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    Crysis 2

    Game » consists of 37 releases. Released Mar 22, 2011

    Set three years after the original Crysis, an ambushed Marine named Alcatraz dons the famous Nanosuit and fights his way through an obliterated New York City to stop the alien invasion.

    marlow83's Crysis 2 (Xbox 360) review

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    Graphics do not a game make

    Full disclosure: I never played Crysis or Crysis Warhead. I didn’t have a computer that could run them, or hell, run any modern game, back in 2007. But I was aware enough to respect Crysis for what it was: a sort of “Far Cry with super technology” gameplay experience that changed what everyone thought game graphics could be. What I mean to say is, it was pretty. So now Crysis 2 has come along, and a lot of the fans of the firstCrysis and its expansion have critisized it for its linearity, stating that it’s not a “real” Crysis game, even though it’s only the second full game in the series, and fans never know what the fuck they’re talking about anyway. Now, because I have no previous experience with the series, I won’t sit here and say Crysis 2 is a mediocre release because it is linear. It’s mediocre for a lot of other reasons. 

    The game’s roughly 9 hour campaign opens up with a quality Newsreel style FMV sequence that depicts New York City in chaos, with riots ensuing because of a scare of a deadly virus that has infected many people all over the country. After this, we are introduce to the player character, a special operations soldier named Alcatraz (Yes, really) sitting with his team in a submarine. Your mission is to enter New York City and find a man named Nathan Gould, a leading scientist who has studied the virus that has infected New York City. However, upon arriving at New York, your submarine is attacked, and after escaping the sub, you emerge from the water and are presented with a war-torn city, the result of an invasion of the Ceph, the alien race from the first game. After your team gets killed, you meet Prophet, your team leader in the original Crysis. Prophet takes Alcatraz to an abandoned building, where Prophet gives you his suit and sends you on your mission to find Gould.

    I won’t spoil the rest of the plot, but I will say that it could have been a great story were it not let down by the game’s poor writing. Each character has their own reasonable motivation for their actions (except for the Commander Lockhart), and the revelations regarding the origin of the Ceph, the relationship between the suit and its wearer, and the backstory of one of the central characters could have been really interesting. However, the subplots about the nanosuit and the Ceph are made eye-rollingly stupid because of the script. Both subplots are clearly trying to be told ambiguously, but they fail completely in that effort. The end result is a story that tries far too hard to be cryptic, when it could have had a lot more impact if it were told in a more straightforward manner.

    A lot of the fault can be attributed to Jacob Hargreave, the rich megalomaniac your character encounters in the game. Hargreave is essentially an idealistic Andrew Ryan wannabe, with a fairly bad voice actor to boot. It’s a shame that Hargreave’s character is so weak, because he single handedly ruins those two subplots. He also ruins his own arc, which ends in a twist that could have been a hell of a shock, but instead falls completely flat. The other characters’ voice acting is not particularly good either. The man who plays Nathan Gould is decent, but he has to deliver some incredibly stupid lines (“I’m just a geek conspiracy nut!”). The voice acting for Colonel Barclay, a man you take orders from in the second half of the game, and Commander Lockhart, the human antagonist, is awful, as both are similarly cartoonish in their gruffness. Tara Strickland, the daughter of Major Strickland from the original Crysis, is just plain bland. Honestly, the best voice work is that of the generic enemies; it easily the most convincing (Weirdly, Bruce Johnson, the man who voices the Sergeant from the Bad Company Series does some generic voices). Also, Alcatraz has a brief speaking role, in which he delivers the best line in the entire game.

    While I’m discussing good points of the story, I have to mention the ending. I won’t spoil it, but let me say this: Crysis 2 was one of the few games I’ve played in recent years that ends with a phenomenal sense of triumph. Few games nowadays, especially FPS games, end in such a manner, and it is refreshing to see a game with an ending that feels like a victory.

