GDC 11: Crysis 2 Hands-on
Crysis 2 is certainly hard to miss. Appearing on a set of drool-inducingly large TV’s on the GDC show floor, the game attracted a steady stream of players eager to slap on a pair of 3D glasses and step into the decimated streets of New York City. The entire Crytek both was set up to show off their nanosuited hero, who performed feats of 1080p derring-do at a seemingly indefatigable clip.
The demo on offer contained five levels, of which I tried three, including one with the memorable, rhyming title “Semper Fi or Die.” What must be dispensed with, first of all, is both inevitable and obvious. The game looks great, deploying the full, considerable power of the Crytek engine. This graphical beauty was augmented by 3D technology, which made the HUD look like it was hovering ever-so-slightly above the action, and gave a pleasing perception of depth to the environments, whose sense of scale benefited immensely.
Dropped into the action with no tutorial, and no knowledge of our hero’s various abilities, I found the gameplay a little overwhelming at first. Crysis is not a game that stints on mechanics, putting the entire suite of Xbox 360 controller buttons to use, and knowing when to use what was often a matter of trial and error. The shifting alliances of the story can also be lost on a player just dropping in. I understood the game to be about an alien invasion. The human Marines were friendly to me in one level. Why are they shooting at me in another one? Granted, the crazy, high-tech suit did make me look like I hailed from another planet.
Some things came more naturally, obviously. Once I figured out who was hostile, I began the diverting business of blowing them away. The guns had a universally convincing heft and impact, and I got particular satisfaction out of the shotgun, which worked in gory synergy with the nanosuit’s cloaking ability — in one play session, I spent a lot of time sneaking up on enemies and dispatching them at close range. Other special abilities include a triggerable armor boost, a “ground pound”-style attack that can be performed after jumping, a hyper-fast sprint, and the kind of Spud Webb jumping ability that will be intimately familiar to converted Halo fanatics. A menu screen hinted at the expanded suite of nano-badassery that advanced players could unlock. Finally, in some situations, context-sensitive button-prompts appeared, though the ones that should have enabled me to stop a hungry alien from gnawing on my face were unfortunately occluded by all the garish carnage going on onscreen.
There is no doubt that the game raises the bar in terms of graphical realism, and with practice and familiarity accepted as a given, its gameplay shows huge promise as well, due to its pace and power. The story, despite the involvement of eminently readable Sci-Fi Scot Richard Morgan, is more of an enigma, and the in-game dialogue that I did encounter was pretty wretched. I may be unfair in not remembering the particulars, but it hit all the video game pablum archetypes: “fight through a horde of enemies to find the whatsit! We need it to recharge part 4/6 of the MacGuffin, according to the advice of the transparently evil scientist with the transparently evil surname! There’s no chance that this plan will backfire at the end of the second act!”
These criticisms aside, the chances I’ll actually be able to affect people when they reach for their credit cards is effectively null. Crysis 2, it must be said, has “teh shiny.” But for those few still on the fence, I will say this: the game won’t change your life, unless your life is vertex shaders.
Excited for the game? Check out our full Crysis 2 Walkthru!