Crysis 2 puts you at the centre of an alien invasion of New York City in arguably the finest looking console shooter of this generation. Looks alone won’t get Crysis 2 surging up the sales charts. Fulfilling promises such as different ways to play its unique campaign and multiplayer mode will. Does Crysis 2 deliver? Read our Crysis 2 review and find out.
The first time we saw Crysis 2 in action back in May last year developer Crytek hailed Crysis 2 as a “major stepping stone for the studio.” Crysis 2 marks the first appearance of the franchise on consoles, having made its debut on the impossibly souped up PCs that were required to run its graphic-intensive predecessor.
Crysis 2 doesn’t exactly skimp on the visuals. We’re hardly going out on a limb when we say that Crysis 2 is the best looking shooter we’ve laid eyes on. Crysis 2 is always a pleasure to gaze. Its crumbling alien invasion-battered New York setting is executed to apocalyptic perfection.
All the usual compliments you’ve heard about graphics in games apply, times ten. The pretty glare of sunlight, the rubble strewn streets, the leafy park settings, explosions, smoke, debris, the beaming neon lights of Times Square – they all look stunning.
As you’ll have twigged, Crysis 2 swaps the jungle setting of its predecessor for New York. The story centres on a struggle for a powerful piece of armour you wear known as a Nanosuit and, more pertinently, an alien invasion from the deadly Seph, and a virus that has swept through the Big Apple.
What’s this Nanosuit then? It’s a powerful piece of all body clothing, like Batman’s Batsuit without the pointy ears. In Crytek’s words it gives the wearer “temporary God-like powers,” letting them cloak themselves in a temporarily invisible shroud and grant them extra shielding from enemy fire.
How you use the Nanosuit is a key feature of the Crysis 2 gameplay experience. You simply can’t do without it. It has two modes: Stealth and Armour.
Activating stealth mode lets you blend into your surroundings to make you nearly invisible to enemies to sneak past and around them without catching their attention. Get close enough behind enemies and you can perform stealth kills by stabbing them in the neck.
Armour mode gives you more protection against enemy fire. It’s quite possible to walk face first into a barrage of bullets, almost impervious to their fire and live to tell the tale.
There is some balance. Each power lasts for around 10-20 seconds depending on how you use them. Both use up energy. Sprinting while activating stealth depletes the energy bar even quicker so that you’re not entirely reliant on being close to invisible.
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If you think you can just walk past enemies as if you’re not there, you’d be wrong. Walk directly in front of them and they’ll hear your footsteps, triggering a red alert and a posse of soldiers on your trail.
The beauty of the Nanosuit is that it lets you play parts of the game how you want. If you want to sneak around like a pimped out Solid Snake, go for it. If you’re gameplay style is a little more akin to Robocop simply fire up the armour and go all-out. It’s these instances when the Nanosuit makes you feel badass, while at others it feels more like a safety blanket.
Attempting to play Crysis 2 like an espionage agent is incredibly tough and unforgiving, with enemies seemingly able to spot you from miles away. You get the impression they can spot a strand of hair from a block away.
The open spaces of New York’s large streets mean you’ll very likely alert the enemy at some point. In an earlier preview we told you how we watched a demonstrator infiltrate a rooftop base using stealth like an expert without alerting a single soldier.
In practice we were spotted within seconds, causing all manner of reinforcements to emerge, including an attack helicopter. What ensued was a run and gun mission to reach the checkpoint after dying ten times.
The first few hours are a slow burner. It’s only after the first three hours or so that the action really hots up.
Many of the missions see you make your way from point A to B for one reason or another, whether it’s to meet up with your fellow squad buddies or to fend off an attack from a giant alien robot. Others see you helping to defend a squad against incoming waves of enemies that emerge via alien dropships.
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There is some variety. A plotline involving some nasty folk attempting to pry you from your suit occurs, which we won’t spoil for you.
Another diversion makes better use of the stealth capabilities of the Nanosuit by having you sneak into a heavily guarded offshore base without being spotted. The driving sections are also very well executed without feeling tacked on.
