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In-Depth: EA Partners, Crytek Unveil  Crysis 2  In New York City
In-Depth: EA Partners, Crytek Unveil Crysis 2 In New York City Exclusive
April 9, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

April 9, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC, Exclusive

Crytek and EA Partners chose New York City's Tribeca Grand Hotel as its location to unveil Crysis 2 to the press for a good reason -- the latest game in the franchise is set against the backdrop of a post-disaster New York City.

Original Crysis gained acclaim for the richness of its mysterious tropical island setting, and Crytek head Cevat Yerli told attendees at the media event that adding the verticality of city skyscrapers -- making the jungle into an "urban jungle," so to speak -- will help the new game's environment raise the bar.

It also raises the emotional stakes, Yerli asserts. "New York is symbolic for the pride of mankind," he said. "If I could pick one city to protect, it would be New York... if the gamer cannot save New York, then no other city can be saved effectively."

The city's architecturally-accurate rendering of the city in shambles, gone white with dust and haunted in its shadows with the lamplike eyes of alien invaders, is visually arresting thanks to the new tech in Crytek's CryEngine 3 -- which also brings the Crysis franchise to consoles for the first time, meaning it will no longer be solely the domain of high-end PC players.

The tech demo showed off CryEngine 3's realtime lighting, dynamic time of day features, deferred lighting, color grading, procedural destruction and deformation, and integrated physics, among other graphical effects. Yerli says developers can now "live create" with the technology across multiple platforms at once.

The interaction and destructibility that will give Crysis 2's New York its "catastrophic beauty", as Yerli called it, "is driven mainly through technology." But throughout the demonstration event, special attention was paid to the game's Nanosuit 2, an evolution on the futuristic military bodysuit first introduced in Crysis that was touted with a dramatic full-size statue at the event.

Crytek focused on "streamlining the experience of the Nanosuit that people have been playing in Crysis and [making] it accessible, more visually reformed and also more empowered than ever before," said Yerli, adding that the team considered "how can a player express himself with less interface, less obstruction and more clear empowerment?"

EA Partners, which will be continuing its ongoing publishing relationship with the franchise, was enthusiastic to present it to the media. "One of the great things about the working relationship that we have with Crytek is that it's been extended over a long period of time," EA Partners' David DeMartini said at the event.

He said that many of Crytek's six global locations are contributing their resources to Crysis 2, and explained why, in his words, the publisher is "so excited" about the game. "A lot of it comes down to Cevat and his creativity and the vision that he brings to the franchise," he said.

"No one at Crytek is going be putting the B-team on this game. These guys are one of the dominant players in the shooter category, and they're taking this battle very seriously," he added. "They're going to be delivering the greatest product that is going to come out this year."

The team hopes that the input of lead writer Richard Morgan, a sci-fi author known for projects like Altered Carbon and Broken Angels, will lend the project sincere depth. At the event, Morgan described himself as a "crazy enthusiastic console gamer" struck by the potential for games to explore areas other media cannot.

Morgan, too, expressed enthusiasm for being part of Crysis 2. "I showed up in this kind of spoiling storm of creativity," he said, describing his role: "As lead writer, you're like a lens, and the idea is you've gotta take all this creativity and try and refract it through the lens of the story. It's very much a case of building something that supports the gameplay but also is integral to it."

After feedback on the first game that called the story "predictable," in Morgan's words, he says Crytek has tasked him firstly with creating something less predictable for the sequel. "It's hopefully a story where you don't know what's going on, and you don't know what's coming next," he said.

He's also energized by the New York setting, and says working with the location was another mandate for him from Crytek. "New York is probably the most iconic city on the planet, so immediately there's a massive emotional charge to that -- not just for Americans, I think, but internationally as well," says the UK author.

The third element Morgan focused on in his story work is the emphasized Nanosuit 2. "As a sci-fi writer, I'm interested in tech -- but what I'm really interested in is how it's kind of unpredictable," he teased. "It's a very useful and sharp tool but it can cut both ways."

"There's a mystery at the heart of it," he continues. "The technology is not what it seems; there's more to it than appears on the surface. The suit itself has a destiny, an endpoint, and that destiny gets entwined with the destiny of the city you're trying to save."

Following the event, Gamasutra had the opportunity to talk further with Crytek's Yerli -- read our interview here.

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Andrew Grapsas
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Richard K. Morgan? Well, I'll be damned. He's my favorite scifi author.

Jonathan Gilmore
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@Andrew-I didn't like Thirteen, any chance I would like Altered Carbon?

Andrew Grapsas
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Altered Carbon is, in my opinion, his best work. Thirteen is okay (I have the UK copy called Black Man). Market Forces is good. That's mostly it. Don't read Steel Remains, it's a waste of time unless you're a fan of his. The novels following Takeshi Lev Kovacs beyond Altered Carbon just feel like "okay, I have to write more about this character."

He has a wonderfully dark, gritty view of the world; but, his stories are fundamentally the same: an anti-hero is shunned by the world, embraces something seemingly mystic (technology or otherwise), and goes on to confront a specific stigma in the world/universe.

Still, he's better than most scifi writers out there, especially when it comes to word-smithing.

Jonathan Gilmore
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Thanks Andrew.

steve roger
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I wonder if we will get to experience a huge building 50 stories or more collapsing?

Mark Wilhelm
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YES PLEASE, more Crysis can only be a good thing! My only hope is that it isn't altered to be easier for console players, that console controls aren't the default in the PC version, and that the PC version's graphics aren't in any way affected by the development team's focus on consoles. :P

David Cogan
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Consider me signed on everything Mark has just said.

Unfortunately, the comments about the nanosuit interface/control scheme and the "streamlining" of the experience would seem to indicate big changes are being made to accommodate the consoles. I can understand why they'd want to do this (have you ever tried playing Crysis 1 with an X360 pad?!) but, like you say, it'd be good if there's an option to fine-tune the controls or even restore the original model from the first game in the PC version.

I imagine they'll implement something similar to the "suit shortcuts" of the first game (e.g. double-tap forward to activate a sprint), to save from giving the suit its own menu... one that'd probably need to be pulled up with a unique button and then navigated with one of the thumbsticks. Euch. There'd be nothing better for crushing immersion, or getting you shot in the face as you fumble around for a moment.

But this /is/ Crytek we're talking about - the closest thing to a modern-day champion of the PC that we have. I can't imagine they'd fudge the whole thing with forced mouse acceleration, a locked FOV, or any of the other issues that have become standard fare for PC ports these days.

Regarding the tech, Crytek have always said that they'll be adding new, additional features to the CryEngine 3 for the PC crowd, and not simply nerfing the whole thing for acceptable performance on consoles. The new engine is apparently much more scaleable as a result, too; the minimum system requirements are lower than those of Crysis 1, but high-end systems should be able to provide an experience superior to the first game. It'll all remain to be seen for a while of course, but Crytek's shpiel is souding pretty promising.