Crysis 2 – Everything here (13 april UPDATE)
inCrysis coverage of Crysis 2 World Premiere in NYC – Part 1
Crysis 2 World Premiere summary by Jeff “Doc” Witinok for inCrysis
The conference started in a small room off the main hallway that was decorated with posters of screenshots and concept art. The objective was to give a brief introduction to Crysis and CryEngine 2 to the console-only community members attending. It was hosted by Shirley Chu and Spenser Norrish, EA North America Community Managers from Toronto and Cry-Eddy, Lead Community Manager from Crytek. I hardly paid attention except for the fact that Crysis was playing on a like a 40” TV at about 30FPS from Spenser’s brand spanking new laptop. Technology has come quite a way since the release.
We were then lead into an auditorium that was basically a movie theater with some lush leather seats. It was just then that I realized this event was going to be MUCH different than the Crysis Community Summits held in Frankfurt.
A swarm of reporters from across the globe packed the place to standing room only status. On either side of me I had members of a Japanese gaming site; one of which had just landed a couple hours before.
The lights fade and the new trailer is shown followed by a loud round of applause.
Download ‘The Wall’ trailer (720p, 74.6MB)
Several speakers come up in succession and below are the only things pertinent to a gamer:
“Crysis 2 is going to focus in on three main areas. One is highly interactive destructibility. Second is Nanosuit 2. And third is what we call catastrophic beauty of New York. The interactive destructibility aspect will be driven by technology. The most exciting feature of Crysis 2 will be the Nanosuit feature. We have been refining this since Crysis to make it more seamless and a smoother interaction for the player. We have enhanced the two most popular modes stealth and armor complimented by power, speed, and also tactical readouts. Another exciting feature that has been a popular request and exciting for me is the ability to customize and upgrade the Nanosuit as they play through Crysis 2. So everyone will start the game the same, but everyone will finish differently depending on your style of play.” The Nanosuit 2 trailer is then played and his speech continues, “The next star in Crysis 2 is New York. We wanted to introduce something called urban jungle. Urban jungle stands for jungle gameplay with vegatology in an urban environment. So you play out different levels of height that are featured ingame, as you will see later in real time, but also the organic and artificial power of a jungle that allows the player to move in and out of cover and to allow the A.I. to excel, of course. The location of New York allows us to elevate feelings that are more emotionally more relevant to the player. New York is the city we’re most proud of and symbolically the most unforgettable. So, we said if the gamer cannot save New York, then the aliens have won and no other city can be saved. Catastrophic beauty is the art direction that allows the player to have an emotional tie in, but even in a catastrophic environment there is beauty.”
He then introduces Richard Morgan, the lead writer for Crysis 2. He’s a very animated Brit who is definitely very passionate about working on this project. He says he’s been a console gamer for about eight year and that has helped him dive into this project. He then goes on to point out the flaws in the Far Cry and Crysis storylines and he intends to improve them for Crysis 2. He specifically points out the first game was too predictable and that the fact that the Delta Force team and some North Koreans had the suits and no one else, but this was never explained. He then explains his strategy to fix this, “After an absolutely amazing opening, I mean it’s brilliant…incredible…the player will start with nothing. I mean you will have your nanosuit and a weapon, but then you’ll be like ‘shit, shit, I have to get behind some cover!’ and after the dust settles, through interaction and narration the story will unfold for the player.” He also says that he plans on fixing some storyline issues from the first game, giving them meaning and purpose though you won’t need to have played the first game in order to stay with the flow of Crysis 2. It will be added details that the Crysis player will have more to refer back to. As he exits the stage, I can’t help but think to myself that Cevat did introduce him correctly when he wrote some kick ass Sci-Fi books and now he is kicking ass for CryTek.
Cevat retakes the podium and explains that we’re about to see a real time demonstration on a Work In Progress (WIP) Xbox360 build. He says that the Executive Producer for CryTek, Nathan Camarillo, will be playing the build. He asks us to “…pay particular attention to the Nanosuit 2 which is the heart of Crysis 2 and our new IP. Nathan will be switching between stealth and armor, with power and tactic as well. The power mode will allow large leaps from building to building and to move things. The tactic mode will be used to get information. You will see a green glow around enemies once they have been spotted. But mainly stealth and armor, which will be used when he is under heavy fire. All of which is being used in Sandbox which is completely unscripted so it can be completely different than what I just said.” He and the entire room laughs. “The second part is the catastrophic beauty. Catastrophic beauty is the art direction we use to make you want to protect and save New York. We wanted to show the catastrophic dimension it could take should this happen for real. Catastrophic beauty is caused by the aliens, but it’s unclear at that point whether it’s cause from the top down or where it came from. Anyway, I took up the time of the load screen so let’s just on with it.” Simply priceless. For the record, the load time was about 2:20.
