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Crysis 2 Preview

A new jungle but it hasn't got swamps

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It should be, but let's not forget there is one game already offering something similar. Like Crysis 2, it's a game with super-powered agents in a vertically open, urban playground; the game, of course, being Realtime Worlds' Crackdown. Unlike Crysis, Crackdown didn't portion out its powers into several different modes - while the Agent was blessed with enhanced strength, agility, armour and speed, all four abilities were active at once. And Crysis 2 appears to be heading down a similar route. Gone are the separate active powers, replaced by a system that's a bit more difficult to describe. "Crysis 2 introduces a new and improved version of the Nanosuit," reveals Camarillo. "The Nanosuit 2 is mapped to play styles rather than individual powers.

It enables players to customise how they approach different combat situations and challenges." Which could mean anything, really. Although there didn't seem anything majorly wrong with the system in the original Crysis - mixing and matching abilities to fit tactics was as simple as swapping powers out in the middle of battle - if it can be refined and perfected in Crysis 2, then we're definitely on board.

CRY ME A RIVER
Of course, there is an elephant in the room where Crytek's decision to set the game in New York is concerned. On a purely technological level, a city is geometrically easier to render on a console than the vast, complex foliage of a jungle. No matter how excited Crytek seem to get about the opportunities the Big Apple provides, it does seem to fly in the face of what we've been led to believe: that Crysis, in all its stunning tropical glory, is possible on a console. Was the decision to switch simply down to the 360's more limited processing clout?

"I would not exactly call this generation of consoles 'limited'," says Camarillo. "However, the challenges have allowed us to avoid overdesigning features, to keep the focus narrower and tight for a compelling experience on all platforms. In the end this will make for the best experience for the gamer, because we will spend more time per feature, making it more polished, rather than spreading ourselves thinly just because we can. Creative constraints can be refreshing."

Between the new setting, and talk of making the game more 'focused', there is a worry that Crytek may have compromised the soul of Crysis in order to make it work on another format. But even if that's true we can probably still expect something of a technical marvel - CryEngine 3 is a remarkable thing. "It's an all-in-one solution," says Nathan, "AI, physics, networking, multiplayer, audio and high-end effects are all included within the engine and built solely for CryEngine 3."

This should help considerably with the porting process - or, eventually, perhaps eliminate the tiresome requirement entirely. If the
tech videos Crytek showed at last year's Game Developers Conference are indicative of the final engine, the differences between all three versions of the game should be extremely slight. Presumably, anal picture-quality-obsessive owners of high-end PCs may well see some benefit, but compromises for the sake of multiplatform development shouldn't be anything like as drastic as some people were anticipating, and bemoaning in advance.

ENGINE TROUBLE
"The big challenge during the development of CryEngine 3 has been scaling the engine whilst maintaining visual quality and performance," Camarillo goes on to tell us. "This is always challenging; problems occurred, of course, but we're really proud that our teams have managed
to solve them." But did they solve them by eradicating the jungle, or was the new setting their intention all along? More importantly, will NYC fundamentally alter the nature of the series - and if so, will it change it for the better or for the worse?

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