To the familiar tones of Frank Sinatra's New York, New York, we witness a New York in ruins. Beams of light make their may through the towering ruins of Manhattan. A breathtaking view of a hostile and dystopic New York. As night descends on the city that never sleeps, a swarm of helicopter appear, and we can see the fear on the faces of the solider. A soldier is frantically trying to see what it is he fears, and out of the darkness comes creatures that make the zombies of I Am Legend look like Barbie dolls.
All hell breaks loose! An inferno of fire and chaos comes raining down, and the experience is augmented by the surreal version of New York, New York, we hear. It gives the game a darker and more mature tone than what we have previously experienced.
As the soldiers are slaughtered in slow motion, our hero, dressed in the updated Nano Suit (called Nano Suit 2.0) appears on screen. He looks back right at us, as if to say that he has everything under control even as fullblown chaos surrounds him. The image fades to darkness...
"I think I've seen this trailer 20 times alone today," says David DeMartini as General Manager of EA Partners. "Our collaboration with Crytek is near perfect and we could not wish us a better team to work with. The people behind are not just hired to create a product, they are completely absorbed by the product, and I feel good that I can already say that on behalf of EA and Crytek, that we have exceeded our own expectations in all of areas."
It's your typical sales pitch. One where the name of the game and developer could have been copied and pasted in a hundred times before. But it rings true with the images we have just seen fresh in our minds.
"We all agreed that was a well made product, but we would like to take to the next level. First of all we have achieved a dream by bringing it to the consoles. Crysis 2 has a much larger scope, and we can only thank you, and all others who played the first game for this. When we began development we looked each other in the eyes and asked: What wasn't good enough the first time around? We were pleased with the graphics, and even three years later, it's easily one of the most beautiful games on PC. I can already reveal that the graphics have been improved and are more polished this time, and that the minimum specs have been lowered on PC.
The general consensus was that the story wasn't good enough. That was our own opinion, but also that of all others we spoke to. Therefore I decided to call one of my favourite authors, science fiction writer Richard Morgan, to ask if he wanted to help us out with the project. As Richard Morgan was a big fan of the original Crysis, he didn't hesitate to come on board, and it's an honour for me to have him on the team." says Crytek president Cevat Yerli.
Richard K Morgan speaks of the sense of isolation of desperation. The player often finds himself completely lost at the start of the game, and you get a sense that the main character knows more than you do. This is something they have wanted to change with Crysis 2:
"We want to give the player the complete experience. One of desperation and fear, and you should feel it all the way to the character. The character in the game should experience the same desperation and fear, both in terms of technology and the story. The Nano Suit will be the focal point of the story this time around. It is a fantastic tool, but we would like to implement something extra. As usually with this kind of technology, the Nano Suit cannot be entirely trusted. It can do all these amazing things, but what if it takes the upper hand? Can it become so powerful that it can take control of you and your character's mind? Well, that's something you will learn when your get your hands on the game."
Cevat Yerli continues:
"The heart of New York, Manhattan, makes a fantastic backdrop. When you think of a metropolis, you think of New York. Therefore we are happy to bring the game from the lush jungles to a more gloomy universe. The game area will be about the same as Lingshan Islands from the first game, but this time there will be several levels. Street level, underground and sky scrapers. But you should not expect unlimited freedom.
We try to create a good balance between freedom and a linear story. Don't expect to be able to walk into every building and take the elevator up. Some areas will be open to exploration down to the smallest details, while there are other areas that are designed for combat and more general exploration.
We were quick to listen to the experiences people had with the Nano Sut. Most told us they most often used the shield and invisibility. We have therefore taken these two aspects, and used them as the foundation. In Crysis you were only able to use one ability at a time, but we have this time tried to show the suits new and improved opportunities by allowing the player to use more than one ability at a time. However, this will not lessen the challenge, since enemies are both stronger and more tactical."
Enough with the talking, time to see the actual game in action:
Far above street level our protagonist comes into frame and he moves with quietly towards the edge of the building, he sees a breathtaking view of New York in ruins. I've been in New York for five days and it's a bit of a shock seeing the city in the state Berlin was after World War II. Leaves from the trees swirl around in the air, surrounded by the towering buildings of the world famous skyline. The game is shown on Xbox 360, something I was a bit worried about at first, but I was quickly put at ease. The framerate was silky smooth, and the level of detail on screen was overwhelming. If the game looks this good on Xbox 360 it bodes well for the PS3 and even more so the PC version.
"Our team has worked with the game on all three platforms, and for us it is in no way about picking favourites. When Crysis 2 comes out, we want it to be the best game on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. There won't be any bad conversions, but a thoroughly engineered product that is tailored to each console. Everyone knows that if you go out and buy a brand new PC, the graphics will be better than anything that can be achieved on consoles, but we will still have Crysis 2 to be the best looking game on both PS3 and Xbox 360." says Cevat Yerli.
Our warrior goes into battle against the private soldiers who have taken over the city. We are obviously standing in their way as they search for something, but at this point we are not aware of what this is. The Nano Suit comes in handy time and time again. After fending of the mercenaries, we jump forward in the game to face off against some aliens, who are decidedly tougher to get rid off. It's night time and New York is just as impressive visually as during the day. Our hero jumps from car to car making use of his shield, invisibility, strength and other abilities as he makes his way across the Manhattan battlefield. Bombs and grenades are screaming past our head, and the explosions form a fitting frame to the orgy of violence in front of us. The aliens present quite a challenge, and at one time when the battle seems to have reached the end, and the last aliens explode, it's only to come back even stronger as they hurl our hero to the ground and a cut scene takes over, one that we were unfortunately not allowed to see.
I'm impressed and so it is the rest of the audience. I'm also filled with questions. What about multiplayer? "No details at this time." Any more details on the story? Nomad? Prophet? "Sorry." I guess we are going to have to wait a little longer for those answers... What I've seen so far of Crysis 2 leaves me longing for more.