First person shooters are a dime a dozen nowadays. You can have just about any flavor of realistic or sci-fi based shooter gaming you can imagine. Space marines to jar-heads abound. Crysis 2 is a game that goes somewhere in between with combat akin to Call of Duty wrapped around an alien invasion subplot. This approach may seem to scream generic but somehow the folks at Crytek that developed Crysis 2 was able to pull it off creating a game that does not feel generic at all.
A huge part of Crysis is the nano suit which shapes the core game experience. The suit provides armor mode which when activated hardens your suit though also slowing you down slightly. This is the mode you will want to use during the more intense combat situations where staying alive is a concern. Players will find that during large firefights armor mode is very handy particularly in harder difficulty modes. On the stealth side you have the cloaking ability which grants players temporary and partial invisibility. Enemies can still see you if you are standing directly in front of them and the faster you move the easier you are to spot while cloaked. The caveats to the invisibility are actually well done and add to the strategy and immersion. The suit also has a sprint ability that is unfortunately no faster than the sprint in any game. The visor is a integral part of the suit and in visor mode you can spot ammo in your surrounding area, or zoom in for binocular view functionality in which you can mark targets for tactical options. Once marked the targets will appear with triangles on you your mini map and if they are behind cover they will be marked on your game screen. The visor also has a heat sensor/night vision mode for when required during the campaign.
The game is set in New York City. No complaints there obviously though what is notable about the setting of Crysis 2 is that they managed to create one of the best looking and most authentic New York experiences in any game I have seen to date. Not only that but the levels move players vertically as well as forward which keeps the game interesting. Crysis 2 rarely pits you in the dreaded corridor to corridor scenarios that plague many first person shooters. Many of the areas in the game have various ways to get to the next checkpoint.
Even when you cannot go “anywhere” Crysis does a good job of making you feel free to tackle whats in front of you in your own way. Very often you enter an area with a broad view and have the opportunity to plan your attack. You can go Rambo with guns blazing or stealth a-la Solid Snake. These simple choices go along way and the mix of stealth and straight up Rambo style gunning down the enemy is a refreshing departure from the typical first person shooter formula.
A review of Crysis 2 could not be complete without mention the spotty artificial intelligence (A.I.) of the computer controlled enemies in the single player mode. At times the enemy will be spot on hunting you down, charging and shooting at you appropriately. Other times the computer controlled enemies will get stuck on environmental objects. Its not uncommon to see enemies stuck walking into walls, cars and other environmental items. At times you can be standing directly in front of an enemy and they will not attack you at all and just stand there. It does not happen all the time but enough to notice and the A.I. problems certainly walk the fine line between occasional and too often. This particular issue I found to be the biggest issue though not a deal breaker because when its on the AI is on point. When its bad it is bad though.
Crysis 2 is a great looking game on consoles. This review is based on the PlayStation 3 version which is pretty much confirmed as the worst version when compared to the slightly better Xbox 360 version, and PC version which is the best version of all. Having played the worst I still must say that in terms of overall visuals Crysis 2 does not disappoint. The textures, details and particle effects are top notch. When guns are fired the effects are superb. Fire and smoke effects are all great and at times when coupled with the action create a great experience. Though the game is detailed there is a problem with textures popping in. The pop-in ruins an otherwise top notch effort from Crytek and its a shame really because when it happens it is jarring. Fortunately it happens more in the first few stages and the game performs much better in the later stages.
Although you can argue that Crysis 2 may be the best looking console game the lack of seamless texture streaming in my opinion is the one thing that prevents it from taking that crown from say Uncharted 2 or Killzone 3. It’s still a worthy contender though not a clear winner.
While on the topic of visuals I must comment the effort put into the 3D in this game. It performs better than almost all 3D games I have played to date. Typically the visual quality and framerates are noticeably gimped in 3D mode though Crysis 2 on the PlayStation 3 performed and looked extremely close to its 2D counterpart. it was so close in fact that I opted to play 3D almost exclusively after about the halfway point in the game. I also experienced less eye fatigue in 3D playing than I had playing Killzone 3 for example.
The opening theme is catchy and memorable for sure. Overall the sound design is great though some weapons do feel a bit weaker than they should be. The surround mix and positional audio is really good though I would not say best in class. The voice acting is decent and some of the characters are memorable such as Hargreave though as with any game when replaying sections the audio can get repetitive especially in a few areas where you are told to “hurry up” repeatedly which can be especially annoying if you are exploring the levels and taking in the great visuals.
The multiplayer I must say was the biggest surprise of the whole package. The lackluster demos and betas left me disappointed specifically in respect to the graphical quality and overall fun factor though the full package redeems itself in spades. I found final product much more polished and fun. The shooting is akin to Call of Duty in terms of the twitch nature of the gameplay. The nano suit powers are available as well and provides the needed departure from other multiplayer first person shooter experiences.
There are 12 multiplayer maps total in Crysis 2. The multiplayer level designs are well done and keep players engulfed in the action. There are also a total of 6 multiplayer modes in Crysis 2:
Instant Action: This is the classic game mode and several ‘Free For All’. The player with the most kills wins
Team Instant Action: Here, two teams against each other. The team, which provides first a certain number of kills, wins
Crash Site: where 2 sides compete for control of Ceph Drop.
Extraction: A team protects two containers, while the other team must steal the containers. Possessing the container provides powers as one allows invisibility mode improvements, the other strengthens the Armor mode of the team that hold the container
Assault: Teams need to obtain data terminals, while the other team must prevent acquisition. The interesting thing is that the defending team has no Nanosuit, but equipped with heavy guns. The attacking team can use the Nano suit though only have light weapons
Capture the Relay: A classic ‘Capture the Flag’ offering
As you can see the multiplayer has a an impressive amount of maps and some nice variety in game modes making it a multiplayer mode players actually may spend much more time playing than expected.
Crysis 2 is an impressive title. Not just graphically but also in terms of the quality of the single player campaign. It took me about seven and a half hours to complete the story mode on the default difficulty and was fun throughout. The multiplayer is a nice addition and totally worth a try. The biggest problems with Crysis 2 are the hit or miss enemy AI, the texture pop-in, and pacing in the first third of the game. The story could have been presented better particularly by giving players a better sense of what has already happened previous games.
Other than that the story is presented well with some nice in game story segments like the Half Life series. The single player story has totally ignited an urge to replay the Half Life series because of the in-game storytelling elements. The action is at times “WOW” inducing at its peaks and consistently enjoyable overall. I totally recommend Crysis 2 to any one looking for a departure from the typical first person shooter story mode.