    Crysis 2’s strength is found in its core gameplay, which is derived from the nanosuit 2.0, which lets the wearer use certain abilities. The main ability is the power ability, which is the default status of the suit. Power allows the player to grab objects and enemies, jump high, execute powerful, charged up melee attacks (and worthless, weak melee attacks), and to execute a completely useless ground-pound move. Other abilities include speed (the game’s sprint function), stealth, and armor. Stealth allows the player to don a cloaking device and move around mostly unnoticed. Lastly, Armor allows the player to be more resistant to bullets. All of these powers drain the suit’s power meter, preventing the player from abusing these abilities. Also, basic movement in Crysis 2 is genuinely excellent. The player can slide and climb objects with wonderfully realized animations. There is an excellent, however uneccesary, first person cover mechanic in the game. However, most of the controls are pure Call of Duty, with the majority of the actions/button mapping being exactly the same. This isn’t necessarily a flaw, but it goes a long way toward making Crysis 2 feel like an awfully generic title, since the actual gameplay is full of the same old “left trigger aim/right trigger shoot” normalcy that fills the modern shooter market. The exceptions to this are the mapping of the suit powers, and double tapping the weapon swap button to use grenades. The latter is a terrible control decision,and I never used grenades as a result. There is also a weapon modification unlock system in place, in which the player finds, say a Scarab rifle with a red dot sight on a dead body. After picking up that gun, the player can add that dot sight to any Scarab rifle for the rest of the game

    I hope you like being shiny! 
    I hope you like being shiny! 
    It would seem as though the suit’s powers would alleviate that feeling of saminess, but they end up hurting the game in totally different ways. Well, it’s unfair to accuse all of the powers of hurting the game, when the issue really just lies with the the way new powers are unlocked and upgraded. When aliens are killed, they drop nanotech, which is essentially the in game currency used to add and “enhance” the nansuit 2.0’s powers. Some of these powers, such letting the player see the enemy’s bullet paths, are intersesting and give the player a certain small edge over the AI. But there is one upgrade that transforms that “small edge” into a “game breaking advantage.” This ridiculous power up is stealth enhance. Now, the stealth power in the game functions reasonably well. The suit’s power drops steadily as the player stands still while invisible, and it drops rapidly if the player moves while invisible. Stealth Enhance makes it so the suit’s power drops far slower while moving, to the point where it is possible to stay invisible for incredibly long spaces of time, making it far too easy to sneak by entire god damn platoons of aliens and mercs. There are times where this is a non-issue because the game forces the player to fight, but the player can likely skip 70-80% of the encounters in the game thanks to this ability. Upgrades carry over to additional campaign playthroughs as well, a feature I would have applauded were it not for Stealth Enhance. I’ll put it this way: I had an easier time playing through this game on its hardest difficulty than I did playing this game on normal, all because of that one suit power. 

    The level design is partially to blame as well, given that the game’s linearity makes such easy stealth possible. The levels switch back and forth between hallway crawls and open areas, but the open areas are not anything too fantastically open. The levels never really grow bigger than the size of an average Halo combat area, but they do offer some choice in hwo to tackle objectives. These options are presented through the nanosuit, which tells Alcatraz that there are “Tactical Options Available.” The problem is, these tactical options are largely the same in every area, and normally consist of a resupply area, a “stealth” area (some kind of underground passage, normally), a useable turret, a flanking route (which don’t work when you’re on your own), and a sniping spot. These are relatively useful, since it does relay a lot of information to the player that might have been missed otherwise (especially the stealh routes/turrets), but they are largely inconsequential, since the enhanced stealth ability will allow the player to run right by enemies. The earlier stages in the game still benefit. Also, I found it was far more satisfying to defy the game and come up with my own solutions to situations. For example, I was told to jump down from a building and engage the enmy, but I chose to stay put and pick off the enemy with my sniper rifle. While it is a credit to the game that it provides that kind of choice, the fact that I had to disobey the recommended course of action is an equally negative aspect. 

    Not helping things is the lackluster AI on display. Sometimes, the enemies are proficient, taking cover, calling for reinforcements, and investigating the area for Alcatraz when the player fails to be completely stealthy. But that’s not very often. Often, the AI will run around in circles, run back and forth between two pieces of cover without ever firing, and do other dumb stuff.  Strangely, the alien AI is far worse than that of the CELL troops. They aliens often completely refuse to attack, and when they do, they just rush the player in a move that is more infuriatingly annoying than anything else. The bad AI would be acceptable if there was a lot of variety in the enemies, but alas, there is not. The CELL troops are identical to each other, and the aliens come in the following forms: Alien, Alien with more health, Bigger Alien, and badass squid tank thing. Games that don’t deliver on having great enemy variety absolutely need great AI to justify that shortcoming. And quite simply, the AI never provides a real challenge, so long as the player is competent at the game, or plays with any sort of care. 

