Crysis 2 First Impressions - Seeing is Believing
Written Friday, April 09, 2010 By Dan WebbView author's profile
I made a conscious decision in around June 2005 that I would part ways with my PC gaming roots and make the unholy shift across to their upcoming brethren, the console. Working and gaming on the same rig was something that I just wasn’t comfortable with. Forgive me for reusing this analogy, but it’s true, it’s like sleeping with your boss. Work and pleasure just don’t mix... in my eyes anyway. Seeing as I rank the original Far Cry on PC as one of my favourite games of all time, it was promising news from a personal standpoint that its spiritual successor’s sequel, Crysis 2, would be heading to consoles sometime in holiday 2010. Earlier on this week we headed across to the Big Apple itself to catch the console version of the title in action. 7,000 air miles later and I can safely say it was worth the trip.
Why we’re seeing Crysis 2 on consoles and why we didn’t see the original grace itself on the console platform is that Crytek have refined, upgraded and reworked the engine in so many different ways that it’s now finally possible. CryEngine 3 includes a lot of upgrades including colour grading, blend shading and so many more technical terms that are likely to go a mile over your head unless you have a PHD in Computer Science. Or unless of course you’ve seen the GDC 2010 tech trailer.
“It has been my dream to bring the kind of gameplay from Crysis – the Nanosuit and the sandbox experience – to the console market,” stated Crytek CEO and Founder, Cevat Yerli. What’s the Nanosuit you chirp? You didn’t play the original you say? Let us fill in the gaps.
Crysis 2’s Nanosuit is essentially a suit created to mould the world’s last line of defence – the super soldier. Whilst the original Crysis allowed you to flick back and forth between speed, strength, stealth and armour, the sequel allows you to combine powers to become a much more dominant force – like a predator or a tank if you will. Watching Executive Producer, Nathan Camarillo, leap from rooftop to rooftop across the wide streets of New York before enabling the cloak to silently take down a foe was possibly the best way to show off this new refinement in the suit. Incidentally, Crysis 2 will also allow gamers to customise and upgrade their Nanosuit as well, meaning that the experience will be tailored to the individual.
According to Yerli, Crysis 2 is looking to build its foundations on three main pillars; highly interactive destructibility; the Nanosuit 2; and the catastrophic beauty of New York. But why New York? Well according to Yerli it’s about creating this emotional tie for the gamer; giving them the task of saving the world’s most iconic city. Something that he believed held the original back. “What’s the real deal with protecting an island?” Yerli questioned, who’s obviously not a fan of Lost.
Seeing New York in its rundown state is, as Yerli said, a disturbing view, but presented to such a high level of quality that you can’t help but marvel at it. Whether it’s the crumbling skyscrapers, the decimated city whose character still flows through what’s left of its iconic buildings or the creepy vibe that you get from a city that was once the epicentre of life; truth be told, it was a pretty spectacular sight.
It was the story though in Yerli’s mind that held the original back from the dizzy heights of that near perfect score, something that respected sci-fi writer Richard Morgan has been taken on to correct.
“As Lead Writer, you’re like a lens,” commented Morgan, “the idea is that you have to take all this creativity and try and refract it through the lens of the story. Make the fiction strong, don’t scratch the lens and make sure all of this stuff flows through. It’s very much a case of building something that supports the gameplay.”
“The story was okay, it was a bit predictable, you could pretty much see where it was going,” said Morgan about the original’s plot. “We’re shooting for unpredictability [in Crysis 2], hopefully a story where you don’t know what’s going on, what’s coming next... we nailed that with a twisty turny narrative,” Morgan continued with a dry grin on his face. New York being the last bastion of hope for the human race and the Nanosuit – “the Nanosuit is almost a character in its own right” in the sequel said Morgan – also play a huge part in driving the dynamic story of Crysis 2. It all sounds very complex, but equally as interesting and we’re sure that an established writer like Morgan is definitely a massive coup for Crytek and EA.
The short 20 minute presentation of live, unpredictable gameplay revealed that not only did the title have the visuals to shake the foundation of what we expect from a high end console game, but the fast, frenetic gameplay offered variety in abundance. The combat ranged from Camarillo stealth killing a foe on the skywalk and throwing him 30 plus floors out of the window, to the Executive Producer pinging grenades from his grenade launcher attachment at a whole host of beastie aliens that swamped the streets of NYC.
It wasn’t all aliens and sci-fi madness though, as more than half of the presentation pitted the super soldier against a few dozen of CryNet’s security team, a Private Military Contractor. “It’s complex,” said Morgan about why there is human versus human conflict amidst this alien invasion. At this time Camarillo was making full use of his Nanosuit and the surrounding environment to get an advantage over his foes, dismounting a turret gun to chip away at the concrete walls, using his assault rifle to rip through the roof’s plant pots and wrought iron lanterns, and of course, eradicate all enemy resistance. When the aliens turned up, the action went from tactical to completely manic in an instant, with shotguns and grenades becoming the weapon of choice. It took the appearance of a Halo-Hunter-esque beastie to finish off our Nanosuited warrior and bring the presentation to a dramatic end.
The second half of 2010 is currently jam-packed with plenty of shooters from different ends of the spectrum and after seeing Crysis 2 in action on console on a ginormous cinema screen, seeing is most definitely believing. Although it was a small vertical slice of an obviously huge game, the level of quality was plain to see from the off. The crumbling skyscrapers, procedural damage and ability to jump from rooftop to rooftop across a six lane street is nothing short of impressive. Actually grasping the scope of the game’s sandbox nature was a little trickier, especially seeing as they’ve made the jump from wide open vistas to rather narrow streets – although we suspect Central Park will offer a similar experience to that of the original. The draw distance was also something quite hard to discern as well with clouds of dust and smoke lining the streets, but the combat looked intense and the textures were as detailed as anything we’ve seen on a console game before. Consider our interest piqued.
It’ll be interesting to see if the game’s controls are as tight as its looks and whether it can hold up when the action gets a little more open and a lot more intense. For now, colour us excited, intrigued and praying that Crytek can perform what a few years ago seemed like a distant pipedream – Crysis, on a console... Something that is seemingly more of a real possibility now.
Crysis 2 is currently slated for a holiday 2010 release. Expect to catch more coverage of it over the summer with it surely playing a huge part at this year’s trade shows.