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Crysis 2 campaign: More spectacle than substance?

Hands-on: Crytek makes war beautiful again...

With Crysis being considered one of the best looking games ever - especially if you're running it on a nice high-end PC - there's been a lot of scepticism surrounding the series' first console outing when it comes to Crysis 2.

While PS3 fans and 360 followers probably realise that their consoles won't be the pinnacle of presentation as long as the PC is around, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect a studio with Crytek's visual track record to deliver one of the best looking games of this generation (perhaps even the best).

We were a bit disappointed, then, when our recent hands-on with the sequel started in a dark, derelict tunnel. The textures might have been the most detailed ever to grace a screen, the depth of field may have stretched further than time itself - but if it did we couldn't see it for lack of light.

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In a dark tunnel, textures are mainly black and grey and the depth of field stretches to the rock that's a few metres in front of you. The rest is your typical underground FPS section fare in terms of design: a twister girder here, a sparking live-wire there, a de-railed train carriage with doors bent ajar.

There's an attempt at the spectacle in these early stages as a train, flames pouring out of it, hurtles towards the end of the line in the distance before crashing at the end of the line.

We're prompted to press Y when the event is triggered in order to watch the whole thing unfold in all its glory but, in truth, with the likes of Uncharted 2 on the books, we've seen set-pieces that are far more worthy of the "watch this!" cam. By comparison, a train moving at moderate pace into a wall is a bit underwhelming - ablaze or not - and besides, thanks to our position when we were prompted to press Y, our view was obstructed by girders and fallen rock anyway.

Still, let's not dwell on one three-second event. The first contact with our alien foe comes in another familiar scripted event where we see a couple of our human comrades butchered in the distance by what he refers to as a 'Squid' before he's destroyed.

They've picked up the affectionate nick-name because of the dread-lock like tentacles reaching from their head, but with glowing red eyes, substantial, Vanquish-like armour and a pair of legs that make them fairly nimble, they're obviously far more dangerous than your average ink-squirter. Oh and some of them have guns too, that's the other think the common Octopus lacks.

With these seemingly the standard grunts of the game, we're looking for that 'greatest AI ever' that Crytek has promoted in the last few months. It's supposed to be a firm but fair approach to AI and although we obviously want to see more before we comment definitively, Crytek seems to have managed a mix of AI traits we've seen before with some new intelligent additions.

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INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
A lot of the time for example, the main tactic of the enemy seems to be to run towards you and get in your face if they're close enough - nothing too revolutionary there. If you take them by surprise though, they'll use those spring loaded legs to dart to cover. It makes a nice change to the kind of enemy that's pre-placed behind cover and seems in-capable of moving outside of a five inch radius.

This kind of AI mechanic does work well in the dark, corner filled tunnels where we lost a couple of enemies once or twice which put us on the back foot. In more open areas, however, if the enemy didn't dart towards us to claw at our sexy nano-suit it stomped towards us as it fired blasts. Some glimpses of above average intelligence, then, but we need more combat time to so how improved it really is.

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