Final thoughts on Crysis 2

Posted by Geno (6477 posts) -

So the frequent users of this site here probably recognize me as a rather rabid Crysis fan. I've beaten the game countless times, I mod and tweak it, I take screenshots and I make videos of it. It's a rare game that pushes both technical and gameplay boundaries that hasn't really been met in either area to date. It's only just recently starting to be surpassed technically, which an astonishing feat for an almost 4-year old game, especially on the PC platform.  
  
Naturally, I was fairly excited when Crysis 2 was announced. If Crytek could pull off what they did in 2007, then whatever they were planning on releasing in 2011 must be utterly mind-blowing. Based on past experience, I envisioned running through the boroughs of New York City with super speed, and jumping to perch on whichever ledge I wanted to observe my surroundings. I imagined the gameplay and artistic possibilities in a to-scale version of Central Park. Maybe I could even swim or fly over to the Statue of Liberty?
 
The early promotional material showed promise. First we got to see the new Nanosuit, cool. Then there was the new Cryengine 3 tech, which was also nice. The Wall trailer convinced me that Crysis was building an engaging, emotional experience that would accurately depict New York City on a broad scale. But...the direction slowly deviated as you went along. Looking at the Gametrailers page you can see what I mean. Starting from the bottom up, after the initial suit and tech offerings, we get 3D, Limited Edition Bonuses, and Multiplayer trailers after that. The tone of the trailers changed as well, compare: 
 

  
   
Clearly attempts were made to market to a broader audience. This isn't all bad, as was the case with Dragon Age: Origins, the marketing doesn't necessarily determine the game. I still had full hopes that the game would shape up to be fine.  
 
Then the multiplayer demo arrived. This video pretty much explains it all:
 
   
The servers didn't work, the interface was screwy and there were next to no options, graphics or otherwise, to speak of. Inside the multiplayer itself, killstreaks, hit markers, custom classes and fast respawns made it quite apparent which game it was "inspired" by. The graphics were overall good, but had several flaws and was in no way groundbreaking. My hope was deteriorating. The only thing that saved me from cancelling my pre-order right away was the fact that the multiplayer was made by another studio; perhaps the single player would be a completely different affair.  
 
March 22nd finally rolled along, I installed the game and loaded the first mission. I don't think it's much of a spoiler if I tell you the first 5 minutes of the game involves getting out of a sinking vessel. Strange, because I recall another recent shooter that had a first mission involving getting out of a sinking vessel as well. 
 
 
Coincidence maybe? I played for another couple of hours, and, alas, I reached the end of my rope. The truth was too much to deny anymore. Crytek sold out.
 
I've listed some of my gripes already, but now that I've finished the game I'll revise and expand upon my opinion of the game.    
 
Let's be clear - the game takes cues from popular shooters like Call of Duty and Gears of War. It's linear, scripted, and borrows many key mechanics such as "press X to look at key event or way to progress through mission". You can only traverse one city block at a time (sometimes less), which makes the game feel disjointed and cuts out the exploration aspect altogether. The game feigns to give you a choice in approaching an area, but because the areas are so narrow, you end up with at most two ways, the second way usually just being a simple flank.  
 
This is a far cry from Crysis where the environments were so large that you would get lost without looking at a map. In earlier interviews, developers of the game tried to justify this by saying that it was due to the setting change. This is a bit disingenuous. Games like GTA IV took place in "New York" as well but were fleshed out quite nicely. It doesn't feel like New York in Crysis 2. It feels like different arenas in Moxxi's Underdome Riot (Borderlands). Everything is closed off in every direction (rather convenient that the aliens decided to rip up the roads into neat block sized areas, no?) 
 
The organic feel of the environment is lost as well, and not simply due to the lack of palm trees. Why aren't the buildings crumbling around me as they get hit with explosions and heavy machine gun fire? Why doesn't my movement brush away plants anymore? Why are hot dogs carts and telephone booths apparently indestructible and immovable? If they're so tough, why doesn't the military just make their armor out of whatever those hot dog carts and telephone booths are made of? I think you catch my drift in how the little environmental interactivity detracts from the atmosphere and immersiveness of the game.   
 
