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Crysis 2 – first look

Forget Far Cry 2. The real sequel to Crytek’s tropical PC-only shooter was Crysis, a game so powerful it could only run on a nuclear-powered PC the size of a semi truck. Until now.

For the past twelve months, Crytek have, through a series of tech demos, been floating the very real possibility of a Crysis sequel running on consoles as well as PC. CryEngine 3 videos seemed to point towards modifications – but not many. This was the lush jungle and the wide-open sandbox of the original PC game; the eye-searing world that had changed gaming visuals forever in 2004. This was, in fact, proof positive that, with the right amount of time, effort and technical expertise, Crysis could become a console game. And so it has. But not how we thought.

While every one of their previous games has been set in the tropics – a gradual evolution culminating in the beautiful vistas of Crysis Warhead – Crytek’s next game is heading somewhere very, very different. Crysis 2 is swapping the real jungles of the South Pacific for the sprawling urban jungle of… New York. Yep, that’s the same place we’ve been before in Prototype, Alone in the Dark, The Darkness, Ghostbusters, every bloody Spider-man game, and parts of The Godfather 2; a city that has, if we’re honest, become one of the most unoriginal settings in gaming. But for Crysis, and for Crytek in general, it’s virgin territory. And to understand how radical a departure the move is for the series, we need to take a step back.

Set in the near future, Crysis centered on a bunch of high-tech super-soldiers deployed to a Pacific island to rescue scientists from hostile North Korean troops. The first part of the game involved sneaking, running, punching, shooting and swimming around the huge, fictional Lingshan islands, battling human enemies and occasionally sharks. (Seriously, look at the great vids on YouTube). The second part of the game involved, er, aliens. And after extra-terrestrials arrived and blasted the environment with a freeze ray, most people agreed that Crysis – in taking a super-powered leap over the shark – took a turn for the worse.

As Jake ‘Nomad’ Dunn, you were one of only a handful of soldiers blessed with a Nanosuit, a nifty piece of rubberware that offered you four different modes: Strength, Armor, Speed and Cloak. Strength let you jump higher and farther, hurling items with more force; Armor deflected a certain amount of damage; Speed gave you the ability to run and swim faster; while Cloak made you temporarily invisible (obviously). The beauty of the suit was that it let you decide how to approach situations based on your individual needs and abilities.

Standing on an overlook, gazing down at a group of soldiers, do you rush in there with Strength using one human meatbag as a shield, before punching the rest into oblivion – or do you take a more measured approach, utilising the protective power of Armor to pick them off one-by-one? Alternatively, you could sneak in and stealth-kill every last one of the douchebags. It was entirely your choice; and if you wanted to mix-and-match, well, the system actively encouraged that – switching between powers was incredibly simple.

The Nanosuit was half of what made Crysis so appealing, but the tropical setting was the other; it was both an indication of what the PC was capable of and a timely reminder that videogame worlds could be colourful and beautiful, rather than drab and brown. It was a setting unlike the majority of game environments that seemed happy to settle for cliches such as… New York City. But the main benefit of the tropical setting was its inherent freedom; at least in the early sections, you had a broad, beautiful sandbox to play in.

All of which makes the move to NYC more than a little troubling. The whole game will, apparently, take place there – a place not typically known for its vast tropical environments, or indeed its killer sharks. It’s probably safe to assume we can expect major landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building to make an appearance, probably in the context of getting blown up. Sadly, Crytek haven’t revealed much – indeed, anything – about the plot yet; if original hero Nomad will return, whether Crysis Warhead’s Psycho will take up the mantle, or if some new guy will step into the Nanosuit.

According to Nathan Camarillo, the Executive Producer at Crytek, it’s for the unique possibilities that come with the new locale. “We decided to pick New York as it’s one of the world’s premier hotspots; it’s a very important place for the entire world. In general, a city offers more opportunities for vertical gameplay than a jungle; the player can jump between different floors, jump on buses, on trucks, in craters, and from one building to another. The player is much more mobile in a city playground, and can change his position more often. They also have a lot more freedom, as they can plan or attack someone from above, and gain an advantage.”

The freeform tactics of the first game are intact, albeit in a slightly different form. Crytek are adapting to the new locale by incorporating all of the vertical elements that come with a major city – in particular, unsurprisingly, the enormous skyscrapers. It makes sense: Crysis puts you in the shoes of an all-but superhero, and what better place for a superhero to fight crime than New York City? It’s been home, variously, to Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four and countless others; spiritually, Crytek are simply trying to draw on New York’s iconic history.

21 comments

  • aliengmr - March 5, 2010 3:21 a.m.

    I can tolerate Crysis 2 being on consoles and even being set in new york, but messing with the suit powers is not a very smart idea. One thing Crysis did extremely well was the simple controls. That mixed with the best first person animation I have ever seen, made for a very fluid experience. Crysis relied on the player to handle the situation while crytek supplied the tools, which were simple. I can tolerate most changes, but changing the nanosuits function is a very bad idea.
  • GwaR - March 3, 2010 7:54 p.m.

