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Crysis 2 Review

by Xav de Matos, Mar 25, 2011 1:00pm PDT
Related Topics – Crysis 2, Review, Feature, 3D Gaming

Around an hour before Crysis 2's single-player campaign is finished, a character utters the perfect phrase to summarize the universe created by developer Crytek: "This isn't war. This is the future."

It's a summary that fits with the developer's thoughts on both game engine and gameplay design. Though there may have been fears that bringing Crysis 2 to consoles would turn it into another military shooter clone, the game retains its strategic roots in the way it allows players to approach combat situations.

This is primarily due to the super-powered Nanosuit that the game's hero wears throughout the experience. There are three core elements to the suit: power, stealth, and armor. Power allows players to jump high into the sky, detach stationary weapons, and run at super speed. Stealth makes the player nearly invisible. Armor protects the player from incoming fire and fall damage. Each of these elements is fueled by a power bar: using an ability drains the meter.

Deciding when and how to use the abilities splits into two paths itself. I found that dismantling a group of CELL soliders (human mercs working for Crynet, the corporation responsible for the Nanosuit) with stealth worked better, whereas attacking the invading alien race (the Ceph) with armor activated offered a better chance of survival. But your tactics may vary based on your style. (Video below captured from my PC session, showing an example of how abilities work well together to formulate a strategy.)

That's what's so wonderful about Crysis 2. Though the individual mission objectives are linear at their core the only limitation to achieving them is the player's imagination. Everyone plays to the same goals; how you get there is up to you. Very few shooters can make this claim; even fewer on console. It's more strategic than your typical shooter and far more interesting and enjoyable for it.

Another strategic element is the world itself. Fans of the original title in the series--released in 2007--might be disappointed that the world of Crysis 2 within the walls of New York City is much more confined than the lush jungles of the Lingshan Islands from the original game; however, there are plenty of tactical options available to players in each battle zone. Each area offers the player a number of approach points, utilizing the world both horizontally and vertically. These multiple paths from above and below the game's levels are another notch that Crysis 2 proudly etches into its belt.

But there are also issues that infest the world of Crysis 2, including a forgettable story, A.I. problems, and more. The game's story is a confusing amalgamation of every alien invasion narrative you've seen in other games and movies. Its "twists and turns" and "betrayals" are obvious from the start. Things start to come together a bit by the end; however, it's filled with a number of plot holes and clich├ęs.

Crysis 2 also has a number of issues with A.I. paths and collision detection. If enemies are investigating normally, there is no issue; however, once they being to take new paths based on your action, they often get caught on the world's geometry. This is especially evident in indoor areas.

There are far too many levels in Crysis 2 that force players into buildings, sewers, and subway stations. The world shows off glorious vistas with arresting bright visuals in the outdoors of New York City and then quickly shuffles players into a dark, grim corridor to progress the story. I take umbrage with this design decision primarily because Crysis 2 is such a gorgeous game to look at. It would have been nice to keep the action in the visually interesting areas. On PC with "Extreme" settings enabled, Crysis 2 is stunning and, on console, it's easily one of the best looking games ever released. The game also features great audio from its sound effects to its score.

Though Crysis 2 didn't lose its gameplay and engine spirit in its transition to consoles, it did lose a lot of hardcore PC options. There are only three pre-defined graphical settings and a handful of extra options. Players that like to get in and tweak their graphical experience will be extremely disappointed. Also included is a checkpoint save system, which I personally feel should never be the only option offered to PC gamers. (Note: There are already third party tools available to unlock more advanced graphics options.)

Since 3D has been a big push for the game across all platforms at press events, I thought I would utilize my equipment and check it out. Though I ran into issues with previous titles, Crysis 2 in 3D is amazing. The effect doesn't go overboard--even on highest settings--and doesn't strain the eyes. In 3D, every set-piece moment in the game jumps out with gorgeous clarity. If you have the equipment or if 3D has piqued your interest, Crysis 2 does a great job of showing off the tech.

Multiplayer in Crysis 2 may seem like just another persistent character experience; however, the addition of Nanosuit abilities gives its online component an added level of strategy. The game has a number of standard modes, but the one that appealed the most to me was Crash Site, where two teams fight to defend alien pods that drop into the map at random locations during the match. The multiplayer experience is fun; however, there are a few headaches plaguing the game right now. For one, the game keeps asking me to type in my serial code and constantly tells me, when attempting to join a game, that my key is in use. If you can get in on the action, it's frantic and a lot of fun. (Note: Crytek has a list of issues they are working on.)

Due to the issues, it's difficult for me to say whether or not the game will continue to grasp my long term attention; however, I want to keep playing it, which says a lot.

Crysis 2 is a more focused sequel to a solid first effort. Though the narrative is lacking, it's a beautiful world with a fantastic strategic layer woven into its core gameplay. There are bumps in the road and a few missing parts for PC players, but Crysis 2 is something you can't miss.


[This Crysis 2 review is based on the retail version for both the Xbox 360 and PC, provided by EA. For the purposes of covering 3D gaming on PC, nVidia licensed Shacknews an ASUS 3D Monitor (VG236), EVGA GTX 480, and a nVidia 3D Vision set. Specs for the PC used in this review.]





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