Regarding the story, one of the key talking points was that a professional science fiction writer would be heading it. When you hear something like this, you assume that you'll get a genre-breaking story that will instill many different emotions in you. What you get is just the same boiler-plate B-action movie nonsense that's been in games for years. If Richard Morgan really did write a good script then surely it got lost in translation. The story is arguably worse than what's in most contemporary games.  
 
The cast is awkward as well. Nomad and Psycho, the two protagonists of the Crysis and Warhead respectively, seem to be completely forgotten whereas a more minor character like Prophet is put into the spotlight. Not to mention, you pretty much have to have played the first game to even know who Prophet is in the first place, which contradicts their mainstream reach-out since most people probably have never played Crysis before. Perhaps it's a Freudian slip for "profit"? The rest of the characters are well-developed when they are on-screen, but seem to play too little of a role in the actual story for you to care about them. What was needed for the game to have made any impact was something a la Alyx in Half Life 2, but none of that was found here.
 
Crytek games have also been known to be highly moddable; Crysis is probably the most heavily modded game behind Half-Life 2 or Oblivion. In many ways, it is the modding community that has kept the sales of Crysis alive after its initial launch by demonstrating the engine's capability, improving performance, and showing off almost impossibly high image quality screenshots. Yet in Crysis 2, there are little graphics options to be found, let alone modding material. The .cry files are missing (meaning you can't edit levels), the .pak files are encrypted (meaning you can't access game assets), the console is locked (so you can't test different settings on the fly), and there's no editor to speak of (whereas Sandbox2 was included with the original Crysis). It's just a huge slap in the face to the modding community that has been faithfully supporting their game all this time.
 
Finally, the game overall lacks polish. Several things about the game are janky, the AI for one: 
 
  (thanks dudeglove for the video link)
  
The animations are also a little wonky, with stiff arms almost reminiscent of GTA III. The same character models and voices are used so much that you'd swear there's no more than a handful of different types of citizens in all of New York City. Again, things like this pretty much causes immersion to evaporate. 
 
Finally, (ending spoiler) 
 
 

All of what I said above might lead you to think that this is a terrible game, but to be fair, it's really not. All of the familiar shooter mechanics are there, it plays reasonably well and its graphics, while flawed, still look better than average. I suppose the most appropriate expression is that the game isn't bad, it's just disappointing considering its lineage. Really, if you're satisfied with other modern shooters then Crysis 2 is just as good or better. But the scary implication is, if even Crytek has succumbed to making "safe" games, who will carry the torch for innovation now?
#1 Posted by Geno (6477 posts) -

So the frequent users of this site here probably recognize me as a rather rabid Crysis fan. I've beaten the game countless times, I mod and tweak it, I take screenshots and I make videos of it. It's a rare game that pushes both technical and gameplay boundaries that hasn't really been met in either area to date. It's only just recently starting to be surpassed technically, which an astonishing feat for an almost 4-year old game, especially on the PC platform.  
  
Naturally, I was fairly excited when Crysis 2 was announced. If Crytek could pull off what they did in 2007, then whatever they were planning on releasing in 2011 must be utterly mind-blowing. Based on past experience, I envisioned running through the boroughs of New York City with super speed, and jumping to perch on whichever ledge I wanted to observe my surroundings. I imagined the gameplay and artistic possibilities in a to-scale version of Central Park. Maybe I could even swim or fly over to the Statue of Liberty?
 
The early promotional material showed promise. First we got to see the new Nanosuit, cool. Then there was the new Cryengine 3 tech, which was also nice. The Wall trailer convinced me that Crysis was building an engaging, emotional experience that would accurately depict New York City on a broad scale. But...the direction slowly deviated as you went along. Looking at the Gametrailers page you can see what I mean. Starting from the bottom up, after the initial suit and tech offerings, we get 3D, Limited Edition Bonuses, and Multiplayer trailers after that. The tone of the trailers changed as well, compare: 
 

  
   
Clearly attempts were made to market to a broader audience. This isn't all bad, as was the case with Dragon Age: Origins, the marketing doesn't necessarily determine the game. I still had full hopes that the game would shape up to be fine.  
 
