By Patrick Shaw | 04-24-2012 2:00PM
In San Francisco’s Delancy Street Theater, Electronic Arts gave a room packed with gaming journalists a first look at actual gameplay from its upcoming blockbuster first-person shooter, Crysis 3.
The sequel thrusts players in the middle of a large-scale alien invasion, in which they suit up as series veteran and supersoldier Major Laurence “Prophet” Barnes. Crytek explained that while Prophet played more of the role of “the hunted” in previous installments, he’s now very much “the hunter” in Crysis 3.
Set in 2047, the new game takes place twenty years after the war depicted in Crysis 2 between the corrupt Cell Industries and the alien Ceph menace. One of the most impressive things about the game the developer showed off is its new setting: an apocalyptic vision of New York City overgrown with grasslands and dense plant life Crytek dubs “the urban rainforest.” In Crysis 3, NYC is now completely encased in a massive nanodome, which dramatically accelerates plant growth in an effort to purify the city’s Ceph contamination from within.
As the gameplay demo kicked off, Prophet engaged his alien aggressors in New York City’s Chinatown, which has been reduced to swamps and crumbling ruins. The level of detail featured in the game's imaginative environments is nothing short of stunning. Thick vines bursts forth from city streets and moss grows everywhere giving New York’s towering structures an organic quality. If you look closely, you can even spot frogs leaping away from Prophet's feet as he makes his way through the swamp.
"With Crysis 3 we believe we’re in a situation where we can push the perceived limits of what’s possible visually as well as from a gameplay perspective,” said Rasmus Hojengaard, Crytek’s director of creative development. He described the dome as an interpretation of the post-apocalyptic world so pervasive in fiction -- but executed by a team of talented game artists in a way that hasn’t been done before. From the glimpse of Crysis 3's swamp level we got, it appears as though the developer is on track to achieving just that.
Aside from Crysis 3’s impressively detailed urban rainforest, which includes locations other than the swamp like grasslands and vast canyons, the game introduces a few interesting twists on the series’ sandbox shooter gameplay. Hojengaard said that the gameplay is primarily built on three key player actions: assess, attack, and adapt. What this means is that players must strategically evaluate combat situations and then plan their line of attack accordingly. Some situations require stealth -- while employing tools built into Prophet’s technologically advanced nanosuit like invisibility cloaking and his new crossbow -- whereas others can be approached with less caution. New weapons in Crysis 3 ideal for more head-on combat situations include the Typhoon, a devastating weapon that fires 500-rounds-per-second and the heavy mortar, which fires plasma explosives including grenades or missiles. The nanosuit is also equipped with some all-new enhancements including the ability to hack and use Ceph weaponry.
In order to deliver what the developer is trying to achieve visually with Crysis 3, Hojengaard noted that they needed a strong technical foundation to build the experience upon: CryEngine 3. He added that the company's proprietary graphics engine appears in a somewhat revamped form in the new game, too.
“It’s the most ambitious thing we’ve done,” Hojengaard said. “And it’s certainly the pinnacle of the Crysis franchise.”