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Crysis 2 multiplayer beta impressions

Last week was the end of the Crysis 2 multiplayer beta and, suprisingly, it had been an intersting experience. I had not been around for the original and, with my PC being subtantially under-par at the time, was not able to play it. This time however I made sure to get in on the experience, which was especially interesting considering multiplayer was being introduced into the series for the first time. I had enjoyed the experience a lot, which was partly because I seemed to be really good (my K/D ratio was 1.88) and it seemed to combine elements of CoD and Halo. Here I will be writing a detailed overview of all aspects of the included map and gamemodes. There will be no ‘tl; dr’ version.

The ‘beta’ or demo – there seemed to be a lack of consistency over which it was, so I’ll call it a preview – provided players with a single map (Skyline) and initially a single gamemode: Team Deathmatch. This was your generic First Person Shooter slayer mode – a 4v4, first-to-50 affair. Like in established franchises players could also choose loadouts, however there was a slight twist: all were not unlocked. Their were two default options, and a custom class that could be tailored to your experience. These were the standard Assault / Scout classes which would either start you out with an assault rifle or shotgun as your primary weapon, and a pistol as the secondary weapon. Additional loadouts could be unlocked via weapon unlocks which were rewarded after each rank up (or every other rank up, as you progressed) and could also come along with an attachment, armour or dog tag unlocks. More on that soon.

The multiplayer of Crysis 2 also includes killstreaks, which (at least, in the preview) seemed to follow the format of getting 3 / 5 / 7 kills without dying. The rewards would be mostly unsurprising to anyone who has played Modern Warfare or beyond: 3 kills would result in in a UVA clone, 5 in a a single and unmovable electric beam firing down and 7 resulting in the fan-favourite chopper gunner. Whle the first and final killstreak in the trial were iterative at best, the ‘beam’ provided some interest. The idea was that you would choose a spot, tap A and it would fire in that spot. The downside was, as aforementioned, that it could not move. Therefore from my experience it was best to wait until a radar was used, which would allow you to see all of the targets in the game and where you could get double – or potentially triple – kills.

There was a second gamemode which was dubbed ‘Crash Site’. A simple yet effective take on King of the Hill, players has to defend pods that were dropped for a set amount of time. This would in turn earn points and the team who reached 200 points first would win. There is really nothing more to say. Regular loadouts were identical to those found in Team Deathmatch.

As briefly mentioned, Crysis 2 allowed players to gain armour unlocks. These tied in with the core feature of Crysis 2: Nanosuit 2.0. This is the next version of the suit which debuted in the original Crysis allowing players to jump higher (hold A), turn invisible (right bumber), sprint (hold in the left analog stick) or use the left bumper to activate the armour ability which made you more difficult to kill. However all of the abilities would drain the energy bar that players could see in their HUD, which was refilled by simply not using any of the abilities.

Armour unlocks tied into these core mechanics by providing additional abilities. The preview only provided a small sample, with example abilities allowing players to have a radar that increased in volume as enemies approaced allowing them to have an attachment to shoot out holograms. These worked really well, and providing a nice balance to the Nanosuit as well as a sense of freedom.

Skyline was the only map in the preview, so it was important that players got used to the key points. Ideally suited to 4 v 4 and objective gametypes, players spawned either side of what can best be described as a raised greenhouse. On the outer perimiter were standard walkways and raised platforms – some lower than others – which provided a continual route around the whole of the greenhouse. On the lowest level were some additional ‘houses, which players could shoot enemies through to score kills or use as cover from the gunship and snipers. These also provided a platform to get onto the top greenhouse, as it was easy for players to jump up on the rooftops and to get onto the uppermost level. This meant that it was difficult to camp, as players had to keep watch of all four corners of the greenhouse.

Continuing around the perimiter, players could walk up a small fight of steps to reach a set of sun panels. These were, like large parts of the environment, destructable. Shooting through meant that any player using them as cover would have to run, either back from whence they came (which was a large, open space) or forward. This would lead to plants, trees and bushes that players could use as cover. The environment here was ideally suited to close-range firefights, especially in the objective modes (in this area, players had to hold a point meaning that the otherwise open space resulted in a quick turnover of kills). As said before players could use the smaller platforms to climb up to the larger, raised greenhouse. At this point players can either choose to use and / or detach the turret (which seemed significantly overpowered even for that weapon class). Other options were to move inside to the greenhouse, or use one of the sniping spots. From my experience it was best to move around to the back of the greenhouse, enable camo and use the roofs to get the drop on players. In this area there was also a small, ‘hut’-esque building which had a shaft that players could drop down for a quick escape or use the side window to shoot opposing players. The door could not be closed, meaning this was not a long-term camping option.

If players had not chosen this route, however, then they could continue downwards from the smaller plants and to the other side of the previously-mentioned assortment of greenhouses. This would practically lead players full circle. Here there was another small platform that one could climb on top of, and use the wall as cover. This was another key point for holding an objective, but players were not totally obscured behind the wall and could easily be seen.

At the front of the smaller greenhouses was a door leading inside of the building, which was directly below the largest greenhouse. In here players could follow a right-angled, darkly-light pathway that would lead to: a platform that could be used to climb up into the greenhouse, or would face a a lower level with an indoor waterfall. This area was shattered and haphazard, with two staircases either side that led to the exit of this area (two platforms would lead players to the sun panels mentioned earlier). In regular Slayer this area was often neglected, though personally I climbed up to the side-platform to get inside the greenhouse a lot. If players ignored these two key features, then they could continue forwards and either turn left-or-right: turning right led outside and turning left revealed the final room inside of the building.

Resembling something similar to a cloak room was a small, sqaure room with rows of lockers and a half-destroyed desk. Above the room was a hole in the roof, allowing players to drop down through another shaft (the ‘other’ shaft led down into this room too). This meant that players could not camp – a welcome key theme within the mutiplayer – and was profound moreso in the objective modes. Walking up a flight of stairs would take players out of the room, and to a platform just below the sun panels.

It was a shame that Crytek has decided to only include this map – I had actually enjoyed this preview of Crysis 2 quite a log. Camping spots seemed to be sporadic at best, while the open nature of Skyline encouraged players to interact rather than to be afraid of interacting. Furthermore while the classes and perks available were iterative rather than inventive, they certainly worked well. One must bare in mind that large portions of the game have no been shown, so if Crytek continue in the vein that the preview showed then there could be a genuinly interesting multilplayer on offer.

However, my concerns do lie with one or two inclusions… especially the armour ability (which allows the user to be temporarily stronger). The downside of this is that some players have found themselves being overly cautious from those who beat down, this can be a one-hit kill without the armour applied. Speaking from personal experience, though, I hardly use the armour effect. I found that camo was much more to my playstyle, which is generally conservative, and honestly didn’t have enough deaths by pummle that caused me to throw my controller out of the window.

On a final side note, it was intersting that on the final day of the ‘preview’ this version of the multiplayer was labelled as ‘Phase 1’. Hopefully Crytek will launch a pre-release version with another map and game mode. I certainly hope so.