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Crysis 2 Review
One look at Crytek's latest game and you can immediately tell it is a step up from the first Crysis. Continually hailed as the greatest looking game of all time, the fact that Crysis 2 tops the first is quite an achievement. Sunlight cascades down onto buildings, creating gorgeous shadows that move and shimmer with the light. Explosions burst into flames, sending debris into the air that shake your screen. Streets slowly tremble as you walk, and a few seconds later gets thrown apart as an earthquake tears through New York City. The amount of polish in Crysis 2 is one of the generation's best, with only games like the Uncharted series that match its quality and detail. But does the gameplay complement the breathtaking graphics? The short and sweet answer is hell yes.
The first Crysis revolved around you being in a suit that consisted of different powers that focused on stealth, armor, or strength. The game then dropped you into wide-open battlefields and you could basically approach the situation at hand anyway you want. Thankfully, Crytek kept this gameplay intact for Crysis 2, albeit with a tighter focus on cinematic moments. You can walk up to an area with enemies patrolling around, scan and mark them with your tactical visor, and then decide how you want to dispatch your enemies. In some scenarios I felt like obliterating everything in my path, so I did. Other times I wanted to turn on my cloak and stealthily take out enemies one by one, so I did. I even felt like grabbing an alien by its throat and using its body to shield me from incoming fire, so I did. At one point I wanted to rig a car with C4, kick it to a group of enemies, and detonate it while protecting myself by triggering on armor mode, so I did. Crysis 2 really shines when you actually think and plan ahead on what actions you want to take, which is a very rare case in FPS's nowadays. You can choose to take a pair of silenced weapons with you, or a grenade launcher and a shotgun. I love how the game never forces me to approach a situation only one certain way. I could choose to use a missile launcher to blow everything up even if the scenario looks like it would be best done stealthily. Crysis 2 never punishes you for wanting to play how you want, whenever you want.
As with many shooters, the story is very ho-hum. The overarching plot is interesting enough, but the execution is a bit sloppy. Don't get me wrong, the game is very immersive as it rarely takes the camera away from your point of view so it truly feels like you are a *** in a powerful suit. However, many plot holes and head-scratching moments plague the game. The only way to get some clarity on certain events is by collecting the many well-hidden journal entries. I don't believe that gamers should have to collect all collectibles just to make sense of the story; I just think that it's poor storytelling. I'm all for getting backstory by going out of your way and collecting stuff, but the main story should be told well enough that an average player can know what the hell is going on. Also, something tells me I would have enjoyed the mediocre story even less had it not been for the utterly beautiful soundtrack. The music that plays with the cinematic set-pieces had my jaw on the ground. The harmony of violins mixed with heavy bass with a thunderous drum booming in the background make the game all the more enjoyable. The sound design is remarkable also. The guns sound like they have real weight to them, explosions shake your eardrums and the sound that aliens create are unique and chilling.
Accompanying the 10-15 hour long game is a competent multiplayer component. Being in a battle against six other players powered up by the same nanosuit you have produce many intense firefights. Switching on your armor mode as bullets start hammering your screen, wildly shooting, and miraculously killing the other player are some of the best multiplayer moments that I have experienced this generation. There are a few quirks and unbalances that exist in the game however. Snipers feel a bit overpowered, some maps provide good battlegrounds for a capture the flag-like mode but are horrible for team deathmatch, and there are a small number of glitches. Small annoyances aside, Crytek has created a unique multiplayer shooter that can stand on its own two feet.
Now it is time for a bit more negatives. The game is buggy. Even after downloading the latest patch as of the time of this writing, there are still a number a hiccups and bugs. I never ran into game-breaking ones, but there are a few that happen often. Countless times my gun disappeared and locked up on me, leading to my death. Sometimes enemies don't seem to register damage or you can't pick up weapons you are supposed to be able to grab. One time I was shooting endlessly at an alien and it was soaking up my bullets like a sponge, so I gave up and went to it. Only until I actually touched the alien with my gun it seemed to remember that I had unloaded a full three clips into him moments earlier, and proceeded to shake like it was getting riddled by imaginary bullets for a good minute. Pop in does occur also, at least on console. To be completely fair, I probably wouldn't have noticed the pop in as much if this game wasn't so darn beautiful.
Crysis 2 is a breath of fresh air for the FPS market. Thankfully not copying the shooter norm and going the pop-and-shoot route, you can approach any situation you see fit. Mix that distinctive gameplay with breathtaking graphics, a multiplayer that has long legs, and a memorable soundtrack... and you good sir have a 60$ well spent.
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