A year is an eternity when it comes to the ever-changing world of PC graphics technology. It is, therefore, a testament to the developers at Crytek that the original Crysis, released November 2007 (more than three years ago), continues to set the bar for PC game graphics. This title created a standard so lofty that we continue to get requests for benchmarks in Crysis in our graphics card reviews, more than three years later.
Yet, this game is not without its faults. Despite some shining examples of free-form single-player arenas, as Crysis nears its conclusion, it sometimes feels muddled and rushed. The successful sandbox approach often gives way to on-rails shooting and racing sequences that feel out of place. Crysis’ multiplayer component is unique, but not as successful as it aspires to be, with colossal maps and a capture-the-building mechanic that never seems to reach its potential. The ‘Power Struggle’ mode seems better-suited for a large-scale army than a handful of super-soldiers. Simple standbys like team deathmatch aren’t included.
In the final analysis, Crysis was probably more successful at showing off what PC graphics can do than it was at being a great game.
But Crytek has been far from idle for the last three years, and Crysis 2 is about to hit store shelves on the 22nd of March. Happily, the company gave us a chance to experiment with the game via a free multiplayer demo (that demo that is no longer playable, by the way; Crytek disabled it on March 16th). Because of this, we’re able to provide you with detailed information regarding graphics card performance in Crysis 2.
The Crysis 2 Multiplayer Demo
Before we look at that data, let’s discuss the gameplay aspect. Crytek went back to the drawing board with the multiplayer component of Crysis 2, and it’s clear the company paid a lot of attention to the Call of Duty series. Crysis 2 tracks kills and unlocks ranks and achievements in a very similar fashion. Even the feel is similar.
But Crytek’s newest title is so much more than a Call of Duty clone. Of course, the nanosuit’s strength, speed, armor, and cloaking capabilities remain, but the addition of a new ‘nanovision’ mode helps you see other combatants and even cloaked enemies. And all of these wonderful abilities come with an associated energy cost. This adds a whole other dimension to the standard first-person shooter combat formula.
Yes, the controls have been streamlined, but not necessarily in a bad way. It’s easy to point a finger and say the game is dumbed-down for consoles. But in practice, the new scheme makes much more sense. The default mode is strength and speed, but these abilities don’t take any energy unless you use them by jumping or running. Armor and stealth modes can be toggled with the Q and E keys, respectively, but enabling either of these modes will constantly consume energy. Nanovision mode also eats energy, but at a much slower rate than armor or stealth. Energy management is key, and the most successful players are the ones who do that effectively. The simple-but-sensible control scheme helps with that.
The two maps included in the demo are Skyline and Pier 7, both of which are just the right size for a team deathmatch of eight to 12 players. But there’s also a new game mode called ‘capture the pod.’ an alien ship drops an item, and the team that occupies the area surrounding it gains points over time. After a couple minutes, the pod becomes unstable and explodes, and this sequence of events repeats until one of the teams has gained enough points to win. It’s a good metagame alternative to simple team deathmatch.
And that’s about it. Crysis 2 multiplayer might not sound groundbreaking, but it’s certainly very addicting. In this author’s opinion, it contains the best PvP elements of Call of Duty and Aliens vs. Predator, but ends up being more fun and challenging than both.
With no single-player demo for us to try, that’s as much as we can say about the game play until we get our hands on the full release. Now let’s talk about performance.