Crysis starts easy. Raptor team HALO jumps onto an island in the Korean-occupied Lingshan Island chain. Their objective is to evacuate US civilians, mostly researchers who have stumbled upon something unknown and exciting. The Koreans attempt to resist the US Special Forces unit, but it’s fruitless action. Each member of Raptor team is wearing a Nano Muscle Suit, the most advanced armor ever created. Fit to the human frame, the suit allows for greater agility. Synthetic tendrils of muscles extend and contour where natural muscles lie underneath. Gray and white and serious, the armor offers more than looks. The exoskeleton allows the wearer to become invisible, become more resilient to damage, to be stronger and faster.
The story of Crysis soon spins into the realm of science fiction when the US-led invasion of the island is crippled by an alien counter-invasion. The suit becomes a necessity as opposed to an obvious advantage. It becomes the only clear way to win.
It’s interesting armor, unlike anything else in the game. I want to know why. You see, I’m on a journey of sorts. I want to know why studios include the armor that they do — hulking, space-like, whatever — in their games. I asked four developers the same two questions about the armor in their game worlds. Crytek, like Epic Games and Bethesda, answered them.
After a rundown of the basics, Crytek lead designer Sten Hubler tells me that the armor was created, in part, to give players the feeling that they are special in the game’s environment. Above all, though, it gives players the tools to survive and fight against the technologically superior aliens.
“At the start of the game it might seem like overkill with the player up against an ill-equipped North-Korean army, but as soon as the alien threat is revealed it quickly becomes clear that the suit is barely enough in the face of a vastly superior alien race,” Hubler says.
“Not everybody gets to wear the Nanosuit. It takes an exhausting selection and qualification process, where only a few succeed,” he says. “Our players have to use this tool of highly advanced technology to adapt in order to survive, and eventually prevail. It makes our players understand that they are special, makes them standout from the other characters in the game.”
Interestingly, the Nano Muscle Suit Crysis players have fallen in love with wasn’t always so ergonomic. Crytek’s original plans called for a bigger and nastier suit, something like the stuff featured in Gears of Wars perhaps. Creative director Cevat Yerli steered the team away from heavy plate when he decided that the armor should give players enhanced abilities — to extend the gameplay from guns.
“Initialy, when we started putting together our ideas and thoughts for Crysis, the armor was planned as a clunky, heavy space suit that our players would get about half-way through the game in response to the alien threat, and the need for the player character to enter the alien ship itself,” Huber explains. “However, at one point, our creative director Cevat Yerli wanted to use the armor to extend the gameplay opportunities the game provided, to allow for more exaggerated actions, but also to encourage players to carefully consider how and when to use those actions, and to manage the suit’s energy efficiently.”
“At this point we changed the visual concept of the suit to match the new direction. We felt we needed to make it lighter, more agile and combat ready, to approach it a bit differently to armored suits in other games we’ve played. They usually look quite bulky, made out of hard metal plates. We wanted to create something more modern, slim and muscular. Fictionally we looked into current military research programs, like ‘Future Warrior 2020’ for inspiration and as reference for what could exist in the near future when our game took place.”
“Out of all those considerations the Nanosuit was born. It consists of a coltan-titanium exoskeleton, with a carbon-nanofiber composite providing incredible strength, speed and protection. Additionally, it generates a cloak field that makes the wearer temporarily invisible.”
Tomorrow, I’ll bring you thoughts from the creators of a suit designed to absorb the impact of a 15,000 foot drop from a space jet.