If nothing else, Crysis 2 opens impressively. Unlike games that make you sit through a tiresome tutorial sequence, this one throws you straight into the chaos from the get go. There are aliens blowing the city apart, a lethal virus killing citizens left right and centre and on top of it all, a deadly case of mistaken identity. So what are you to do? Hell, you do what every protagonist does in an FPS title; you get your gun and start blowing stuff up!
You play as Alcatraz and along with a US Marine Corps Recon unit, you head downtown to extract a doctor named Nathan Gould, who apparently has vital information on how to combat the alien race that’s tearing the city apart. Of course, nothing in the video game world is ever as simple as it seems and the unit gets destroyed before they even make it into the city. The only survivors are you and a man called Prophet, owner of the much coveted nanosuit. In a selfless act, Prophet hands over the suit, even though it means death for him, and the story really gets underway.
The backbone of the original Crysis was its intense hardware requirements. At its time of release, only those with high end computer systems were able to play the title with all settings on high, but the few that could were rewarded with a visual experience unlike any other. Crysis truly did set the bar for what PCs were capable of and the tradition has been carried through to the sequel. The city (though in ruins) certainly does replicate the urban sprawl we see when we look out our windows. Some effects in particular, such as water or blood spraying up on the screen are incredibly well done, and leave no doubt about the developer’s graphical capabilities. And that’s just on console!
Unfortunately for Crysis 2, if you look past its gorgeous shiny shell, there is not much more that this game has to offer. The storyline, though seemingly interesting at first, goes no deeper than a puddle on a summer’s day. Plot twists are many, but foreseen, and characters are so two dimensional that if they turned sideways you wouldn’t be able to see them. Admittedly, a good chunk of FPS titles fail to deliver on this basis, but when a game like Crysis 2 has obviously tried incredibly hard to please in some areas, it is a total letdown to see it fail so dismally in others.
One positive is the attention to detail. The things the plot glosses over, the environment makes up for. For example, walking into the game for the very first time, you have no real idea of just how long the city has been in a state of catastrophe. However, small touches like ‘missing people’ boards which are found around the area enable you to realise that the citizens have been coping with tragedy for quite some time now. Though the creators of Crysis 2 have seemingly included every finer detail they could, there are some very simple things they have neglected. Mirrors in the game do not reflect nor break when shot at, and though you can power kick a car into the air, there are some windows you cannot break by punching them. It’s odd and incredibly unappreciated.
The enemies are another letdown. More often than not, aliens or CELL (CryNet Enforcement and Local Logistics) members are found walking half in the ground, stuck inside a cement pole, or bumping into walls. Though this provides a decent laugh it causes the game difficulty to drop substantially, as killing enemies becomes more like shooting fish in a barrel. Once they are killed the glitches don’t disappear either, as they are often found lying halfway through the ground with their feet sticking up in the air at odd angles.
Not only do the glitches really let the enemy forces down, but the complete lack of variety in their models also make battle a very dull event. The aliens (though very well rendered) are entirely unoriginal, and look like nothing more than robots with squids for heads. Even boss battles which are meant to showcase creativity in enemy design fail to impress, with the battle sequence simply being “find the enemies’ weak spot and shoot it” and the boss model always being a slightly bigger, slightly more powerful looking robot than the last encounter.
Another annoyance is the voice of the nanosuit. Those who played the first title will recall that not only were you able to change it to a female voice, but there was also the option of turning it off. This is a feature that Crysis 2 does not have, and it’s one that slowly grates on your sanity. Hearing the words “cloak engaged” in that deep electronic voice for the 10th time in a half hour playthrough is not only incredibly irritating, but also viciously destroys any immersion you may have achieved.
The opening of Crysis 2 hypes players up with explosions and chaos that make the game seem like something special. And it would be too, if it actually delivered on any of its promise. It definitely has its strong points, even when overlooking the graphics, however with the effort that has obviously gone into some aspects of the game it is disappointing to see parts that have been so sorely overlooked. At the end of the day, though Crysis 2 looks amazing, all it appears to be is a very pretty letdown. Better luck next time Crytek.