Crysis - hands-on

Every sane person is wondering how all this is going to run on their system. We asked Cevat Yerli, Crytek CEO, what gamers with a limited budget should buy to make sure they can play Crysis well, and his first answer was two gigs of RAM. The single gig most of us have is going to struggle with environments of this size, and with this much smashable stuff to keep track of. Next on the shopping list is, predictably, a GeForce 8800 - but the GTS model in that range is fairly affordable, and not a huge step down from the GTX. The surprising part is that Cevat says a Core 2 Duo E6600 processor is enough to run Crysis on Ultra High settings with that setup. That chip is likely to undergo another price drop before Crysis comes out, too, so don’t rush.

If you don’t have any of these things and you need a new motherboard too, you’re still looking at a hefty layout, but to play at max settings this seems surprisingly reasonable to us. Well, not quite max settings. Crysis actually has graphical features built in that no PC available this year will be able to make use of. Cevat estimates it’ll be 18 months after release before technology catches up with his game. They put these features in partly to keep Crysis current after release - they say it’ll be the best-looking game for the next three years - but also, let’s face it, because they’re enormous graphics geeks.

But here’s the really crazy part: it took Crytek two years to make it possible to shoot a tree in half. They got it working the day before they had to demo it to the press, a video of the presentation quickly went online, and just as quickly racked up 50 million downloads. So it was worth doing, but it was inordinately hard.

A big part of the reason for that is that the AI has to understand that a fallen chunk of tree is cover. It has to deal with and exploit an environment that can dramatically change with every gunshot. When they first implemented this, Senior Game Designer Bernd Diemer discovered that he could grab a fallen tree and hold it in front of him to become completely invisible to the AI. This tactic is frowned upon in the real military as unsporting, so it had to be tactfully explained to the AI that a walking tree is deeply suspicious.


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