GC '07: Crysis Updated Hands-On - It's Almost Done

We check out the DirectX 9 version of the game as this anticipated shooter nears completion.

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LEIPZIG, Germany--Crysis dazzled us with its jaw-dropping graphics at E3, but the theme for Crysis at the Games Convention is that this highly-anticipated shooter also looks great on older hardware. To that extent, all the kiosks of Crysis here are running the DirectX 9 version of the game. And while the DX9 game doesn't look as good as the sumptuous DX10 version that we played at E3, it still looks really good.

The demo on display is the opening level of the game, the same as the E3 demo. You begin as a US Special Forces commando, clad in a high-tech "nano suit," and you must infiltrate a Pacific Island that's held by the North Korean military. At your disposal is your rifle, which can be customized with various accouterments, such as a reflex scope, silencer, and laser sight. You also have your nano suit, which can temporarily cloak you, or boost your speed, strength, or damage resistance. Your mission in this level is to get across a bay that's crawling with North Korean patrols.

The most obvious difference that we saw between the two versions is that the DX9 lighting isn't as rich or atmospheric as in the DX10 game. When we played the E3 demo last month, we were struck by how realistic the lighting was in the level; the setting sun created an incredible sight. The DX9 lighting, on the other hand, looked similar to many other games, but the amount of detail in the game is still impressive. Individual leaves sway due to a soft breeze, and the texture work on everything is just amazing.

This is still a challenging game. Though you have a nano suit, you'll get killed quickly if you try to run-and-gun through the level. You have to move smartly, shooting from cover and not charging stupidly ahead. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways of approaching the level. You can try using the large amount of jungle to sneak around the North Koreans, or you can assault up the beach, or the road, or the mountain, or you can even try to swim around the defenses.

We had a lengthy discussion with Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli, and he told us that the game is just two or three days from having all its features finished. Don't get too excited, though, because what follows next will be six weeks of bug fixing and polishing. Still, getting all of the game's content finished will be an incredibly significant milestone, and the team is working nonstop to hit it. Once hit, almost all the difficult work will be over, and Crytek can look forward to wrapping up work on a game that began almost four years ago.

As to what's next, Yerli said that the team plans to rest, but there are ambitious plans ahead. The company has had a secret project in the works, and Crysis itself is designed as a trilogy, assuming it does well and the fans want it. But judging by what we've seen and played thus far, the odds of that not happening are very long indeed. Crysis will ship on November 16.

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