|System: PC, Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Crytek Studios|
|Pub: Electronic Arts|
|Release: March 22, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by James Trujillo
When the original Crysis released back in November 2007, people had plenty of reasons to be excited about this groundbreaking new franchise. The developer, Crytek, who was known for their Far Cry series, certainly had a lot to live up to. Now with the highly anticipated release of Crysis 2, they have set the bar even higher. With a huge focus on refining their multiplayer component, Crytek has expanded on its ambitions and given the famed Nanosuit a larger role than ever before.
The first thing you'll notice when stepping into a new match is the downsized multiplayer lobby. It now features two squads of six going head-to-head throughout six different game modes with eight variants, a drastic difference from the previous thirty-two player lobbies. A big change that makes sense, considering the open terrain of the jungle has been replaced by a closed-in New York landscape. The lack of vehicular warfare in Crysis 2's multiplayer should be a given.
During our hands-on time with the game we only got to see three of the six available game modes: Team Instant Action, Crash Site, and Extraction. Crysis fans will recognize Team Instant Action as your standard team deathmatch scenario, but Crash Site and Extraction are brand new to the multiplayer experience. Anyone who is familiar with first-person shooters will see that Crash Site is essentially a King of the Hill game-type. Players will battle over crashed alien drop pods that fall into the map at random locations. Teams then try to maintain these drop points by controlling the vicinity, and gain points while the area is being dominated. After a limited amount of time the pod will explode, causing damage or death to anyone close enough, and the drop ship above will begin the process all over.
Although the mode is standard for a multiplayer shooter, the Nanosuit abilities change the gameplay dramatically. You have instant access to armor, power, and stealth capabilities during the fight, along with upgrades that can be unlocked through a newly implemented skill progression system. The more you use these abilities during combat and execute a particular task - like killing enemies during a slide maneuver or pulling off stealth kills - the more you earn experience within these three categories and unlock more upgrades as you build your overall rank. These acquired "modules" can then be equipped through your load out screen before a match to improve a multitude of play styles.
Unfortunately, not a lot of these modules were unlocked for us during our playtime, but the few we saw were interesting. The initial stealth module was your basic cloaking enhancement, but the counter to this was an ability to see the players' glowing footprints as they walked around the map. An armor module we were given was a powerful air stomp that caused a concussive blast around your drop point, destroying anything or anyone unlucky enough to be in the way. There were even a few that granted skills like heat vision or the ability to detect bullet trails, but nothing we saw was ever vastly overpowered or a game changer. As you rank up even further through the progression system, you can move beyond the four standard classes of Assault, Scout, Sniper, and Gunner to create five custom classes. You can equip any combination of weapons, attachments, and modules to customize your experience and create load outs however you see fit.
The other game modes explained during a short presentation didn't feel like anything significantly different in terms of multiplayer. However, the focus on the Nanosuit seems to bring the level of fun out in these otherwise typical scenarios. Our next game was an attack and defend mode called Extraction. The goal here was to capture two small nano pods and return them to an awaiting helicopter in your squad's spawn location. It was quite fun, but also a bit of a challenge to defend against a team who can become invisible and sneak in at any given moment. Luckily the person who grabs the pod gets highlighted with a red target and becomes the center of attention while trying to escape. The job for the remainder of the squad is to protect him while on route to the extraction point, and it can get pretty hectic to say the least.
Aside from the Nanosuit upgrades being a huge priority, the maps themselves are tailored well to accommodate the fast-paced and tactical gameplay. One of the areas featured was at the top of a New York City skyscraper, in and around a rooftop garden, along with another within a large parking structure and a third out front of a cathedral. These maps felt smaller than they actually were, but only because there is a free-running element to the gameplay. The quickest route from point A to point B was literally to Parkour across the terrain. The power of the Nanosuit gives you the ability to hop over walls, up onto high ledges, or even take shortcuts through a glass window after a boosted jump. The quickness with which you could roam around brought a whole new level of excitement and a sense of strategic vertical thinking to the game. However, the main thing to be cautious of is that these fast-paced methods can be a huge energy sap to your suit's power, leaving you vulnerable during moments where you may need a shield boost or a stealthy getaway.
It almost goes without saying that the game, graphically, looks incredible. I never witnessed an out-of-place texture or a single hiccup in frame rate throughout my entire time with the game (granted that it was for only a few hours). If Crytek can maintain this amount of stability upon its release, then it can easily be a huge competitor in a very crowded multiplayer market. With gameplay that's a mash-up of Battlefield's tactics, Call of Duty's perk and upgrade system, and the pure fun of Halo's multiplayer, you'd be hard pressed to find a more successful combination of gaming inspiration.
For those who want to check it out for themselves and intend to play on the Xbox 360, Crytek and EA have recently announced there will be an exclusive multiplayer demo arriving tomorrow, Tuesday, January 25th.
CCC Freelancer Writer