In Crysis 2 the world has been ravaged by a series of climatic disasters and society is on the verge of total breakdown. Now the aliens have returned, with a full invasion force bent on nothing less than the total annihilation of mankind, starting by trying to rip the heart out of Earth’s most iconic city. In New York, terrifying alien invaders stalk the streets and a nightmare plague strikes down the city’s myriad inhabitants with brutal epidemic speed. The city’s systems are in chaos, its streets and skyline are smashed and in flaming ruin. This is New York City like you’ve never seen it before. Neither paramilitary law enforcement nor the might of the US military machine can stand against the invaders, and all who choose not to flee are dead men walking. Just to survive in this maelstrom of death will require technology beyond anything any modern soldier has ever seen. One man will inherit that means to survive. One supersoldier, wielding the combat enhancement technology of the future with Nanosuit 2, will make the last stand to save humanity from destruction in the urban jungle that is New York City.
Moar Nanosuit – The star of the show in Crysis 2 is the Nanosuit 2. As much as I would love to gush over the graphics of the console version of Crysis 2, I can’t, not first anyway. The overall presentation of the game comes a close second to the gameplay. Whether playing the single player offering or the robust multiplayer modes, the Nanosuit 2 takes the cake. When people talk about (including us) the need for the first person shooter genre to reinvent itself, this is the type of innovation that we’re talking about. Crysis 2 is so far away from your traditional point and shoot affair, that it’s almost unfair to lump the game in with the Call of Dutys, Battlefields, and Halos of the gaming world. It’s not because the game can’t give those esteemed titles a run for their monies, but because Crysis 2 is so different in the gameplay department. While most first person shooters have you running through a virtual shooting gallery, Crysis 2 breaks this mold with the Nanosuit 2. Sure, you’ll be doing your fair share of shooting, but there’s always more than one way to accomplish your goals in the game.
A suit for every occassion – The features of the suit are as much weapons, as the gun you are holding. Careful use of these weapons are as important to your success in the game, as careful aiming and twitch reflexes. Mismanagement of your suit’s energy supply is almost always a fast track to your demise, especially in the multiplayer mode of the game. The suit functions are nearly identical in the online and single player modes of the game. Special features can be added in the campain from collecting alien tissue samples and then unlocked from an in-game menu. You’ll need to earn XP to unlock the options in the multiplayer portion of the game, but there is a high level of suit customization there as well. The suit can be customized in any number of ways depending on your preferred playstyle, but there are core functionalities that you’ll be using most often. Invisibility and armor are used most often and can be triggered off and on by the tap of a bumber. The invisibility mode is used as a stealth mechanic to sneak up on enemies and get the jump on them. In the campaign, it can be used to clear entire sections without firing a single shot. In multiplayer, it can be used to sneak around the battlefield looking for opportunities to surprise your unsuspecting opponents. This is certainly different than most first person shooters. The armor mode can be used in equally fun ways. You are able to sustain greater amounts of damage as bullets ricochet off of your person while armor is equipped, until your energy runs out. It allows you to stand your ground against an onslaught that would kill you instantly in either the single player or multiplayer modes. Whether you get more of a thrill from sneaking past your enemies and silently disabling them, or taking them head on, Crysis 2 does all these things equally well. When the nanosuit abilities like speed and jumping are applied, you can quickly dart around a battlefield toggling invisibility, armor, and moving in and out of cover. It makes for fast and frantic battles. The suit conveys a sense of power, and I can’t think of a game that does empowerment quite as well as Crysis 2. Between the options and the superhuman feats that you can accomplish, there’s no shortage of feeling badass in Crysis 2.
Enemy Variety – The single player campaign does an awesome job of mixing up the enemies that are thrown at you throughout the game. You’ll face CELL security throughout much of the early goings of the campaign, and as you should, you dominate these entry level enemies. As the story progresses, an alien race is introduced into the gameplay, and there you have found a formidable opponent. They’re fast, strong, and will put you on your back at every opportunity that they get.. There’s definitely a balance of power that Crytek nailed between the different enemies.
It’s pretty, duh – When Crytek announced to the world that they would be pushing the boundaries for console graphics when this game was announced, many thought the developer wrote a check that they couldn’t cash. After playing through the campaign twice, and the multiplayer for hours, I have a new found respect for them as developers. The graphics are great, this is true, but there are so many minute details that stick out in the game. The single player probably showcases the best of it when it comes to Crysis 2. There are awesome displays of physics, incredible lighting effects, some of the most intense and disorienting battles I have ever played, tucked away in the rather lengthy (by today’s standards) campaign. Some areas of the ravaged city look so lifelike that it wasn’t uncommon to stop to check out the sights as I progressed through the story. Oh what sights you’ll see.
