Crysis 2 Overview
If you’re a console-based shooter fan, Crysis may be the best game from the past five years you never played. The unrelated follow-up to Crytek’s visually and technologically impressive Far Cry, the 2007 title and its spin-off Crysis: Warhead took the sandbox shooter genre to the next level with even better graphics and futuristic weaponry that turned Special Forces soldiers into alien-fighting badasses. Armed with the new CryEngine 3 technology, the true sequel brings Crysis to consoles for the first time.
Publisher Electronic Arts and Crytek aren’t bashful about setting a high bar, with EA Partners general manager David DeMartini saying he believes Crysis 2 is “the greatest product that is going to come out this year.” To achieve their immodest goal, Crytek is focusing on delivering highly interactive destructible environments, enhancing the nanosuit functionality, and highlighting the catastrophic beauty of a decimated New York City.
In the few years that have passed since the events of Crysis, the planet has suffered a series of catastrophic natural disasters with a frequency normally reserved for Roland Emmerich movies. Earthquakes, tidal waves, and flooding have ravaged much of the world, including the bustling metropolis New York City. To make matters worse, a plague is ravaging the city populace, and the aliens have returned to finish what they started. It’s up to you and your super-charged nanosuit to repel the latest invasion.
Crytek founder Cevat Yerli admits the story in the original Crysis was one of the weak links, and believes that enlisting acclaimed sci-fi writer Richard Morgan to pen Crysis 2 will bring the narrative quality on par with the rest of the experience. Morgan, best known for his book Altered Carbon, has won both the Philip K. **** and Author C. Clarke awards for his novels. To add intrigue to the compelling sandbox gameplay, Morgan says he’s focusing on the mystery at the heart of the nanosuit technology. “It’s a very useful, sharp tool, but it can cut both ways,” he says. “It can get out of and do things you don’t expect it to.” To pull this off, Morgan is giving the suit its own narrative arc that players will have to come to grips with as they play through the game. “The technology is not what it seems – there’s more to it than appears on the surface” he alludes.
When analyzing the telemetrics from Crysis and Crysis: Warhead, Crytek discovered that most players used the nanosuit to either hunt like a stealth-like Predator or become a tank like the Incredible Hulk. To accommodate these play styles, Crysis 2 introduces a streamlined nanosuit that adapts to your preferred method of attack. Maximum Stealth allows players to go invisible for a short amount of time with the cloaking mode, and Maximum Armor gives you the firepower to jump right into the fray and experience brief moments of invincibility. The rest of the abilities the previous nanosuit featured are moved into supplementary roles; the power mode enhances your speed and jumping ability, while the tactical functions allow you to better access the situation. Nanosuit vets will also be happy to know that they can now customize the suit with new unlockable functionalities that augment your preferred style of play as you move through the game. “Everyone starts with the same, but you’ll finish differently based on your own progression,” Yerli says.
New York, New York
As Yerli boots up the Crysis 2 demo on the Xbox 360, we get a great sense of just how much the devastation from the natural disasters and alien invasion has transformed Manhattan. We join the yet-to-be-named protagonist as he’s perched high in a bombed out skyscraping overlooking Wall Street. The ravaged financial district looks like a ghost town, with none of the bustling activity that was commonplace before the city went to hell. Bombed out skyscrapers smolder in the distance, and the streets are abandoned save for the squads of Crynet Security guards roaming the streets. A military chopper passes overhead, and the private military contractors stationed on the ground chatter about being on the look for Prophet, the badass Delta Force squad leader from the first game who has a knack for surviving impossible scenarios. Are they the bad guys?
“As in reality, it’s complex, it’s a little more complicated than that,” says Morgan. “You’ll find that there’s a lot to the Crynet Security story. Their relationship to you is volatile, but changeable. Certainly at this stage in the proceedings they are a problem for you – you are between them and something that they want.”
While the grid-like layout of New York stands in start contrast to the open world sandbox jungle environments of the original Crysis, Crytek is using verticality and the terraforming nature of the natural disasters to breathe sandbox sensibilities into the urban jungle. After scanning the area to get a beat on the enemy numbers, Prophet, or whoever it is the player is controlling, swan dives 20 stories to get closer to the action. The nanosuit automatically absorbs the impact upon landing.
The player activates the suit’s cloaking device, creeps up behind an unsuspecting guard, and performs one of the new button-activated stealth kills. These takedown moves are the ideal way to stay hidden, because unlike when you open fire with a weapon, you don’t lose your invisibility.
The player moves forward on the plaza and switches off the cloaking device. A soldier is patrolling on the other side of a metal panel. Rather than sneaking behind him for another stealth kill, the player decides to shoot through the cover to take out the unsuspecting victim. Bullets rip through the panel and the enemy’s lifeless corpse hits the pavement. With his position compromised after firing bullets, the player turns on Maximum armor to absorb the oncoming gunfire as he leaps across the gap between two buildings. Upon landing he uses his vertical advantage to take out a few enemies with a scoped weapon before activating the cloak ability once again to grab a nearby *** and throw him through the window to the street below.
With fire coming in from all sides, the player looks for an environmental advantage and finds one in a nearby gun emplacement. The immediate threat is behind him, so he rips the gun from the emplacement with the super strength the nanosuit provides and opens fire on the enemies, who duck for the safety of cover. These Crynet humps prove no match for the nanosuit enabled super soldier.
An Alien Threat Evolved
The second segment of the live demo starts with the player in the custody of Crynet Security, which is loading him onto a chopper for extraction to a nearby detention center. As the chopper ascends, the ground starts shaking below and suddenly an alien spire bursts through what appears to be the New York Stock Exchange building below and climbs into the air. The chopper is rattled by the blast and crashes near the corners of Nassau and Broad Streets. The player’s nanosuit loses power in the crash, so he’s rendered helpless on the ground as an alien dropship flies past launching pods into the streets.
Crynet Security takes cover to fight the oncoming threat – armored bipedal enemies much more deadly than the insect-like variety you fought in Crysis. These hulking creatures look more human, with two arms, two legs, and the mechanical tentacles growing out the back of their heads as the only shared trait from the beasts we’ve seen before. The grunts prove no match for the aliens, who rip through the guards with pinpoint accuracy in a matter of seconds. The nanosuit runs a recovery programs and powers back on just as the last Crynet solider bites the dust.
Once on his feet, the player grabs a powerful grenade launcher the last Crynet soldier standing dropped upon his death. He first goes into stealth mode to get the jump on a nearby enemy, which the enemy repels easily. The player then starts lobbing grenades at the aliens taking cover behind abandoned taxicabs. These new enemies carefully coordinate their attacks, with one baddie flanking while the player is engaged with a target in front of him. It looks as if it’s going to be tough to stay in one place the entire time when combating the extraterrestrial threat, so using the stealth mode to reposition your attack is paramount. While the player’s hands are full dealing with the alien attackers, another pod crashes nearby. A much larger, menacing enemy emerges and triggers and EMP blast that once again disrupts the suit functionality and sends the player helplessly to the concrete.
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