This is a strange situation. I'm writing a preview of a single level in Crysis 2 at the same time a leaked version of the entire game is filtering into thousands of hard-drives around the globe.
What can I tell the world when excited broadbandeers are already nano-biffing aliens in the face while simultaneously downloading DVD rips of Sorority Sluts XI? The wonders of this bright new technological age just keep on coming.
Perhaps you're one of those people who have decided they can put up with the sound issues and error messages the pirate version of Crysis 2 comes complete with. Seeing as the EA head honchos and Crytek boss Cevat Yerli are screaming in a room far away for yours, and perhaps because you're comforted by the shared guilt and enthusiasm of thousands of other faceless downloaders, it doesn't seem so much of a crime.
So it goes, and the world keeps turning, although the skies get darker and the nights longer - or so it seems to me, at least.
It's a shame that, despite what Crytek claims, this all-too-familiar situation will have put a strain on the relationship between the PC platform and a company which was once one of its greatest cheerleaders. But let's not get too lost in the rights, wrongs and wherefores of game leaks and internet piracy. (Not before we get to the Comments thread, anyway.)
Instead, lets look at how Crysis 2 is spreading its nanosuit-enshrined legs to stand on both the PC and console platforms.
For the purposes of this preview I played a largely underground sequence on the Xbox 360. During this segment, main character Alcatraz ventures through subway tunnels and wide-open areas where the earth has slumped and lumps of New York have fallen in, leaving broken skyscrapers to peer down forlornly from above.
Your only guide on this journey is Hargreave, co-founder of a corporation called Hargreave-Rosch. He seems to have more than a little amount of vested interest in the situation, and a habit of chirruping up with alien factoids in the manner of the Professor in Futurama.
Despite primarily being an interior and underground section, this stage is devastatingly pretty – even more so when I play it later on in 3D. The fire effects, trickling water and lighting as burning tube trains rocket past you and start smashing up the scenery truly are something special, and that vital Cloverfield essence pervades everything.
Your mission is to find a missing group of soldiers, then fulfil their orders by discovering three alien pods and shoving your nano-mitt inside each one so pretty purple goop sprays over your screen.
There's little doubt the extra-terrestrials standing in your way are the finest non-human combatants Crytek has created yet. Bi-pedal, gun-toting and unpredictable, they're tough to put down.
Sometimes they'll rush forward for you, sometimes they'll hold back – but you can invariably see meaning in all their movement. Your appreciation of their smarts is what creates the satisfaction you get when you knock them off their shiny metal legs.
What's more, these creatures are far more adept at roaming back and forth through levels than the enemies you meet in most other shooters. Just because you had a firefight at point A in the last playthrough, doesn't mean you won't find yourself perforated at point B or even C next time round.
It's important to note that Crysis 2 is not a Halo-style spray-and-pray game. You cannot simply rush round a corner and blindfire in the general direction of an enemy, hoping his tentacly head will catch enough bullets.
This is a precision combat game. Accurate, down-the-sight shots are what will save Alcatraz from a painful return to his last save point. As this is also a Crysis game, if you find yourself close to your prey you can grab them by what you can only assume is their throat, then carry their squirming forms until you find something deep or amusing to throw them into.
Collecting the magic alien dust from each of your downed foes allows you to upgrade your suit's capabilities – enhancing its speed, armour, recharge, stealth capabilities and so on.
Yes, the Nanosuit is once again the star of the show. It's still great fun to sneak behind ignorant aliens while cloaked, dash with super-speed and biff a yellow taxi into an alien heavy's face (they look a lot like the old Far Cry Trigen heavies, incidentally).
However, existing Crysis fans may be disappointed that some of the Nomad fundamentals have been snipped, edited, or simply don't work as well in the world beyond mouse and keyboard.
The greatest pleasure of Crysis, once you got it running at a decent whip, was how organic the combat was. Having observed your prey, you'd put plans into motion which would inevitably go wrong. It was then a question of thinking on the hoof – deftly switching between your nano-powers within something of a gunplay sandbox.
To its credit, Crysis 2 does away with the irritation of your nano-batteries running out mid-fight. But there's now more limited environmental interaction, much of it context-sensitive. Powers like nano-biff and nano-jump don't merge quite as neatly into the flow of battle.
You can still pull off impressive moves – sneaking up to a taxi while cloaked and power-kicking it sidelong into an enemy, for example, then firing at its exposed petrol tank when a friend comes over to investigate the taxi's violent demise. However, the suit abilities didn't gel together quite as well in the section I played as they once did on a paradise island.
There are some other concerns. Crysis veterans will notice there are far fewer objects to pick up and throw at people in New York. I didn't get to revisit the delights of murdering an enemy by hurling a fridge at his head in the level I played, though I did at least frisbee a pizza box at a stampeding alien.
The game's tagging system (via which you can track enemies, and also now see tactical points to clamber on and ammo stashes to raid) made perfect sense in the wide-open vistas of Far Cry and Crysis. It doesn't work quite so well in the tight confines of the New York underground transportation network. Let's hope it comes into its own elsewhere in the game.
Putting these quibbles aside, there's no doubt Crysis 2 looks and plays like a barnstormer. The visuals are sublime and the feel of the weapons is astonishing. You can probably throw people off skyscrapers and you might even be able to visit the fire station from Ghostbusters.
With a little over a month until the game's official release, it's looking increasingly likely that the patience of those pining to tear up the New York streets will be rewarded.