Enemy AI is rather good at times. They will rush to cover behind walls, benches and bushes to aim their pistols over in your direction.
We’d have liked to have seen more baddie variety, particularly in the mini-boss battles. Again, we won’t spoil things too much, but each of these boss battles require the same tactics. We’d like to think that the Seph, with all their advanced extraterrestrial technology could come up with something different each time.
However another area Crysis 2 excels in is the weapon and Nanosuit customisation options on offer. Pressing select lets you power up an area of your Nanosuit and give you new abilities which you can gain by using the currency you nab from killing aliens.
Holding down, instead of pressing select lets you alter the attachments on your weapons at any moment, should you for example wish to equip a silencer to your assault rifle.
It gives you the welcome feeling that you’re always in control of how you use your weapons, which include sniper rifles, assault rifles, handguns, grenade launchers and shotguns. Even without all these options, and the Nanosuit, Crysis 2 would still be a thoroughly enjoyable shooter. With them, Crysis 2 has its USP.
The intricacies of the story are at times difficult to follow, but you’ll rarely feel dumbstruck. Each scene leads on to the next well enough without the feeling of detachment you get with some shooters.
Developer Crytek’s devastated realisation of New York is unlikely to be bettered even by many. The level design and attention to detail is nothing short of admirable. A soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer (of Inception and The Dark Knight fame) adds a star touch. Play Crysis 2 with a quality pair of headphones to get the best out of it.
On its own the campaign mode makes Crysis 2 a must-play. What makes Crysis 2 a must-own is a fantastic multiplayer mode.
It’s fast, frantic and fun made all the more enjoyable thanks to the Nanosuit letting you leap and bound great distances and heights to get out of trouble.
Both stealth and armour modes are available too. It’s quite possible to cloak yourself to near invisibility and perform stealth kills on your online opponents.
Six multiplayer modes include Team Instant Action, which is essentially team deathmatch. The team with the most kills wins. Instant Action is a free-for-all. Crash Site sees two teams trying to capture and hold alien pods dropped from the sky. The stealth ability really comes into its own here as players lie in wait defending their territory.
Capture The Relay resembles Capture The Flag. You retrieve an enemy trinket to return to your base to score points. Assault is a round-based mode where those in Nanosuits must upload information from computer terminals defended by the other side. Extraction sees you capture Alien Bio-Ticks. Doing so enhances the powers of the Nanosuit.
For those into customisation there are plenty of options to tinker with weapon attachments for both primary and secondary firearms. Different classes are available too once you’ve ranked up enough XP points.
Suit modules let you customise different areas of the Nanosuit. You can purchase moves such as the Air Stomp to land a crushing blow on enemies from the air, threat tracers that highlight enemy fire or proximity alarms that alert you to nearby enemies.
Other add-ons include faster reloading, health recharges, armour and stealth upgrades to pick from offering up plenty of ways to switch up your own playing style.
Being able to pick up dog tags from fallen enemies and earn medals is another nice touch. You earn medals for a number of activities which you’ll discover while playing. Ripping a gun turret off its perch will award you an “The Incredible Bulk” medal. Melee killing someone will see the word “Smackdown” pop up.
There are plenty of incentives to keep playing what is a thoroughly entertaining multiplayer mode. And we haven’t got to the maps. Each is as well designed and as expansive as the campaign settings they are inspired from. Maps are set across a variety of locations from Wall Street to rooftops to army bases and train stations.
We can comfortably predict that Crysis 2′s multiplayer mode will be played for many months after its March 25 release. It’s more than capable of loosening the grip held by Call of Duty: Black Ops as arguably the best multiplayer going this moment. It’s already firmly cemented in our online schedule. It will be in yours.
Developer Crytek called Crysis 2 a “Major stepping stone for the studio.” On this evidence it’s a first step into first-person console shooter royalty, able to live with the very best.
Crysis 2 is outstanding in almost every department, not least its visuals, which are the very best either PS3 or Xbox 360 has to offer right now. We’ve played the game on both consoles and found no noticeable difference between the two. Even PC gamers, if you’re a fan of the genre, buy this.