Crysis 2

Info:

Developer/s: Crytek

Publisher/s: Electronic Arts

Platform/s: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Genre: First-person shooter

Release Date: 2011-03-24

Review:

I put off playing Crysis 2 for quite sometime now, after completing the dreary shit-fest that is Syndicate, I decided it was time to install this game and see what it had to offer.  In case you were wondering, the reason why I’ve been avoiding this game is because I really disliked the glorified tech-demo that is Crysis 1, not because of the ludicrous system requirements mind you, just because the first game was an empty husk of mediocrity gift-wrapped in shiny paper.  As a rule, I’m usually quite weary about any game that has ‘EA’ stamped on it (so then it’s a given that I’m weary of most games given Electronic Arts‘ apparent bid for platform domination) but thankfully, unlike its predecessor and the aforementioned Syndicate, Crysis 2 isn’t bad at all, in fact it’s pretty good.

The amount of detail is amazing, notice the realistic blurring of the out-of-focus firearm.

So this time around, the focus has been switched from a Pandora-esque jungle to an urban one, and you play as ‘Alcatraz’ who has taken ownership over the Nanosuit 2.0 from former Delta Force officer Laurence ‘Prophet’ Barnes.  Since CryNet Systems have been hunting down Prophet in order to reclaim the Nanosuit, your character – Alcatraz, is inadvertently pursued.  Needless to say, human operatives won’t be the only thing on your tail, as the squid-like alien race known as the Ceph make their return, ditching the ‘outdated’, tentacle-exo suits in favour of an armoured humanoid variety.  Crysis 2 takes place in a war-torn New York City, and if all the destruction wasn’t enough, a disease nicknamed the ‘Manhattan Virus’ has rendered most of the denizens as immobile, moaning meat sacks.

No time to look at the pretty lights, pissed-off aliens demand your attention.

You will need some pretty bad-ass hardware in order to contend with all the hostiles in Crysis 2, from CELL (CryNet Enforcement & Local Logistics) operatives – a private military contractor tasked with handling the alien invasion on Manhattan Island, to the aliens themselves, and there is no weapon better than the highly-advanced Nanosuit 2.0 that you will be stomping around in (though there are plenty of shooty-things too).  The Nanosuit has been upgraded and streamlined since the first outing and switching between the various modes that the suit has to offer has never been easier.  The Nanosuit 2.0 is equipped with a cloaking mode – enabling players to become invisible and for the most part, undetectable to the enemy’s field of vision,  this stealth mode is an integral part of the game-play and can be used to lure and ambush enemies or bypass them all together and allows you to perform melee ‘stealth kills’ though be warned, any attack while in stealth mode will cause you to decloak.

Nano vision, this thermal mode is especially handy for detecting hidden enemies or navigating through dust-laden sections.

The predecessor’s strength & speed modes have now been combined into what’s called power mode, turning the player into a veritable human tank, plodding around with this mode engaged while hearing bullet impacts on your suit gives you the feeling of what being a Terminator is like.  Power mode offers a fair amount of resilience to projectiles and limited protection against electricity-based attacks (at the expense of suit power).  The Nanosuit is also equipped with binoculars that provide on-the-fly tactical recommendations, as well as nano vision, a built-in thermal mode much like what is seen in the Predator films.  It’s up to you to use the Nanosuit’s various modes in order to outwit your foes and it is this kind of strategy that was sorely lacking with Syndicate’s DART 6.  It is also worth noting that all of the Nanosuit’s abilities drain energy (rather quickly) and will require brief intervals between use while your suit recharges, so players always have to be vigilant of the suit’s power levels as there’s nothing worse than sneaking past a group of enemies only to have your suit decloak on you midway…

Even though I played the game on extreme graphics settings, my Radeon HD4870 still couldn’t process all the detail, so essentially the game looks even better than pictured here.

The game-play in Crysis 2 is a bit more complex than the average shooter, and there’s far more to it than just sneaking around in an invisible power suit.  After you’ve killed an alien, they will leave behind a shimmering cloud (derived from Ceph tissue) referred to as ‘nano catalyst’, different types of aliens leave behind different amounts of the substance and collecting the stuff will earn you points that can be spent on various upgrades for your Nanosuit, such as faster regeneration, a cloak tracker (for detecting invisible foes), increased resistance to gunfire and so forth.  It is therefore vital that players eliminate as many of the aliens as possible in order to upgrade the suit as it will be needed as you progress through the game.  There is also a multitude of firearms which players can wield ranging from traditional weapons like the SCAR (Superior Combat Assault Rifle), Grendel Assault Rifle, Feline SMG, Jackal (semi-automatic shotgun), and various side arms to more exotic weaponry like the K-Volt (Electrostatic pellet SMG), M20 14 Gauss (electromagnetic anti material rifle) and X-43 Mike (Microwave Induced Klystron Emitter), these are just some of the available weapons and most of them are customizable too allowing you to switch out scopes, add silencers and so forth, all-in-all very impressive.

Some of the most mind-blowingly realistic scenarios seen in a game.

Crytek have made something of a name for themselves when it comes to the graphics department and Crysis 2 is no exception being the first game to feature the CryEngine 3 with Crysis 2 being lauded as the most visually impressive game ever created and it would certainly be difficult to dispute that claim as Crysis 2 is a beautiful-looking game.  Not since Half-Life 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4 have I stopped during a game just to take in and fully appreciate how awe-inspiring the graphics are (no point in harping on about shaders, anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering just check out the screens for proof, all in-game footage).  Crysis 2 had a multi-platform release, and while the console versions of the game look amazing, as Crytek CEO Cervat Yerli stated, the PC version is indeed graphically superior to its counterparts so needless to say you will require a pretty decent PC in order to run this game on extreme settings.

Not only was this scene somewhat harrowing (what with all the needles pointed in your direction) this is a good example of light-blooming done right, Syndicate could learn a thing or two here…

Conclusion

The only area that I can really fault Crysis 2 in is the linearity of the maps, and that’s only when compared to its predecessor,  though the open-world jungles are gone, Crysis 2 still offers plenty exploration in this concrete jungle setting, and a longer than average single-player campaign mode.  The addition of a multi-player mode further extends the longevity of Crysis 2,  rounding off an already impressive gaming experience.  The second and last gripe I have is that the few driving sections in the game are quite crap due to the awful handling of the vehicles but I’m really just nitpicking.  Otherwise, good AI, awesome visuals and an interesting single-player campaign make Crysis 2 a definite must for all first-person shooter fans.  Highly recommended.

Grade: A

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