Crysis 2 Review

The first Crysis ushered in a new era of graphical benchmarks with lush, tropical forests and sandy beaches of Korean-held islands. Crysis 2 trades these getaway destinations for a more concrete jungle on America's home soil. The freedom to tackle encounters as you see fit makes a return as well, but poor checkpoints and an allergic-to-bullets hero discourage all but the most stealthy of playthroughs.

The campaign sets off on a rather high note. The protagonist, Alcatraz, is calmly hanging out with his fellow marines on-board an underwater submarine stationed off the coast of New York City when an alien race of squid-like creatures called the Ceph bombards their position. Tasked with escaping the sinking sub before you drown, this unfortunate predicament serves as the tutorial. Having sustained near fatal injuries during the evacuation, the player is then given the nanosuit by its former user, Prophet, to aid humanity’s last stand. From thereon, nonstop explosions and set pieces reminiscent of Michael Bay films are the name of the game. Players will take the fight back to the Ceph with a deadly array of weaponry and a billion dollar nanosuit at their disposal, and what a dreary fight it will be.

 

"If I had a billion dollars, I'd buy you a nanosuit..."

 

Crytek has done a magnificent job of mapping the nanosuit’s powers to a control pad. Cloaking and armor buffs activate with a tap of the shoulder buttons, and alternate firing modes, visor controls, and heavy explosives find placement on the D-pad. Knowing the ins and outs of your equipment will be the key to winning many firefights. Crysis 2 takes a page out of Killzone 3’s book here. The single-player includes a cover-based mechanic for those who prefer not to restart from checkpoints over and over. Simply pressing against a wall will glue Alcatraz to its surface. Unlike Killzone 3, though, moving the analog stick in any adjacent direction will remove Alcatraz from cover when the chaotic firefights demand players to keep on guard. 

For those of you that have tired of corridor based shooters nowadays, Crysis 2 breathes some life back into open-world first-person shooters. Even though gamers are still charged with rendezvousing with a cast of poorly fleshed out characters, how they get there is purely up to them. There are still limits to where players can go, but the sectioned off portions of the city never feel claustrophobic. Rarely will players backtrack down the same dilapidated avenue throughout the eight-hour campaign.

With this new-found freedom also come many new gameplay options. Do you choose to activate the nanosuit's power armor and go in guns blazing? Will you the trigger the active camouflage and pick off enemies with a suppressed weapon? Or do you opt to use the super jump ability to scale the nearby rooftops and systematically knife enemies in the back? Variety is the spice of death in this case and is pulled off wonderfully – to a degree – in a game whose genre has nearly forgone player choice in the recent years. I hesitate to give Crysis 2's breaths of liberty a standing ovation, though. Any difficulty above the default setting requires a pure stealth build to progress beyond the tutorial. Alcatraz may have a billion dollars worth of government experimentation augmenting his every move, but the armor serves no purpose against the mercenaries carrying anti-personnel weaponry of their own. Bullets pierce the nanosuit's interwoven material like paper, and Alcatraz may as well be throwing rocks at his foes with how little punch his own firearms pack.

 

I'm sure the lumbering, bipedal alien just wants to be friends.

 

Whatever your play style may be, the environments are always a sight to behold. With an incredible attention to detail, the visuals rival those of Killzone 3. While the surroundings are not entirely destructible, signs splinter and cement barricades crumble, ruining anyone’s day hiding behind them. Facial models also lack the jagged edges that are commonly present in other shooters. I will praise the developers for the effort put into making a body behind the gun, too. Looking down, players will instantly notice Alcatraz has been given a pair of legs to navigate the debris of a once bustling metropolis. While such an aspect has been around since the Halo 2 days at least, I can't name but a handful of first-person shooters that have actually implemented this design.

When gamers have had their fill of apocalyptic New York City, multiplayer provides a lag-ridden respite with fresh nanosuit abilities to boot. The online portion is standard fare with six game modes, twelve maps, and unlockable weapons and perks. However, I’m not without my gripes. The multiplayer may be entertaining at first, but after the first ten levels the game falls prey to Call of Duty syndrome. New players looking for a reprieve from the sometimes infuriating single-player will not catch a break when they’re gunned down by more advanced players with better perks and weapons that far outstrip their own.

The spawn system needs some major adjustments as well. Several times I found myself crouching behind a wall waiting for my energy to recharge only to be stealth killed by an opponent whom literally respawned directly behind me. Moreover, there are no dedicated servers and lag is not uncommon. I can give Crytek some compliments when it comes to the killstreaks, though. In an attempt to discourage the frequent camping that plagues most shooters, players will need to first gather dog tags that drop from dead enemies in order to activate kill bonuses.

