Saturday, 16 April 2011

Crysis 2 Review

There is one part in Crysis 2 that sums up my overall feeling for the game. In this sequence, you watch from a distance as Central Park rises up from the ground. To say this looks fantastic is an understatement but while you are watching this awesome spectacle, people you have been in radio contact with throughout the game shout in panic “Central Park is rising from the ground!” and “May god help us all…” A perfect example of just how over the top Crysis 2 can be. With a story that has little interest but stunning visuals, one cannot help but compare Crysis 2 to a summer blockbuster. But this is interactive entertainment and gameplay is where Crysis 2 really shines over other first person shooters.

Crysis - PC
From what I played of Crysis on the PC, it had stunning visuals in a massive jungle environment that allowed you to approach many of the missions in what gameplay style you preferred thanks to the Nanosuit. With the sequel now being available across three platforms, one could not help but wonder if Crytek would make a worthy sequel and retain the same quality we saw in the original. The answer is a mixed bag. 

I would like to give more information on the story but truth be told I could not care less. This is, after all, a first person shooter and I learnt a long time ago that FPS are not the place to go for a deep engaging storyline (with a few exceptions, of course). There are alien invasions, people trying to kill you for your ability enhancing suit and a deadly virus that is wiping out New York City. Maybe if I had bothered to complete Crysis I would be following the story better but even after reading up on the whole thing I cannot seem to bring myself to care about what is happening nor the characters.

Crysis 2
The setting for Crysis 2 takes place in New York City that has fallen under Marshall Law due to a deadly virus. This is also in the midst of an alien attack leaving the city a worn torn urban battle ground. It’s a bold step away from the open jungles of Crysis but some of the visuals in Crysis 2 look fantastic. Crytek throw all the punches at you, having you witness buildings explode, bridges collapse and helicopters crashing through more buildings. All of this is executed beautifully. I’m sure there are people that would happily go over the game with a fine tooth comb and complain there may be a texture off here and it may not match up to the original game. Ignore these naysayers. Crysis 2 boasts some of the best visuals today.

What truly makes Crysis 2 stand out from other shooters today is the Nanosuit. The suit enhances the player’s abilities, making you stronger, faster and giving you stealth and armour abilities. However, the suit does not make your character invincible or overpowered. Using the suit drains energy which means planning when and where to use the suit is always a must. Thanks to the tactical mode at the start of every area, you can easily plan your routes, choosing to take a stealthy option or grab the nearest and biggest gun you can find and blast your way through with your armour on. The choice is yours and it’s a flexibility we rarely see amidst the linear shooters that litter consoles today. You are even given a variety of upgrades, both for the suit and your weapons. These become unlocked as you progress through your first playthrough and remain unlocked once you finish the game, offering replay. Tweaking your guns to your liking is a very welcomed option. Attachable shotguns and grenade launchers, an assortment of scopes and laser sightings all allow you to customize your preferred weapon to your liking. You can even put a silencer on your shotgun for those that wish to feel like a supersized Anton Chigurh.

There are a few issues I have with Crysis 2. Unable to skip cut scenes can make starting a mission again after you have died tiresome. One particular instance that irked me was the beginning of a vehicle level. The level starts with you sat on a slow moving tank while you listen to people chatter over the radio. Each time I died I had to sit and listen to this conversation again and again. The radio chatter can also become annoying. There were a few instances when characters would be shouting over each other to get your attention and it is hard to hear what anyone is saying through the static and people incessantly bellowing in your ear. These small, personal issues aside, Crysis 2 can, in some ways, feel like a step back from the original. Essentially, you are still boxed in. While you are free to tackle many of the open areas whichever way you like, it loses the openness and freedom of the original. This isn’t to say the areas you have to tackle in Crysis 2 are not big. They’re just not big. But these ‘baby sandbox’ scenarios are so richly detailed it is easy to forgive this step back. In no way are the size of these levels more apparent once you complete one and have to find a way out of it. With the loss of freedom from the original, it can be a sad reminder that you are boxed in when trying to find the next check point that in some cases, can be frustratingly difficult to find, only to kick yourself when you realised you ran past the exit several times. The enemy AI can also make some dreadful errors. While they can easily put up a fight and make some areas quite a challenge, you will occasionally find a lone solider aimlessly running into a wall completely oblivious to what is going on around him.

With all that said, I wouldn’t let these few niggling issues stand in the way of something that feels incredibly fresh amongst first person shooters today. PC gamers may feel let down by what feels like a watered down sequel. But console gamers should rejoice at having something that stands out from the usual corridor shooters today. It looks great; the gameplay is solid and offers something very few shooters offer today – choice.

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