|Normally we don't cover games that are still in alpha. While beta coverage is typically a good example of how final gameplay is shaping up, alpha is a time when major design elements are still in flux. We're making an exception for Crysis 3's recent multiplayer test, however, to highlight just how gorgeous the game already is.
Last week, Crytek held a closed alpha test for Crysis 3. Players were limited to DX11 video cards and just one map, Crash Site, though 16-player support was implemented. Crytek sternly advised everyone that all of the maps and scenery were placeholders and not indicative of the final shipping product.
One of the questions after the Crytek 3 engine unveil a few months back was whether or not the screenshots and video were actual gameplay footage or were souped-up engine demonstrations that didn't actually show what players would experience. This playtest definitively confirms that the company wasn't lying about what it could accomplish with the new engine. Feast your eyes.
This particular map is rather dark and foggy, but that fits thematically with what's happened to this section of New York City. According to the game's plot, New York City is now covered in a "Nanodome" and has literally become a concrete jungle. Jungles can be vibrant, colorful places -- or they can be steamy, foggy, swamps. What we've got here reflects the latter more than the former, but Crytek has stated that each section of the Dome has its own unique look/feel.
|Bring on the Eye Candy|
|Here, I'm going to unrepentantly geek out over texturing and reflections. One of the most frustrating things about game development's "Console first" approach is the way certain textures and surfaces end up looking like crap on a modern GPU. This is a consequence of the fact that the PS3 and Xbox 360 are roughly 6000 years old in GPU-years, and it often sends PC gamers fleeing to the Internet in search of third-party mod packs that make games look better.
Crysis 3 looks better, out of the box. Granted, CryEngine 3 faces some stiff competition from the new Unreal engine, but it's refreshing to see games that are pushing the visual boundary instead of slapping some less-blurry textures on 2005-era design. The bricks you see here are either well-tesselated or using high-quality maps.
See the broken poster to the left? That's an example of a detail that current console maps would blur, to conserve processing power for the main game. On a modern PC, that's not necessary.
You can't actually head off to explore in that direction, but it looks as if you could. The open spaces keep the map from feeling claustrophobic, while the broken buildings and ruined sewers provide a much larger playground than you might think at first glance.
We can't say much about actual gameplay at this point, other than to note it's fun. Even in alpha, players have cloaks, melee attacks, and different classes with varying weapon loadouts. Gear and capabilities are unlocked on a scale as you level up and complete objectives. If you've played BF3 or COD:MW2, you'll feel right at home with this.
Obviously great graphics can only carry a game so far, and it'd be premature to draw conclusions about Crysis' multiplayer from a single alpha map, much less its single-player campaign. Still, if the game plays half as good as it looks, it'll be a breakout success.
Preview Hardware: Intel Core i7-2600K, 8GB of RAM, GeForce GTX 670