs WAAAAAY TO SERIOUSLY!! GET OVER IT!! HAVE SOME FUN FFS!!! actin like there's more skill with your easier mouse controls pah! I leave my PC for games like C&C3 etc -vented, apologies

360_fanatic
360_fanatic

If they do what they have stated, oh man this is going to be one hell of a game!!! :) I have been waiting sooooo long for details like this about the sp. Now they have finally come, they have blown me away!!!

bache_vel
bache_vel

buffalo i know you are very good gamer(fps)

bache_vel
bache_vel

I am not dead H living only for crysis

bache_vel
bache_vel

crysis is my love my love my looooo........ I am dead

Buffalo_Soulja
Buffalo_Soulja

A non-linear FPS.... how ambitious.... I hope it works because if the gameplay sucks there's no chance I'm playing it in 10 years when I can finally afford the hardware.

greystone227
greystone227

This looks pretty sweet. Too bad I'll never be able to play it with my crappy computer. I have to play all my PC games on "low" as it is. Well, I'm sure I'll be able to play the game in like 1-2 years after its release though, when the PC requirements for the game become easier to meet. Haha.

sangoanuta
sangoanuta

8800GTX Conroe 6600 4GB Ram - For MAX 7900GT Pentium D 940 2GB Ram - For ACTUALLY RUNNING IT DECENTLY

arnaob
arnaob

can any one say about the pc recomandation of crysis ?

sangoanuta
sangoanuta

Consider this: * This is a next-gen game, with next-gen AI, with next-gen graphics, with a next-gen storyline. I CERTAINLY DO HOPE SO BECAUS IM TIRED OF FAKE NEXT-GENS. * About the gauss rifle, if its a next-gen game you can't communicate?!?!?! You can't look at him and say, GIVE ME YOUR RIFLE!!!!!!!!!!!!! You have to wait for the guy to die so you can pick up... WTF IS THAT? CS 1.5? * That's it the game is great, but i loath stupid details that completely ruin the game, CRYTEK do not make another FPS that you are and floating hand that does not speak, and does not do anything AT ALL. WE ARE SICK AND TIRED OF CLONE-LIKE FPS!

J_Hizzal
J_Hizzal

Wow...this game, if done the way Crytek says it'll be done, will change the whole FPS as we know it. I'm VERY excited to get this game. It should provide endless hours of enjoyment, with all the different story options.

aabo
aabo

This is going to be the bomb FTP of all time! END OF STORY! ...but it will also cut the low end graphics-card players off i believe, this one NEEDS to be played at maximum because of the intense work on details and destructive items. With this i mean it will be like missing the first human landing on Mars if you play this game with levels set at "low". CRYTEK FOR PRESIDENT! Get ya votes straight! ;0) Bless everybody!

Demon-Thief
Demon-Thief

:O...That looks amazing. I heard from a friend that there will be an online multiplayer option and that in that every LEAF will be destructible and, apparently, every thing you destroy gets picked up by the server and shown on every other computer online...I mean....wow....but this is just something I heard...don't go around telling everyone in the street just yet :P. I'll get back to you when I confirm the information :P. But if that's true that game will be totally worth it. Demon-thief Spawn Over and out.

genji_glove1
genji_glove1

This game looks nice...but it'll probably be about 3 years before I can afford to upgrade my PC enough to play it. When Far Cry came out (wow, was that really only 2 years ago...)everybody thougt it would have high system requirements, but it turned out to be playable on low-end PC's with settings on low. I hope Crytek listens to us and does the same thing with Crysis, As the majority of people seem to be saying they dont have good enough PCs to run it.

Ra-Qin
Ra-Qin

Crysis looks like a winner for my hard earned denero!!! All their technical improvements are great, but It is seriously about time we had realistic multi-threading storylines/quests! I've been hoping for this innovation since back in the Wolfenstein 3D days...maybe earlier. It is very impressive that each decsison you make could have a large impact on the way the game progresses. Don't you grow weary of static stories, even when they are strong? Cheers, Ra-Qin

ajboy450
ajboy450

i hope this game is as good as it looks!!

runstalker
runstalker

The PS3 supports plug + play mouse and keyboard devices, so the "PC vs. Console" debate for FPS might be downplayed if developers are wise enough to add optional mouse+keys config. 'Specially for genres that excel with it, like FPS, RTS, some RPGs.

