'Yeah, but does it run Crysis 2?'

The World’s video game press gathered in New York on Tuesday for the world premiere of Crysis 2, the sequel to the game whose memory lives in on the question, “Yeah, but does it run Crysis?” It’s no coincidence that Crtyek, the game’s developers, and EA, the game’s publisher, chose New York to show off the game, with Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli calling the city “symbolic of the pride of mankind.” Clearly he hasn’t been to the more rubbish sections of Queens. Yes, you’re in an altogether different type of jungle this go-round.

Tuesday was a glorious day, not least of which because it was sunny and warm in New York (and Barcelona beat Arsenal), and that I essentially took a half day—fancy video game launches don’t cover themselves. I did, in fact, get to see Crysis 2 in the small movie theater inside the Tribeca Grand. In the lobby where EA had us all corralled, you could hear Russian, French, and British English spoken; it wasn’t merely a U.S. affair.

But enough of that scene-setting, let’s talk about the game.

Crytek played the Xbox 360 version of the game in front of the press, the first such demonstration of its kind. (Press didn’t get to actually play the game that day, so don’t be too jealous.) The very fact that Crytek was able to develop to the game for the 360, which turns five years old this fall, is a testament to their talents as developers. The original Crysis, first released in 2007, still gives many of today’s PCs a tough time. Turn on anti-aliasing and play at any sort of “high” resolution and you’d better be using a proper video card. I was able to play the game on my ATI Radeon 5850 on Very High settings provided I knocked the anti-aliasing to 2X, and it still wasn’t a solid 60 fps. This is an Intel Core i7 860 (OD’d to 3.8GHz) system—reasonably powerful, yes.

The point is, a reasonably brand new (built around Christmastime) system still had a difficult time running the first game, but Crytek has the game running flawlessly on the ol’ 360. Well done, chaps.

Some of you may be thinking, “So, I guess the PC version is garbage then, right?” Not according to Crytek, who told me they made “no compromises” to the integrity of the PC game despite the fact that they were concurrently developing the PC and console version. (Development on the second game started almost immediately after the first game shipped.) Please don’t think Crytek, seeing the large install base of the 360 and PS3, decided to give PC gamers the shaft. When the game comes out this holiday season, you can expect the question to become, “Yeah, but does it run Crysis 2?”

Probably not, no.

The game takes place in New York City, and once again puts you inside The Suit. (I’m capitalizing The Suit because it looks cool, and because Crytek said The Suit will become “a new IP.” I fully expect Suit lunchboxes and Slurpee cups in the near future.) You have to fend off some sort of alien invasion while simultaneously battling these other guys who don’t like you for whatever reason. The story—one of the only things criticized in the first game—has been written by Richard Morgan, a British science fiction author who won the Arthur C. Clarke award in 2008. If that doesn’t instill you with confidence, I don’t know what to tell you. The very fact that Crytek went out and hired a proper novelist should ensure that the story isn’t typical FPS nonsense.

It’s Crysis all right. You’re a man in The Suit, and you go around shooting other men (and… things) who aren’t wearing The Suit. There’s big guns and big explosions, and a stirring “Oh, dear, this is important” soundtrack accompanies you along the way. Are you basically Gruff Military Man shooting bad guys? Yeah, but it never seems as silly or overbearing as, say, Gears of War did. Oh, look at me, I have big muscles and I talk like I’m gargling rocks, and I shoot first and ask questions later.” Just shut up already, stupid cliché.

There was no mention of any sort of multi-player mode.

We weren’t allowed to take photos or video of the game as Crytek played it. Thems the rules.

I can say it took place in downtown New York, right around Wall Street, and The Suit was put through its paces. Maximum Power-assisted big jumps—the same disembodied robotic voice announces “Maximum Power” as in the first game—and Maximum Armor keeps you safe and sound from the bad guys.

New York looks amazing. I asked someone at Crytek if they expected comparisons to GTA IV, and they gave me a puzzled look. I don’t know why, seeing as though that was a complement. Two years ago, GTA IV‘s Liberty City was the most authentic version of New York yet seen in video games. Crysis 2‘s looks better, more “real.” The entire demo took place within Manhattan, and it’s unknown if the outer boroughs of New York will make an appearance. Other landmarks you’ll get to see include Madison Square Garden, Grand Central Terminal, Times Square, and Federal Hall (which instantly reminded me of Metal Gear Solid 2‘s wacky ending).

I guess that’s it. It’s Crysis, but set in New York. I fully expect it to be the biggest game of the holiday season. You know damn well that Microsoft will be promoting it like crazy… “Look what the Xbox 360 can do~!”

I, of course, like a true geek, will be getting the PC version. It’s game like Crysis 2 worth sinking hundreds of dollars into a gaming PC worthwhile.

Here’s the full trailer from the other day:

Any other questions and I’ll try to answer ’em.