    I'm cautiously optomistic, just like GR seems to be. The original Far Cry and Crysis are some of my favorite all-time FPSs for their sandbox approaches to almost every situation. In fact, the parts of both games that I disliked were the scripted sequences and boss fights. Anything linear like that should be saved for COD and the other outfits who do it better than Crytek. Crytek's strength is in creating a beautifully rendered sandbox FPS AND making it fun. No other company yet seems to have been able to do that. My hope is that Crytek can pull it off on multiple platforms, just like they did on the PC. My skepticism stems from the fact that no matter how you slice it, the consoles don't have anywhere near the power of modern multi-core PCs. Let's hope Crytek can pull off some of their magic, because they're going to need it...
  • ventanger - March 3, 2010 7:28 p.m.

    It's funny how the promo renders show off the Nanosuit, the one thing you literally never look at in the game. Not 'ha ha' funny... more like 'Daddy Daycamp' funny.
  • sleepy92ismypsn - March 3, 2010 2:41 p.m.

    so stoked for this game looks like a halokiller to me
  • The_Tingler - March 3, 2010 6:48 a.m.

    Oh, and The Saboteur. I'm sure I'll be able to think of more later.
  • The_Tingler - March 3, 2010 6:47 a.m.

    @Tony121: Uhhh... what? A joke, I really hope. It's quite hard to tell without a smiley. @CH3BURASHKA: Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl, Half-Life 2, Assassin's Creed II. Your memory's clearly not very good.
  • CH3BURASHKA - March 3, 2010 1:13 a.m.

    Cities as environments I can deal with: New York, less and less so with time. Why is every single 'urban' game set in the United States? I do not remember a significant game to feature Europe as a prominent location. The designer says they'll incorporate the buildings onto the game's design. Guess what? New York is all square skyscrapers. How about going to Budapest or Rome or Madrid and 'utilize' all of their churches and old-ass government buildings? New York has had its 15 years of fame; time to give others a chance. Alternatively, how about Seattle?
  • Samuel71 - March 3, 2010 12:45 a.m.

    So... from this article, it looks like this won't be the PC gaming experience that Crysis was. :(
  • w1n5t0n - March 2, 2010 11:45 p.m.

    I like games on consoles and computers, but i dont have enough money to buy another high end gaming computer that's not outdated every time a new game comes out, i understand that developers want to make their games look as good as possible but gameplay should still be more important than graphics, and the elitism among computer gamers these days is freakin insane "Console ports will ruin our game" no, it won't, so shut up
  • D0CCON - March 2, 2010 10:48 p.m.

    thought this was still halo reach from the small picture. anways, I'm interested in seeing how this works on a console. Since 360 has always been less laggy than my PC on EVERYTHING, I'd like trying it on something smoother (although graphically, my computer could just barely run Crysis on max settings)
  • Tony121 - March 2, 2010 5:37 p.m.

    i cant believe such a good game is being released for 360 it makes me angry!
  • keaton121 - March 2, 2010 4:52 p.m.

    how will this run on 360? i don't understand.
  • Hydrohs - March 2, 2010 12:41 p.m.

    I'm really excited for the New York setting. Going through GTA IV is really fun, going through New York as a war zone rendered with the CryEngine 3 will be awesome. Jungles look nice, but cities can offer a lot of hiding spots, I think it will be a nice change from the first Crysis.
  • Beartoe - March 2, 2010 7:07 a.m.

    this article was stupid. albeit it gave us a look into the new cryengine 3, it bagged on a game simply because it was different from the first. i mean is it really that important that you play another game in the jungle. change might not always be the best. but i'd rather try something new then play the same game over and over again. and if it's the technical specifications your worried about, if you think about it, who really wants to upgrade their current set up just so they can play one game to it's full potential. if you think about it crytek is playing it smart my making their next game playable on multiple platforms. reaching a wider audience would definitely increase profits margins. thereby increasing the chance of a third game. which by the time of it's release, the public would have probably caught up hardware wise to allow crytek to develop a game so amazing that this would all seem trivial by that time.
  • FriendlyFire - March 2, 2010 6:22 a.m.

    I have an odd feeling that in order to accommodate consoles, the PC version might take a hit. It is technically impossible for consoles to look as good as a modern PC (what with the years since the consoles were released and PC tech moving forward during that time), so that means either they're "twisting" the truth and the game is in fact better-looking on the PC by a fair margin, or the whole engine has been downsized everywhere so that consoles don't throw a fit trying to run it.
  • Migglez - March 2, 2010 5:44 a.m.

    its so amazing the little box that plays vids on the right cant play it...
  • M0rt1f1cat0r - March 2, 2010 2:50 a.m.

    I just hope that the PC version isn't negatively (read; graphics, multiplayer support and such) impacted by having a console version...
  • Obviouslyadouche - March 2, 2010 2:26 a.m.

    Oh yea, gonna like this
  • Jok3rNThi3f - March 2, 2010 1:20 a.m.

    "However, the challenges have allowed us to avoid 'overdesigning' features, to keep the focus 'narrower' and 'tight'" Lets read between the lines. I didn't play the original Crysis, or Warhead for that matter and with Good reason. My PC cant handle it at the moment. But I know enough to know that isn't Crysis. Narrow? Tight? Overdesigning features? Face it Crytek. You just can't pull off what you did on the PC on the Consoles.
  • may.be.vital - March 2, 2010 12:32 a.m.

    Loved the first... and looking forward to the second =D but i still see the first games best moments as the ones in which you could take any approach to the situation. The first "stage" is my favorite in this aspect. So yes, moving to New York has me worried...

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