The lights are on
As gamers there are a few things that we really like to kill: aliens, terrorists, mercenaries, zombies, etc. In Crysis 2 you take on aliens and mercenaries in whatever way you see fit. You take on the role of a random soldier codenamed “Alcatraz” who, after suffering a near death experience, happens to get stuck inside a super suit that was used in the original Crysis during an alien invasion of New York City. The suit grants various abilities such as increased armor protection, seeing the trajectory of bullets, tactical options, and even stealth. The premise of the game is merely an excuse to deliver a series of scenarios that have multiple paths to completion and make for some incredibly fun moments. However, not all is sunshine and rainbows in Crysis 2 review land.
I’ll start with what Crysis 2 does right.
The gameplay is mostly satisfying and fun. Though there are a few hiccups (that will be discussed later in this review), Crysis 2 delivers gamers a plethora of ways to reach their objective. Sure, you could run and gun your way through the enemy ranks. But you could also engage stealth mode and sneak your way through. Or you could cause a distraction with an explosion elsewhere and slip away. Or you could use a combination of different approaches. The way the game allows for all of the different approaches to any given scenario is through the different suit modes: stealth, armor, power, and tactical. As you progress through the game you will gain points that you can spend on the different suit powers to fit your play style.
While most games that attempt stealth fall flat on their faces, Crysis 2 implements stealth in a truly satisfying way. When you engage stealth mode, your suit power steadily falls and performing certain actions like performing a stealth kill or firing a gun greatly lower your suit’s power levels. Different meters measure your detection levels and the amount of stealth energy you have remaining.
Armor mode functions in a manner similar to stealth; when engaged it steadily drains power, draining more power when under fire. If all power is lost, Alcatraz will be practically defenseless if he is left out in the open without cover. This mode can also be engaged to limit damage from falling or explosions.
The suit’s power mode is engaged when sprinting, jumping, or lifting/throwing heavy objects. Some of the actions you can perform, like jumping over a single story building or throwing a car, are very satisfying and fun. My one gripe with power mode is that sprinting requires energy. If you have no energy, for example because you were using armor mode in the middle of a firefight, then you have very little means of escaping.
Tactical mode can help avoid frustrations from not being able to sprint away from battles and finding yourself caught without cover. Before each scenario, there will usually be an area where you can assess the situation and map your route, viewing the different options available to you. Your suit switches into a separate mode for this, pointing out different areas of interest and possible advantages of the different map locations.
Another thing that Crysis 2 has going for it is that it is gorgeous. The original Crysis was a source of pride to anyone with a computer expensive enough to run it on its highest graphical settings. Though not as pretty as its PC counterpart, Crysis 2 on the consoles continues to push video game graphical quality.
The sounds are also worth mentioning. While the soundtrack is largely forgettable, the sound effects are very nicely done. One of my favorite aspects of the game, since I tried to use stealth to get through many of the scenarios, was listening to the enemy’s banter and reaction to my actions. Enemy mercs call for back up, speculate as to your whereabouts, and worry about being taken out next.
Now for the areas where Crysis 2 drops the ball.
From a storytelling perspective, Crysis 2 is terrible. The story never gets more complicated than what I will call “Obi-Wan Kenobi Syndrome.” Alien forces are invading, mercenary forces are turning on the army for… some reason, and Alcatraz is the human race’s only hope... because of… something… to do with… his super suit? Honestly, most of the characters are completely forgettable and I did not find myself caring about any of them, or Alcatraz, the stereotypical silent video game protagonist. All of the plot moments are there for the sole purpose of showing off the game’s gorgeous graphics or for putting Alcatraz in interesting situations.
A note about the visuals: While the graphics in Crysis 2 are amazing, the setting is very generic. Yes, there are your typical “WOW” moments, but for the most part it feels like a generic alien invasion game. There is nothing really special about it besides the super suit that makes the game fun.
The final sequence of the game is… not great. There are some moments in Crysis 2 that take advantage of the whole “fighting an unknown alien race” thing, but the final battle curiously fumbles that concept. In the middle of the game you face off against a gigantic alien tank/walker. It is a difficult fight, but one that you feel accomplished for completing. The final battle I spammed the melee button and won. Maybe that was not how I was supposed to approach the final battle, but even if I had not fought it that way; the final alien encounter is just weak.
To finish up: Crysis 2 is a refreshing break from the linear gameplay and gunplay found in COD or Halo or Uncharted. You can tackle situations as you see fit and the lack of chest-high walls is great (a bit of a pet peeve for me). The sound is good, the music; forgettable. The concept is as old as video games and feels like a pretext for the gameplay, but the poor storytelling does make it hard to replay the game more than once or twice. Overall, Crysis 2 is a high quality game and a blast to play, just don’t expect a great story or terribly memorable visuals despite their high quality.
Concept: Aliens invade Manhattan with a few twists. Generic schlock.
Art Design: Beautiful, but generic.
Sound: Guns sound like guns, and soldiers respond to your actions.
Playability: A blast to approach any situation from any angle you wish. Runs smoothly.
Replay Value: Moderate
Is It Fun?: Yes.
Recommended For: People who are tired of the linear gunplay found in COD.
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