by Ryan Phillip Hardesty
previewed on PC
The Monster Rears Its Head
In March of 2006, German developer Crytek revealed to the world a game that many would hail as a harbinger of graphics never before seen. As development of the game went on, images of it were dubbed photorealistic. Enemy AI would be unrelenting and eerily humanlike. The pace would be frenetic but not disorganized since a sandbox style of gameplay would be utilized on a massive scale, combined with a power-suit the player could use to become something more than human. The game would be the first-person shooter of first-person shooters.
Then, in November of 2007, Crysis came into being, and sure enough, these statements were no lie. Critics held the game aloft and shouted its achievements. The public devoured the gorgeous graphics and fierce gameplay. The game went on to win numerous Game of the Year awards. It did what many thought it would. Crysis was so successful a sequel was stamped as outright inevitable. And now, in 2010, it is. But with such acclaim, how are the developers at Crytek going to surpass the first born? With a bar that high, how can they reach so far as to even grace it, let alone make a greater sequel when sequels in general are known for being second-rate? Can the developers truly unleash a better game? The skeptical gamers out there may be shaking their skeptical heads but they’re forgetting one thing: These guys made Crysis.
A Different Kind of Jungle
Since only a few pieces of direct information on Crysis 2 have hit the shores of North America, most of the information so far as been translated from foreign publications, namely the February issues of Germany’s PC Games and Scandinavia’s Gamereactor. One of the first things brought up in the interviews (and the subsequent demo shown to PC Games) was Crytek’s need to leave behind their “jungle games” in search of a new setting. What type of location could be so far removed from a tropical island, one that could bring with it a wealth of new strategic options and scenarios?
New York City. That type of location. In a choice predicted by few, the developers are bringing the alien-bashing to an entirely different stage, one sure to set the fan-base squealing with anticipation. With Crysis, Far Cry, and Far Cry 2, Crytek’s games had been centered around the beaches, mud and leaves of harsh worlds of wilderness. The streets, alleyways and buildings of NYC are most surely a welcome change of pace. With Crysis being designed as the first in a trilogy of first-person shooters, it was only inevitable for the story and gameplay to outgrow their origins in terms of both scope and choices (though those choices will sadly be limited to the first three or four floors of any building in order to maintain storytelling and pacing, something Crytek is calling “constrained freedom”).
A different style of running-and-gunning has been laid at the players’ feet, a style with what has been dubbed “increased verticality”, a realm where death is possible from all angles at all times. No longer will you fear a creature or soldier ambushing you from some nearby jungle fauna. Instead, you’ll be craning your neck at the skyline, searching desperately for the image of an alien in body armor skittering towards you across windows. And the nimble aliens in the first game really knew how to traverse harsh surfaces so one has to wonder how much more lethal they’ll become with the advantages of all those damn skyscrapers. The first Crysis, this is not.
Gentlemen, We Can Rebuild Him…
So just what will you, the player, get to take advantage of in light of the new playground? Say hello to the Nanosuit 2. Revealed in August of last year, the original game’s power suit saw a revamp, both aesthetically and technologically, in the form of a trailer from the fictional Crynet Systems and a brochure (seriously, a brochure). The trailer and brochure outlined the nanosuit’s new look, a look that’s simultaneously sleeker and beefier, but most intriguing are the actual changes being brought to your new skin. This time you’ll gain access to modules that will enhance your suit, adding a bit of an RPG flair to this first-person shooter. Also at your advantage will be 20% more energy, 32% more strength/speed, greater optical zooming and the ability to absorb EMPs. More importantly, however, are the changes coming to the suit’s four modes, the abilities that granted superhuman powers.
Gone are three of them from the first game. Strength, speed and cloak are getting the heave-ho, with only armor remaining. Instead, the Nanosuit 2 will get tactical, infiltration and power. Power will combine strength and speed, allowing you to flex your Hulk skills more than ever before. Infiltration will replace cloak, though the new mode seems to work almost identically to the old one, allowing the player to sneak around quietly while practically invisible to the naked eye.