grumbel's Crysis 2 (PC) review

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Brilliant tech coupled with pathetic game design and lots of bugs

Oh boy, lets start with the good stuff. Crysis 2 looks really pretty and runs really well on my not-so-fast computer (Core Duo 1.8Ghz, ATI HD5670) when turning down the details and switching to DirectX10. Especially the way it handles motion and focus blur has a realism to it that I haven't seen in other games. The core gameplay is also still solid and retains the armor and stealth modes of your nano suit that allow you to dynamically vary your playstyle from one second to the next.

But enough with the good stuff, there is plenty of bad stuff to talk about. It starts out with the game being extremely buggy, easily the most buggy AAA release I have played in years, and this is well over a year after it's initial release. It starts with really basic stuff, the game regular drops out of fullscreen and into window mode. One can switch back to fullscreen via Alt-Tab, but sometimes the game would get crazy and drop to 1 FPS after that switch, something that could only be fixed by a full restart of the game. The games AI is also glitchy as hell, quite regularly characters would get stuck in terrain and just wildly rotate around till you mercy kill them, othertimes characters would stop moving forward, but not stop walking forward. Even dead characters aren't save from bugs, with arms and legs stretched out instead of properly ragdolled like they should be. Sometimes characters would also spawn in their default pose and take a while to snap into the proper walking pose. The player character wouldn't fair much better and sometimes spawn on-top of random pieces of geometry, instead of properly standing on the ground.

Even when not glitched out, the AI can't exactly impress. When you turn on your suits cloaking device, the enemies will simply stop shooting like you where never there. You'd think knowing that you have a cloaking suit they would be a little bit more agreessive shooting at your last position. As is you can just walk around cloaked and kill enemies one by one without ever having them fighting back in any organised fashion.

The level design is another annoyancy, probably the biggest one of the whole game. The open world'ish levels of Crysis 1 are gone and replaced with your average corridor shooting. The city of Manhatten is essentially dived up into tiny little pieces by high concrete walls or fallen debries and you never get any feel for it actually being a city. Here and there the game tries to offer you a route around an enemies position, but those turn out more confusing then helpful, as you never know if the subway tunnel you walk into actually leads anywhere you want to go. It's true ugly head the level design however only shows when you try to find out where you have to go next. Unlike your regular corridor shooter where the path you have to go to is easily visible, in Crysis 2 it's always well hidden. You get a blue dot on your map, but not any indication how to get there. It's always some random staircase in some random building that leads you to the next corridor section and since there are always quite a few buildings around into which you can walk, it gets really annoying to find the one that has the staircase you need.

Case in point, in one situation for example you get a message over comm that you should grab a vehicle and come and rescue a guy. You are surrounded by vehicles. You can't use any of them. Not even the truck which is supiciously placed right infront of a breakable-looking wall. Jump in the truck, hit the pedal and break the wall? Nope. The truck is just decoration, just like the dozens of other civil vehicles around you. But there in the distance you see a tank. Get there and capture that? Nope, that is an instant-kill tank. You can sneak around it a few times before you get instant-killed, but you can't capture it. The proper solution is to jump into some random sewage tunnel, come back out behind that breakable wall, steal a tank and break the wall from the other side. Completely backasswards.

If the game doesn't have a concrete barrier to place in your way it has no shame to just use a plain old invisible wall like it's 1996 all over again. It doesn't even try to hide them with a police tape or anything, just a straight open path and bam, invisible wall. This is doubly annoying as it doesn't happen when wandering of into weird directions, but when you happen to follow the blue dot on your map.

The games control setup is also lacking in explanation. Grenades apperently have to be select with double dapping Y, but the game doesn't tell you, not even in the option menu. I had to google that after wondering why I can pick up grenades, but no button on my controller would throw them. Rocketlauncher fair no better, after picking up my first one it just disappeared leaving me puzzled. Turns out there is an "inventory" you can select with your dpad, but the game didn't tell me that, I had to press random buttons to find that out.

All those blunders so far might have been forgivable if at least the story would have been enjoyable, but that is no less of a clusterfuck. The first few hours you just run around shooting humans while at the same time an alien invasion is talking place. Working together with the humans, which would be obvious and logical? Nope, can't do that, you have to shoot people without much of a meaningful explanation why. Even worse is that the game actually would have a perfect excuse at this point to make more use of stealth. Friendly soldiers that you don't want to shoot and a nano suit that allows you to stay invisible? How the hell they managed to not use that escapes me, instead of allowing a no-kill run, they put you into plenty of situations where you have to kill the attacking soldiers, they lock you in a room and have them spawning in till you kill them all, literally. All the communication you do never addresses the fact that you are running around murdering good guys.

I really liked the first Crysis and I don't mind games being a little more linear, but Crysis 2 is the most frustrating kind of linear that makes you constantly run in circles trying to find out where to go next, combine that with the bugs, the lack of explanation for the controls and a story, that's not only not good, but borderline offensive and you have one clusterfuck of a game. It's really sad, as none of those problems are really fundamental, a little bit of care in level design, game design and story writing could have easily turning this mess into not only an enjoyable piece, but actually one with a really interesting moral dillema. The potential jumps at you at every corner, but the way they handled it went all the wrong ways.

So far I only played the game for two hours or so. Maybe it will get better, maybe it will get worse, I don't know. But my impression of the game so far is a sad and miserable one.

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