Well it looks like its time to go and get the 8800 GT after all. I just had a run-in with the recently released Crysis demo and the only real thing I can say is “Superb”, about the graphics that is. The game has ultra realistic graphics, “mind-boggling” and “jaw-dropping” would be a better words. I haven’t played the demo myself but observed someone else playing it for a short while. He had pretty much maxed out Crysis settings with a resolution of 1920×1200 on a 19″ monitor and still the game was running pretty smoothly.
The first thing that caught my eye were the shadows. The game features impressive real-time soft shadows probably done using shadow maps. Other real-time techniques just seem unlikely given the complexity of geometry in the scene. I am not too sure how the team solved antialiasing issues or maybe it was the very high resolution and the setting, but there were no visible aliasing artifacts that commonly occur when using shadow maps.
When you look at the surroundings, you can help but wonder how the game manages to push so much foliage and trees per scene. I haven’t quite figured that out myself. Maybe it’s some clever instancing tricks coupled with the obvious raw power of the 8800 that allows for such incredible amount of vegetation to be simulated correctly. You can even shoot down trees and shrubs with your gun. Shooting at leaves will even leave bullet holes in them. Amazing, truly amazing.
The rest of the graphics stuff from the game is equally impressive. The atmosphere and sounds compliment the game effects nicely and the movement of the sun allows for a very diverse experience with a dynamic environment because of varied lighting. Another thing that impressed me from a game engine developer point of view were the destructible terrain environments. I had heard about the Crysis team using a voxel based terrain system which allows for exactly such type of terrains, but the results in the game are even more impressive. I remember Ken Silverman working on something like this in his Voxlap engine, interesting!
The AI seems to be good, but I haven’t played the game myself so couldn’t really tell. Post-processing effects, explosion, all look incredibly real. One thing that is really cool gameplay feature is where you can hold a guy by his throat and use him as a shield against enemy bullets, yeah, something out of a schwarzenegger movie. I am sure FPS junkies are going to get a kick out of this one.
It’s all about the graphics then. The graphics the game delivers can be nauseatingly real at times. I am usually not the one who falls over a game just because of graphics, but the Crysis game will probably be an exception. Maybe it’s just the programmer inside of me talking, maybe things will change when I play the game for myself. But I just kept thinking about (, and googling to find an answer as to) how some of those game effects were achieved. More… later!