Those few PC gamers out there lucky enough to have the beastly PC to run it may remember Crysis, and if they don't, it's probably because they somehow missed it. Crysis was an incredible first-person shooter made by Critek, the makers of the much applauded PC release Far Cry. Building off of Far Cry's success, Crysis dumped players onto a massive island in truly gargantuan levels miles to a side (and with a 15 kilometer draw distance) and inside a powerful military nanotech bodysuit that allowed them to leap 15 feet into the air, deflect bullets, even turn mostly invisible. Over the course of the game the player was free to use their abilities any way they wanted to accomplish the objectives, whether that meant run and gun or quiet behind the back kills. By the end of the game, the player had not only fought hardened (and extremely intelligent enemy soldiers), but he had investigated the inside of an alien ship (in Zero-G no less) and fought in a frozen winter as the aliens weather control sent the island from 100+ degrees to -200 degrees and below. So yeah, in the end, an epic ride.
Then Crysis 2 was announced for PC and consoles, and part of me whimpered. Don't get me wrong, consoles are fun too, but Crysis's complexity was something that couldn't be done on consoles. And now that we're finally getting some new information on the changes and upgrades to Crysis 2 for both settings, the question on every PC players mind is: Did they dumb it down for the consoles, and where?
The initial Vidoc for Crysis 2 can be seen here at Gametrailers as well as an X-box 360 trailer (thanks Gametrailers!) and contains some great info, some new, some not so new. The first tidbit of info is that the game is set (at least at first) in New York City. From the looks of things, the entire city has been evacuated due to alien attack, so it would appear that the ending moments of the last game really ticked off the recently awoken aliens. Bullets are universal communication lines I guess.
Anyway, the city is obviously getting colder, snow is falling from the sky and I would bet that it's not because its supposed to be snowing. Alien invasion also usually includes crazy weather. But one thing that CEO Cervat Yerl of Crytek explains in his heavily accented English (I believe he is German) is the CryEngine 3's new destructible environment engine. The original Crysis was pretty impressive for the most part. Trees would be cut down by bullets, shredded tires would affect vehicle handling, and structures could be reduced to broken boards. Crysis 2 however, is planning on being even more real. We are shown scenes of concrete being chipped and pitted by bullet fire, and then breaking apart altogether when it can no longer support itself. While it is still incomplete (a huge chunk of concrete falling bounced off of a car, although the cars shocks behaved realistically) the implications in game of collapsing an overpass with rocket launchers (yes, I plan to at the earliest opportunity, hopefully on top of some hapless enemy troops) could be incredible fun!
The next big thing that Yerl talks about is something on a lot of gamers minds: The changes with the nanosuit. In the original game, players had four different nanosuit modes that they could switch between at any time: Armor (which increased your ability to take bullets), Speed (boosted your speed, and you could sprint at speeds faster then a cheetah for a short time), Strength (gave you hulk like strength to punch through walls, throw enemy soldiers over buildings, or leap those same buildings) and Stealth (which made you almost invisible. You still left a light shadow and made noise when stepping through brush, so you still could be spotted). To see each of these in action, click here.
Well, according to Yerl, Crytek found that most gamers relied on mainly 2 modes (Armor and Stealth) and ignored the others (which is their loss, in experimenting with them I found the other two to be very useful). So he explains that in order to simplify things Crysis 2 will feature 2 main suit modes: Armor and Stealth. Don't panic yet however. This is the new version of the Nanosuit (which looks to me a bit more...bulky...then the last one) and so in addition to the two main modes, you have three sub modes: Speed, Strength, and Tactical. What this means is that not only can you be mostly invisible now, you can combine you abilities to be fast or strong and mostly invisible. In addition to the classic modes (I can't wait to play strength-stealth) is also the new tactical mode, which sounds like some sort of visual enhancement that will let you identify enemies, by which I assume means that you will be able to see vital signs, weapon types, eavesdrop on communications in addition to a "zoom" feature he mentions that sounds like a way of improving your sniping ability. Note that what I say this mode does is all conjecture, specific details weren't given.
From this point the vidoc moves onto the specific differences and abilities of the respective versions. First, Yerl shows off the console versions, describing how the teams goal was to put Crysis 1 level visuals on the consoles. From the look of it, they may succeed, although he did note that even the PS3's power was limited and they had pushed them in order to get the project done. So take note, PS3 fans, the systems peaked, and it is not the end all powerhouse. That's the PC (although the fact that Crysis 1 couldn't run on a PS3 should have hinted that to many). Regardless, the visuals shown even in this unfinished stage show that Crysis 2 will probably be the best looking game that either console will ever be able to play. There is clearly an incredible jump from console to PC, but the console versions are going to crush anything else out there for their platforms.
Yerl then goes slightly into the story of Crysis 2 and from here information grows a little worrisome. Crysis 2 does not pick up right after the end of Crysis 1 (which could prove disappointing) but rather quite some time later and stars a different character. Although we may meet or hear characters from the first game, Crysis 2 will probably flesh its own out in order to not make newcomers feel that they have no idea what is going on. Yerl also makes the alarming statement that Crysis 2 is a more "streamlined" experience because console gamers are "more harsh" when they make decisions. In other words, it does indeed seem that Crysis 2 may have been dumbed down for the masses because as Yerl puts it: "its top or flop" for the console gamers while PC gamers are far more patient. However, he does mention that the story will take a much larger priority this time around, which makes me wonder if it will linearize the gameplay at all or leave us with the original, open world experience? Yerl does call it "ambeint" storytelling, so there is hope that the elements of activity will be much like the first game.
Then, at the very end, after showing all sorts of console footage, Yerl is kind enough to show some much demanded PC footage, and not only is it jaw dropping, it confirms his earlier words as we are shown a nanotech warrior we all recognize from the first go around: Prophet.
So what can we take away from this? Well, some of the game is still up in the air. I wish we knew more about the open world nature and what other console changes have been made, especially in light of his statement about streamlining the game for consoles, which to me seems a fancy way of accusing the console gamers of being not patient enough. But a games got to make money. He also reaffirms that the game is well on track for its holiday 2010 release (by which I hope he means Thanksgiving!) and that we will be seeing much more in the next 2 months! So stay tuned, as I'll be following this one closely.
UPDATE: You can also go directly to sosnewyork.com to look at some jaw dropping screenshots.