The original Crysis was available only for PC, and with spec requirements so high that only those who had a few grand spare to upgrade their PCs could afford to play it. Crysis 2 was a lot more accessible to your average Joe, and Crysis 3 isn't so bad, either. UPDATE: Read our Crysis 3 review.
Still, Crysis doesn't exactly have a reputation for being accessible. Aside from the spec requirements, the lore revolved around a complex universe, was reasonably difficult to penetrate, and depending on how much you wanted to know, could require extra reading in the form of Peter Watt's novel, Crysis: Legion.
Not this time around, says Crysis 3 producer Mike Read.
"There's actually a rich backstory in the Crysis universe as a whole. Crysis 2 was written by [sci-fi author] Richard Morgan, and kinda led us into more of a deeper technology side of what was going in in the Crysis universe," says Read, sounding surprisingly chipper for a man who's been locked in a room all day doing interviews.
"And Crysis 3 is definitely an engaging story that is quite easy to follow and a great sci-fi piece, and not only for existing fans of the franchise but new players as well."
In Crysis 3, you play as a character that long-time fans of the game will be familiar with, called Prophet. Given the story in previous games, it's a strange choice, and one that's keeping fans on their toes.
"People can kind of do the math. I've had some people come to me with their theories and, you know, some of them have been bang on and some of them have been way off," Read laughs.
In order to make getting started with Crysis 3easier, Crytek has added a tutorial this time around, and Read says the multiplayer has been refined, as well. But he's sure that existing fans of the franchise won't get bored.
"I think fans of the series both Crysis 1 and 2 will find a lot of merit in what we've added and what we've improved upon in Crysis 3," he said.
What are those improvements? There's the bow and arrow, for a start, and the variety of usable arrow tips. (Call it the Hunger Games effect, but Read has said in previous interviews that Crytek was working on a bow and arrow before the movie's launch.)
The bow and arrow is a weapon that's always on your person - there's no putting it down or exchanging it for something else. It's also highly versatile in that you can take out one enemy, or fire off an arrow with an explosive tip to take out a particularly nasty turret, amongst other things.
Crytek has also built environments in a new way - in Crysis 3, New York City has been encased in a dome designed by the series' bad guys, the Cell Corporation. Within that dome, there are seven environments called the 'Seven Wonders', each of them a separate and different from the last.
"[We created] seven distinct, unique environments that looked very different from one another from daytime setting, to lighting, to the plant life, to the buildings, broken buildings that you're going to see in there," Read says.
"So it was really about creating those different environments, and those don't only lend themselves to the visuals in there, but also change the way that you approach each of the different levels as you play through them."
That said, levels don't necessarily require you to play in a particular way - Read says that while the designers have a play style in mind when creating a level, the company has found that people end up playing whichever way they want. Sure, you can be stealthy - or you can go on a tear and destroy everything in your path.
Crysis 3, like Crysis 2, will be available on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, but Read doesn't seem sure that Crytek could keep producing games for the current generation of game consoles. The next generation of consoles is "long overdue", Read says, and the sales numbers are starting to wane. Crytek is even pushing the limits of performance for the current generation of PC hardware, let alone console hardware.
"I think the numbers are starting to tell a bigger story. You know, it's time for something new. Graphics aren't everything in gameplay but graphics can also enable designers to do some crazy and wacky things that couldn't be done before. We want to bring that kind of visual level and that kind of experience to the console," he says.
But whether or not Crytek will be able to is up to Sony and Microsoft, who are expected to launch the next generation of consoles next year, although nothing has been officially announced.
"That's really up to the hardware manufacturers to listen to the people that are really pushing the generation, and what we require on that front."