Microsoft is gearing up to announce the successor to the Xbox 360 at E3 2012, and Crytek is already developing a new TimeSplitters game for the next generation of consoles, can reveal.

Specifications for the new machine have not been finalised, but Crytek is using Microsoft's DirectX 11 as the current basis for next-generation development. Tessellation, multithreaded rendering, and compute shaders are the three headlining features for DirectX 11.

The Crysis 2 developer says that Microsoft will announce the existence of a new Xbox within the next 12 months, hinting that an E3 2012 reveal is likely. Crytek believes that Microsoft will announce and launch its new machine ahead of rival Sony, though the developer is also investing resources into next-generation PlayStation development.

The information was detailed to by a high-ranking industry source at Crytek, who stated that TimeSplitters 4 is currently being demonstrated internally, is being built with CryEngine 3, and was being shown privately in video form at E3 2011.

Crytek UK, who produced the other three games in the series as Free Radical, is still handling the development.

Both Microsoft and Crytek declined to comment.

The source reports that the graphics on TimeSplitters 4 are noticeably improved over current generation technology, with the DX11 tessellation effects allegedly having a huge impact on the visuals. Crytek believes that the game - and CryEngine 3 itself - will be seen as the cornerstone of next-generation development.

Crytek has invested heavily in DirectX 11 development primarily to focus on the new consoles, with the upcoming DX11 patch for the PC version of Crysis 2 being used internally as a benchmark of anticipated hardware trends.

As for the game itself, the new TimeSplitters is reported to focus on the series' branching paths and exploratory nature, with sandbox-style gameplay elements a big priority. The current goal is for levels to feature multiple routes that lead to the same overall conclusion.

Speculation about TimeSplitters 4 has been running since 2007. Since its initial announcement the game was even pegged to be a Wii-exclusive before languishing in development hell and being put on hiatus in 2009.

What does this mean for Halo 4, then, which was stated as an Xbox 360 game during its E3 2011 reveal?

Crytek has also recently announced that the CryEngine will support Nintendo's upcoming Wii U hardware. "Crytek's support for Wii U is definitely going to happen," said CEO Cevat Yerli.

Younger gamers might not be aware of the TimeSplitters series. 2005's TimeSplitters: Future Perfect was the last game in the franchise, and 2000's TimeSplitters was a well-received PS2 launch title, but the highlight of the series is undeniably 2002's TimeSplitters 2.

Crytek snapped up Free Radical in 2009 after the studio was forced into administration following the lacklustre critical and commercial performance of its PS3-exclusive shooter Haze. The Nottingham-based studio was rebranded as Crytek UK.

Crytek UK's last job was to handle the multiplayer portion of Crysis 2. "Whether it has enough mettle to compete in the long-term is another question - and one that will be tested over the coming months - but from this initial glance it certainly seems like there's enough in Crysis 2's multiplayer to at least tide people over until the autumn," I wrote in's 9/10 Crysis 2 review.

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