With the FPS genre oversaturated with dozens of games and arguably in a Call of Duty stranglehold, Crysis 2 is arguably one of the most visually impressive competitors to the throne. How does it rate in the eyes of this reviewer?
Credits & Solicit Info:
Publishers: Electronic Arts
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Playstation 3, XBox 360
Developer: Crytek Frankfurt, Crytek UK
Genre: First-person shooter
Release Date: December 8 2010
Reviewed on PC
Anyone here remember Crysis? It was a PC-only game back in 2008 marketed by EA and Crytek as too powerful for consoles at the time and required the then-latest hardware for the user to truly appreciate its full graphical glory at playable framerates. Sadly I believe this ended up being a double edged sword as PC gaming is not what it once was and its sales are dwarfed by the arguably dominant console market. It didn't hamper its critical acclaim however as it racked up a ton of awards and made for very fun, challenging, advanced visuals and gameplay.
It did suffer some pretty annoying setbacks though, after 2 updates to correct a fair share of glitches all support was pulled 6 or so months into its release by EA and left players stuck with what we had left. Which was pretty frustrating as the game was prone to some annoying glitches at the worst possible time, especially the last level of all things. That didn't stop them from developing a standalone expansion that was a lot less buggy called Crysis Warhead though. Anyway, despite its shortcomings in the support department the game damn near worth its hype and with it in the bargain section as the bundled Crysis Maximum Edition (containing Crysis, Crysis Warhead and the multiplayer-only Crysis Wars) for around $10 it's practically a steal.
But back to the topic at hand: Crysis 2. The game has some pretty big shoes to fill, and some glaring shortcomings to make up for thanks to its predecessor. In case you're not familiar with Crysis here's the Story trailer that somewhat fills in a couple of the gaps between part 1 and 2:
When it comes to the gameplay, Crysis is a first-person shooter with a twist: your character posesses the Nanosuit 2 (an tweaked version of the Mark 1 from the first game) which gives the player some unique abilities. These abilities are burts of speed, armor that makes you resistant to enemy fire, super jumping and last but not least a stealth mode making you almost invisible to your enemies. if you think that giving the payer all these tricks make the game way too easy, think again. These abilities tap into a limited supply of energy that recharges over time but thanks to a surprisingly challenging enemy AI don't expect to survive long if you expect to rely solely on the suit and not your FPS skills...enemies are a lot smarter than your typical FPS AI and employ various coordinated strategies to overwhelm you. Comparing the overall gameplay to games like Call of Duty, Battlefields, Halo and the recent disappointing Homefront is like comparing apples and oranges. Though I'll admit sometimes the AI will let me down by glitching at random by freezing in place or running in random directions. Hopefully this will be rectified quickly as it seemed like a bug that shouldn't have passed through testing, but it isn't too bad as you're usually facing enough enemies to not think about it too hard till later.
Wheras in those other games you're basically running and gunning between cover, there's an extra dimension to the game thanks to the Nanosuit 2: the feature that helps this game break away from those others by offering more than one way to tackle your enemies. Each one of the suits features is just as important as your preferred weapon will be. With the enemy awareness system giveing a Metal Gear Solid feel to gameplay, the stealth function can help you either dispatch your enemies silently one by one or get into the ideal position for you to uncloak all armored up ready to unleash hell....so long as your enegy is up to it. Energy management is the key to survival when using the suit powers and the last thing you'd want is for heavy fire to drain all your armor or not to leave you enough to make a hasty retreat with super speed or to leap over a balcony. Even melee kills are tied into the Nanosuit 2 as you can only score a one hit melee kill using suit strength, otherwise you'll just have to go for either stealth kills or a quick flurry of melee hits. And for those of you that remember the Nanosuit 2 from the first game, the powers have been significantly reworked this time leading to armor actually being useful this time around and the strength & speed settings being merged into the Power setting.
