Its been something console gamers have long awaited: the release of Crysis on the Xbox 360 and PS3. While we are still not getting the first game, at least we get the sequel. Having never had a PC powerful enough to run the original game, it is awesome to finally be able to play a game from the franchise. And what a game it is.
A squad of regular Marines is on a mission to rescue a man named Nathan Gould. While on their way to the waypoint, they are attacked and only one man survives. While laying there, groggy as all get out, he sees what looks like a vision of a superhuman that rescues him and fends off the enemy.
Soon enough, it is revealed that New York City is in turmoil, its people being infected by a strange disease, the politicians doing nothing but looking out for themselves and, to top it off, an independent military has taken control of the streets.
The next scene is so good that I would hate to ruin it for you; it is so emotionally impacting that it sets the stage for the entire game. Lets just say that eventually you end up getting a super human suit of your own and are tasked with saving the day.
Crysis 2 tells a story that has all the elements that many other games also have. Namely, there are aliens, infections, bad guys and morally confused scientists that created the superpowers that you currently use. Sound familiar? However, Crytek managed to make this story seem unique & they put in enough heart, detail and polish to make it memorable. In addition , the characters are interesting and will make you care about what happens to them.
During the game, there are a variety of ways the story told. There is the overarching storyline dealing with the aliens and the spore that has contaminated many citizens. Then there is the story that deals with how the nano-suit came to fruition and what is happening to it now and why. Next, there is the plot about how you came to be in your current situation. Although these are slightly separated, they eventually all feed into one overall experience full of mystery, intrigue, action and revelations. It is a little confusing, but eventually, it does make sense and it is worth sitting through the cut scenes to understand the greatness that Crytek has created.
Speaking of cut scenes, I would like to compliment Crytek on their implementation of this critical game component. They made sure that every scene was intricately filled with everything they wanted to show. In other words, they did not skimp on the scenes; this made the story so much more real and it prevented a lot of the confusion that often happens in video game stories. Some may say that cut scenes in the game are too long, but although they are long, I appreciated the effort they obviously put into them. Even the character models are finely crafted and they rank up there among the best, although they are still not perfect. For example, lip syncing is a small problem.
Does the gameplay hold up to the same standards as the story? Yes, it does. Basically, you are the ultimate soldier that can do anything and take on the most difficult assignments. You wear a nanosuit that literally attaches itself to your body and forms a symbiotic, syncing relationship with it. However, in this relationship, you get the better deal. You are granted the ability to be invisible. Or have super speed and strength. Perhaps a grenade has been thrown too close your person. One simple press of the RB button and the suit tightens up, building a heavy layer of webbing that protects you from the effects of the blast until the suit runs out of energy. Super jumping is also a trait that is enabled with the suit’s mighty powers. The best part about the suit is that, even though the energy runs out frequently, it is quick to recharge and you will hardly ever be without a power that you desperately need.
Using these powers in combat is truly one of the best moments you will ever experience in your video game life. At first, it took me awhile to shed my typical FPS gaming habits (the cover and shoot, if you will.) Often this led to me to my untimely death, even when using my newfound nano suit of incredibleness. But, once I ACTUALLY started using the powers, by running around in stealth mode taking out enemies and then using my Supermanerrific speed or jumping skills to get out of there, I found that the gameplay was much more rewarding. This suit of all trades could also be upgraded. Collecting alien DNA allows you to customize the various features of your suit. Simply press “Select” and you can do all sorts of stuff. One option was to allow you see a bullet’s trajectory before it hit you. Decreased energy loss was another upgrade. In total, there are 16 upgrades spread across four menus. You can only have four of these active at a time though. Your guns can also be upgraded in a similar way. Basically, your a walking arsenal that can pick and choose between weapons and abilities that are available at your fingertips. I can’t even begin to express how much innovation there is in the customization options. Nevertheless, often times, the nature of the game prevents you from feeling like a total bad ass all the time.
For one, your nano suit alerts you to when there are tactical options available to use. For example, it may alert you to the presence of a re-suppply station or sniping spot. However, often 3 or 4 of these markers will show up at once, and they are meant to be completed in a specific order. But, Crytek also wanted to give you the option to plan your own attacks and use your own tactics. Therefore, if you perfectly replicate the steps of their plan, using the tactical options, it most likely will turn out well. If you fail a step, or you try to use your own tactics, the environment basically just turns into a standard firefight. Admittedly it is still a firefight that you can use your suit in, but is still more or less the firefight that have you played in countless other games. It seems as though the game could have had more paths and options to use a in the areas that you mess around in. For instance, once I could not find my way out of a building. There were numerous windows, platforms and other things where I could have used my nano-tuxedo to break out, or climb out , but the level was set up in such way that I could only go out one way. Unfortunately ,the game wanted me to find a tiny, obscured lock in the basement to progress. It took me 15 minutes of running around the stairwells to finally stumble upon the solution. While writing that, I realized that there was one more little error in game design. Selecting guns and equipment to use was time consuming. To open doors, the main character had to literally look at the handle of the door. The same applied to trying to pick up guns on the floor. Just one little annoying trait that was often maddening.