No rush job in single player – The campaign portion in Crysis 2 is vital to the overall experience in the game, and you can tell that this wasn’t a rush job. As I said before there was so much attention paid to the smaller details of the game, the visuals, the presentation, the sounds, and gameplay, it’s solid stuff as an overall package. For the most part, all of the great things from the campaign carry over to the multiplayer to extend the life of the game immensely. If you liked the raw power of the suit in the campaign, you’re going to love multiplayer because it translates for the most part 1:1 barring any network latency.
A different take on multiplayer – The multiplayer is a different experience than most on the market today. You can make the argument that compared to it’s predecessors, Crysis 2 has taken a step towards the Modern Warfare style of gaming that is so popular today, but it doesn’t completely sell out. Frankly it depends on how you like to play your first person shooters. Personally I’m the type of player that likes the action of a game, so Crysis 2 fits me well. Camping corners and setting booby traps is not something you will find in the Crysis 2 multiplayer. It’s a fast paced shooter which we deemed Halo on steroids. It’s a throwback to an older style of shooter, featuring fast paced action that requires twitch reflexes and some practice with perfecting your suit management. The suit management is rythmic in the multiplayer, and once your find a groove it’s hard to match as far as fun factor goes. You’ll also notice that it’s just as important to manage the energy in your suit, as it is to unload a whole clip on an enemy. This is something that may take some getting used to for some.
Tell me more – As fun as the single player is, I would have liked to see a few things in early goings of Crysis 2. There either needed to be more action, or more story explanation. There is a glorified tutorial that lasts nearly the first forty five minutes. In that time, you don’t learn that much from the game other than how to operate the suit. It wasn’t until my second playthrough, that a major plotline was revealed to me through enemy communications chatter. I would have really liked to see some more plot development in the early stages of the game. There is a tipping point for the story though, a point where it all starts to come together as good stories do. It keeps you guessing until the end, but dark for a good portion of your time with the game. My advice is to explore when you can. Look for items to turn on, gather information, and listen to your enemies when they are talking to each other, it will clarify some things for you and won’t leave you scratching your head.
Tighten up – There are many reasons to enjoy the multiplayer in Crysis 2. It’s fast paced, hectic, and unique gameplay elements are fun and engaging. It also has some nice unlockable perks that can make your soldier more powerful or geared towards a specific style of play. These features will likely have fans of the game coming back for more to achieve. There are some things about the actual backbone of the multiplayer that are a bit annoying. The most notable thing that you’ll find is a general lack of the feeling of accuracy. Most one on one gunfights turn into a strafing battle where both players empty their clips in attempt to hit the other in the head. There is also a general feeling of jumpiness in the coding for the multiplayer that can make upclose battles disorienting, resulting in missed melee attacks and costly misfires. This also carries over to the longer range weapons as well. The sniper rifle for example, is one that should be better used in the game. The size and scope of some maps give ample opportunity for its use, but because of jumpiness and sporadic movements of the other team, it can be bit of an unfair fight.
Balancing Act – Weapons balance does indeed also feel a bit off. There seems to be little to no reason to carry a shotgun when it takes four, five, and sometimes more hits to take down an enemy. While you do have a stealth takedown move that can be used in the multiplayer, it rarely works because of the inability to lock on to an opponent that is moving. I think Crytek could have borrowed from other games like Reach or Killzone 3 in that department. Some of these smaller nuances can be annoying if you are used to playing other games that offer similar options in the gameplay.
You crazy bots – The single player enemy AI can be a bit tricky at times. Perhaps tricky isn’t the exact word that I am looking for, glitchy seems like a more appropriate word to describe finding a stray enemy constantly running in place, or rendered through other textures in the environment. There are times when enemies will just run around sporadically which zaps some of that tension out of a firefight as well. There are quite a few instances in the campaign where things like this happen. AI will jump to certain points and just sit there, and I can remember a few times where I was thankful for it because of the feeling of being overrun. Though at other times, you’ll just be left wondering how something like that slipped through QC.
If the AI wasn’t behaving like complete bumbling idiots they were behaving as dead-eye marksman. Losing your suit’s energy and dropping cloak would result in enemies opening fire on you from across the map, whether behind cover or not. Since you have to manage when and when not to use the features of the suit, it’s inevitable that there will be times when you must be uncloaked and unarmored. At these moments the dead-eye AI enemies spot you immediately, ruining any chance you had to go about your business in a stealthy manner.
The Verdict: Despite some of it’s flaws, Crysis 2 is a great introduction to the Crysis universe for Xbox 360 and PS3 gamers. Some subtle changes to the gameplay may feel like a stretch for fans of the old PC versions, but the appeal is still there. The attention to detail in Crysis 2 is outstanding. It has a story that you won’t soon forget, with an open ending that may have you beginning the long wait to Crysis 3 prematurely, but don’t worry there’s plenty of multiplayer goodness to go around until it does come.