GFofgaming
GFofgaming

I got 7800 Gs for my old computer from ebay at....................35$ including shipping hahaah. Now i can play lan with my new computer (2 7800 GTs)

mosE_D
mosE_D

I think it will be a nice game (graphics I mean) but the storyline …..just like the usual …go kill…..and 4 the guys who want 2 play this game on an Xbox or whatever ……don’t…this is a game 4 PC! on console you can play Mario No offense !

noda_90
noda_90

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

aimmy79
aimmy79

i just hope my 7800 gs will be able to handle this game.

boo_dat
boo_dat

is anyone else getting aroused by this? Or is it just me?...either way, I don't think I'll be able to stand up for a while...*cough*

CapoX
CapoX

i would love to see this game on ps3 or 360.. . . :)

saiyanlarry
saiyanlarry

phSychO_AtDawn said: "Rufrgt2001.Seriously who the F*** says "tight" anymore?! " lol, umm, depending where you live thats a normal every day word. you must not be from america.

PhatHemmer
PhatHemmer

nice one! this is starting to look pretty amazing... :D

Hikiera
Hikiera

All talk. The graphics are awesome, but as for the story - we can only wait to play the game.

phSychO_AtDawn
phSychO_AtDawn

Rufrgt2001.Seriously who the F*** says "tight" anymore?!

phSychO_AtDawn
phSychO_AtDawn

Vista Can Run Crysis Right?...Well Vista, here I come!

ZsoltBulldog
ZsoltBulldog

I WANT THIS GAME but i would need a new pc maybe in ten years ill get a good pc and play this game

macpop
macpop

lol i see some console fan boys are disappointed yall got halo3 we get crysis and seems like yall want it too this is gonna be up there with halo and theres npthing console fan boys can do cause there ps3 and 360 arent too powerful to run it even if they TRIED

Delta_Seven
Delta_Seven

THIS is the game of the year, I can tell. Halo 3 and Crysis will be the most important games for months. Crytech seems like they will become the most well known and loved company next to Bungie.

MightyCowM
MightyCowM

That game is going to cost $1,500 by the time I upgrade my system to be able to play it :(

CLDragonCL
CLDragonCL

"ok so ps3 and 360 cant run crysis....but back in the day i never would have thought xbox could run doom 3 or half life 2. they just had to do things to make it work, i.e. take away a small useless portion of the level to make more room for memory, and downgrade textures etc. til its playable. why not make ps3 and 360 versions using methods developers have been using for a long time now? i dont care if its the EXACT PC EXPERIENCE. ps3 and 360 could both run crysis just fine if they just tried." you have to realize a PC dev can't write the game for the consoles. So in order to port a game to the consoles they have to employ console devs. This process takes both time and money. I've read somewhere that they are considering making this game availiable for PS3, but was going to wait until it is actually out to see how it runs to make a comment.

saiyanlarry
saiyanlarry

ok so ps3 and 360 cant run crysis....but back in the day i never would have thought xbox could run doom 3 or half life 2. they just had to do things to make it work, i.e. take away a small useless portion of the level to make more room for memory, and downgrade textures etc. til its playable. why not make ps3 and 360 versions using methods developers have been using for a long time now? i dont care if its the EXACT PC EXPERIENCE. ps3 and 360 could both run crysis just fine if they just tried.

Drathyl
Drathyl

The game has sidequests that reward you! Oh my god! I hope that they have real time weapon change too. It would be perfect then.

niwom510
niwom510

sounds great.... LETS SEE THE MULTI-PLAYER!!!!!

Rufrgt2001
Rufrgt2001

tru dat TaiLaw, Holy crap this game looks friggn tiiiight

TaiLaw
TaiLaw

A senior game designer for Crysis says that both the PS3 and Xbox 360 is too weak to handle Crysis. The PS3 and Xbox 360 can't handle this kind of visual complexity, says one of the lead designers behind Crysis. Heres the full story- http://www.gametrailers.com/viewnews.php?id=3563

Tomdogg
Tomdogg

I really want this game for the Xbox 360...pleaseohpleaseohplease!!!!!!!!

hunty91
hunty91

hey fjpadilla usually, devs get an SDK (software development kit) before the release of the actual hardware, which contains all the tools needed to work with the hardware