Crysis 2

As the great Mark Twain once said, “Clothes maketh the man”. Although he was referring to 19th century upper class living, truer words could not be spoken about Crysis 2. Everything you do in EA’s latest shooter revolves around your trusty duds. In this case a highly advanced, snug-fitting Nanosuit. Even Donald Trump could put this sucker on and start ripping up some mad sh*t. In fact, there is even a dedicated opening cinematic where the camera sweeps across every nook and cranny of your suit in almost perverse detail. We know what you’re thinking; ‘Great, another shooter with a cool suit, along the lines of Dead Space, Vanquish, Halo, Metal Gear Solid and yadda yadda’. But developers Crytek have managed to make Crysis 2 feel like a different game, despite the similarities jumping up and smacking you in the chops. In a nutshell Crysis 2 feels like a hot warm goulash of the ‘run around shooting stuff in your kick-ass suit’ genre.

In this case, the man inside the Nanosuit is known only as Alcatraz, a solider in New York City in 2023 (three years after the events of the first game). An alien infestation of the Big Apple has turned it into a war-zone, complete with makeshift camps, bunkers, radioactive debris, crumbling skyscrapers and smoldering ruins everywhere. It's a far cry [I see what you did there - Ed.] from the pages of a Lonely Planet Guide, but this urban 'jungle' makes an inviting environment for tactical combat. Having wide-open spaces with the ability to navigate between buildings and even underground sewer systems allows you to traverse levels in a multitude of ways. When combined with the abilities of your Nanosuit, the options are almost limitless.

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The combat in Crysis 2 can be crudely broken down into two categories, stealth or storm. By tapping the right bumper, Alcatraz will activate his cloaking ability in his Nanosuit rendering him invisible to enemy forces, complete with a stylish hazy Predator-like effect. Tapping the left bumper switches the suit to an armour-heavy defensive mode, allowing Alcatraz to plough into battle like a human tank. Players can't use both abilities at once, but switching between the two to match your combat preferences opens up a huge variety of offense. Your intelli-suit will constantly talk to you as well, with a sweet Decepticon voice reminding you that you are in armour mode, or that there are tactical vantage points to be aware of. It’s like having Soundwave in your pants. In order to balance up the gameplay and provoke strategy, your Nanosuit has a power gauge that depletes when being used. In the time it takes to recharge, Alcatraz is left like a vulnerable fool standing around in a billion-dollar suit.

It's here in the combat aspect of the gameplay that Crysis 2 shines. Despite your super-human advantages, Crytek have ensured that the learning curve is progressive and balanced through-out. Despite well spaced out checkpoints, Crysis 2 still avoids the frustrating difficulty of games like Vanquish. Instead it borrows from gentler shooters like Halo Reach, keeping the ammunition sparse, limiting you to carrying two weapons at a time but still maintaining a sense of achievement through-out. There are also multiple vehicles to drive and gun turrets that you can dismount for some real carnage.

Like the original game, the graphics are simply stunning. The opening sequences that introduce your character in an American submarine under fire are breath-taking. The Crytek engine is probably put to its most demanding use in Crysis 2 and I was constantly surprised at how much environmental interactivity there was to explore. Shopping trolleys, paint cans, cars, walls, light fittings and more can all be kicked around or thrown to create a distraction. Quite often you’ll seek cover behind a wall only to see it slowly getting chipped away by enemy fire until you’re exposed. There are even subtle points of detail, like ammunition crates visibly being depleted when you take ammo from them. I could probably write a whole paragraph on how water splashes across your visor too. It’s a thing of beauty.

There are some flaws in the game however. Despite the visuals being tip-top in general, there are some glaringly obvious glitches in the works. For starters, Crysis 2 is a great example of why gamers can never see their own feet when you look down in most first-person shooters. Crytek and all of their genius still couldn’t prevent your legs looking like two emaciated appendages floating around in a creepy manner. Also, despite the fact that you look like a cyborg mountain gorilla on steroids, picking up and throwing a keyboard is a pretty pathetic affair. I just kicked a car off a balcony for crying out loud, why can’t I chuck this keyboard further than one meter!?

There are other aspects of the game which lack the high polish of the visuals too. For starters the plot is pretty convoluted and about half-way through, I started losing the thread of it altogether. At first I thought it was because I hadn’t played the original Crysis, but after talking to others it appears that the storyline is pretty rough. The voice-acting, especially from your primary objective Dr. Gould, is bordering on the complete fail side of things too.

But the main issue is the disappointing AI in your surrounding enemies. They appear to have two operating modes; one where they’ll hide behind cover and shoot at you with alarming accuracy and another where they’ll simply run around like headless chickens. There were numerous occasions where I saw an enemy soldier hiding behind a wall before throwing a grenade directly at his own feet. Other times I would be hiding behind a wall myself before turning around and seeing an enemy right behind me, checking me out like I was a circus attraction. After a few minutes of awkwardness, we’d both start shooting at one another. Crytek seemed to have compensated for this stupidity by ensuring that there are always plenty of enemies to worry about. I suppose having two dozen idiots running around with guns is probably more worrisome than a handful of armed geniuses anyway.

Thankfully Crysis 2 includes a solid multiplayer that avoids the dodgey AI issue. It includes all your usuals like deathmatch, team deathmatch and then a variety of objective-based modes. Online performance rewards players with experience points to upgrade your abilities and access to improved equipment. There are also in-game achievements for kill streaks and headshots that deathmatch maestros will appreciate. In a market saturated with first-person shooters, Crysis 2 surprisingly stands out. Granted it’s yet another game with a super-suit at it’s core. But smooth controls, gorgeous visuals, and memorable online combat prove that this game is still dressed to impress. Recommended for fans of Halo and Vanquish.

"Run silent. Run deep."
- Crysis 2
Follow Own it? Rating: M   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 30 Min


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Comments Comments (1)

Posted by djfu72
On Tuesday 19 Apr 2011 11:06 AM
I think this review is dead on...i loved this game and only some of the glitches (like people running into walls and the predictable AI) stopped it from being almost perfect. It is great to find a local website that has fair and non-pretentious reviews