Crysis 2

Alien in New York.

Talk to anybody at Crytek about Crysis 2 and they'll quickly start explaining things. Eager to be helpful, they'll tell you about the game's move from the "open sandbox" of the South Pacific jungles to the "choreographed sandbox" of a ravaged Manhattan. They'll speak to you about the changes made to the Nanosuit 2.0, which arranges its powers in tiers now, allowing you to select either stealth or armour first, before augmenting it with the likes of speed, strength, and the new tactical option that lets you eavesdrop on distant enemies and get a better sense of your surroundings.

Go deeper, and they'll start to discuss things like anti-aliasing, audio occlusion and deferred rendering, and then you're really boned. But none of this matters, to tell the truth. Watch 15 minutes of Crysis 2 in action and you start to understand that some things simply don't need explaining.

Manhattan? Kicked in by aliens. That's the starting point for the company's latest, and that's the reason why we fade up on an artfully mangled train carriage, hanging from an elevated railway line somewhere around midtown.

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There are far more vertical options than you got in the original game - possibly because jungles don't often have first floors.

There's a voice in Nomad's ear giving him some kind of order or objective, but we're too busy looking at the sky to really listen. Soldiers running back and forth in the burning street below are talking about shelling of some kind, and sure enough, that's what we're watching: fizzing little trails of light streaming down from above, getting larger as they hurtle towards us, impacting in a nearby skyscraper.

Switch to tactical. Suddenly, the Nanosuit is highlighting dozens of targets around us - friendly infantrymen cowering at street level, and something more villainous lurking in the building opposite. Zooming in reveals huge bipedal aliens decked out in metal and weird gooey horns, shooting up an abandoned office suite, but it also gives us a chance to just take in the level of detail: the texture of the stonework, the way that ceiling lights swing with each muffled explosion, the manner in which flames lick around the edges of the train carriage, suggesting that it was time we were moving.

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There's very occasional hitching for a few seconds whenever you enter a new area, but there's also plenty of development time left to fix all that.

Speed next: bound across the train tracks, luminous HUD wobbling about in an exciting manner as we zip along. We're stopped halfway between carriages by one of those horrible alien things that's appeared below us and is hitting us with heavy artillery, but all that takes to sort out is a switch to strength, just long enough to boot the smouldering carcass of a yellow taxi down off the bridge and onto them, followed by a few rounds to the gas tank to turn it into a bomb.

Into the building, and things are looking pretty nasty. Huge aliens stalk the narrow hallways, and each one's a genuine battle to take down. You need to think about your powers when moving in - creep past them when you're invisible, or bulk up with armour and strength and hope you finish them quick enough? - but you also need to take into account the surroundings, too, remembering whether or not you've got room to back away if things get nasty, all while a distractingly beautiful Manhattan is burning outside.

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