Review

In 2007, Crytek released their newest feast for the eyes, Crysis. To this day, it’s not a true gaming rig unless it can run Crysis. Oh and it was also a pretty good shooter. Now Crytek, having already conquered your eyes, wants to dominate the FPS market. Crysis 2 sets out to be a better shooter than the original in every aspect while still maintaining its visual prowess. It is also the launch of their latest engine, Cry Engine 3, as well as their first foray into consoles. Does Crysis 2 meet expectations? Yes and no.

Crysis 2 begins three years after the events of the first game. The Ceph have begun their invasion of New York and are spreading a virus throughout the city, killing thousands every day. You play as a U.S. Marine by the name of Alcatraz. What was supposed to be a rescue mission turned into a destroyed submarine, most of your squad dead, and you dying. That is where Prophet comes in. Fans of the original will remember him as the leader of the team. He too is dying from the virus and needs someone to finish his mission, and you need someone to save you. He gives you his Nanosuit and his task, but things never turn out to be as easy as they seem.

Crysis 2 looks good, real good.

Crysis 2 tells a much more interesting story than the original game, for the most part. The single player will last you anywhere from 10-12 hours depending on difficulty and your choice of tactics. While the length is appreciated, it is a shame that it takes 4-5 hours before anything very interesting happens. The majority of the first few hours serve as an extended tutorial, putting you in situations where each of the suit’s powers can shine. The second half picks up a lot and makes up for the slow paced and often boring first half. Though it too, at times, struggles to keep things interesting. Sometimes it just feels like Crytek threw another objective or a few more bad guys at you just to keep the level going a bit longer. It didn’t feel like intentional padding, but it was annoying nonetheless. You’d be surprised how a few extra bad guys can make that awesome firefight start to feel tiresome. On top of that, the checkpoint system leaves something to be desired. Dying can often turn an awesome firefight into an annoyance when you have to repeat large sections of gameplay over and over.

The Nanosuit returns in Crysis 2 with a few new modifications. Rather than having to switch between the four powers and having to use one at a time, only two powers must be activated manually while the other is situational. Speed and power have been consolidated into the power mode. Holding the melee button will activate power mode for melee damage, while sprinting will activate it for speed and will drain suit power over time. Stealth and armor are unchanged for the most part and are activated by shoulder buttons, right and left respectively. The suit powers are great and add a lot of variety to missions as there is always a different approach to the same objective. If brute force doesn’t work, you can try the stealth approach and avoid conflict as much as possible, and in some cases, entirely. You can also upgrade your suit powers with nano-catalysts you collect from dead aliens. For the most part these upgrades do a good job of making you feel more powerful as the game progresses. A few upgrades do seem a bit too powerful for their own good however. One available upgrade greatly increases the amount of time you can remain cloaked, making it easier to simply bypass most encounters rather than engage the enemies. When you do fight, there is now a simple but effective cover mechanic. Moving behind a wall or other object will trigger a prompt to aim down your sights and lean. Using the right stick, you can look around corners and shoot enemies without fully exposing yourself, and you can easily snap back to cover if you start taking hits. It is a refreshingly simple system, showing that you don’t need an in-depth cover mechanic to get the job done.

Arguably, the most important aspect of Crysis 2 is it’s visuals, and specifically how good they look on consoles. To say they look fantastic would be an understatement. For the most part it is the exclusives, the Killzones, God of Wars, and Gears of Wars, that are raved for being the best looking games on consoles. Crytek is ready to make their push for the title. Everything about Crysis 2 looks fantastic. Lighting is a star, especially during firefights at night or in dark corridors. Explosions are among the best I’ve seen in any game as they light up the screen. The best part is that the framerate is steady throughout. Not once did I notice any slowdown in even the largest combat sequences. The city itself is designed very well. From the rooftops above to the vegetation below, it all looks great. Buildings will collapse in the distance and alien spires and metallic tentacles litter the landscape. It makes our oh so familiar world seem almost alien. If not for the occasional case of texture pop-in, the visuals would be just about perfect for a console.

Did I mention it looks good?

Crysis 2 features, what else, an orchestral score, just as most big budget shooters do. Rather than just continue the shooter trend of pounding drums and choirs, Crysis 2 innovates a bit. The various scores have an almost alien feel to them and some instruments sound distorted, but in a good way. This is on top of the traditional style making for some powerful music, fitting of the game’s more powerful sequences. This is a soundtrack game. The music keeps the action feeling hectic and makes the stealth sequences feel appropriately low profile. The guns all sound great as well. Rifles sound like rifles, rockets like rockets, and collapsing buildings sound like collapsing buildings, even from blocks away. The aliens have a computerized effect to them that doesn’t quite sound alien, but definitely stands out in a crowd. The whole sound design combines to make Crysis 2 as much a feast for the ears as it is for the eyes.

