The first Crysis had, and still has, a bit of a reputation associated with it. When it was released in 2007, it brought most modern computers to their respective knees with its high level of graphical fidelity, still impressive by today’s standards. To boot, it also boasted first-person shooting that was not only fun and satisfying, but surprisingly complex. Running around a tropical island in your body-augmenting nanosuit using speed, strength, armor and camouflage and take out enemies as you saw fit. Crysis the first, was a blast to play and a dream to look at with its only blemishes showing in a underwhelming story and a lackluster endgame.
Crysis 2 takes all of those aspects and tries to improve upon them. And the results are almost unanimously positive.Taking place some three years after the events of the first game, Crysis finds you in the shoes, visor, and nanosuit of Alcatraz, a Marine Special Forces operative who unwittingly ended up in the suit due to the intervention of Prophet, the only surviving character from the first game. New York City is under attack from a lovely combination of a flesh-melting virus, a Private Military Organization known as CELL, and the Ceph squid-like aliens with jellyfish insides wrapped inside of metallic casings. The story is paced well with a couple of twists and turns. It’s standard sci-fi fare, but it’s enjoyable none the less.
The nanosuit from the first game returns with some major tweaks. Most notably is the condensing of suit abilities. Where there were several different modes in the first game, here there are only two toggle able modes: Cloak and Armor. While this may seem like the sequel is gutting the suit from the first, nothing could be further from the truth. Tapping E on my keyboard sends me into invisible stalker mode, ala Predator, while Q turns me into a walking juggernaut, shrugging off bullets as long as my rapidly depleting energy meter is going. Cars can be kicked by holding the melee button next to them. High jumps can be used by holding the jump button for an extra moment. Same with a devastating melee attack in the form of a mean power-punch. Running, jumping, sliding, cloaking. Not only are these options well implemented, they’re fun to use.
Combat for the most part is a joy. When presented with wide open spaces and tons of nooks and crannies to duck into, the game is at its peak. Popping into stealth, taking out a Ceph solider with a well placed headshot, going back into cloak, and running for cover to recharge, all the while watching the other patrols trying to find you, is cackle-worthy. One of my favorites of these moments occurs fairly early on and involved me snuffing out a search team, solider by solider as they attempted to track me down in the middle of a dust cloud from a recently collapsed bridge. Ducking behind freeway dividers, popping off a couple of shots with my silenced SMG, cloaking, flanking, and finally finishing off the last grunt with a stealthy 180 degree neck-snap. And that’s just one way I could have gone about that bit as well. The game is absolutely jam-packed with tactical options that range from sneaking to sniping to guns blazing. Crysis 2 gives you the tools to make you feel like an absolute badass, most of the time. Other instances have you running down corridors ala Call of Duty, leaving your tactical options severely limited. It seems like something that Crysis would try to avoid given all of toys you get to mess around with, but it does manage to break up the pacing a bit. Aside from the standard run-and-gun bits, there are a couple of driving sections that put you in an APC and send you cruising down a shattered expressway but these parts never last long enough to overstay their welcome.
Speaking of toys, another new feature added is the upgrade system. Killing Ceph gives you “Nano Catalyst” which acts as a sort of currency you can use to purchase upgrades that fit in one of four slots. It adds a bit of depth, and all of the abilities have a good impact on your combat. One of my favorites painted a trail of green arrows behind enemy patrols allowing me to sneak by them more easily or plan out a good sniping spot.
Now, the first Crysis was a game that set the standard for what modern PC games should look like, so it’s no surprise when I say Crysis 2 is pretty. Ok, here I go: Crysis 2 is so incredibly pretty. Screenshots don’t do this game an ounce of justice. The city of New York is rendered in an almost scary amount of detail. The cracks in the road to the sparks off of a power line, to the Ceph grunts and friendly Helicopters. Everything about Crysis 2‘s graphical presentation is spot on. Explosions practically erupt off the screen, the dust dancing through your laser sight. Crysis 2 is a game that needs to be seen in motion. The game runs at a pretty good clip as well, even on my budget-conscious machine. (I haven’t had a chance to try the console version of the game yet, but I’ve heard there are some slight graphical differences and some noticeable FPS dips.) This does come at a cost however, as the PC version is missing previously promised DirectX 11 support and has graphics options that have been lobotomized to three different presets: High, Very High, and Extreme. There has been word a DirectX 11 patch is in the works and the game is still oh-so-very pretty, but it’s still a rather glaring omission.
Another slight disappointment was the multiplayer component. Opting to join the Modern Warfare bandwagon, Crysis 2‘s multiplayer is a rank and unlock based system, where kills and tasks are assigned XP which gives more and more abilities, nanosuit upgrades, weapons, and dog tags . It’s a widely used model and while the nanosuit abilities do add some uniqueness, it comes off feeling a bit stale. That, and the PC version has some rather serious issues with configuration file tampering that has guilty players running around with thermal vision and permanent spring like some sort of Predator on crystal meth. It’s perfectly serviceable, but I’m not sure it’s going to have any staying power.
Overall, Crysis 2 is a hell of a lot fun to play. Shooting is fun. New York is beautiful. And kicking cars at people seldom gets old. With its singleplayer lasting a good thirteen hours with a New Game + mode, and the multiplayer okay for a quick diversion, Crysis 2 is a fine FPS and is a couple steps ahead, while not breaking any new ground, except in looking damn good, Crysis 2 is well worth your attention if not your money. Crysis 2 well earns my Seal of Approval.