While Call of Duty has proven that a First-Person Shooter (FPS) with mediocre graphics can not only succeed, but be the most popular title in its genre, developers continue to look for a way to immerse the player in that true first-person experience. The most important thing to a video game is its engine, simply because without the engine there is no game. Currently, Crytek‘s CryENGINE 3 and EA‘s Frostbite 2 engines are top of the line, with CryENGINE 3 having the upper hand. With that said, EA’s first game using the Frostbite 2 engine, Battlefield 3, looks comparable to Crytek’s first game running off of CryENGINE 3, Crysis 2, which was released seven months prior. While Battlefield 3 is comparable to Crysis 2 in terms of graphics and fluidity, there is a clear gap between the two titles. Thanks to CryENGINE 3, Crysis 2 has an obvious upper hand in realism due to the emphasis on detailing to the smallest pixel.
Where the Frostbite 2 engine strives visually is in its buildings, roads, and pretty much anything else with concrete or pavement. The quality most important to Crysis 2’s spectacular visuals is the lighting. While Frostbite 2 does a good job with how light refracts through smoke and dust, due to its focus on creating a more destructible environment, there are times when the player’s shadow does not appear, as if the lighting effect is pre-rendered and not happening in real time. CryEngine 3 is capable of casting a shadow of the character in each appropriate situation, even when the character is in his invisibility mode, showing that these lighting effects are realistic and happening in real-time. The importance of real time is not limited to seeing shadows, the environment as a whole relies on the lighting. Two of the most visually stunning effects in Crysis 2 are the vegetation and the water. The rendering of environmental objects such as these rely heavily on how the light reflects off them. Much like in real life, light not only shines off the water and leaves, but travels through them in order to create a more full and realistic feeling. With many gamers and developers looking for the next generation of gaming to take realism to the point where it can nearly replicate movie quality CGI in real-time game scenarios, Crytek’s CryENGINE 3 seems to be on the right track and ahead of the curve.
“Frostbite 2 was built for the next generation,” former Digital Illusions CE (DICE) CEO, Patrick Soderlund said in a recent interview with Gamasutra. As impressive as that may sound, in a 2009 interview with GamesIndustry, Crytek CEO Cevet Yerli claimed that CryENGINE 3 was made “next-gen ready” in order to prevent developers from being “victims of change and repositioning.” Simply put, Crytek has been developing for the next-generation of gaming three years longer than their closest competition, and with the fact that CryENGINE is made to render everything in real-time, is far ahead of the competition. With Medal of Honor: Warfighter sporting an updated Frostbite 2 engine and Crysis 3 showing off an updated CryENGINE 3, gamers will have to wait and see who has made the bigger leap. It remains to be seen which one of these upcoming EA games will come closer to providing that true first-person experience, but CryENGINE 3 can currently claim that title.