Crysis 2 Xbox 360 Demo Impressions

*NOTE: This is coming from someone who never played the original Crysis or Warhead.*
 
I've never been much good at or even fond of FPSs, and yet I was completely blown away by the gameplay videos of Crysis 2 from the various gaming trade shows. However, after seeing Giant Bomb's quick look at the multiplayer 360 demo, my expectations were somewhat sullied. Nevertheless, I downloaded the Xbox 360 demo, to make my own judgments. After 3-4 hours of playing, I've pretty solidly decided not to pick up the full game.
 
The first impression you have of Crysis 2's demo is the absolutely wonderfully intense score over the loading screen and the main menu. The music is, frankly, superb, befitting of a blockbuster action or sci-fi film. I would buy the soundtrack for this game based solely on the loading screen music. But then  the actual game started.
 
I instantly saw what the developers were trying to do: meld the Call of Duty run-and-gun class based gameplay with Halo 3-like power ups (and I mean exactly Halo 3 power-ups: stealth and enhanced armor is it in the demo) and sci-fi trappings. If this game had been released on consoles two years ago, it would have been a lot more impressive. However, after the advent of Halo: Reach and Modern Warfare 2, the game feels too middle of the road and too generic to really please.
 
Gameplay-wise, the game feels really heavy. If Call of Duty movement is a fast, stop-on-a-dime Porsche, Crysis 2 is a school bus. While the parkhour (I totally misspelled that) traversal is kind of cool, it still feels really clunky. The guns are slow and don't feel powerful at all, especially considering little damage any non-head shots deal. I'm not very good at shooters, but when shooting a guy three times in the chest with a sniper rifle doesn't bring him down, but shooting a guy once in his armored head with a pistol does, there's something effed up. 
 
The nanosuit abilities do add a certain amount of strategic depth to the game. Deciding when to activate armor or stealth is an interesting dynamic. An odd developer choice is having sprinting and jumping sap the same energy pool as the stealth and armor do. I can see why it was done (running and jumping invisible  soldiers=balancing issues), but it still seems a bit odd. 
 
It also seems strange in the heyday of Modern Warfare and Black Ops for big-budget shooter to only have three uncustomizable kill streak bonuses. While I expect there to be more in the final game, it's not a great first impression for today's COD crowd. However, even if there are more, the implementation in general is very poor. It almost feels like it was shoehorned in to try and put a check mark on the back of the box. The way the killstreaks are achieved is also weird. It's not based simply on kills, it's based on collecting dog tags from the people you kill which, in an intense fire fight, can sometimes be annoying.
 
The graphics for this game are a mixed bag. While more often than not Crysis 2 looks gorgeous, it suffers from a nasty case of Mass Effect 1-itis, that is, texture pop-in. Every time I would spawn, it would take several seconds for my gun texture and the surrounding metallic and plastic textures to resolve themselves. For a company that prides themselves on excellent graphics, this is kind of odd. There's no point in pushing console graphics boundaries when the suspension of disbelief is ruined every time you re-spawn and have to watch the engine re-skin everything. 
 
Although hopefully only a problem with the demo, I had a number of lag, connection and server issues in my time playing. Matchmaking times ran anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes, and at least twice I had a connection break the instant the match started, as well as several server switches mid-game. While this might be more of a problem with my home network, there have been a number of similar complaints around the Internet.
 
Unless the single player is incredibly good, Crysis 2 on the consoles is not worth it. As this is Crytek, this would be a far better game to play on the PC anyway, both for graphical and control purposes. Invest your console shooter money elsewhere.

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