The level starts with the player very high up in a building, I’d say about 20 stories up. Nomad is given some brief directions by his commander, because it’s hard to pay attention as Nathan pans around from this high vantage point. Crysis 2 on an early 360 dev build months away from release is, regardless of platform, flat out the most visually stunning game in history. Period. I cannot adequately describe the richness, depth of detail, and the pure sensation that you are in a Nanosuit 2 bustling about New York City. I had a flashback to the very first time I walked out of the bunker and into the tropical paradise in the first level Far Cry. There aren’t enough superlatives to put his correctly on paper. Nathan turns on tactical mode, pans down and to the left of him, and you begin to hear chatter from your newest human enemies. They’re wearing a Nanosuit that’s darker than Nomad’s, looks like it has a gas mask on the helmet, with daunting blue eyes. Nathan switches to armor mode and jumps down from his perch. I was upset he had to come down, but my anger quickly subsides as Nathan switches to power mode and jumps to the next building and the immediately goes into “maximum stealth”. He creeps up on an unsuspecting enemy and grabs him. Unlike the first game where it was by the neck, he actually palms his head like a basketball. He is palming and dragging this guy for a few steps and then squeezes his head crushing it like a grape. I can’t help myself and audibly say “NICE” quite loudly. He takes switches to armor and takes out an enemy and quickly reverts to stealth mode. A nearby enemy goes behind some wooden structure in front of Nomad for cover. The enemy is still on his radar from being tagged in tactical mode, so Nathan positions himself on the opposite side of the structure. He switches to the shotgun, turns on armor mode and blasts away. The wood splinters fly everywhere as round after round takes the structure and enemy down at the same time. He works his way towards a brick wall for cover and being a good player knows that there’s a sniper rifle conveniently right there. He scopes, zooms and snipes an enemy that is on the rooftop of the building directly across the street. His companion with a rocket launcher gets a bead on Nomad from the sound of the shot and fires away. What happens next is the next “oh shit” moment. As the rocket zooms towards Nomad and hits the brick wall in front of him, the bricks correctly hurl towards Nomad partially destroying a correct proportion of the wall. It was not the entire wall or a pre-baked hole. The engine correctly estimated the size of damage from the explosion and rendered it in real time. As the bricks settled and the dust flew up, I couldn’t help but ask myself “did I just see that”? I didn’t care that he was in God mode and should have died. Amazing. I hardly had to time to recover from seeing that when he starts panning for more rooftop enemies. He spots a few more, walks over to a machine gun mounted on the rooftop and picks it up. Much like the video of the first Crysis game when he fires the Hurricane into the trees, Nathan turns on armor mode and proceeds to lay waste to anything and everything in front of him. Again, I didn’t care that he should have died like five times. The sheer amount of carnage in front of the machine gun more than made up for the lack of any sort of tactics. I didn’t even think of it at the time, but now writing this, it also showed the raw power of the new engine. Even with all the destruction going on, the visual feedbacks from taking damage (screen edges, blur, etc), and intense amount of audio, the game did not hiccup one bit. Nathan proceeded to mop up the few extras that wisely ran for as much cover as possible and heads to the checkpoint. The level fades and a VERY loud applause ensues. I’m in complete awe of what I just saw.
inCrysis coverage of Crysis 2 World Premiere in NYC – Part 2
As the lights come up from the first demo, Richard and Cevat retake the stage. Cevat reiterates Nathan’s use of all the Nanosuit’s features of Strength, Armor, Stealth, and Tactics to accomplish the mission (he neglects to mention God mode, but that’s ok). He then asks Richard to lead us into the second demo. Richard says the name of the company of the other human nanosuiters, but between the low volume and his strong Brit accent I can’t make out the first word Cry(Act)? Security). He says, “at this point you don’t know why you’re fighting against them, but it’s safe to say that you stand in between something they want. But they’re the least of your problems as Nathan is about to show”.
Cevat adds, “Yes we just saw Nathan kick some human ass, now it’s time to kick some alien ass!”. With that the lights dim and the second live gameplay session begins with a cutscene. It’s very likely that these two levels are the second and third of the game. I’m guessing this because he started the last level up very high in elevation, so logically there had to at least been at least one level for Nomad to get up there. I say it’s the second and third, because there’s still quite a bit of hand-holding dialogue guiding the player through both levels.
The cutscene begins with a highly iconic New York building (won’t say to prevent a spoiler) being torn apart from the ground up. A huge column of glowing metal twists skyward and throws cement, steel, and anything else in its path out of the way. The pile of rubble until the alien object is at its pinnacle (I later learn these things are simply called a Spike).
