Crysis 2 preview

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You've sat and thought – haven't you? – about what you'd do if you could go invisible at will. Thanks to Crysis 2, I know what I'd do. I'd hide behind a crate, pick up a trolley and throw it a few feet in front of me. It'd make a horrible clanging noise. Then I'd go invisible and stand, looking at it, waiting until a soldier came to investigate the sound. When he did, I'd grab him by the throat. Then, as his friends wondered why their colleague's feet were dangling a few inches off the ground, I'd hurl him into a ravine, breaking his armoured bones like twigs.

When I do that, it makes me feel big and clever. Especially when, as the snapped man's friends immediately draw a bead on my form, which has rippled back into visibility with the exertion of lobbing their chum off a cliff – I duck behind the same crate. “Hah!”, I say, out loud to the PC, “you idiots.” Then I go invisible again, pop out from the other side of the crate, drop back into the spectrum of light visible to human eyes, and shoot them in their backs.

Crysis 2 has pruned away the go-anywhere attitude of its predecessor, relying instead on pockets of freedom that Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli described to me as 'action bubbles'. But that's not to suggest the game can only be played in one prescribed way. Crysis 2's levels are best imagined as a set of beads: narrow choke points connecting open spaces that encourage creative killing. The bubbles themselves are multi-layered things, the biggest and most interesting blessed with enough layers and ledges that most players won't see half of them on their playthrough.

There's a danger that players won't even try and utilise Crysis 2's carefully sculpted nooks and overhangs, deciding instead to rush headlong into standard shooty combat. To counterbalance that, Crytek have included a tactical assessment visor as a feature of your super-soldier's supersuit. Press B and it flips down, picking out the battlefield in front of you with points of interest. Hollow white arrows are other troops, human and alien. Press F with your crosshair over them and they'll be locked in, remaining on your HUD even with your visor up, letting you track them in and out of cover. Hover over yellow arrows, and you'll be met with a more exciting prospect: words.

Each yellow point is a way to approach the bubble. Some are simple: clock a resupply point and it'll just lead you to an ammunition dump, maybe a JAW guided missile launcher. Others allow more nefarious play. My favourites were the stealth indicators, because they let me be an invisible bastard. If you couldn't tell from my earlier man-murdering, I like being an invisible bastard.

Early on in the game there's an expanse of concrete and Portakabins, heavily packed with guards. Beginning on a ledge above the field of play, I planned the quickest route as the nanosuited -crow flies toward the nearest stealth area. Engaging my suit's cloak, I dropped down to ground level and took off at a sprint.

A quick recap on that nanosuit. It's the star of the show, dominating the narrative so hard that the man you control never gets a word in. You're left as a floaty concept with the callsign Alcatraz, and the buttock-hugging threads to turn you into a superhero. But the suit isn't a passport to invulnerability. All of its core functions – a speed boost, increased armour, or the aforementioned invisibility – drain a reservoir of energy.

Sprinting across the dappled concrete, I was forced to stop and duck behind low walls to regain enough juice to power my next invisible jaunt. After my third energy-regaining breather, I figured I was close enough to my target – a small hole in the ground that led into a wide pipe. I leapt up in the air, only to materialise into view in front of some surprised soldiers. A millisecond later and I was in the pipe, but the damage was done – the entire area knew where I had gone.

I was set to sprint off down the pipe, to try and find another exit route, but something stopped me. Time to be big and clever again. Instead, I re-engaged my cloak and leapt back up to street level. I watched for a second as my pursuers stared down into the hole I'd just vacated, and suppressed a smirk. Still invisible, I pottered around the corner and hefted a convenient red barrel to my shoulder.

Out of sight, I flitted back into visual existence and stuck a round of C4 onto my explodey friend. I suppose if they'd been looking, the soldiers would've seen a suspiciously floating barrel walk itself round a corner, lean back, and hurl itself forward. They wouldn't have seen the explosion that followed, and they definitely didn't see anything after that. By that point, they were dead. Because that's what I like to do when I'm invisible: kill stuff.