By Marty Mulrooney
Crysis 2 is is a first-person shooter developed by Crytek and published by Electronic Arts. It is the sequel to the video game Crysis (2007) and its stand-alone expansion pack Crysis Warhead (2008). Set in 2023, the player takes control of a Force Recon Marine named Alcatraz as he battles alien invaders through a ravaged New York City. Crysis 2 was released in North America, Australia and Europe in March 2011 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Crysis 2 tells a simple story that allows plenty of firefights and explosions to unfold upon the streets of a post-alien invasion New York City. As the game begins, a United States Marine Corps Force Recon unit is deployed by submarine to extract former Crynet employee Doctor Nathan Gould, who may have vital information on how to combat the alien race known only as the Ceph. However, the Ceph soon discover the submarine and destroy it, leaving Alcatraz as the only survivor.
Laurence ‘Prophet’ Barnes – fans of the franchise will know him from the original Crysis – drags Alcatraz to safety, before killing himself so his Nanosuit can assimilate with him. The game then begins, with both CELL forces – soldiers from ‘Crynet Enforcement & Local Logistics’ who have placed Manhattan under martial law – and the alien Ceph gunning for his life. Alcatraz must learn to use his new Nanosuit to survive the constant onslaught of attacks and track down Doctor Gould before it’s too late…
Crysis 2 streamlines the Nanosuit functionality of the original game. The Strength and Speed Modes have now been combined to create the new Power Mode, which kicks in automatically when you sprint or perform a large jump. Furthermore, the Cloaking Device is now known as Stealth Mode and allows the player to perform quick, automatic stealth kills. Thankfully, the Armour Mode has been pretty much left alone, still allowing the player to become a bullet-sponge for a short amount of time. Using any of the above Modes drains the Nanosuit’s power, which then takes a short period of time to recharge itself. You can also now use more than one Mode at a time.
The game takes place throughout various levels that endeavour to convey an illusion of openness and freedom, but are actually far more restrictive than the original game’s still impressive open world. The binoculars function has been upgraded to create a new Tactical Mode, whereby the player can scope a level and see all of their available options – weapons caches, targets etc. – as well as tag enemies so they can keep an eye of them. The shooting is fairly generic, with the player only able to carry two weapons at a time, as well as some grenades/explosives. What makes the gameplay stand out from the competition is the use of the Nanosuit.
Players may choose to remain in Stealth Mode whilst picking off a few enemies on the outskirts of a level, before activating Armour Mode and launching a full-scale assault. Taking too much damage? Sprint to automatically engage Power Mode and then hold down the jump button to do a superhuman leap to an overhead ledge and momentary safety. Guns can be modified on the fly, perhaps adding a silencer or changing the iron-sights to a scope. The player can also upgrade the Nanosuit by collecting Nano-Catalyst points from defeated alien Ceph.
The main problem with Crysis 2 is that the gameplay soon becomes repetitive. New York City is impressive to behold but the levels, although often sprawling, are by no means expansive. The player will have some time exploring alone before reaching an area full of enemies. Rinse and repeat. Whereas in the original Crysis the player could bypass a settlement entirely, this is never really an option in Crysis 2. The battery of the Nanosuit drains quickly even when upgraded and as a result, you often feel less of a bad-ass than you should. It doesn’t help that the opening FMV shows Alcatraz casually taking on a tank, something that just wouldn’t be possible during real gameplay. The process of entering an area and clearing it soon becomes monotonous, especially when the enemy AI starts behaving oddly.
The storyline is another issue. There are some impressive set pieces but they mostly remove the game from the player’s hands, meaning that the best moments are often non-playable. The supporting cast is well voiced but by no means memorable, with not a single character throughout the entire game making any kind of emotional connection. Half Life 2, which was released way back in 2004, nailed storytelling without cutscenes and presented characters you could actually care about. Crysis 2 pales in comparison. I never felt any real incentive to delve deeper into the universe or narrative as I played, and I didn’t really care about Alcatraz or the supporting cast either.
The graphics are impressive and look great even on my low-end GT220. There are not that many visual options for graphics fans to tweak, adding extra weight to the argument that Crysis 2 was watered down for consoles. You can basically select your resolution and then choose between High, Very High and Extreme graphics. I played at High (the lowest setting) and the game looked great, easily comparable to other HD shooters I have played on my PlayStation 3. Seeming to realise they had frozen out their loyal fan base at launch, Crytek have since released an ‘Ultra Upgrade’ which is available here, adding Direct 11 support and the ability to import high-res textures into the game, if your computer can handle it.
The multiplayer mode is fun and stands out from the crowd by allowing the use of Nanosuit abilities. There are the usual Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes, as well as objective based games such as Capture The Relay (basically Capture The Flag). This is more of a review of the single player campaign of Crysis 2 but it is certainly worth noting that there is a strong multiplayer component which may well be worth the purchase price for online gamers looking for something a little different.
Overall Crysis 2 is a beautiful, undeniably fun shooter that is also very shallow and lacks depth. The shooting is engaging when combined with the Nanosuit’s abilities, but unfortunately the Nanosuit itself can often feel underpowered and the enemy AI leaves a lot to be desired. The repetitive nature of the levels combined with the paper-thin plot does more damage than Alcatraz ever could. Worth a look at a reduced price – especially now it has been out for a few months – but don’t expect to be wowed like you were by the original.
7 OUT OF 10