What now looks to be par for the course, the quality of the cutscene is much higher than in Crysis. Of course Nomad is somehow right in the thick of things and gets thrown around like a… shall I say it… ragdoll. As the cutscene ends, Nomad is flat on his back in the middle of a street adjacent to the former building. There are what appears to be coordinated teams of the new bipedal aliens scurrying all around him. Most move out of site in rapid fashion. I believe his suit goes into some survival mode and instructs him to stay down and play dead. A pair of aliens inspects Nomad and move on. The suit is obviously able to feign death for a bit. He picks his head up sees the aliens checking body after body. The suit (his commander?) initiates a reboot and the player is finally able to get up. There’s a shotgun nearby and Nathan quickly retrieves it. This grabs the attention of the two inspecting aliens and they quickly and I want to repeat this QUICKLY are within feet of Nomad. Their closing speed is phenomenal. Nathan barely has time to lift his shotgun and he manages to get one of them. The second one is not even on the biggest screen C2 will ever be played on.
A sudden screech makes Nathan quickly pan left and the second alien is almost grabbing Nomad’s arm. Nathan tries the famous Crysis butt stock strike, but then the next “oh shit” moment happens. Not only does the alien back off from the melee strike, but he disengages his assault completely and bolts full speed behind a nearby overturned car for cover. Not only is this different from Crysis, it’s better than any A.I. I’ve seen yet. With the tables turned, Nathan goes on the assault and closes the distance between himself and the alien while using yet another car as cover. He blasts the alien a couple of times at close range and knocks the alien into the car which in turn knocks the car on its roof (I’m totally loving this… check my avatar). The loud shottie alerts the nearby teams that had recently walked right over Nomad and they engage. Nathan knows where there’s a rocket launcher nearby and hurries to go grab it. I’d say there were eight or ten aliens (again, they actually seem to work in pairs) closing quickly. Nathan fires off a couple of rockets sending aliens, cars, building rubble, signs, sidewalk and all sorts of materials about on contact. The aliens quickly assess the new danger and one team slows their assault, another closes faster, and the majority of them spread to the sides and try to flank Nomad on the wings.
So there are obviously new options in the AI coding where even though they might be right next to each other, two aliens might do completely different things. This is where the demonstration gets out of control, but I’m OK with it. Knowing he’s in God mode, Nathan basically stands still and pivots like a turret and fires rocket after rocket. He gets some direct hits, some shots are close enough to make the alien tumble but not discontinue their assault, and other rockets are dodged.
A couple of aliens make it all the way to him, so Nathan just turns and blasts them at point blank. +1 Death. And another. And another. The misses that are close to buildings are the best. It doesn’t matter if it is brick, cement, or wood Nathan’s putting holes/dents all over the place. All this commotion would be a nightmare for CryEngine 2, but the game runs like butta. He gets the last one and then a boss mini-cutscene rolls. A giant, purplish blue version of the bipedal aliens comes from the Spike and slams the pavement with such force that it causes a screen shake. He gives a loud battle cry and you know the next fight is going to be against him. The roar is obviously homage to the Hunter roar video and makes me grin as the screen fades to black and the lights come back up with yet another strong round of applause. The female Japanese reporter next to me turns to me and asks, “That was incredible, no?” She can tell by my huge grin and my head shaking in disbelief that I’m also in shock and all I can get out is, “Yeah”.
The crowd quickly disperses out of the auditorium and the buzz from crowd is loud and nonstop out in the hallway. Talks amongst attendees, cell phone conversation, ringtones, and interviews are all going on at once. It’s a madhouse. There’s an adjacent entranceway where reporters are funneled in line to interview a rotating staff of CryTek employees. I immediately decide not to become of the sheep marching to the slaughter as I really start to feel for the interviewees. Instead I tour the art gallery taking the video you can download now, or view below.
Download ‘Art gallery’ video (AVI, 480p, 50.2MB)
Featured prominently was Nomad with his new nanosuit front and center as you walked in:
I had to get a shot with him:
To say it was hot and crowded would be an understatement. It was scorching and packed:
The bar was an oasis at the end of the hallway:
The nonstop interviews have to take their toll (left: Richard Morgan):
Part 3 will conclude my review where I delve into the minds of CryTek and get bigger pictures of the puzzle and try to make sense of the deluge of information.
‘The Wall’ Trailer – Version 2, Now with Maximum Quality
This version 2 of ‘The Wall’ trailer for Crysis 2 contains no new footage but it is of higher quality due to much higher bitrate. Other differences: Crytek logo in the beginning has been replaced with the new one, plus there is a quick CryEngine 3 promotional clip in the end.We have uploaded this trailer to our YouTube channel and you can view the embedded video stream below. Source for the upload is an Apple QuickTime media file (MOV, 335MB, 1280×720, 30fps), downloaded directly from Crytek’s fileserver. We have mirrored the source file if you want to download and view this Crysis 2 debut trailer in highest possible quality.
The song featured in this trailer is a cover version of ‘New York, New York’, performed by Polly Scattergood. The original was made by John Kander and Fred Ebb for Martin Scorsese’s 1977 film musical ‘New York, New York’.
Download ‘The Wall’ trailer (MOV, 335MB, 1280×720, 30fps)