Crysis me a river
So, where to start? You probably know that the game casts players as Jake Dunn, a special forces soldier sent in by the US to investigate an alien threat on an island being controlled by the Koreans. You probably know that Jake’s main weapon in this investigation is his nano-muscle suit, which augments his abilities in a number of areas.
Know all that? Good. Great. Now forget it all – that’s all singleplayer stuff there and this is a multiplayer article. So, the question then becomes: what do you need to know about the multiplayer side of the game?
Well, first off, there are a handful of different multiplayer modes. In the beta which we had a gander at we were looking at the most interesting of them all, the Power Struggle mode. Power Struggle works a bit differently to other multiplayer game modes and this isn’t just a case of CTF at all.
The main thing that makes Power Struggle stand out is the sheer size of the levels – they’re massive! The level we looked at, a map called Shore, was almost a quarter water thanks to being set on the seaside, but it was still impressively big and fantastically detailed. It even had frogs that hoped about the level, complete with other forms of wildlife. Of course, being in beta stage means it isn't exactly flawless and it's fairly common to see frogs dropping out of mid-air or floating off the ground.
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Levels in Power Struggle are dotted with different types of locations and bases for the two teams to vie for. In Shore the US soldiers start the game just off the coast in a submarine, while the Korean forces start inland at a fortress in the hills. Boats, trucks, jeeps and hovercrafts all round.
And tanks, but we’ll get to that later.
When players start a level they have a small number of prestige points – think of these as the in-game currency. Players use them to buy new weapons, weapon add-ons, equipment and tools. Everything from parachutes and lockpicks to guns and sniper scopes can be bought for the right price.
Which is where the other buildings come in. You see, between the two bases are a lot of different structures, ranging from fortified bunkers to war factories and energy centres. By capturing these locations, which is done by being inside them, teams can unlock more bonuses.
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Capture a war factory and you can build a tank. Capture a research lab and you can unlock new weapon prototypes to use. Sounds simple, but it isn’t and, unfortunately, this is where the clever game design starts to suffer.
In a 34 player server it quickly becomes impossible to effectively co-ordinate an attack unless you intimately know the other players. Buildings change hands too quickly and the in-game announcements of “The enemy captured bunker, Charlie-Four
” aren’t exactly helpful until you’ve played each level enough to get bored of it.
Granted, the hardcore and the fanboy elite will lap this game design up. For players who want some accessibility however, the system is just too intimidating and it didn’t take long to realise that even the most seasoned player in the Beta was running around like a headless chicken.