In 2007 I was not a lucky boy. While I may have had a roof over my head, a loving family, cooked meals and a close circle of good friends, there was always one niggling thought eating away at the back of my mind.
“You still don’t have a PC good enough to run Crysis.”
Thankfully, judging by the somewhat mixed reviews that it got, I didn’t miss too much. Step forward a few years and while I’ve lost all of what was once good about my life, I do at least have a PC that can run the latest Crysis game very smoothly on ‘Hardcore’ mode. Lucky me.
Well, actually, as it’s just the demo, I’m probably playing a very watered down version of hardcore. Firmcore, maybe. But definitely not softcore, because Crysis 2 does look very pretty indeed. It’s every bit as pretty as Crysis was to our virgin eyes back in the day. Yet for all this glitz and gloss, the main criticism thrown at Crysis was that it lacked the substance to match the style. Beyond all the pretty environments and interesting ways to murder Koreans, there was an unconvincing narrative and a weak multiplayer.
Crytek have given themselves a chance at rectifying half of that. All they need to do is release a decent multiplayer demo that works and leaves players wanting more beyond the teaser that they’re given.
It doesn’t, therefore I don’t.
After a lean 1.6gb download I booted up the demo for the first time and was pleasantly surprised when, contrary to the reports of the day, logging in was a smooth process. “Great! I can jump straight in and sample the experience! … Hang on, why is there no sound?”
And herein lies problem number one. I didn’t imagine that less than a minute after logging into the Crysis 2 demo I’d be going through the sound options in a much less glamourous Windows Control Panel, nor did I imagine that no matter what I tried, the sound simply would not work. A swift Googling of the matter revealed that a fair few others are experiencing the same problem and they had no way to fix it, but a later trip to the Crysis 2 Steam forum had this to say:
“USB headsets are not producing any sound even though they are fully functional. Currently investigating this one.”
Three days later and the problem still exists. Ho hum. Seeing as I was still curious as to how the game played, I decided to give it a go and try to ignore the fact that I was playing deaf.
There’s only two maps available in this multiplayer demo: Skyline and Pier 17. I’ve played nearly all my matches on Skyline but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is, after all, a gorgeous map. Lovely water effects, a beautiful sun shimmering off the solar panels on top of one of the rooves and some exotic greenery. You’d expect this from a Crysis game though, so it needs to deliver content that lives up to the looks. It doesn’t do that.
Beyond all the shiny gloss of Crysis 2 is a very hollow shooter. You won’t find anything here that you can’t find in any of the other multiplayer FPSs on the market. The nanosuit is a nice concept with some very cool ideas, but I just wish that there was more to do with it other than a simple button press to cloak or give you additional armour. There could have been more options, maybe some Monday Night Combat-esque skills system that allows you to tweak any individual suit to a specific strength. As it is, it’s a minor addition to the experience that doesn’t do enough to stand the whole game out from an ever-growing crowd of militarised FPSs. Weapon types, killstreaks (3 gives you radar, 5 gives you an airstrike, 7 gives you a gunship. Call of Duty 4, anyone?), even killcams, gamemodes and overall handling are virtually the same as in Call of Duty.
The Crysis 2 demo has had a gruelling first few days. That Steam forum I mentioned before has a tech issues thread which Crytek have updated a few times with tidbits of information. That thread, at the time of writing, is 28 pages long, with 412 posts within. That’s not the sign of a functional game. People have been talking constantly about the login problems, often going hours without being able to play at all, and the USB headset thing just caps this off. But those aren’t the big issues for me, they can be fixed with patches and other means in the short term. I’m more concerned about the game itself and its utter lack of originality. There’s nothing to set it apart from other twitch shooters playable now or being released in the near future, nothing that might help me justify spending my money on it. The purpose of any demo is to sell your game to uncertain consumers. Crytek have done the exact opposite of this for me.