junior_ain's Crysis 2 Maximum Edition (Steam) (PC) review

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Crysis decided to be like other derivative, forgettable shooters.

The first Crysis, as I’ve written about in a previous review, is much more than an average first-person shooter. The fact you had at your disposal the possibilities of your “super suit” actually made it a much more dynamic experience than what we were accustomed. Things haven’t changed much, FPSs maintain the “all flash, no substance” unofficial motto, so clear in much of today’s games. The fact that it’s probably the most mainstream game genre in recent times just made it all worse.

The stale state of the industry when it comes to FPS is in no way breaking news. The last time I was actually excited about a new release for the genre was back in 2012 when Valve decided to give its second complete revamp on the Counter-Strike series. Absolutely nothing new there, extremely fragile characters in endless rounds which 50% of the time was being held in Dust2. Old formula redone, at least redone right.

When you leave the more competitive side of gaming aside, you’re face to face with lots of graphically advanced on-rail shooters equipped with online multiplayer as some kind of marketing ploy. No matter, in a few weeks everyone will have decided the multiplayer is useless. On the other end of the spectrum there’s online multiplayer on steroids which, for the sake of argument and old habits, feature a depressing single player mode. Devs, if you want to release a multiplayer product which will undoubtedly deliver the online experience of people shooting other people for kills, so be it. Nothing else is required, focus on what you think your game excels.

Crysis is a single player game. It’s so obvious that since multiplayer is capable of prolonging your product for years and maybe decades — Counter-Strike 1.6 is still one of the most played games on Steam (and the planet), ranking ahead of its direct remake Counter-Strike: Source. That’s longevity. — everyone wants that, but it’s not easy to build a fanbase, several types of aspects must be taken in consideration.

When the first Crysis was released they reused all the work done with the CryEngine to craft a cousin game called Warhead. Basically a whole new point of view of the approach taken by Nomad in the debut; which was cool and all. Then they decided to release a stand-alone game just for multiplayer which had “failure” written all over; and it indeed was a failure. The mechanics weren’t bad at all, but nothing that could hook players in and form a faithful player base. Since the stream of new players would diminish at each passing week due to hype wearing off the prospect for Crysis Wars was doomed to fail.

It did fail. Recently there has been news about matchmaking official servers being shutdown for several games ranging from PC to handhelds like Nintendo DS. Sad but necessary. Crysis Wars was something else though, most games would lose their multiplayer option but Crysis Wars was purely a multiplayer game. There’s nothing more to it than pitting humans over the internet to control pixel characters and wreak havoc in deathmatch or any of the gaming modes available. The game itself was obsolete, not a problem of technology advancing, it simply needed players and it won’t get any.

Sure, the modding community will still have a blast with those and try to figure out a way to make community servers possible, maybe P2P connection for friends to have some fun or simply see how Crysis would react in a multiplayer deathmatch scenario. Still, there’s no denying that the original idea was flawed and served only as a selling point. If that’s all you can offer, then don’t. Players can easily choose Counter Strike for multiplayer and be sure that Valve will keep it updated and relevant for at least a long time.

The second installment in the Crysis franchgise was met with imediate hype. The reason was basically the same as the first, are the graphics the best thing seen on a PC? Do the graphics surpass the original? Sometimes people forget the reason Crysis was a blast wasn’t because of graphics, it really wasn’t. It was a selling point, it was a gimmick most gamers today would find amusing; sure. There was more.

Crysis 2 is stripped of some features present in the first game, sometimes you can sww why that was the case, sometimes you just wonder why they took it off. The suit mechanics are simpler this time. The speed mode was taken off and the strength mode was merged in a simplified “power mode” that is turned every time one of the two main modes aren’t enabled.

In power mode you can super jump, sprint and slide. This makes everything easier since you don’t have to actually enable strength mode to super jump, just hold space bar to grab ledges and stuff. The speed you used to reach in speed mode is no longer possible and a regular sprint is done when running, draining suit energy every time you do so. In fact you can run with any of the other two main modes turned on, the energy will be drained rapidly but can be done.

The armor mode is made for those who seek direct combat. The primary source of health drained will be energy from the suit, after that your own health will go down. This increases your chance of survival by a great margin especially in harder difficulty levels, where you’ll actually have an excuse to use one or the other.

The stealth mode makes the character invisible for as long as your energy allows. Any damage taken will go directly to your health so if you choose to be stealthy you need to take things slowly, or else you’ll probably fail. The faster you move the faster your energy will go down. A bar showcasing the awareness of your enemies toward you might help deciding when and how to stealth.

The health bar was scrapped off and I can only imagine why they would do something like that. Health in the first Crysis was regenerative but at least you could see how much you had or how long you should wait. In Crysis 2 it works like Gears of War for example, the overall HUD starts to change when you’re taking damage, to a point where you know you’re in trouble. It takes a while to get used to it but I still think it wasn’t necessary. Your health regenerates faster but you’re somewhat much more fragile than in the predecessor. Any action badly thought out in higher difficulties will result in instant death.

Another feature not present are quick saves, or any type of saving system for that matter. No need to worry, you don’t have to beat the game in one sitting, it simply works with automatic checkpoints rather than free saving. One might argue that it’s better when it comes to challenge, you can’t chop hard moments in several quick saves. Still, people often forget that they don’t necessarily need to quick save, so a system that pleases both worlds would be much better. It’s sad when someone uses arguments like feeling inclined to use just because it’s there, have some mental strength and play the game the way you see fit.

Graphically the game doesn’t seem as incredible looking than the first Crysis. It’s still amazing but the insane level of detail that used to rip computers to shreds is not so abundant now. It’s actually surprising how optimized this sequel is. My computer is not necessarily above average and it ran like heaven. I increased the level of detail twice in the beginning because my guess wasn’t spot on at first. I still had a fluid gameplay almost at the highest settings.

So what’s the main problem with Crysis 2? Compared to the first one this is practically an on-rail shooter. The first one had its world spanning way too much, this one you just need to hit “w” to find the right way to go. The collectibles make a fair point when it comes to a second play-through. Also, when you shoot down aliens you can collect some kind of currency called Nano Catalyst, you can use it to enhance your suit with stuff like less stealth energy drained or faster switch between modes.

Another letdown is the story, or the fact it tried a little too hard to be relevant. I lost count on how many cutscenes I just couldn’t skip and how boring they were. On my first play-through I was just overwhelmed with military tactical jibber-jabber thrown at my face. I just couldn’t keep up with all the ramifications the story had to go through. A game like this could do pretty well with a story like: “aliens have arrived, be a bad enough super-suit dude and save the president”. I would applaud that.

On my second play-through I could see some sense in everything but it was all too unworldly for me still, I just wanted to shoot stuff and apply what I had learned about the suit in tougher encounters with people/aliens. I’m sure it had something to do with saving the planet and the entire human race though.

With Crysis 2 you get an extremely linear game with simpler yet functional game mechanics than its former installment. The soul that made Crysis something spectacular is still there, it’s just buried beneath a bad attempt at story-telling, map crafting and less resources available. It’s not a bad game, just more like anything else than something that thrives to go beyond.

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