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Crysis 2 – first look

The major concern, of course, is that the new setting will undermine the sandbox nature of the original. Camarillo doesn’t think so. “When we started thinking about Crysis 2, we first figured out what we could improve, in which direction we’d like to go, and what the next playground could be. Crysis 2 is a sandbox game. In contrast to the common sandbox, Crysis has borders and a world that extends beyond those borders but – just as importantly – we go into more detail within our play space too.”

As cynics, we need to butt in here to point out that ‘more detail’ usually means ‘smaller environments’, but then again, there is far more background detail to represent in a city, not to mention a greater number of people and objects to interact with. The major problem with city-set games up until now (Grand Theft Auto IV aside) is that they just haven’t had the processing clout to present a lifelike city in its expansive, people-packed glory.

With the power of CryEngine 3 behind it, Camarillo doesn’t see that problem, or the problem of offering the player genuine freedom of movement, as an issue. “I think the freedom of Crysis 2 will surprise console gamers. Crysis is not about ‘go anywhere’; it is about looking at a situation from a great vantage point and then formulating a plan that you proactively initiate to defeat your foes. You have a lot of freedom in what that plan entails, and what weapons and world interactions you use. This is what we’re calling Veni Vidi Vici gameplay: I came, I saw, I conquered, and it should be quite fresh to the console market.”

 

It should be, but let’s not forget there is one game already offering something similar. Like Crysis 2, it’s a game with super-powered agents in a vertically open, urban playground; the game, of course, being Realtime Worlds’ Crackdown. Unlike Crysis, Crackdown didn’t portion out its powers into several different modes – while the Agent was blessed with enhanced strength, agility, armour and speed, all four abilities were active at once. And Crysis 2 appears to be heading down a similar route. Gone are the separate active powers, replaced by a system that’s a bit more difficult to describe.

“Crysis 2 introduces a new and improved version of the Nanosuit,” reveals Camarillo. “The Nanosuit 2 is mapped to play styles rather than individual powers. It enables players to customise how they approach different combat situations and challenges.” Which could mean anything, really. Although there didn’t seem anything majorly wrong with the system in the original Crysis – mixing and matching abilities to fit tactics was as simple as swapping powers out in the middle of battle – if it can be refined and perfected in Crysis 2, then we’re definitely on board.

Of course, there is an elephant in the room where Crytek’s decision to set the game in New York is concerned. On a purely technological level, a city is geometrically easier to render on a console than the vast, complex foliage of a jungle.

No matter how excited Crytek seem to get about the opportunities the Big Apple provides, it does seem to fly in the face of what we’ve been led to believe: that Crysis, in all its stunning tropical glory, is possible on a console. Was the decision to switch simply down to the consoles’ more limited processing clout? “I would not exactly call this generation of consoles ‘limited’,” says Camarillo. “However, the challenges have allowed us to avoid overdesigning features, to keep the focus narrower and tight for a compelling experience on all platforms. In the end this will make for the best experience for the gamer, because we will spend more time per feature, making it more polished, rather than spreading ourselves thinly just because we can. Creative constraints can be refreshing.”

Between the new setting and talk of making the game more ‘focused’ there is a worry that Crytek may have compromised the soul of Crysis in order to make it work on another format. But even if that’s true we can probably still expect something of a technical marvel – CryEngine 3 is a remarkable thing. “It’s an all-in-one solution,” says Nathan, “AI, physics, networking, multiplayer, audio and high-end effects are all included within the engine and built solely for CryEngine 3.”

This should help considerably with the porting process – or, eventually, perhaps eliminate the tiresome requirement entirely. If the tech videos Crytek showed at last year’s Game Developers Conference are indicative of the final engine, the differences between all three versions of the game should be extremely slight. Presumably, anal picture-quality-obsessive owners of high-end PCs may well see some benefit, but compromises for the sake of multiplatform development shouldn’t be anything like as drastic as some people were anticipating and bemoaning in advance.

 

“The big challenge during the development of CryEngine 3 has been scaling the engine whilst maintaining visual quality and performance,” Camarillo goes on to tell us. “This is always challenging; problems occurred, of course, but we’re really proud that our teams have managed to solve them.” But did they solve them by eradicating the jungle, or was the new setting their intention all along? More importantly, will NYC fundamentally alter the nature of the series – and if so, will it change it for the better or for the worse?

Crytek have made their name perfecting tropical environments, and their games are specifically geared to take advantage of them. They can’t simply change the background and hope the rest falls into place; in order for Crysis 2 to work on the same fundamental level as the original, the action will need to change too. This could bury Crysis, or it could morph it into an entirely new game, one that PC gamers and fans of the original might not be happy with – chatter that it’s ‘dumbed down’ for the sake of consoles is going to be difficult to shake off.

So, there’s a mountain of worry, but there’s plenty of hope, too. Without playing the game, and based on the small amount we saw, it’s difficult to tell if the tech videos Crytek showed paint an accurate portrayal of the game – but CryEngine 3 shows huge promise, and Crysis 2 has enormous potential. It might not be the sequel we were expecting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re being cheated out of the Crysis experience; just that Crysis 2 may offer something different. And if that something is leaping between buildings in a single bound, punching soldiers off rooftops and crushing cars beneath our super-powered feet, then it’s a change we think we can live with.

Mar 1, 2010

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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