    Fortunately, the game is paced extremely well. The opening is loud and intense, but the game backs off afterward to let the player attempt to immerse themselves in the setting, and learn just what is happening to New York. The opening hours are filled with areas that are intended to be approached stealthily. From there, the action builds until the player is exposed to an all out war scenario that is probably one of the best depictions of a ruthless battle I’ve ever seen in a videogame. The game hitting its crescendos at appropriate times assures that the few great setpieces and cinematics (a collapsing building, Central Park getting lifted into the sky) are all impactful and truly awesome. 

    Now, setpieces are nothing without great graphical detail, and Crysis 2surely delivers on that. Simply put, Crysis 2 is the best looking game available on consoles. On PC, its status as “best looking” is surely debatable, but on consoles it is a cold hard fact. On the surface, Crysis 2delivers beauty in a way that no other game has… on consoles. The textures look great, for the most part, the lighting is phenomenal, and the effects (fire, explosions) are a wonder to behold. The sound effects are fine, though the assault rifles sound farily weak. Oh, the water is great. Gotta love games with good looking water. 

    Crysis 2’s status as a technical powerhouse is backed up by its artistic side. Even though the entire game takes place in New York City, Crytek managed to make the game’s environments varied and interesting until the very end. In addition to the streets of New York, the player will visit dirty apartment complexes, mansions, labs, sewers, Central Park, Times Square, a library, and many other areas that have been ruined by the Ceph. The atmosphere in these levels is fantastic, walking through empty streets has a chilling feel to it, as does walking around underground, seeing countless bodybags and people dying of the Ceph’s disease. These small sections really give the player a good idea of hwo severe the damage done to New York has been, and the lives that are at stake.Crysis 2 handles the issue of civilian casulties very well, all thanks to some great atmospheric touches. Also, Crysis 2 does manage to make its large battles feel very large, making the player feel as though they are part of a major conflict. It’s too bad that none of the storytelling backs any of this up. 

    As strong as the graphics are, a myriad of other technical issues made their way into this game. The biggest problem is the frame rate, which dips very heavily when there are a lot of combatants on the screen, or when Alcatraz is getting shot, or whenever the hell it wants, apparently. I am of the belief that a poor frame rate is one of the most daming issues a game can have, and Crysis 2 is no excepetion. The frame rate issues make the game borderline unplayable at times. Crysis 2 suffers from some of the worst clipping issues I’ve ever seen. Often, enemy soldiers will fall through walls, floors, and other parts of the scenery. I also encountered a frequent glitch, where a gun’s clip would not appear in Alcatraz’ hand, but like would float around about a second behind. 

     Look familiar?
     Look familiar?
    There is also multiplayer component, which is really not worth mentioning. It consists of fairly standard shooter modes, with deathmatch, CTF, attack/defend, and all that stuff. It has  a standard perk/gun attachment unlock system, except the perks in question are suit powers. Armor and Stealth are in play in the multiplayer, but are both far less effective. All in all, the Crysis 2 multiplayer is Call of Duty, but with less modes, less guns, and less fun. The only point in the multiplayer’s favor is the quality of the maps. They are all nicely vertical, and they all have a unique look, since they are all based on (or directly ripped from) campaign levels, which,a s I said, are well-varied. The main issue is that it is extremely laggy. When I die in an online shooter, I want to make sure it is because I fucked up. In Crysis 2, it feels like you can bullet after bullet into the competition to no avail, while your enemies can kill with three bullets. There is a killcam in the game, which I watched often, and almost every time watched the killing bullet fly at me through a wall or some kind of cover. I don’t mean they penetrated the cover, they just lagged through it. Speaking of internet issues, I often had trouble actually getting into the games as well. All in all, it’s an uninteresting, uninspired multiplayer mode that probably does nothing but detract from the quality of the overall package.

    Ultimately, Crysis 2 is a failure, and it breaks my heart as much as a videogame that i don’t have any emotional attacment to and will forget about immediately after posting this review can. It has some great controls and solid shooting, and for the most part, it’s fucking gorgeous. It’s just that the game built around those aspects is incredibly poor. The story is bad, the AI is buggy, the multiplayer is stale and uninteresting at best, and the stealth makes it all far too easy. I think the series can recover from this misstep easily, and I want to see more CryEngine 3 on consoles. There’s a lot of promise here, but Crysis 2 is just too incompetent in too many ways to be considered a quality game. 

    Other reviews for Crysis 2 (Xbox 360)

      Not a Great Start But a Great Finish 0

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      3 out of 3 found this review helpful.

      Maximum First Person Shooter 0

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      6 out of 8 found this review helpful.

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