It is a shame that the characters in the game fail to have the same effect. Voice acting is average with the exception of Prophet and Hargreave, and most characters are very uninteresting. Everyone has their cliché role and do nothing more that point you toward the next objective. It is clear that the game is trying to make the player feel something about what is going on. People are dying of disease, an oppressive PMC is destroying the city trying to find you; it should cause some kind of emotional response. However, the characters are just so bland that they don’t do anything at all for the player. You wont hate them, but you’re not going to love them either, and that goes for all of the characters.

Prior to release, Crytek touted their A.I. As some of the best in gaming. At times they can feel threatening, but for the most part they are very underwhelming. It is too easy to deceive the A.I., and I’m not just talking stealth. Running around objects will have enemies following your exact path allowing you to easily attack them from behind. That, or they will become stuck in a loop, freeing you to take on more threatening opponents. Friendly fire is also an issue as they will shoot, melee, and even throw grenades without any care for the well being of their ally…standing directly in front of them. I can’t tell you how many times I turned after hearing a melee attack to see one CELL soldier standing over the body of the friend he just killed.

Like…real good.

Speaking of standing in front of them, enemies will often get in the way of each other, causing one or both to glitch into each other. It’s not just their allies either, they will get stuck on random objects and even cover, and they’d better pray they don’t end up in a corner. Not to mention some seem to suffer from short term memory loss. On numerous occasions enemies attacked me and simply stopped as soon as I turned my attention to them. It seems to happen most when the A.I. strikes you when cover is unavailable, as if they didn’t really think their actions through all the way and never expected you to turn around. Others simply fire once then lower their guns and look around as their allies fall around them.

The worst instances of these bugs and glitches took place at the very end of the game. What was supposed to be a difficult final fight against four tough opponents turned out to be a cake walk. Two of the enemies glitched into the environment and could not get free, and another jumped up and down the same ledge, never firing a shot as I led it in circles. The one enemy I did actually fight provided a decent challenge, and I could see how that fight could have and should have played out differently, but the buggy nature of the environments and poor A.I. prevented the game from doing what it was supposed to do.

Now the best part of Crysis 2, other than the graphics of course, is the multiplayer. Up to 12 players can duke in out in 6 modes.

  • Instant Action: Basic Death Match
  • Team Instant Action: Basic Team Death Match
  • Crash Site: King of the Hill style game
  • Assault: Attack & Defend style game with no respawns
  • Capture the Relay: Capture the Flag style game
  • Extraction: Capture and extract bio-ticks. Bio-ticks enhance suit powers.

While the modes themselves are standard, they are made more interesting thanks to the Nanosuit. Enhancing armor and cloaking on the fly can be the difference between a point gained and a point lost. Most of the maps are built to compliment the vertical nature of the single player making well timed ambushes a very legitimate strategy. Similar to the single player, players can add abilities to their Nanosuit and they will progress similarly to the challenges found in Call of Duty. Getting X amount of kills in stealth will level up your stealth perk, granting you access to better abilities which you can use to further develop your character. There is plenty of reward and it will keep you coming back for more. There are also map specific killstreaks, but they aren’t handled in the traditional way. Rather than being based on kills, players you kill will drop dog tags. You must collect a set number of their dog tags in order to use the killstreak. It is a risk reward system that can quickly become annoying. Being one tag away from a killstreak and dying just before you can pick it up is frustrating to say the least. Despite that minor annoyance, the multiplayer will be the reason you keep coming back to Crysis 2 and is a great reason to buy the game in itself.

Crysis Class of 2011

When it comes right down to it, the biggest faults of Crysis 2 are the variety of bugs and poor design. At times it can be hard to look past them in what is otherwise a very polished game. Crytek is a talented developer, there is no doubt about that, but it is also clear that this is not the best work they could have done. As much as I and most other gamers hate delays, Crysis 2 could have used another few weeks just to clean it up a bit more. Still, there is a lot to enjoy between a good single player campaign and fun multiplayer mode. Crysis 2 is a good game that could have, and should have, been a great one.

 


chris@thosegamingnerds.com

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Chris
No hard feelings... / Chris@thosegamingnerds.com /