Preview

Crysis 2 - Multiplayer

Lee multiplies his fun

A crumbling city ripped apart by an Alien invasion? We've been here before. In the hands of a less proficient developer you could be forgiven for mistaking Crysis 2's over-familiar setting for a lack of creative ambition. But this is Crytek we're talking about. If nothing else you know it's going to be damn pretty.

And it is. While it's clear the multiplayer aspect of Crysis 2 isn't finished yet, it's already looking gorgeous running on Xbox 360. No doubt the PS3 and PC versions will follow suit. Following up 2007's PC-meltingingly attractive shooter Crysis, they have to. Crytek have a reputation to uphold.

As a result, this is a slightly different take on the destroyed city meme. Instead of the washed-out greys, burnt out cars and muted, crumbled stonework of a Gears of War clone, Crysis 2's multiplayer offers New York's skyscrapers against watercolour skies, deep blue nights and sumptuously detailed interiors.

The developers are quick to point out the verticality of their maps. You can see why. 'Rooftops' in particular offers an expansive combat arena along the roof-garden, greenhouse and venting pipe speckled tips of hotels and tenement buildings.

As helicopters drift along the horizon and dark and thick plumes of smoke rise up in the distance, you can forget tucking yourself away in a corner for respite. Your enemy could be lurking on high ground, ready to pick you off. Death from above is a real possibility.

This verticality is on display elsewhere too. Another of the maps, the newly announced 'Ambush,' takes place in a plushly appointed hotel in the centre of Manhattan. The aim is to fight your way up from the obliterated, abandoned streets through the hotel's penthouse, thus securing the high ground.

Once there, there's an advantage to be had, but thanks to the sheer amount of tight corridors and destroyed walls feeding into into the area, holding it is still not easy. If the opposition are doing it right, they'll be coming at you from all angles.

The game modes on display during our demo, playable across the maps, were Team Instant Action (Team Deathmatch) and Crash Site, a mode that charges your team with capturing and defending a series of pods fired down onto the map by an alien ship. It's all pretty straight-forward stuff. Crytek remain tight-lipped about any future revelations.

Combat is fast paced and fluid, yet not an all out twitch-fest. This is aided by the Nanosuit 2.0's melee and movement abilities, enabling some really swift and smooth movements around the environment.

It plays a little like an ultra toned-down combination of Brink's SMART system and Bulletstorm's crazy brawling abilities. As such you can clamber up to platforms parkour-style, sprint to an unsuspecting victim and slide-kick him off a high ledge in one super-quick flowing movement.

You can leap on enemies from above too, slamming down onto their head with a click of the thumbstick and squashing them like a next-gen Mario. It's immensely satisfying.

Beyond that the Nanosuit has some even more impressive abilities, most notably armour-buffing and stealth modes. The first of which temporarily turns you into bullet-sucking tank, while stealth allows you to slip from sight, Predator style. These abilities tie into your choice of class - either Assault, Scout, Demolition, Sniper, or Ghost while you can also create a custom class from a choice of load-outs and suit modules.

What all of this adds up to is a multiplayer environment in which the level of potential complexity and strategy threatens to outstrip that of your bog-standard MP shooter. The Nanosuit 2.0 really is Crysis 2 multiplayer's most unique addition, enlivening what looks like a nicely presented, yet solidly unspectacular multiplayer experience with some genuinely fun additions.

Which is pretty much what Crysis 2's multiplayer is; a fun addition. At this stage it won't have the likes of Call of Duty and Halo trembling in their combat boots, but it promises to be an entertaining affair. Time will tell if it's enough to earn Crysis 2 the kind of online longevity Crytek desire, but we remain positive. At very least you can expect New York's crumbling architecture to offer up some tasty visual thrills.

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