I'm back in the Big Apple, and boy does the place look like a tip. There are huge holes in most of the buildings, the streets are a gloomy mess of craters and wrecked cars, and worst of all, E.T.'s drink-driving cousins have popped by for a spot of sight-seeing; every few minutes a boozed up alien smashes his intergalactic Vauxhall Nova into the dirt. Oh, and to cap it all off, I keep getting shot in the head.
Of course, from a certain perspective it all looks quite nice. This is the multiplayer build of Crysis 2 on Xbox 360, and while the game before us is clearly not the finished article, it's equally evident that Crytek is striving to attain "eye candy" status. Needless to say, that's exactly what's expected of them: the Crysis brand is virtually synonymous with graphical prowess, after all. The original PC title set a new benchmark for visual wizardry, and 2008's Warhead expansion pushed even harder with its detail-packed conjuring tricks. The kicker, of course, is that Crysis 2 must cater to three sets of expectant gamers - servicing the PS3 and 360 crowds, as well as the established base of PC owners. Three gorgeous FPS rabbits must be pulled from their respective hats come March next year, otherwise all hell will break loose.
But let's not speak so negatively - because on the basis of today's taster, things seem to be going rather well. It's not yet clear to what extent EA and Crytek are aiming to compete with The Big Boys of competitive FPS multiplayer - CoD, Halo and Battlefield - but for now the game seems to be offering a pretty good time in its own right, supplementing the standard run-and-gun fare with a variety of toys and acrobatic abilities, common to all players.
We covered these skills in our first preview of Crysis 2 - and several of them will already be familiar to veterans of the PC original - but for the benefit of latecomers, here's a quick recap: each trigger-happy participant is kitted out with a high-tech nanosuit that allows them to deflect bullets, turn invisible for short periods, and leap high into the air; the latter ability also allows users to perform a painful ground-pound move. All of these tricks sap away at a slowly-replenishing power supply, preventing their overuse; even so, it's safe to say that if it existed in real life, the Crynet Nanosuit 2 would be topping the Christmas wishlist of every psychotic technophile in the land. It's sexy, versatile, and it turns you into a combat deity. Also, it offers better call reliability than the iPhone 4.