Also, the game rarely needs you use all your abilities. I ran around the game using the stealth & armor options the most, and I didn’t use the other combos as much as I wanted too. Sometimes, yes, they were extremely useful, but rarely did feel like I NEEDED them. More levels that required platforming or running/sliding would have been appreciated.
Finally, the last fault with the game is the AI. Sometimes, they were super smart, and seemed as though they had eyes in the back of their head. Other times, these enemies were complete idiots, not seeing me run to them until I was at their throat. And then there the glitched ones. These buggy bad dudes would get stuck in the terrain, run into parked cars or go around in circles. It was a laugh riot for sure, but it was also awfully disheartening. I actually felt pity for them a few times.
All in all though, when used correctly, the suit is source of awe inspiring power that will make you feel like a true super soldier. At the same time though, it was as if the suit was so powerful, the developers had to overcompensate in level design to make it so that the game was not just piece of cake. Unless I am really missing something though, I think more tactical options for the PLAYER to choose would have been a stellar idea and one that could have provided the challenge that gamers like.
Now, the moment you have all been waiting for. The first Crysis has been the game that PC players flock to to set the bar for video cards. This game does not disappoint on the Xbox 360 either. All the art assets are crazy detailed to the finest degree, and it is stunning. It is readily apparent that graphics were lovingly created.
I also really liked the art direction of the game. A devastated city would normally just be boring colors. But this game’s color palette included much brighter colors, like silver, blue and orange that made the everything feel futuristic, and it improved the atmosphere of the game even more.
Hans Zimmer composed the soundtrack to Crysis 2, and, as usual, he hit it out of the park. A mix of techno beats, classical style and modern orchestra, I couldn’t get enough of it. The spookier parts of the game are perfectly exacerbated by the creepy tracks, and the faster songs pump up the adrenaline to max levels during action sequences. If there was one feature that I had to pick as my favorite from the game, it would be soundtrack. Voice acting is also quite good, as is virtually every sound that you will hear in the game. Every weapon sounds different, and every audio cue is right on the money.
Multi-player in Crysis 2 is also a treat, especially if you like twitchy, one burst kills. Plus, you can use your nanosuit in this mode, and that is great. Of course, there are those who abuse the suit, and who camp while invisible. Luckily, you can use your superhuman traits to take down these game wreckers, and it usually ends up being pretty fun. Using all your combat effectiveness with the suit is just as key in the online modes as it is in single player, and its just as fun too. The suit changes up the FPS formula so well that it almost feels like less of shooter and more of an all out war. A war where every advantage must be taken, and where you can’t just rely on your gun, reflexes and headshots.
Online playing will also keep the game going for a long time after you have finished. There are hundreds of unlockable dog tags to score, and there are plenty of weapons and other collectibles to get. Of course, there are also custom class options and these must be unlocked too.
Kill streak rewards are another way the game innovates. To get a kill streak award, you have to actually collect the dog tags of your fallen opponent. This slows the ultra killers down and prevents people from getting to the better stuff too fast. It also allows those who are not as good at the game to collect the tags their comrades missed and use the special rewards themselves. Overall, this is another unique feature that helps Crysis set the bar for the modern shooter.
The other really cool thing that Crysis multi-player features is the kill cam. It not only shows you where they guy who shot was, it also shows what weapons and suit powers he was using when he got you. It does move very quickly though, so you have to know what your looking for, or read it fast. Luckily, it can help you find different play styles that may make you a better player. This feature is another indication of just how much attention the developers put into this game.
All in all, one of the most frustrating parts of the game is the loading times. It takes as much as 1 minute to get into a multi-player match AFTER the lobby finishes choosing a map and waiting in between matches. Single player loading times are also atrocious. Waiting so long in between battles is awful, and it may be the worst part of the game.
In conclusion though, this game is something all shooter fans should play. The engaging story is complemented with fun gameplay and the graphics & audio make it all the better. Even the errors in level design and AI are overshadowed by the other fine parts of the experience. Multi-player is another high point in the game’s repertoire of superb elements. This is a game that will not disappoint you.