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Crysis 2, the first direct sequel German studio Crytek has done, has been of an unknown quality up to this point. The game looks better than ever, but most people haven’t gotten to actually get their hands on the game and see how well it played. Now EA and Crytek have released a demo (Consoles only), and we can finally tell how the game works in person. The demo is multiplayer only, with two game modes and one map. Quantity isn’t important though, as what players are clamoring for is the gameplay, and what will ultimately be judged in this demo. This may not be a surprise to you, but, the demo is great. The gameplay is satisfying, the upgrades are meaningful, the map design is impressive, and the graphics are incredible.
If you want to describe Crysis 2‘s multiplayer in the simplest terms, it’s Call of Duty in the Crysis universe. You aim down the sights, sprint, and create your own character class with choices of weapons and abilities. The main difference between Crysis 2 and Call of Duty’s multiplayer is Crysis 2‘s nanosuit. For those of you not familiar with the Crysis universe, the nanosuit is a billion dollar piece of armor that can enhance an individual’s ability, letting them run faster, hit harder, jump higher, absorb more bullets, and turn invisible. The nanosuit was Crysis‘s defining feature, and the same holds here in Crysis 2. The nanosuit allows players to think of strategies that aren’t possible in any other first person shooter, and this invigorates what is otherwise a pretty standard experience in-game. The nanosuit has been changed in Crysis 2, though.
The nanosuit in the original Crysis had 4 modes; strength, armor, speed, and cloak. You had to access these modes from a slightly clunky radial menu, and speed and strength were rendered largely unnecessary by the game’s level design. In Crysis 2, the nanosuit abilities have been streamlined for the better. Rather than having individual speed and strength modes for your nanosuit, you get the best of what those two modes offered in the first game at the press of a button now. Want to do a strong punch? Hold down the melee button longer. Want to jump higher? Hold down the jump button longer. Sprinting fast is now all that remains of speed mode. Also missing from the original Crysis is your health bar. This is more of a visual change, as in Crysis your health regenerated anyway, but now the health bar has been replaced by the standard red edges and desaturation of the screen. The only two modes that remain the same as the first game are armor, and cloak, which is what you mostly use anyway. Armor isn’t on by default anymore, and when it’s activated, fills the edges of the screen with clear hexagons to show that you’re less vulnerable. The difference here is that armor slowly drains your suit’s energy reserve, even when you aren’t getting shot. This encourages players to not have armor on at all times. Armor will, essentially, turn your suit’s energy reserve into a second layer of health. Cloak hasn’t been changed at all, however; it turns your character invisible, draining your nanosuit’s energy continually. If you shoot or punch while in cloak, you will instantly decloak and lose all of your nanosuit’s energy for a second, making you completely vulnerable. Both cloak and armor are available at the touch of a button, and elements of the speed and strength mode have been put into the game as ways to fight and navigate the environment more effectively. What this allows you to do is mix and match nanosuit abilities. So you can punch very hard while in armor mode, or jump very high in cloak. It allows you to adapt to situations in a quicker fashion than before, and gives Crysis 2 a faster pace than the original Crysis, for the better.
The nanosuit isn’t the only thing from the original Crysis that has been changed, though. The core gameplay has been changed to stay competitive with other first person shooters today, and this is probably going to be one of the more divisive changes in Crysis 2. The original Crysis had a very tactile feel with it’s gameplay, with slower reload speeds and different firing modes for each weapon. In Crysis 2, the gameplay has been changed to be a lot looser and faster than before. Nobody will have a problem with the game being faster, I suspect, but the loose gunplay in Crysis 2 is a tad more problematic. When you’re quickly sprinting, jumping, and navigating the environment, the loose feel is great. When it comes down to the task of aiming down the sight and shooting, though, the loose gunplay can make it harder to hit your target than it should be. In the first Crysis, if you had a controlled rate of fire, you could hit a target from a few meters with no issues. In Crysis 2, the rate of fire is far less important, but your shots are always less accurate than you would like. It’s not overtly distracting, and you get used to it after a while, but it is definitely less than you would hope for a triple-A shooter today. That being said, it’s still satisfying hitting your targets, thanks to great weapon sound effects. The melee is a bit over powered, as players undoubtedly from the Modern Warfare 2 community are already running around punching people in the face. Hopefully Crytek works out this balance issue, but as of now, the gameplay is still fun.
Crysis 2‘s multiplayer has an experience point system similar to that of Modern Warfare, but it also evolves it in the process. You still receive +100 XP every time you kill an opponent, and +150 XP for more special kills. There player tags for you to edit, and there are killcams. That being said, there are some smart additions to the Call of Duty multiplayer formula, and great adaptations to the Crysis universe. Every time you complete a challenge for your weapon (kills, headshots, etc.), you unlock an attachment point so that you can buy a new attachment for that weapon. There’s a core level up system here, but there are also separate play style level up systems. There are three suit categories; stealth, armor, and power. Each of these play styles get leveled up individually, separate from your core level. If you like stealth kill and cloak, you’ll level up in stealth more quickly. If you use armor and play like a tank, you’ll get armor XP. If you move around quickly and change your suit modes often, you’ll get power XP. Every time you level up in one of these categories, you’ll get a module for that category. A module lets you get a new ability that upgrades your armor and combat power significantly. For instance, one “Armor” upgrade gives you a proximity alarm that informs you whenever an enemy is nearby. That brings me to an important point about Crysis 2‘s multiplayer; the upgrades are incredibly meaningful. Unlike other multiplayer games of this genre, Crysis 2‘s upgrades can change your play style a lot. One upgrade in a category could give you less recoil when you aim down the sights of a weapon, or another upgrade in the same category can give you a faster reload speed. Since you can only choose one upgrade per category, this makes you choose between more controlled shots, or a spray and pray style of gameplay, where you have to reload often. For me, the proximity alarm was the most useful upgrade I got, as enemies never got the drop on me.
All in all, I was quite impressed with the Crysis 2 multiplayer demo. There were some demo/beta moments, like lag and strange death animations, but this is to be expected from a pre-release multiplayer game. The actual game, pre-release polish issues aside, was very enjoyable, and stood up to the stiff competition in the shooter genre. If this demo is any indication, Crysis 2 is shaping up to be a high quality game, and it definitely went up on my priority list thanks to this demo.