Platform: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
Genre: First Person Shooter
Release Date: March 22~25, 2011
Publisher: Electronic Arts
No longer do people have to fear the Crytek engine and its demanding requirements, as you don’t even need a PC to play the latest first person-superhuman-cyborg-shooter, Crysis 2. It is , not essential that the first Crysis is played to completion but it will definitely provide you with some background to the story. Contrary to the common shooter the narrative provided is actually quite interesting, especially if you fancy some science fiction. The other great thing about Crysis 2 is that you do not need to own a supercomputer to play it, as this sequel runs on just about everything. Now step into your nanotech synthetic suit because you are going to need some protection for this battle.
Crysis 2 has you play dress up once again in the cyborg-esque suit that provides your character, code name “Alcatraz” with super soldier abilities. Manhattan has been invaded by a race of cephlopod aliens (The Ceph) who are decimating the city. Swarming the city is not only The Ceph, but private military groups trying to rid the city of the alien spawn, and of course you are stuck in the middle of it. You run through a ruined New York battling against both factions and you can guess that neither of the parties wants to be friends with you. The beautiful environments return, although Crytek has swapped the rain forest jungle motif with and urban one. You get to run, jump, and smash your way through a beautiful cityscape with some very cool level design. At the start of the game I was presented with a regular city filled with soldiers and road blocked streets. As you progress you are running across cracked overpasses and eventually toppled skyscrapers as The Ceph invasion increases with each passing level. Crysis 2 does a great job of creating a solitary atmosphere that makes for some amazing action sequences as a lone wolf super soldier. Destructible environments would have been nice, but the set pieces definitely make up for the lost dynamics. One of the best parts had a giants skyscraper toppling over the city line while a Ceph gunship was being chased down by two helicopters. All I could do was watch as they passed and I grabbed my assault rifle to venture forth into the ash filled road ahead.
The core of the gameplay comes from the variation in the suit’s abilities. The suit comes with a vast array of features and they each introduced early into the game, albeit quite trivially. The first was a stealth mission, ducking behind cover and cloaking to get past guard patrols. Soon after I was forced to jump from a large building, activating armor mode to prevent my knees from shattering. Finally when the city fills with dust I was forced to use my nanovision, which allowed me to see the heat signatures of the enemies. The first couple levels act as a tutorial but you will soon find that the gameplay opens up when the suit upgrades are available. Suit upgrades range from decreasing the amount of energy the abilities drain, to being able to silence your footsteps and the currency that fuels the upgrades is taken from the dead alien grunts. I began the game on Playing on Veteran difficulty and this made for a difficult first half. I found myself having to rely on Solid Snake stealth tactics, and be less of a run and gun hero because the enemies would shred me to bits before I could make it to the next checkpoint. Once I started being able to upgrade the suit I was able to adapt my tactics to a more aggressive approach suited to a more varied fighting style (I like to switch between stealth and aggressive kills). The gameplay flowed extremely well and the suit allows for some amazing mobility around the battlefield, definitely a great weapon at your disposal.
“I spied my opponents from an apartment ledge and air stomped my way down. Bullets reined from every angle where I then promptly cloaked myself and headed into a open sewer pipe. I snuck behind my opposition and promptly executed them with an evasive flank.”
Now the above scenario didn’t happen by chance, but actually after a thorough planning process before I even approached the battle. Crysis 2 provides an excellent innovation and my favorite part of the game - the Tactical Observation mode. Before each set piece you are prompted to open your visor and overlook the next area. The enhanced vision will highlight different strategic points such as a sniper vantage point, a ledge you can climb for a flank, or even a steal option. It also gives you the location of all the enemies as well as weapon caches, more information to plan your attack. Now this sounds like they give you the keys to the kingdom, but it really allows you to make a strategy and approach each scenario with tactical precision.
A mark of quality for any action game is movement and control. The movement of the game really allows the combat to flow, and this is backed up by some very precise and smooth controls. Making your way across a street, sliding under some rubble and then popping over cover to pop up and grab a couple headshots is an awesome feeling. Being able to do this flawlessly makes you feel like a badass, and when a game does this for me I’m sold. The ability to swap between nano, armor, and cloaking abilities with the press of a shoulder button makes changing tactics easy. The shooting is precise and Crysis 2 even contains a cover system, something I have not seen in a first person shooter since Rainbow Six Vegas.
I was surprised to see that Crysis 2 does not feature crazy sci-fi weapons, but opts for more conventional killing tools. Shotguns, pistols, assault rifles, and sniper rifles are the weapons you will encounter but there are also a couple surprises that you will come across. The game has some great depth, beyond many of the FPS games we see in this day and age. You do not have any set weaponry, as your suit is your main weapon, but you are guided to pick up the above said weapons scattered around the battlefield. Being able to hold only two weapons and some grenades at all times forces you to pick and choose the weapon that fits the situation. The beauty of this system is that you can customize your weapons on the fly. If you need to take the silent approach, pop a silencer and a laser sight on your assault rifle. Need more punch, put a red dot and scope on your light machine gun and engage armor mode for a good time.
Multiplayer is very refreshing. Although I don’t see it standing the test of time I would highly encourage people to check it out. The rock, paper, scissors battle that happens between the stealth, armor, and nanovision is quite a good balance. Crysis 2 has included the experience and levelling system in the multiplayer but they have their own twist to make it unique to Crysis. There are 3 different parts of the suit to level up (armor, power, stealth) and depending on your play style each of the abilities will improve independently. It is a pretty cool way to allow players to excel at what style they like, or even challenge them to play a way that they may not usually try. I don’t see Crysis 2 multiplayer overtaking Gears or Black Ops but overlooking this mode would be a mistake.
The only noteworthy problem I encountered with the game was the shoddy AI. Being spoiled with the likes of Halo AI, I found that the Crysis 2 enemies were very imbalanced. In some cases I could take out a stray guard and everyone would immediately turn and shoot at me with perfect accuracy. When in stealth mode the AI could pick up on you at the most peculiar times and it become frustrating trying to guess how the AI would react. I’m not asking for it to be perfect but when I know something should happen one way and it goes totally awry, something is totally up.
The first half of the game is pretty slow, as you have to slug your way through nameless soldier after nameless soldier. The enemy forces could have used some variation, hell I would have even settled for a palette swap in this case. They all look like they fell out of a Ghost Recon game and are being hunted by the predator. Even the Ceph only have 3 different types of soldiers and they are an intergalactic space race.
So what do you get with Crysis 2? It is a great shooter with an engaging story that gives you the power of a god to solve all of the earth’s problems. The nano-suit allows for varied gameplay and the set pieces can be approached in a number of ways that you will not play through the same way twice. With solid mechanics and an amazing scope, Crysis 2 is near perfect with the only problems coming from some imbalanced AI and pacing issues. The multiplayer is well thought through and shouldn’t be discounted. If you want to shoot some space aliens and stop the Ceph invasion of greater Manhattan then you should definitely grab Crysis 2. It is a stellar multiplatform game and Crytek has made a great sequel that everyone should check out.