The wait is over. Crysis 2 has finally made it out to the masses but unlike its predecessor, it is available for the Xbox 360 as well as the Playstation 3. For the purpose of this review, the Xbox 360 version was used for review. Crysis 2 had set the bar very high for itself in terms of graphics as one of the best looking games on consoles and PC and to be honest, it did very well but definitely not as highly as was predicted by the online community and all the hype built around it. In this game you are Alcatraz, a marine who is sent to New York on a mission to extract a scientist. You end up in a really cool suit that has many abilities, but to find out how you obtain it, you will have to play the game. As you make your way forward you learn more and more about what is going on and what your role in all this is.
The graphics in Crysis 2 look great, very detailed and the level design really helps with the visuals. The detail and textures on the levels is high as well as on the character models, rarely is there any texture pop-in but it does happen. The lighting again plays a vital role in making this game look amazing and it really does make the daytime levels outstanding. However even with all this CryEngine 3 power there are games that look as good as this one such as Homefront and Call of Duty Black Ops. Where Crysis 2 excels above the others is the scale of the levels and the amount of enemies on screen, some maps are small but a lot of the areas you are in are huge even though this is not an open world game. These levels let you go almost anywhere, even into areas you can die falling to can be accessed with a clever decent. The suit Alcatraz wears itself is a HUD and will react to events, making great effects on the visuals when you are under attack or a ‘cut scene’ is coming up. All cut scenes are in first person apart from the loading screen parts where it seems to be a computer GPS like system that shows what areas of New York you are in. The fact that everything is in first person shows that everything is rendered in real time and does not disconnect the player from the experience.
The game play is tricky to classify because the experience changes significantly between the different difficulties. On Recruit (easy) mode you can run in guns blazing and tear everything apart, truly feel the power of the suit. On Super-soldier (very hard) difficulty, which I spent the most time in, is an entirely different game where stealth is much more important and choosing your battle strategies really comes into play meaning sometimes it’s easier to sneak by an enemy then kill him. On easy the enemies don’t realize you are standing behind them even when you are not cloaked and throwing objects at them but on hard those same enemies will tear you apart in a matter of seconds if they spot you and will investigate your last known position. Apart from their awareness the enemy AI on all difficulties is not that great, many times I have seen enemies running into walls until I shot them or they saw me and ran the other way. Not only will they run into walls but they will check out fallen comrades and allow you to kill them one after another without hassle. Surprisingly it is not always like this but it is hit and miss with the AI. The suit itself does make you feel powerful no matter the difficulty but will take a few chapters to get accustomed to since it is a very different play-style from anything out there but once you find your play-style, it feels marvelous. The versatility of the suit allows many different paths to get to the same objective with a scan mode provided to show possible options which is a great touch since you never feel lost about the situation at hand within a big environment. The checkpoints are also very liberal and well placed, they usually kick in whenever an area is cleared eliminating a lot of frustration if you happen to die as you enter a new area. This checkpoint system also allows you to try multiple things to clear a level to see what works and that was actually quite fun in some areas. The game does seem to feature infinite spawn during certain segments, mainly boss battles. This does not make the game more difficult, just more annoying because they are easy to kill but you may not spot them and have them sneak up on you while trying to shoot a rocket at a giant robot. Once the boss is killed these seem to die instantly or disappear and a checkpoint is given so you can breathe a sigh of relief.
The game is not without its faults, there are a few other issues apart from the dodgy AI. Sometimes it is very confusing trying to figure out where to go, being provided only the point where you have to go sometimes has you running around looking for the proper entrance. There have been a few times where I made it to the area and didn’t realize I had to hit a button to call an elevator because it was not highlighted in any way and the marker was not on it, while other times switches had a glow to them. The guns sometimes disappear as well, where you can pick them up but they are not rendered in the gun crates. I also stumbled onto a piece of scaffold in Time Square that pushed me off, and after that my character had problems moving around that entire section even after reloading the checkpoint making it feel like I was stuck in something while moving around. The biggest problem I had was falling through the world in one part as I was walking around and what made it worse was I hit a checkpoint right after I fell. Reloading just spawned me under the level but luckily the designers made it a lake under the map and I was able to swim up and get back into the game after a few attempts finding the perfect spot. Though the major glitches I am sure won’t happen to everyone but I am sure everyone will get the AI glitches and that you can take as a mini cheat if you are playing on Supersoldier.
The sound in Crysis 2 is great, the dialogue is well thought of and the interactions of the AI are good. There is a lot of small talk happening and checking in happening between the enemies. This really does make it seem like they move as a unit which is pretty impressive because of the scale of the levels. The aliens make plenty of noise while moving around which has made me stop in my tracks realizing there is someone right behind me as I was about to do a stealth kill. Someone with a keen sense of hearing can really put that to use here and have a competitive advantage.
The Multiplayer in Crysis 2 is nothing special, there are a few modes that are expected and nothing big beyond that. There is the standard death match style game in either solo or team flavors. Then you get the king of the hill and capture the flag modes that have some clever names. The leveling up works on EXP in the online and each suit power gets EXP based on how much you use it for the kills you get. If you are doing a lot of stealth kills you will get more EXP towards stealth then other areas and as you level up you unlock new powers. There is the standard Killstreak rewards if you manage to collect fallen enemy’s dog tags, which are also used to unlock more dog tags for yourself. These dog tags are an emblem for your name so you can show your skills off to the online community. These modes are pretty standard but unfortunately this game only supports 6 vs. 6 game play so you will never have huge battles and all the advanced modes only unlock after you reach a certain level with your character. The 12 player cap isn’t so bad though because most of the maps are very compact and the action is kept fairly close.
Crysis 2 is a game many have been waiting for and wondering if it can really run on consoles. The good news is that it can and there is actually an achievement stating that but it doesn’t differentiate itself from all the shooters available out there. It may take upwards of 8 hours to beat making it quite long but the story is a little shaky, especially at the start of the campaign. The suit abilities do give a new game play perspective that no other game can offer and it does look great however once I was finished I personally didn’t feel drawn into the game as much as I wanted to be. This could be due to the fact it was delayed so many times that by the time I played it, the magic just wasn’t there because there are other great single player games out there and games with better multiplayer. This is a great game and a lot of fun, but with all the superb games being released in the last few months, it’s hard for Crysis 2 to stand out from the pack but definitely worth a play. If you are strapped for cash do yourself a favor and rent this, I promise that parts of the game will have you smiling because of how cool it is to have that suit.