Platform: Xbox 360
Category: First Person Shooter
Written by sci-fi author Richard Morgan, Crysis 2 is a next generation first person shooter and sequel game to the 2007 PC game Crysis. However, this time around the franchise has spread its love to multiple platforms. I was fortunate enough to review the Xbox 360 version of the game. Built on the state‐of‐the‐art game development solution, CryENGINE 3, Crysis 2 arrives with little in the way of hoopla. Sure some videos were released along with your typical screens and press releases but there was virtually no buzz and hype train prior to the game's release. So needless to say, I was concerned and never really had this game on my radar. Well, after some extended playtime with Crysis 2 I have to say I am impressed. Crysis 2 is a solid game and one of the better shooters released so far this year. Yet it's not all roses for this instalment in the Crysis franchise.
Overall, the game's visuals are stunning. This comes as no surprise as anyone who has been following this game since its release knows it’s pretty. Everything from the game's re-creation of the alien infected New York City environments to the various character and enemy designs really shines. Crysis 2 is a densely rich sandbox shooter that features large levels, detailed characters, slick cut-scenes and plenty of eye candy. Not a single detail has gone overlooked. Everything from the plumes of smoke to the rubble of the many New York City buildings is graphically awesome.
What I like most about the visuals is the level of realism the game provides. Even though Crysis 2 is about as far fetched as a game can be, it is still believable. The visuals bring an element of reality into the mix as nothing is too over the top. You really get the sense you are immersed in world taken over by aliens and your only saving grace is your Nanosuit. It is very believable, unlike so many other alien invasion-like games on the Xbox 360.
The lighting effects are equally stunning. The natural dappled lighting provides the perfect atmosphere, not to mention some very memorable moments. For instance, the way light transitions throughout the buildings as it bounces off bricks and stones is slick. Even in the game's multiplayer modes the lighting and shadowing effects are second to none.
The game has some occasional frame rate hiccups and bugs, but overall it runs fairly smoothly. When you consider how much detail went into the game, it comes as no surprise you will see the occasional hic-cup. I could really go on and on about the game's visuals but at the end of the day Crysis 2 is a game you have to take a look at for yourself.
Much like the graphics, Crysis 2's sound is top notch. Crysis 2 features a compelling musical soundtrack with over 6-hours of music. The main theme is composed by Hans Zimmer, and there are pieces performed by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra. The results are simply fantastic and there is virtually no repetition to the music. Far too often games of the same ilk seem to feature annoying repetitive orchestral tunes. In Crysis 2 no such repetition exists and instead you get a game that feels like you're watching a big screen Hollywood blockbuster movie, and much of that feeling can be chalked-up to the musical score.
On a more negative note, I was not all that impressed with the voice work. I did not find the dialogue all that compelling nor did I feel emotionally attached to any of the characters. Sure the dialogue was clear and spot-on but nothing the characters said left any lasting memories for me.
As far as the game's sound effects are concerned, Crysis 2 scores high marks. Everything from the sound of the weapons to the explosions packs a punch in the sound effects department and rivals any ‘Triple A’ shooter already on the Xbox 360 market.
Crysis 2 takes place in New York City in the year 2023, three years after the events of the original game. The world has been ravaged by a series of climatic disasters and society is on the verge of total breakdown. You play the role of Alcatraz, finding yourself in the Nanosuit (version 2.0) after a series of events very early on in the game. The Nanosuit remains at the core of Crysis' gameplay and is at the centre of the plot line. The Nanosuit is a piece of combat technology so complete — the divide between man and weapon. Its technology has been borrowed from alien sources and remains the only hope for mankind. Aliens have taken control and stalk the streets in hi‐tech combat exoskeletons. New York City is in chaos. The streets and skyline have been smashed into flaming ruin. Neither the paramilitary law enforcement personnel nor the US military can stand against the invaders. As the game progresses, you discover the secrets behind the Nanosuit's powers and the story also explains some of the goings on in the first game. It is up to you to harness the powers of the Nanosuit and use its powers to save mankind from the alien infestation. That in a nutshell is Crysis 2’s story.
All in all, the storyline is decent one and those who played the original game will recognize some of the game's subplots and characters from the original. The story seems to take awhile to get going after such a quick start as you acquire the Nanosuit minutes into the game. Otherwise it is interesting as it takes many twists and turns. As I suggested above, you won't become incredibly attached to the characters but the story does move along at a decent, albeit slow, pace and provides a nice backdrop to real enjoyment in the game, which is using the Nanosuit’s various capabilities to their fullest and taking down the enemies in a variety of ways.
