Letts followed his execution with a dip, swimming out past a loading dock, admiring a few crabs that scuttled about the ocean floor and a school of snaking fish off in the distance. Letts assured us that there were -- or would be -- sharks in deeper waters; the type that would be drawn to a slowly bleeding North Korean soldier launched from your arms into the depths.
Crysis is a joy for its subtleties, and for its complexities. We watched as Letts haphazardly caused enough commotion for an enemy combatant to fire a flare out over the tree tops. A minute later, reinforcements arrived by boat and by jeep. Some time later, over the ridge, troops who had spotted the flare earlier where still on alert. Letts spoke of a basic set of variables (the whos, whats, and wheres), which when applied to a dynamic environment, provide the player with ever-unpredictable "action bubbles." While there is a narrative structure to Crysis and a series of well-documented twists (two major environmental upheavals that change the nature of gameplay), Letts seemed most proud of the "sandbox" nature of Crytek's tactical shooter. 'Sandbox' might be a waning buzzword that's propelled too many lazily-developed borefests, but Crysis is clearly a title that will defend the legitimacy of such a fundamental design choice. If you've got the right rig for the job, peep Crysis when it drops (by the end of the year).