So not only can we sample the irreverent delights of Bulletstorm, but we can download a bite-sized chunk of Crysis 2 multiplayer off LIVE now, too? Isn't life terrific. So if you're quite finished impaling inbred mutants on carnivorous cacti, nab the Crysis 2 closed beta off Live and dive into some 6 on 6, Nano-a-Nano action and see what's in store come March 25th.
Not So Cloaked...
I'll be straight, Crysis 2's set-up is almost distractingly similar to Call of Duty. You have the persistent online persona, a currency to spend on abilities and unlocks and an almost identical control-scheme. It even features the exact same killstreak rewards, a radar for three successive kills, an orbital death-strike at five, and a gunship at seven. If you're even the slightest bit familiar with CoD, you'll notice the similarities.
What sets Crysis 2 apart is the Nanosuit you're all equipped with. You can jump ten, fifteen feet in a single bound, cloak yourself in an invisible field or buff your defenses with a near impenetrable shield. I particularly enjoyed cloaking myself, leaping invisibly to an exposed rooftop and picking potshots on the hapless goons below. However, you're always drawing on a reserve of energy which gradually depletes with each ability, although it replenishes at a satisfyingly rapid rate.
It honestly feels like Crytek hacked Activision's server, stole Call of Duty code and bred it with Crackdown data they'd nabbed off Microsoft. You'll duck in and out of cover, rattling out a clip, before leaping into the sky and delivering a crowd clearing ground-pound. However, while the aiming is pretty sharp and the controls instantly familiar to FPS gamers, the sluggish movement and worrying presence of controller input lag can often combine to derail the experience somewhat. More than once I found myself dashing to a door to escape gunfire, only to stagger into a wall before being gunned down.
So Pretty I Could Cry-Engine
When we heard Crytek was bringing Crysis 2 to consoles, we either expected a complete dilution of the experience to fit it on the creaking old things, or for the German studio to perform some technical witchcraft and wizardry to confound us all. Well, it's a little bit of both. Crysis 2 is undoubtedly beautiful, with crisp textures, lifelike lighting and detailed models. However, the lag suggests Crytek is pushing it a bit too far. Killzone 2 suffered from the same fate but differentiated itself with an intentionally 'heavy' play-style. Crysis 2 is clearly aping CoD, but lacks the latter's pitch-perfect controls.
It's not all bad, though. Crysis 2 is playable. It's very good, in fact. The beta code is unstable, however, worryingly prone to crashing so close to release. But when it all works, it's a tense, exhilarating experience. It's difficult adapting to the Nanosuit's particular strengths, but once you master the ability to mantle rooftops, mix-and-match the cloak and shield, you'll find the game rewards you in spades. Your abilities gradually improve with each game, as you climb the ranks and earn more capital.
The only map on offer, Skyline, is set on a series of high-rise rooftops. A scattering of green-houses, helipads and a winding interior - which, among other rooms, includes a gym replete with techno soundtrack - provide a great deal of variety in getting around. Crysis 2 shines outside, as you leap and bound, sneak and creep or buff up and wade into action like a human tank. Inside, however, it reveals its shortcomings, as players sluggishly circle each other, firing madly from the hip. Hopefully the rest of the maps provide a far greater amount of space to muck around in.
Overall, Crysis 2's multiplayer is promising, playing like an eclectic mix of Call of Duty and Crackdown. However, it has some worrying flaws, namely input lag and sluggish controls. If Crytek can iron out the kinks before release, we'll have something quite special on our hands.
Crysis 2 hits store shelves on March 25th. Until then, however, leave us your feedback on the demo and what you'd like to see Crytek improve or build on before it finally releases.