 

The locales are more than just eye candy.

 

I cannot fathom the hype behind Crysis. Sure, the graphics provide the eyes with a visual plethora of color, and the bear resemblance to Call of Duty's, but I still feel like it’s missing something. The developers borrowed heavily from the most popular franchises, but Crysis 2 lacks the fun factor that keeps me coming back for more. I had to force myself through the last couple hours of the single-player, and I watched as enemies simply walked through walls or got stuck on their comrades at least a few dozen times. The dry voice acting will not sell players on the characters' emotions, and even with the licensed help of famous composer Hans Zimmer – whose other projects include Modern Warfare 2 and The Dark Knight –  the orchestral soundtrack in no way compares to the impact of his film works.

The checkpoint system could also use some tweaks, the menus are needlessly complicated to navigate, and I believe the nanosuit turned Alcatraz into a brain-dead lapdog. No matter which scientist or obvious antagonist is issuing the orders, Alcatraz simply makes his way to his next destination, gunning down any hapless enemy soldiers or Ceph without question as if he will be rewarded a piece of candy for doing a good job when he gets there. Crysis 2 is still worth the time and effort, but I wish it did more to distinguish itself from the competition.

Publisher: EA
Developer: Crytek
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Number of Players: 1 (Campaign), 2-12 (Multiplayer)
Platforms: Xbox 360 (Reviewed), PlayStation 3, PC

iWINuFAIL's picture

I have to diagree with you, in that I so far am finding the combat incredibly engaging.  The shooting mechanics work wonderfully, and the implementation of the nano suit and tiered terrain open the game world up to play the way I choose.  A good way through the campaign, and not having played online yet, so far I would call it a "Buy".

Our disagreements aside, fantastic review Boss.

Josh Kowbel's picture

My enjoyment of Crysis 2 may not reflect how much fun others have with the game because it's all just my opinion. This is my first venture with the Crysis series though, and I just got bored with the whole experience real fast despite the compliments you've given the game. The concept was far too similar to Halo in that, you're given a highly advanced suit of armor that can turn invisible, boost its shields, and jump three times higher than the average person, you fight the same six alien types the entire campaign, you're essentially a nameless mute, and you serve as Earth's last hope.

DS MKII's picture

I've played through the campaign once, currently on the 2nd play through. I've also played some multiplayer, but not much. I have to say this game is engaging at first, and like what Boss said, it does lack some of the "fun" element.

Although the game gives many options and chance to explore the sections of NY city like mini sandboxes, I can imagine that it'd be repetitive in the 3rd playthrough or maybe the 2nd, even. I think the repetition comes from the dull enemy type, and perhaps the lack of humor (how I love the grunts in halo...). It's also hard to connect with Alcatraz cause he never speaks in the game. And just like what Boss said, Alcatraz simply follow all the orders even when they come from different people throughout the game is just weird.

The game takes itself very seriously, and does a few things very well. Great graphics, lighting, 1st person cover system, weapon/suit customization on the fly, but it also suffers from some AI glitches. Enemies do occationally get stuck with each other, or a ceph can just be jumping left and right like a monkey until you're close enough to them. Controls generally work well, though it was a little overwhelming at first since I didn't play Crysis 1. I'd also like to add that I'm glad that they added the tag system like Splinter Cell Conviction, but the marker's so fcking hard to see you might as well not mark people at all. I constantly found myself having to find a dark corner or crouch behind a darker-colored piece of cover to actually see the up-side-down triangles which symbalize the enemies. Especially that you'd have to switch into the visor mode to tag people, and you simply don't have that much time when you're in the middle of a firefight. Yes you generally have time to observe the area and plan out what you want to do as you enter a new section. But once the enemies detect you, chances are that there'll be reinforcement that you have no time to mark. The game also has some infinite enemy respawn sections where unless you cross an invisible line, enemies would just keep spawning. Good thing that ammo's generally not a problem through out the game. While the sound effects are downright gorgeous, the music was downright lazy.

It's a shame that they don't have the cover system in multiplayer, I think it'd be fun. And the perk/rank/weapon system similar to CoD will sure turn down many newbies. The multiplayer feels like an in-between of Halo and CoD. It's got the CoD system but Halo's abilities to fool around with.

I'd give the game an 8.5. It's definitely something you should experience, but feel free to wait for the price to drop.

wogens10's picture

So far im digging the multiplayer of this game. I think its much better than Black Ops multiplayer. The campaign was pretty impressive; I would definitely play it more than twice.

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