That is what I love about the gameplay though...every scenario is so open ended that I can play it the way I want rather than how the game wants me to play it. You're given a sense of being in control of how to take on your enemies to the point where strategy will make or break you. Because no matter how unstoppable you may feel when you've mastered these abilities, one slip-up is all that it can take for an enemy to put you down whether it's from poor suit energy management or just allowing yourself to be pinned down as even one enemy that can get a decent salvo at you is enough to seriously damage you.
Outside of the suit abilities you've got your standard FPS shooter weapons ranging from an assortment of pistols, SMG's, assault rifles, shotguns, grenades, RPG's, surface to air missile and detachable heavy turrets. The weapons do not dissapoint in their use and handling despite me gravitating towards certain weapons for certain situations. I personally prefer a rifle with a reflex sight to take on enemies in open spaces and shotguns in tight indoor corridors as my basic configuration for an all-round feel but any of the weapons will do in the hands of a competent gamer. Ammo limitations are also a factor in combat but not at the levels of Resident Evil ridiculousness. Ammo conservation will see you through to a restocking station to preserve your favored weapons but if you get reckless with ammo spraying and a bad aim chances are you'll be in trouble. On the plus, almost all weapons are customisable so long as you handle one of the said weapons that carries that feature, meaning that if you handle one assault rifle with a silencer or a scope or a grenade launcher any of that weapon you pick up in the game will be instantly customisable to include that component.
Overall the gameplay makes it feel like the perfect shooter or at least as perfect as a video game can be thanks to the awesome physics, visual effects and giving me some of the most immersive, intense battles an AI has ever given me. Though the game throws you into the deep end from the start without even a tutorial to get you familiar with the game mechanics. This will get you killed very easily if you're not careful which can be frustrating. But after you get past that obstacle you're in for one hell of a ride.
Not to say it doesn't have its share of flaws however: Where the story in the first game was relatively simple and linear, this one is so convoluted and full of vague flashbacks that I stopped overthinking past the basics until I finally got the answers clearly later in the game. The dialogue also comes off as flat and simply along for the ride at times rather than adding to the game experience. I admit to not having read any of Richard Morgan's (British sci-fi writer) work but I honestly can't tell if it was bad pacing of his part or poor interweaving into the game by the team that made it so murky.
For the basics all you need to know is that you're a soldier who's been given a Nanosuit and is either fighting C.E.L.L. troops who want your suit (a private army of a huge biopharmaceutical company) or the alien Ceph who want to wipe out human life and strip Earth's resources (the aliens from the first game that have been heavily redesigned to the point where they look more like Bayformers rather than those floating things that looked like Skyline had ripped off).
Over on the presentation side, Crysis 2 delivers slicker graphics than the original. Whether its the backdrop of a ravaged New York from the near future or the smallest details in the streets you pass, the graphics in Crysis 2 are an achievement in their own right. The insane detail and diversity in each level makes it seem like hardly anything is a retread. Crytek has always delivered great graphics in their games but this is even a massive leap from them.
Along with unfamiliar names like Borislav Slavov and Tilman Sillescu, the game's soundtrack has been contributed to and touched up by Hollywood composer/producer Hans Zimmer, a man who has worked on the Modern Warfare II and Kingdom hearts II soundtracks along with being a collaborator on numerous film soundtracks, most recently The Dark Knight and Inception. I wouldn't say he put out the best work of his life on this as it's tough to to match up a body of work like that but the soundtrack gives the game an epic futuristic orchestral feel that blends very well with the gameplay and the setting.
Finally on the multiplayer side, The freedom and features offered by the Nanosuit are totally at your disposal as they were in the campaign mode which makes for some crazy moments. Every positive about combat I listed above translates just as well into the multiplayer mode.
Final verdict? The game totally blew me away but, besides the story which got unnecessarily complicated, there were those little unfortunate technical glitches scattered at random points in the game that prevent this from getting a perfect score for me.
Replay Value: 9.5
Review by: fieldy snuts aka Sweet James Jones