When the original Crysis was introduced as a technical showcase, the response from PC gamers was overwhelmingly positive. Many spent countless hours tweaking the title's graphics settings, ultimately testing them to push their hardware to the limit. With the release of Crysis 2, developer Crytek is attempting to elicit a similar response, but this time on multiple platforms. Will the second installment in this critically-acclaimed franchise be able to differentiate itself from the competition?
While the graphics and physics engine driving the first game was praised, it was criticized for the steep hardware requirements and the stale, average gameplay. The art direction of Crysis was boring and monotonous, retrospectively delivering an underwhelming experience that could best be summarized as the epitome of style over substance.
Crytek, the German developer responsible for the franchise, created Crysis 2 to expand upon the technical greatness of its predecessor while finally delivering on some of the unfulfilled promises. In addition to a new, more powerful engine, the title was released with console compatibility, providing a graphical spectacle comparable to its PC sibling.
Departing from tropical landscapes and wide vistas, Crysis 2 is set in a near-future interpretation of an alien infested New York City. Players are thrown into the shoes of Alcatraz, a Force Recon Marine tasked with retrieving a scientist. The mission goes south and Alcatraz is introduced to Prophet, a returning character that furnishes players with the Nanosuit 2, giving players more freedom in tactical battle situations.
With an alien invasion afoot and the large outbreak of a virus plaguing Manhattan, Alcatraz uses the Nanosuit, impersonating its former owner and utilizing the superhuman abilities that come with it. Dealing with rather sophistic themes like the corporatization of power, the story is slow starting out, but once the plot is under way, it is addicting and exhilarating. Clocking in at about twelve hours, the pacing of the title provides enough time to breath between firefights, a characteristic that many Michael Bay-esque shooters have never been graced with.
Unfortunately, the story is prone to plot holes, but it does not drag down the interesting story that doesn't talk down to you. It is a bit difficult to focus completely on the plot when you are constantly assaulted with the overwhelmingly beautiful scenery, but that is hardly a complaint.
The fact of the matter is that the story is not meant to stand alone as the strongest aspect of the title is the atmosphere. Akin to that of a BioShock, the use of ubiquitous, cascading light engulfs New York's urban decay, a welcome departure from the hyper-filtered visual style of competitors like Gears of War.
Emotionally, the majority of the impact is rooted in the deteriorating scenes that bombard you throughout. Whether it be FDR Drive rippling before falling to pieces amidst a cloud of dust and debris, or walking past decaying landmarks, the familiarity of the landscape feels like you're being constantly reminds you that the game, while focused on science fiction, is established in reality.
Crysis 2 might very well be the best looking multi-platform game that has ever graced consoles. Though PC gamers will find the lack of visual settings to tinker with upsetting, the game maintains near-perfect beauty throughout, rendering without fail or hiccup. The story provides the best skeleton for light to strike you, bringing forth an impressive visual experience that is extremely memorable.
The Nanosuit is the lens through which the entire game is viewed, adding a cohesive, unique aspect to the game. Everything, even as simple as saving the game, occurs in first-person perspective, presenting you with overlays and subtle visual effects complemented by an unobtrusive heads-up display. With three modes to explore, the Nanosuit allows you to enjoy near-invisibility, powerful melee attacks, increased speed, and insane jump heights. Your suit's energy is dependent on how effectively you utilize these three foundations, forcing you to balance and combine them in many different ways.
The enemy artificial intelligence found within Crysis 2 is intelligent, but maintains a level of reality that allows for satisfying combat. Enemy engagements essentially boil down to your determination as to how to attack the situations, but the many different types of enemies shifts your perspective. For example, when attacking paramilitary forces, striking from above is empowering and fulfilling.
New York City is the perfect playground for all of these powers to be used. While it does not compare to the wide expanses found in the game's predecessor, the vertical nature of maps allows for different modes of attack, essentially granting you the ability to attack the same problem in many different ways. The multifaceted nature of the Nanosuit translate well into the title's multiplayer, which feels organically stemmed from the single player campaign.
Many current-generation titles suffer from using formulaic multiplayer to simply add replay value, but Crysis 2 provides a completely new experience that is exhilarating and incredibly intense. The Nanosuit makes a seamless transition, providing a unique challenge to approaching otherwise typical situations. It features a leveling system similar to those found in Call of Duty-esque titles, allowing you to assign perks to your fingers in the vein of upgrades in the single player campaign. A beta period ironed out the kinks, and the level of multiplayer polish shows in every match.
Though it appears as if Crysis 2 is flawless, there are several crippling errors. Its checkpoint system is unforgiving, designed to supplement the PC quick-saving from the first game. The artificial intelligence can sometimes glitch out, resulting in almost unbearably hilarious errors such as your comrade running around in circles during a firefight.
Expanding on the already strong foundation of its predecessor, Crysis 2 delivers an experience that departs from the drab norm of other current-generation shoots. Utilizing the graphical capabilities to provide players with a memorable atmosphere and unique gameplay mechanics, the title flawlessly integrates futuristics mechanics in a vibrant yet eerie urban jungle. Thus, taking all innovations and modifications into account, we award Crysis 2 with a well-deserved 9.3/10.
What do you, fellow gamers, think of Crytek's latest creation? If you have already purchased the title, what are your opinions?