Much like Crytek’s Far Cry games, Crysis 2 is part sandbox game and part linear experience. It remains a shooter but certainly does not play out like your typical first person shooter, which is often a linear affair as you progress from point A to point B. Crysis 2 feels a lot like Ghost Recon mixed in with some Splinter Cell and a dash of Far Cry. Sure it is an original story, the Nanosuit is unique and the gameplay is highly satisfying at times; however, as I progressed along the game's single player experience I could not help but have a “been there and done that feeling.”
Crysis 2's single player experience is a ‘beefy’ affair as the campaign will take you anywhere from 10-15 hours to complete, depending on how much time you spend exploring the large levels and landscapes. There are collectable items and other items you can accumulate along the way. The levels are objective based and typically involve retrieving an item, making your way through a glut of enemies or searching for someone. The way you choose to proceed through the game's many levels is what separates Crysis 2 from the rest of the pack of shooters already on the market. Creativity is the key here as you can take down the enemies in a stealth-like fashion or run and gun. You can tactically take down the enemies using some of your tracking powers or you can use the environments around you to take them down. The developers are given plenty of kudos for the many ways you can get creative as you take down the enemies.
For me, Crysis 2 was a fast paced game and I have to admit, I prefer run and gunning as opposed to creeping around levels slowly and meticulously. Crysis 2 features plenty of action from one level to the next. The variety of weaponry is impressive as Crysis 2 features everything from your typical assault riffles to weapons that fire electrical bolts. Despite all the weaponry, fans of the franchise will inevitably be impressed and pleased with the Nanosuit 2.0, which is at the core of Crysis 2’s gameplay. The suit has a variety of powers. The Nanosuit's armour allows Alcatraz to take some massive punishment; the cloaking abilities allow for some memorable steal kills; the tactical visor allows you to track enemies and tag them in a Ghost Recon-like fashion; and Nanovision combines the vision enhancing capabilities of the tactical visor with the Nanosuit’s advanced sensor arrays to provide increased combat awareness. All in all, the suit offers a level of realism as none of the powers seem too over-the-top — the suit just enhances the experience.
The controls in the game are very good and easy to pick up. Anyone who has played a shooter before will have no problems picking up the controls. Using the Nanosuit and its abilities is straight forward as the game does provide you with some brief instructions in the early going about how to use the various functions. Using the tactical display for instance took some getting used to but once I quickly figured how to use it to my advantage proceeding through the game's many environments became quite enjoyable and allowed for some creative ways to take down the enemy. My only issue with the controls was firing down sight. It is just not quite as tight and polished as say firing down sight in some of the Call of Duty games. I found the enemies were sometimes difficult to target when moving and it almost felt a tad clunky.
Another issue I had with the single player experience is the enemies. Aside from having a “been there and done that” less than thrilling feeling, the enemy AI seemed ridiculously idiotic at times. Far too often in the midst of a gun fight, the enemy would give up looking for me once I went into stealth mode. You would think after the enemy was fired upon they would be hyper sensitive to every little movement of mine and would be frantically looking for me. Well that was not always the case. Teaming up, flanking and simply pinning me down into an area is something that never seems to occur in the game. Needless to say, I was not all that impressed with the game's enemy AI.
While the single player component of the game has its moments, the multiplayer arena was much better than advertised. There are a total of 12 maps and 6 game modes. Your typical free-for-all and team deathmatches, which are staples for any shooter, are present. There is also a Capture the Flag mode. What makes Crysis 2 multiplayer stand out from the rest is some of the unique modes. Crash Site, for instance, is a team based mode with a Crash Site where a Ceph drop pod has dropped. Teams fight to protect the pod and gain points the longer it is protected. The site moves throughout the match much like the King of the Hill mode in Halo. It is a highly enjoyable mode and will surely be a hit for gamers. Extraction is another multiplayer mode where Alien Bio Ticks are captured then taken to extraction points. Every successful extraction results in an increase to your player's Nanosuit powers. You can customize the matches in a variety of ways and there is an upgrade system depending on the style of kills you employ. The upgrade system involves your Nanosuit. There are over 20 suit upgrades. These upgrades are very different from each other and add to the uniqueness of each player. Overall, the multiplayer component is addictive as the upgrades and game types will have you coming back for more and more.
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