Crysis 2 Review
|First Person Shooter
|March 25th, 2011 (UK)
|Andy Hemphill (Bandit)
It's somewhat telling that you get an achievement for starting up Crysis 2. The achievement 'Can it run Crysis?' is testament to Crysis 2's predecessor - the graphical watermark for high-end PC's - and water-cooled, nuclear powered graphics cards.
So does Crysis 2 - now on consoles - stand up against the previous title? Oh yes - and then some.
Picking up a few years after the events of Crysis, Crysis 2 lands the player - a faceless Marine who goes by the name 'Alcatraz' (nickname/ callsign/ evil parents?) - in the middle of the Big Apple, and an alien invasion.
It seems the aliens uncovered by Crysis' nanosuit-wearing Prophet and friends have evolved, gunned up, and have come to fight for their rights to the planet - they are the Ceph. Throw into this the machinations of a few corporations, a flesh-eating virus and a nerdy computer programmer, and you've got a plot that makes little sense until towards the end - but that's hardly an issue, as the rest of the game is awesome.
Also, for posterity, if you haven't played Crysis I'd look up the plot, as Crysis 2 does a rubbish job of explaining what the heck's going on, and why - unlockable email conversations not withstanding.
This time around, the powers of the nanosuit - now the Nanosuit 2.0, have been boosted and refined. Unlike the previous game, which split the five suit powers up, this version groups them into three sets - Power: speed and agility, Armour: strength and defence, and Stealth: cloaking and intrusion.
These are changeable on the fly, and give the action tremendous depth for improvisation - the controls are slaved to the two bumper buttons, making switching suit modes a breeze mid-battle. And good thing too, as Crysis 2's open environments offer a wealth of options for stealth - or balls-out action.
Granted, the streets of New York aren't as wide and expansive as the Ling-Shan Islands, but there's enough room for improvisation. The levels are also far more vertical than Crysis' flat forests, and climbing up the side of a building only to hurtle down and air-stomp a crowd of hostile troopers - or snipe them while cloaked, or avoid them altogether, and so on - are some of the game's best moments.
Aside from getting from A to B, the game also throws a constant stream of set-piece battles and events at you, be it an earthquake (of sorts), a battle against the 'Pinger' Ceph (which keeps draining your suit power), or various on-rails shooting bits, which keep the game rolling along nicely.
One negative to this glowing review, however, is the AI. The troopers and Ceph are clever enough to return fire, and once they're looking for you they will spot even the vague shimmer of a cloaked Alcatraz at five paces - but sometimes their behaviour is plain odd.
I've seen troopers walking on the spot, seemingly stuck on the scenery, I've seen one man walk into a stack of oil drums - and die when one fell on him. I even saw a Ceph 'stalker' - nimble, jumping nasties with a brutal close combat attack - jump back to avoid a grenade I hurled at it - and jump over a railing to its death 40 storeys below. This is mildly annoying for an otherwise brilliant experience, but hardly a game-breaker.
Outside of the singleplayer offering the multiplayer is a fun - if unbalanced - experience. There are a suite of modes on offer, including variants on capture and hold and deathmatch, and the levels are all pretty diverse, ranging from a city rooftop to Roosevelt Island. Every player is given a nanosuit and a set of weapons and armour mods (perks) which are unlocked through kills and XP - this takes a while though, as the XP bonuses are pretty stingy.
While the general gameplay has all the intensity and improvisation of the singleplayer experience - with teams leaping gaps, vanishing and punching through walls - the hit detection is pretty shocking. You can unload an entire clip into an enemy, hit nothing, then get killed in turn by one shot with a pistol.
Other times I've found that the best policy is just to spray-and-pray, as using LT to bring up the iron-sights doesn't help at all. This shows in the kill-cam, which often shows you being massively off-target - despite you knowing you shot the guy in the head, twice… with a shotgun.
Whether this is the game struggling to keep up with the rapid, nanosuit-assisted movement of 12 people I don't know, but it gets annoying, fast, and takes away a fair amount of the fun. Graphically, however, the game is simply stunning - probably the best graphics I've seen yet on the Xbox - and draws the whole experience together.
Unlike many games Crysis 2 isn't about darkness, or clouds of soot (though with NYC coming apart at the seams, there's plenty of that too) - it's about light. Light is everywhere - jetting through the trees, glowing in the dark, casting beams through the holes of gutted buildings, it's tremendously refreshing to see such a well-lit game.
It's good, then, that the rest of the graphics stands up to the lighting - the textures are tidy, the draw distance is excellent and there's very little texture pop-in - it just looks brilliant, and really adds to the immersion.
The score is also excellent, featuring uplifting, baroque pieces, thrown in with techno beats and gritty rock, and is backed up by some brilliant sound effects - the guns and suit mods sound particularly brilliant, especially the voice of the suit itself, which hits the right note between bossy and informative.
Overall, Crysis 2 is by far the best singleplayer shooter experience I've played this year so far, and a worthy successor to Crysis. Though let down by some dodgy AI, and an unbalanced, and often unfair multiplayer, the game is a complete blast, with an objective-driven story that comes together nicely. Graphically stunning and encouraging improvisation, this one is well worth your time and money.
- Looks great
- Plays brilliantly
- Good long campaign, with loads of big moments
Not so good stuff
- Unbalanced multiplayer
- Dodgy AI at times
- Plot holes and lack of explanation for new players
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