Crysis 2

Impending Crysis?

We went hands-on with Crysis 2's competitive multiplayer mode. Here's what we thought.
Author: Parjanya C. Holtz
Published: January 31, 2011
Trying to successfully enter the market of the modern class and perk based multiplayer shooter is quite an undertaking these days. The playing field is flooded with options to choose from, and the competition is fierce. Understandably we were a bit skeptical when we first heard of EA and Frankfurt, Germany based developer Crytek's plans to show off Crysis 2's competitive multiplayer mode at the DNA Lounge in the heart of San Francisco, late last week. As it turns out, the Germans have it all under control.

The show kicked off with the demonstration of a spectacular and action packed (new) multiplayer trailer featuring a Prodigy song (which you can look at here), managing to almost entirely eradicate any of our aforementioned fears of Crytek's shooter being just another, well... perk and class based multiplayer shooter. Fortunately it didn't take long for us to be handed a gamepad and asked to dispose of some fellow journalists, a request we complied with happily.

With its predecessor being the most impressive looking game of its time (and the three years following it) it's only natural that many wonder how good Crysis 2 really looks, and more importantly, how well it runs on consoles. The answer is, rather impressively. EA's multiplayer session relied on a bunch of Xbox 360s (no PS3s, sorry), and seeing the game perform under pressure the way it did, immediately convinced us of the CryEngine 3's console capabilities. The animations were fluid, the environments pretty and detailed, and the lighting spectacular. Keep in mind, we're only talking about the game's multiplayer component here (the graphics are usually a little toned down in order to keep the performance up, and the pings low), which puts the impressive visuals into some context. If the multiplayer part already manages to impress visually, how amazing will Crysis 2's single-player campaign look? We can only imagine.

It's a little difficult to fully understand a multiplayer shooter's class/experience system and determine its quality after only about an hour and a half of hands-on time, which is why we're going to talk a little about how playing the game felt instead. If you're one of those Call of Duty nut jobs, Crysis 2's controls will likely come across as a little heavy and unresponsive, an issue Killzone 2 players will probably not have at all. It took us a while to get a hang of what button does what, but once we did, the only real issue that remained was the imprecise aiming. Trying to successfully pull off headshots with the sniper rifle (which we unlocked after a couple of minutes) turned out to be close to impossible. Hopefully the 360 multiplayer beta will give Crytek the opportunity to rebalance the aiming, since finding that comfortable sweet spot in a heavier feeling shooter is possible as Guerilla famously demonstrated with Killzone 2 (and the help of some post-launch tweaking).

What sets Crysis 2's multiplayer apart from other shooters out there is the Nanosuit. In the original Crysis on the PC, players could choose and swap between a total of four different suit modes such as stealth (active camouflage), armor (more health), power (higher jumps and more powerful punches) and speed (speeeeed) on the fly, constantly adapting to the situation they've gotten themselves into. The system complemented the sandbox type gameplay style that was featured in the first game nicely, yet wouldn't have worked nearly as well in the multiplayer modes if left as is. Fortunately the different modes have returned, this time around being significantly more intuitive to use. The result is a multiplayer shooter that at times feels like a modern day videogame interpretation of the Predator franchise, as using stealth to sneak up on enemies is one of the more satisfying tactics to work with. And if that fails, you can always do a power jump and unload all your energy in one gigantic (instant kill) ground punch, hoping for someone to be unfortunate enough to stand right below you.

Those of you who know a thing or two about Brink (thanks to reading one of our excellent previews, for instance) should be aware that first-shooters are heading into a new direction of player movement (the stealth kills in Halo Reach were an early indication of this new trend - one that has been copied numerous times since, and yes, can also be found in Crytek's new shooter). Crysis 2 offers something somewhat reminiscent of Splash Damage's SMART system, even if it may not be as radically fleshed out or gameplay defining. Attempting to unsuccessfully hop onto a platform demonstrates this system quite nicely as your character will automatically hold on to the the ledge and pull himself up. Similarly, sprinting and crouching will make you slide across the floor while still allowing you to aim and shoot. The coolness factor this entails must not further be discussed. Instead we suggest you look at this screenshot for further clarification. Whether the gameplay will noticeably profit from this advanced movement system remains to be seen. If nothing else, it will help create a sense of natural interactivity that is still relatively fresh to the genre.

Despite some minor annoyances such as the not (yet) quite perfect aiming controls, there is no denying that Crysis 2 is shaping up to becoming quite the tempting alternative to the Killzones, Call of Duties and Halos of this world. We suggest you keep this one on your radar, or it might sneak up on you and break your neck (literally).