Then the multiplayer demo arrived. This video pretty much explains it all:
 
   
The servers didn't work, the interface was screwy and there were next to no options, graphics or otherwise, to speak of. Inside the multiplayer itself, killstreaks, hit markers, custom classes and fast respawns made it quite apparent which game it was "inspired" by. The graphics were overall good, but had several flaws and was in no way groundbreaking. My hope was deteriorating. The only thing that saved me from cancelling my pre-order right away was the fact that the multiplayer was made by another studio; perhaps the single player would be a completely different affair.  
 
March 22nd finally rolled along, I installed the game and loaded the first mission. I don't think it's much of a spoiler if I tell you the first 5 minutes of the game involves getting out of a sinking vessel. Strange, because I recall another recent shooter that had a first mission involving getting out of a sinking vessel as well. 
 
 
Coincidence maybe? I played for another couple of hours, and, alas, I reached the end of my rope. The truth was too much to deny anymore. Crytek sold out.
 
I've listed some of my gripes already, but now that I've finished the game I'll revise and expand upon my opinion of the game.    
 
Let's be clear - the game takes cues from popular shooters like Call of Duty and Gears of War. It's linear, scripted, and borrows many key mechanics such as "press X to look at key event or way to progress through mission". You can only traverse one city block at a time (sometimes less), which makes the game feel disjointed and cuts out the exploration aspect altogether. The game feigns to give you a choice in approaching an area, but because the areas are so narrow, you end up with at most two ways, the second way usually just being a simple flank.  
 
This is a far cry from Crysis where the environments were so large that you would get lost without looking at a map. In earlier interviews, developers of the game tried to justify this by saying that it was due to the setting change. This is a bit disingenuous. Games like GTA IV took place in "New York" as well but were fleshed out quite nicely. It doesn't feel like New York in Crysis 2. It feels like different arenas in Moxxi's Underdome Riot (Borderlands). Everything is closed off in every direction (rather convenient that the aliens decided to rip up the roads into neat block sized areas, no?) 
 
The organic feel of the environment is lost as well, and not simply due to the lack of palm trees. Why aren't the buildings crumbling around me as they get hit with explosions and heavy machine gun fire? Why doesn't my movement brush away plants anymore? Why are hot dogs carts and telephone booths apparently indestructible and immovable? If they're so tough, why doesn't the military just make their armor out of whatever those hot dog carts and telephone booths are made of? I think you catch my drift in how the little environmental interactivity detracts from the atmosphere and immersiveness of the game.   
 
Regarding the story, one of the key talking points was that a professional science fiction writer would be heading it. When you hear something like this, you assume that you'll get a genre-breaking story that will instill many different emotions in you. What you get is just the same boiler-plate B-action movie nonsense that's been in games for years. If Richard Morgan really did write a good script then surely it got lost in translation. The story is arguably worse than what's in most contemporary games.  
 
The cast is awkward as well. Nomad and Psycho, the two protagonists of the Crysis and Warhead respectively, seem to be completely forgotten whereas a more minor character like Prophet is put into the spotlight. Not to mention, you pretty much have to have played the first game to even know who Prophet is in the first place, which contradicts their mainstream reach-out since most people probably have never played Crysis before. Perhaps it's a Freudian slip for "profit"? The rest of the characters are well-developed when they are on-screen, but seem to play too little of a role in the actual story for you to care about them. What was needed for the game to have made any impact was something a la Alyx in Half Life 2, but none of that was found here.
 
Crytek games have also been known to be highly moddable; Crysis is probably the most heavily modded game behind Half-Life 2 or Oblivion. In many ways, it is the modding community that has kept the sales of Crysis alive after its initial launch by demonstrating the engine's capability, improving performance, and showing off almost impossibly high image quality screenshots. Yet in Crysis 2, there are little graphics options to be found, let alone modding material. The .cry files are missing (meaning you can't edit levels), the .pak files are encrypted (meaning you can't access game assets), the console is locked (so you can't test different settings on the fly), and there's no editor to speak of (whereas Sandbox2 was included with the original Crysis). It's just a huge slap in the face to the modding community that has been faithfully supporting their game all this time.
 
Finally, the game overall lacks polish. Several things about the game are janky, the AI for one: 
 
  (thanks dudeglove for the video link)
  
The animations are also a little wonky, with stiff arms almost reminiscent of GTA III. The same character models and voices are used so much that you'd swear there's no more than a handful of different types of citizens in all of New York City. Again, things like this pretty much causes immersion to evaporate. 
 
