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The lid gets blown off Crysis multiplayer as we interrogate Crytek on its stunning PC shooter

Fully realised jungle environments, a physics system which allows you to break individual trees and completely demolish buildings, a suit which you can adapt and tailor depending on your situation, a legion of robotic alien foes ranging from massive spider-like Hunters with freeze guns and stomping-action to swarms of flying squid-like mechs that hunt in formation. These are just a handful of reasons we reckon Crysis will not only push the FPS envelope, but really humiliate it in front of its envelope friends. They're features we've already reported on previously (and here), but they haven't become any less impressive in the meantime.

But what of the game's lesser-known online contingent? We're aware of our worrying habit of looking at Far Cry's few less-than-great points before comparing the game to Crytek's prodigious new title, but after a recent chat regarding their plans for the online aspect of Crysis, the multiplayer efforts of Crytek's previous opus just seem to pale in comparison. So again, we begin by posing the slightly unfair question to the German developers: where did Far Cry multiplayer go wrong?

"Technically, we didn't really have the sort of staff that we needed to get Far Cry's multiplayer to a state that was going to be as successful as it could have been," says Chris Auty, lead level designer at Crytek. "But with Crysis multiplayer, we have a much bigger team for the multiplayer side of things."

"We spent more time on the singleplayer, which obviously showed," claims Jack Mamais, producer of Crysis, "but this time we've developed our Net code from the ground up. We're hoping to make Crysis multiplayer as good as the single-player, if not better."

That's a bold claim if Crysis' single-player ends up being even half as impressive as it sounds. How on earth do Crytek hope to make the multiplayer every bit as good as the single-player then? The statistics seem sound enough: 32 players, America versus North Korea, four game modes (Tactical Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Tactical CTF and a new mode called Power Struggle), six to eight maps at launch and clever enough Net code to allow for the online destruction of jungles... But do they honestly think they can make people want to click the second button in the main menu just as much as they'll undoubtedly want to click the first?

"When we were designing Crysis, one of our key focuses was on the ability of the player to modify his suit, his weapons and his gameplay experience," explains Mamais. "We set the multiplayer basically as an epilogue to the single-player. Instead of making it a pocket universe which has nothing to do with the rest of the game, we're trying to tie it into the events of the single-player game."

"Our multiplayer mimics the single-player in that objectives pop up that you'll be guided to," Mamais continues. "It'll be suggested to you to capture a vehicle factory, for instance. We want to have the same feeling in multiplayer as you get in single-player, that you're accomplishing things, goals are being done and that you're succeeding, rather than just this endless loop which we're tired of."

So what are these game modes? (To be honest, I'm just posing the question as a literary device, I already know the answer.) Deathmatch and CTF should be obvious enough - those are 'killing everybody' and 'running around with a flag' respectively - but the Power Struggle mode is what will make Crysis breach the canopy of online shooters. It's all about economics, you see.

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