Amidst all the hyperbole over visual fidelity and fuss over multiplayer demos that failed to impress, the final article – Crysis 2, in your hands – thankfully stands up to all the recent scrutiny. Many things have been said over the last few days – claims that Crytek’s venture over to the PS3 and Xbox 360 has produced the best looking console game to date, for example. Claims that, at least for now, will need to go unchecked: our copy, seemingly lost in the post, has only arrived recently enough to demonstrate opening potential and a flair for inventiveness. Our review, as you’d hope, is in the pipeline.
Until then, we’ve got a brief few hours of playtime invested and our thoughts are positive. Whilst Crysis 2 isn’t looking like being the earth shattering, ground breaking revolutionary some are citing, it’s good – very good even, and plays remarkably different to the current glut of me-too first person shooters. For starters, battles feel instantly tactical – not least because your augmented nanosuit offers all manner of heads-up trickery to assist your trigger finger, but also because even on the lowest difficulty setting the AI’s no slouch, and diving in bayonet first is only likely to get you killed.
Stealth is a prominent feature, at least from the game’s intial few levels. A tap of the shoulder button cloaks the player, time limited by a shared ‘energy’ bar that also powers your ability to spring, kick, jump and – a little later – bolster your armour. It’s a clever device, meaning that although there’s always more than one approach to any given situation, the decisions are left with the player to dictate which route they’re most comfortable with. Cloaking, dashing, silent melee kills then back to cover work surprisingly well in open areas, but those skilled with the rifles and the use of cover will find – for the most part – Crysis 2 is open to ‘traditional’ gunplay too.
But once the game kicks in proper and the player gains the ability to specialise in certain areas by way of boosts to the suit, the tactical edge starts to take over. The interface is lovely, tap ‘back’ (or Select, if you’re on PS3) to bring up the various sections of the suit (visual, armour etc) and you can cash in technology points towards each item, and toggle them on and off at will – we’ll not spoil what they consist of here, but an early one that highlights enemy bullets like tracers is both tremendously useful and a nice graphical trick simultaneously. Similarly, your weapons can be pimped out with different scopes, silencers etc.
So far, so good. But those graphics? Yes, they’re good. Sharp, vivid and detailed, although it’s clear the PC version will tidy up any issues the console versions simply couldn’t manage: there are blocky textures here and there, environmental detail is subject to fairly hefty pop-in and the frame rate takes many a dive, leaving the motion blur to try to paper over the cracks. That said, Crysis 2 is capable of shifting around a decent amount of on-screen action with a handful of neat special effects, and makes great use of light and dark transitions as the levels switch from outdoor to indoor areas.
There’s potential here – Crysis 2 is attracting a huge amount of attention and it’s clear why – the scope of the project is admirable and whilst first person shooters are ten a penny these days Crytek’s brave move to get something as ambitious as this game onto consoles has to be applauded. Whether or not the full game, with its already decisive multiplayer portion, will stand up to the best the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 have to offer we’ll just have to wait and see – trust us, we’re disappointed we don’t have the full review with you yet but we’re working as hard as we can to ensure it’s on the site sharpish.