In: Reviews by Nick "Alsop Live" Dinicola4 Apr 2011
Now that the Xbox 360 and PS3 can run Crysis 2, there has been doubt whether this sequel would be as graphically intense. Rest assured, the game looks fantastic, but those high fidelity visuals are also the source of some frustration and sadness.
Crysis 2 creates a realistic looking New York City, but realistic doesn’t mean pretty. New York is destroyed. Its skyscrapers are in ruins, there’s rubble, broken glass, and busted cars everywhere. And you’ll spend most of the game running through these streets and buildings. No matter how real it looks, no building can ever be attractive as the lush jungles of the first game.
In addition to the inherent unattractiveness of the world, Crytek is a little too eager to show it off as much as possible. UI elements like the mini-map or objective markers are partly transparent, making them difficult to see. Thankfully the mini-map is made irrelevant by your visor (though it’s still important in multiplayer where the problem still persists). Objective markers, however, remain extremely important — because of that same visor.
The visor is what keeps you aware of your surroundings. When activated, it highlights all enemies with a green triangle, all objectives with a blue circle, and all tactical suggestions with a yellow circle. You can then mark anything you think is important, and that marker stays highlighted when the visor is deactivated. Despite my early fears, this kind of total awareness doesn’t break the game and make it too easy. It actually helps you think strategically.
Strategy is important because Crysis 2 is not a corridor shooter. Combat often occurs in large open environments, and it’s up to you to determine the best course of action. Because of this openness, the destruction of New York affects the gameplay. While the city may not look pretty, it’ll help you survive: A hole in the wall or a three story fall are escape routs, a downed statue is a bridge, rubble is cover. The city is your shield. It’s an impressive change from most games where destruction is just used as background scenery.
Your nanosuit is also a shield — and a more important one at that. It has two modes (three if you count the default mode): Armor and Stealth. Each uses up energy. Armor turns the energy meter into a health bar, preventing you from taking damage for a few seconds, whereas Stealth eats away at your energy every second it’s active, sucking down more if you’re moving.
You’ll constantly run out energy, but the meter recharges extremely fast. This creates a perfect balance between power and resource management. The drain means you can never over-rely on your suit modes, but the recharge ensures you’ll never be without them for very long. Given how quickly you can activate and deactivate your suit, you’ll switch between modes more often than you reload.
All of this makes the single-player campaign a fun, smart, and epic shooter. The game is long, lasting at least 10 hours, and these are not 10 hours of repetitive shooting. Crysis 2 knows when to mix things up: You’ll fight against both humans and aliens, you’ll fight with a squad and all by yourself, and there are even boss fights against big, alien, tripod robots.
The story is hard to follow, especially in the beginning when you’re purposefully kept in the dark. Later on there are some twists that aren’t as surprising as they should be because we never understand the proper role of the characters involved. A double-cross isn’t shocking if we don’t know who was working for whom in the first place. The information is actually there, hidden in techno jargon and collectible emails, and once you sort it out, the story is pretty interesting, but it’s not presented well.
The multiplayer is a mix of the familiar and new. As is typical, you get experience for kills and level up to unlock new abilities, but each suit mode levels up individually and instead of unlocking specific gear you earn unlock points. This allows you to unlock things according to your playstyle. For example, I don’t snipe, so I’ve happily avoided sniper rifles for more shotguns and assault rifles.
This method applies to the suit modes as well. Each mode has a bunch of perks associated with it, and you get to unlock a new one with each new level.
The game types are a mostly standard fare: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and various Capture The “insert-item-here” games. The more unique game types, like one that pits normal soldiers against nanosuit soldiers or one that pits nanosuit soldiers against aliens, are locked behind high-level walls, so you won’t be playing them for a good, long while
The moment-to-moment multiplayer plays like you’d expect, but the ability to use Armor and Stealth helps Crysis 2 stand out from its peers. Stealth is especially useful, and everyone uses it. Support abilities aren’t determined by killstreaks, but rather by the collection of dog tags from dead soldiers. This means you have to physically walk over the body of someone you killed, thus preventing snipers from ruling a map.
That last point is important because many maps are big — too big, actually. It feels like they were designed with more players in mind (it makes sense that Rooftops was the map in the demo since it’s easily the smallest one, resulting in more action).
Crysis 2 succeeds in separating itself from the rest of the shooter pack while still keeping enough familiar gameplay to appeal to any fan of military shooters. The multiplayer may not draw you away from your normal go-to online shooter, but it makes an excellent second choice. Even if you never go online, the lengthy, refreshingly tactical, well-balanced campaign is more than enough to justify any price.
Reviewed for PS3 (Also available for Xbox 360, and PC)