The sequel to the cutting-edge PC shooter Crysis is coming to both the PC and consoles, in case you didn't already hear. Aside from letting you once again don a high-tech nanosuit that gives you superhuman powers and offering a new story that takes place in a ruined New York City, Crysis 2 will have, of all things, multiplayer. Oh, don't look so surprised. You know what, we might actually have subtly hinted at this new development with our two previous multiplayer stories covering a first look at the Team Instant Action and Alien Crash Site modes, as well as an update covering the Ambush map. And now we have a third to cover some of the new details we've picked up, along with some maps that have been unveiled, such as Sanctuary, which is an abandoned New York City church, and Pier 17, which is a ruined docking area half underwater.
Crysis 2's multiplayer will offer a bunch of different variables that you can change up to alter your experience, and when you first hear about them, they sound like pretty standard stuff--until you start playing with all of it. The game will offer a dozen multiplayer maps and six different modes: Instant Action (deathmatch); Team Instant Action (team deathmatch); Assault (where one team attacks an objective and the opposing team defends); Capture the Relay (a variant of Capture the Flag); Crash Site (a variant of Battlefield's Conquest mode, which requires one team to steal and escort artifacts to a drop site and the opposing team to defend--similar to the old schoolyard game of steal the bacon); and Extraction (which requires one team to escort a VIP to a drop site and the opposing team to head them off at the pass).
In addition, while every participant is equipped with Crysis' trademark nanosuit in most of the modes, there are five different unlockable character kits to choose from: assault, which starts with an assault rifle; scout, which carries a combat shotgun; sniper, which carries a long-range sniper rifle; gunner, which carries a heavy machine gun; and custom--your own personal weapon loadout you can choose for yourself. The different kits also have subtle (and not-so-subtle) tweaks to general gameplay and nanosuit powers that promote a certain play style. The sniper kit, for instance, makes less noise while using the nanosuit's built-in stealth powers. In addition, as we've mentioned previously, Crysis 2's multiplayer will offer additional "modules"--add-ons that enhance your existing abilities (rather than an endlessly scrolling list of new powers that you never bother using because they're mapped to weird button combinations or multiple hotkeys). There will be 21 in all, in three tiers. In addition, there will be 50 different ranks of nanosuit upgrades, and you'll have the ability to "reboot" your nanosuit up to five times.
OK, so maybe that does kind of sound like a lot of stuff, even on paper. But in practice, these options seem like they'll make Crysis 2's multiplayer something that's worth coming back to again and again, since they'll add to what is already a really distinctive multiplayer experience, thanks to the nanosuit. As we've mentioned already, the original Crysis' hallmark was the nanosuit, which grants superhuman powers at the cost of a constantly depleting energy meter that recharges slowly, and as we've also mentioned, the nanosuit is back in Crysis 2. This means that in multiplayer, you'll be able to freely toggle invisible stealth mode or heavy-duty armor mode (which provides you more protection from fire but slows you down) as long as your suit's power hasn't fully drained yet.
This is to say nothing of how the nanosuit lets you make huge, athletic jumps, while the game lets you instantly grapple onto and mantle over most obstacles and rooftops--making ladders more or less a thing of the past. Or how you can transition from a full sprint to a running slide that seems to travel pretty far, effectively crouching while on the move (perhaps a not-so-subtle nod to Vanquish's rocket sliding, but minus the rockets and the slow motion). And you can also perform standard pistol-whipping melee as well as a midair lunging melee attack while jumping. Oh, and along with using emplaced machine guns on certain maps, you can modify your arsenal by swapping out your current weapon with one from a fallen enemy. Depending on your level of experience and which shooters you normally play, you might hop into your first Crysis 2 multiplayer match and find it weird that with the exception of the artifacts in Crash Site mode, there aren't any items or power-ups to pick up. This is because the nanosuit is a walking pile of power-ups, and it may take you a few rounds (or just a play-through of the single-player story mode) to get accustomed to the fact that in this game, you're a walking bag of tricks who also carries a gun.
Our matches included a team instant action session on the rooftop-based Skyline map that we've covered previously, an extraction session on Sanctuary, and an extraction session on Pier 17. All three maps remain true to the look and feel of Crysis 2's highly detailed, highly destroyed New York, and Skyline and Sanctuary both have lots of easily accessible vertical geometry to perch on as an invisible sniper, but nothing completely safe or out of sight. "Camping" (doing nothing but hunkering down in one place and firing potshots) as an invisible sniper in Crysis 2's multiplayer doesn't seem to work, partially because any kind of decent teamwork will sniff you out quickly, and partially because Crysis 2 helpfully has a Call of Duty-style killcam that briefly switches to the perspective of the guy who popped you. Getting killed doesn't seem to be that big of a deal anyway, since we didn't experience a respawn timer of any more than about three seconds or so, at least in the modes we played.
Extraction is an interesting mode that, like Assault, requires decent teamwork in order for you to successfully defend (or steal) objectives, but a defensive battle where you and your buddies have dug in to repel raiders can quickly turn into a game of cat and mouse if the attacking team grabs one of the two artifacts. Interestingly, in the maps we played, the artifacts imparted minor bonuses to the team controlling them (such as increased armor), so it's in the interest of both teams to control the items for as long as possible. Crysis 2 helpfully marks the location of key items and characters of interest (extraction artifacts, enemy soldiers who have picked up artifacts, and your allies) with floating, translucent icons you can follow on foot while occasionally glancing at the mini-map off to the left side of the screen.
Considering that Crysis 2's multiplayer was developed by Crytek UK--the studio formerly known as TimeSplitters creator Free Radical, you might figure that stepping into a match would be more about a fast-paced, pick-up-and-play experience. And while Crysis 2's multiplayer is definitely fast and frantic at times, it also seems to have a lot of depth that will eventually separate exceptional players from newbies. Aside from the basics of being a decent shot, being skilled at this game's multiplayer will mean that you'll have to master the art of motion in the nanosuit (timing jumps perfectly, flawlessly mantling onto rooftops on the first jump, skillfully hitting the aerial lunge attack, and mastering the running slide) as well as intelligently using your nanosuit's powers while not draining its energy levels dry. Crysis 2 will be released on March 22 for the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.