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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Crysis 2 Final Thoughts

Tuesday, May 10, 2011
The lush jungles of the original Crysis gave way to the urban canyons of New York City in Crysis 2--one of many changes developer Crytek ushered in with the latest entry in the first-person shooter series known for its technical wizardry. We spoke with Jan Lechner, development director on Crysis 2, to get his thoughts about the game, fan reaction, and some of the decisions the development team made over the course of bringing Crysis 2 to life.

Jan Lechner: First of all, we were proud of what we had achieved with Crysis. Having worked on a game for three years and then witnessing how much people love it feels amazing. Nevertheless, we also knew that there were many areas we could do better and that there was still room for improvement. Crysis was perceived as a technical beast that could melt down the strongest PC hardware. Crysis was made to last long in the rapid progression of PC hardware. But the fact that many people felt they could not max it out on their rig led to negative feedback. At times it was perceived as bad optimization on our end, so this time we wanted to prove that we could do the same on consoles.
The story was probably the biggest aspect of the game we wanted to improve in Crysis 2. We realized that we created a strong universe that would offer plenty of opportunities to meet interesting characters and confront the player with intense situations. The nanosuit should become the real hero of the game and provide the entire fictional backstory for the player to understand where it's coming from. All this came a bit short in Crysis, and we wanted to prove to our fans and ourselves that we can do it better.

If your game is also promoting your own tech, it naturally pushes you to make the best use of it, develop it even further, and show all its features in its best light. Without CryEngine 3 we wouldn't have been able to achieve Crysis 2. With a highly iterative approach to development we managed not only to push technological boundaries, it also helped us to constantly improve both Crysis 2 and our tech. 

The decision about changing the game's setting was a very tough one. After the release of Crysis, we immediately started to think about Crysis 2 and whether we wanted to keep the original island and jungle setting or move to an entirely new setting. In the end, we felt we wanted to offer a new experience to our gamers, and that's why we chose NYC. The city that never sleeps felt like the perfect setting for the Crysis sequel. The whole story of Crysis was centered on the island and the government conspiracy, so everything was pretty limited in a local sense. Barely anybody from the rest of the world was affected by the catastrophe, but of course, when people left the island after the big bang at the end of the game, they started to spread rumors about it. So if you ask yourself what the next logical step might be, it was clear that everything would move to the big population centers of the world. This naturally led us to choose New York City.

We understand that many PC gamers were expecting yet another big step forward in visuals as we did with Crysis since the game set an incredibly high benchmark, especially in terms of graphics. From the beginning of Crysis 2 development on, it was our goal to exceed our own benchmark and deliver an even better gaming experience with Crysis 2--not only in terms of visuals, but overall experience. The change of the setting resulted in the fact that the gameplay is one of the biggest differences between Crysis and Crysis 2.

A city does not provide you with the open spaces of a jungle, but at the same time a city definitely offers a wide range of new experiences and offers many different areas that players can use as playgrounds. The destruction of the city allowed us to break the game space open, but we also could not overdo it and risk losing the feeling of New York. We added the vertical gameplay and combat approach that provides the player with many interesting and different gameplay layers. The players are not just confined to the ground and streets. They can jump between different floors or onto buses or trucks, drop down into craters and fissures in the streets, and leap from one building to the next. We didn't take a step back in sandbox gameplay; rather, we transformed it into something that we could apply to the setting of Crysis 2. The game combines the intensity of a linear FPS experience with the open sandbox gameplay and spaces Crysis is famous for. 
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