Eurogamer Expo 2010: Crysis 2 Hands-On Impressions

by on October 9, 2010

It’s been three year since Electronic Arts published Crytek’s PC devouring monster. I still remember the crushing sense of dissatisfaction I got from installing the game and expecting my newly purchased Nvidia 8800GTX to eat the beast for breakfast, but instead was greeted by 24 frames per second.

Back to the present and Crytek have radically optimised their engine in the form of CryEngine 3. Crysis 2 will be the first game to take advantage of the engine that allows simultaneous development across the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platforms. With this new engine we’ve been promised a “catastrophically beautiful” experience alongside a less demanding set of system specs. With EA bringing the latest version of the game to the Eurogamer Expo it was time to find out if these promises came to fruition.

I was anxious to find out how the CryEngine 3 engine translated the game across platforms, but decided to check on the PC version of the game first. Naturally the first thing that stood out were the graphics. While I wouldn’t describe it as “catastrophically beautiful”, the game was undoubtedly looking good. Crisp textures, an amazing lighting model and all the other graphical features you would expect from a high end game were present and accounted for. Even so, I was left with the feeling that the original Crysis still had one up on this sequel in the graphical department, but this could be due to settings of the game at expo.

As you probably know by now, Crysis 2 takes you out of the exotic jungle and places you in the “Big Apple”, adding a sense of verticality to proceedings. Due to the relatively small size of the demo there wasn’t much chance for exploration, but I can imagine the large array of buildings in the environment could well be valuable for any player adopting the stealthy approach.

With the Nanosuit 2 your abilities in Crysis 2 have been streamlined quite a bit. Instead of being able to choose from the speed, strength, stealth and armour abilities, you are now only able to choose between two, armour and stealth. The remaining two “powers” are now part of your normal abilities and can be seen by simply running or jumping. This means you no longer have to select speed from the GUI before using it for example, you just simply sprint. Just like the original game you will still be able to choose how you tackle the environment. Whether you feel the need to charge around like a rampaging bull or want to take our your opponents ninja style, the choice is yours.

On the negative side it was a little discouraging to see Xbox 360 button decals appear on the screen instead of PC keys when trying to change weapons for example. While this seemed like a pretty early build of the game it gives the impression that the PC version is simply a port of the console versions, when that is probably not the case. The demo also displayed severe stability problems. As I looked around the four PC setups available, every one of them had problems with crashing to the desktop. To top this off there was also more than one case where the frame rate dropped dramatically. These are issues I expect to see fully resolved in the retail version.

As soon as I make got hands-on with the  Xbox 360 version of the game it became apparent to me that the transition from PC to console has not done Crysis any favours. The textures were muddy and unclear, colours were washed out and, to top it off, there was a complete lack of anti-aliasing. Add to this a worrying case of texture pop-up and you can imagine I was far from impressed.

This all came as quite a surprise after the amazing CryEngine 3 demos earlier this year and I can only imagine that this was a very early version of the game or there was a problem with the setup at the Eurogamer Expo. One can only hope that the final version of the game won’t be so broken.

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