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Crysis 2

Suited and booted.

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.

Alcatraz in action. (We dearly hope the script contains the line: 'Don't go in alone, Alcatraz! No man is an island!')

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.

When in doubt, aim for the pink bits. (Good words to live by.)

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.