Finally, (ending spoiler) 
 
 

All of what I said above might lead you to think that this is a terrible game, but to be fair, it's really not. All of the familiar shooter mechanics are there, it plays reasonably well and its graphics, while flawed, still look better than average. I suppose the most appropriate expression is that the game isn't bad, it's just disappointing considering its lineage. Really, if you're satisfied with other modern shooters then Crysis 2 is just as good or better. But the scary implication is, if even Crytek has succumbed to making "safe" games, who will carry the torch for innovation now?
#2 Posted by BraveToaster (12590 posts) -

I wish they would have released Crysis. I feel like I'm missing out on something when I start a sequel without experiencing its predecessor.

#3 Posted by Taklulas (401 posts) -

tl;dr  
 
but really now, I agree with most of what you said. I love both games but the lack of open world kinda killed it a bit for me. but its still a amazing game to me, much as the first one was for me.

#4 Posted by Jack268 (3387 posts) -

These are exactly my impresisons, and I'm only 1 hour into the game. It's the best call of duty game in a long time, but it's the worst Crysis game.

#5 Posted by Taklulas (401 posts) -
@Jack268 said:
" These are exactly my impresisons, and I'm only 1 hour into the game. It's the best call of duty game in a long time, but it's the worst Crysis game. "
if this really was a COD game, it would be mindblowing lmao.
#6 Posted by Toms115 (2316 posts) -

great write up. i haven't played crysis 2 and i only played crysis up until my pc couldn't handle any more, but i understand your complaints.

#7 Posted by EuanDewar (4752 posts) -

I never quite got the strong amount of love surrounding the open natured gameplay of Crysis 1. Maybe it was just me but simply running around shooting dudes never really going out side of the default armor power always worked for me, I understand that maybe if you take the more strategic route that might be more satisfying but I never really felt the need to take it. Also the aliens in the latter half really bothered me, just no fun to fight against. 
 
But anyways thats a massive tangent, from what i've played Crysis 2 seems Ok, its not the worst thing ever and even if its ambitions are much smaller it still works on that base level. Anyway, great write up duder, always cool to see someone else's perspective on this sort of thing. 

#8 Posted by RoyCampbell (1096 posts) -

I couldn't finish it. Crysis 2 got boring, monotonous, and frustrating. I quit right around the time alien presence was more prevalent.
 
Also, I might be the only one that thinks this, but that suit isn't what it's chalked up to be.

#9 Posted by Xolare (1273 posts) -
#10 Posted by JoyfullOFrockets (1177 posts) -
@Xolare said:
" What broke it for me was: 
 
 As far as I know, it wasn't really gone in-depth on why this happened. "
I actually liked that, though halway through I began to see it coming.
 
I loved almost every part of the game. I can see why many people find glaring flaws, but they don't seem to bother me at all.
#11 Posted by BasketSnake (1155 posts) -

"Hey, army guy with your futuristic high-tech laser weaponry! Aliens have invaded us. Stop them!" It was fine, nothing special.

#12 Posted by Bollard (5245 posts) -

This is exactly why this game went from "Must Buy" to "Maybe later" in a matter of months for me. The shift in focus from the trailers, the shoddy quality of the demo, and the fact it was blatantly trying to be COD and not sticking to the way Crysis was unfortunately pushed me away. Plus I swear Crysis still looks better than Crysis 2. CryEngine 3 doesn't seem as good as 2 to be honest.  
 
Good blog.

#13 Posted by Marz (5642 posts) -

  yes the AI could be better.

#14 Edited by SunnyD (49 posts) -

Guy walk throughout the final level on veteran difficulty. Spoilers obviously.
 
  

#15 Edited by SpudBug (633 posts) -

    I didn't feel like the "open world" added much to the original crysis.  
 
A lot of it was just directing you to waypoints anyway.. 
 
I thought warhead had much better pacing and was a more fun game overall even though it was less open. 
 
And the AI was awful in crysis 1 too. Probably as bad or worse than Crysis 2.  
  

   
  
  
Using the powers was much easier and made more sense design wise than the first game, I thought. 
 
