Crysis 2 Single-Player Preview: Aliens Take Manhattan...In 3D!By Adam Rosenberg - Posted Feb 17, 2011
Crysis remains one of the most popular and visually spectacular first-person shooters of this generation, despite being more than three years old now and saddled with the drawback of a single-platform release for Microsoft Windows. Developer Crytek is looking to correct the latter issue with Crysis 2, which hits Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platforms, as well as Windows, on March 22. Chances are that you've already gotten a taste of the game from the recently released multiplayer demo, but G4 got to take the 360 version of the game for a spin yesterday at Electronic Arts' annual Swing Into Spring preview event in New York City.
The demo session, of course, offered an optimal setup for the ideal Crysis 2 experience, which is to say a great big 3D TV. The game's 3D effects opt more for a deep depth-of-field effect than a non-stop hail of bullets and debris seemingly flying at your face. The results are immediately impressive. There's an added sense of scale and grandeur to everything as you weave your way through the broken skyscraper canyons of an alien-invaded Manhattan Island. It's hard to say for sure if the 3D creates a loss of resolution, though, especially without the 2D version handy to compare it to, but the visuals look crisp and clean for the most part, with the notable exception of on-screen text, particularly in the weapon and Nanosuit customization screens.
It's all about the gameplay though. Crysis 2 offers a much more streamlined implementation of your Nanosuit abilities than the previous game. This is partially because the control scheme had to be rethought for console gamepads, but, also, simply because the original game's four independent suit modes proved to be awkward.
Like the previous game, the gamepad controls don't allow players to go into a prone position. However, there is a new contextual cover-based mechanic. Position yourself in the right place behind a wall or some other piece of cover, and you can lean out simply by holding down the left trigger to aim. Release the trigger and you pop back into cover. It only works when an associated on-screen prompt appears, and some seemingly obvious cover points don't offer the option, but it is a simple-to-grasp mechanic that fits well into the game's pace.
Speed and strength skills simply activate when they are used, while stealth and armor modes can be triggered with presses of the right and left bumpers, respectively. Jumping between the Nanosuit modes adds new a wrinkle to the standard FPS gameplay, but once you get a handle on things, it seamlessly works its way into your combat strategies. The aggregate effect is that you are able to run around under fire in each battlefield's open spaces for longer periods of time without dying -- so long as you're careful, that is -- giving the overall game a much faster pace than its predecessor. It feels a little like Halo, only with a lot more depth in terms of the toolbox at your disposal.
Human enemies offer pretty standard resistance, taking cover when possible and firing from fixed emplacement positions. The game's aliens are much more problematic, which figures since they also provide the key to Nanosuit upgrades. Each invader essentially has the same set of physical tools available to your own character and his Nanosuit. Those encountered in the demo moved quickly, slid, climbed and jumped along walls, and employed hit-and-run melee tactics. Each one killed adds to the currency you can spend on upgrading your Nanosuit with a variety of buffs that can be activated or deactivated as situations demand in a manner very similar to weapon customization.
The single-player campaign in Crysis 2 is looking like a winner, especially if you're set up for 3D gaming. The game's fast pace and visual punch are immediately apparent, and the franchise's twist on standard FPS mechanics is greatly improved with the sequel's more streamlined Nanosuit. Our demo was brief, but there's great promise here for a fulfilling experience when the game hits stores in late March.