I do think that some of the suit upgrades make the game too easy, but I thought the first game and warhead were pretty easy as well. 
#16 Posted by FancySoapsMan (5806 posts) -

It's probably because I never played the original Crysis, but I'm really enjoying Crysis 2.

#17 Edited by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -
@SpudBug:  That looks like utter bullshit to me.  I've never seen the AI act like that at all and I've played and completed Crysis many times on every difficulty setting.  Even the comments seem to back up my point of view.
 
Video #1 - Horrible AI:-

 

  • lol that shit never happens to me in crysis. LOL Low Settings Timbojones0123 10 months ago 27


  • THAT'D WHY YOU SHOULD ALWAYS PLAY IN DELTA(VERY hard) mode , if they see you, ur dead, and they talk korean! dfghj241 4 months ago 13



  • Was AI that dumb in Crysis 1? :D I played it at least a dozen times however I don't remember the enemy being so stupid :D holodock 5 days ago


 Video #2 - Extremly (sic) Dumb AI:-
  

People don't realize that this is an old ass video. OF THE DEMO.


UnrealLord 1 year ago 34
 
this is beta its old old old and plus the new crysis AI is worst
zozanday 1 week ago


 
Sorry, but those videos do not relate to any experience I've ever had with the game.  I did certainly suffer poor performance and saw some stability issues with Crysis until it was patched a couple of times but never, ever saw the AI acting like that.
 
I know you'd like to use this 'evidence' as some way to equalize the two games but honestly all it does is clarify just how poor the AI is the in second outing and how poor the Crysis 2 overall in comparison to the first.  Also, your post smacks of desperation.
#18 Edited by Geno (6477 posts) -
@SeriouslyNow: Crysis 1 definitely had some AI issues even after the final patch (as evidenced by the wide berth of AI improvement mods, and why people like NanosuitNinja make their own custom configs for AI in order to get more of a challenge), it's just that the AI in Crysis 2 is much, much worse. Like worse bugs, and more often. But even so, it's not fair to say that Crysis 1's AI was pristine or anything because it simply wasn't, it was just more or less forgivable given the size and scope of the environment and gameplay, and the time at which it was released. 
#19 Posted by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -
@Geno:  I never experienced anything like what's in those videos.  And yes, regarding the size of maps I was going to say the same thing.  I can say that I've seen one or two enemies I could walk right behind and they'd never see me, even if I wasn't cloaked, but that was rare and not often repeatable, but still nothing at all like those vids.
#20 Posted by rmanthorp (3873 posts) -
@SunnyD said:
" Guy walk throughout the final level on veteran difficulty. Spoilers obviously.
 
  
"
I. LOVE. THIS. VIDEO. 
 
It is so awesome!
Moderator
#21 Posted by Geno (6477 posts) -
@SeriouslyNow said:
" @Geno:  I never experienced anything like what's in those videos.  And yes, regarding the size of maps I was going to say the same thing.  I can say that I've seen one or two enemies I could walk right behind and they'd never see me, even if I wasn't cloaked, but that was rare and not often repeatable, but still nothing at all like those vids. "
Oh, in that video specifically? No, me neither, but Crysis 1 did certainly have its own AI quirks, just to a much lesser degree than Crysis 2 (which makes no sense chronologically). 
#22 Posted by Jazz (2142 posts) -

You know what broke it for me. 
You can't go prone. I push the Z button  and nothing happens. 
 
seriously though, i agree with the whole 'arena' aspect of the levels. It's a corridor shooter, but the corridors are just bigger...and thats not what Crysis was about. Also the stealth in the game sucks, and when everyone comes running (15+) if one dude sees you in a small block..thats just boring. I rarely if ever had this problem in the original game, yet the closed nature of the levels it begins to grate. 
That and it's not really that much fun to play.  
 
I'd compare it to going from Predator to Predator 2, an obvious comparison i know..but it works.

#23 Posted by DonPixel (2585 posts) -

there are bussines realities

#24 Posted by AhmadMetallic (18955 posts) -

god damn this is a sad sad fucking thread 
 
why must they all fucking sell out... Crysis 1 was such a stupendous masterpiece, why did that have to fucking end?

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