With a plethora of first person shooters out on the market today, how can developers create a game that will stand out from the rest? Crytek Studios answered that call back in 2007 with the original Crysis and have done it again with their latest offering, Crysis 2.
In an industry saturated with first person shooters, Crysis 2 enables a great deal of approaches to combat – and looks beautiful while doing it.
The first thing anyone will notice about Crysis 2 is how amazing it looks, an achievement made possible through CryENGINE 3, which was developed for the purpose of bringing the series to the consoles. On that front, Crytek was wildly successful. If you have the fortune to play Crysis 2 on a HDTV, you will definitely be able to appreciate the engine’s ability to render graphics that were originally thought to be only capable on a PC. On a regular television, it still looks wildly impressive, but you won’t be getting the maximum experience as if you were playing the game on a widescreen HDTV – not to mention 3D. Yes, Crysis 2 does support stereoscopic 3D and looks fantastic. Happily, the 3D experience isn’t pivotal to enjoying the game, but it is a nice option for anyone who can take advantage.
Lighting and fire effects are definitely on showcase with different bloom effects and lens flare. Whether you’re walking around a destroyed Battery Park or fighting off Ceph in their hive, lighting effects are most certainly impressive. Sparks fly realistically off surfaces that have been shot at, fire scorches areas and leaves char. Even vegetation looks impressive – giving a great contrast to the decay and destruction that pepper each map. It can’t be an urban jungle without a little green in the area, can it?
The environments are beautifully realized and will look familiar to anybody who lived or lives in New York City, with the exception of the massive amount of destruction that reigns over the area. Between the shipping boats that have crashed into areas where they don’t belong or a severed arm of the Statue of Liberty (which you can use for cover), Crytek was did an excellent job of realizing New York City in an alien invasion. When you’re not busy staring at the environments, you’re going to be busy staring down the sight of your gun at highly detailed character models that have the intelligence to back up their looks.
Speaking of intelligence, the AI is sharp. Enemy soldiers aren’t merely fodder for you to mow down with bullets, they react according to the situation and are capable of flanking maneuvers as well as flush Prophet out with grenades. FPS fans who want a challenge in their enemies will find one. When it comes to the Ceph threat, they handle a little bit differently and will do their best to swarm and overrun the player. If you’re not careful and stay mobile, you can find yourself surrounded by several Ceph, and that’s not a good thing. Being able to adapt yourself to the situation using your Nanosuit 2 will go a long way in surviving.
What separates Crysis 2 from most first person shooters is the inclusion of the Nanosuit 2 and its various uses in combat. Rather than just being a floating head with a gun, you’re a multi-faceted weapon with a gun. The Nanosuit affords the user more agility, strength, and durability in combat. Want to dash into combat, slide into an enemy while shooting another, and then power jump to air stomp a third? That’s not out of the realm of possibility. The main objective of any combat encounter is to approach however you want. Using the tactical visor within the Nanosuit allows you to chart enemy positions, locations of weapons, ammo resupply, and any other points of interest to help plan your attack. From there, you can choose to rush in guns blazing with maximum armor or cloak and snipe enemies with impunity. Either way works, it’s your choice.
Crysis 2 is an involved shooter that and will offer plenty of replay value throughout the single player campaign. The AI is dynamic, so enemies will react in different ways – and force players to change their strategy each time. Fans of single player action could find themselves returning to the campaign for multiple play-throughs. The first run may take anywhere between 9-12 hours, depending on how experienced the player is – and how much they explore each map. Personally, I cleared the game in about 11 and a half hours – though I experimented with different gameplay approaches and did some exploring of the various areas.
That 11 hour period wasn’t without some problems, though. While Crysis 2 is visually awesome, there were a few instances of graphical pop-in and un-rendered textures when new areas loaded. Not uncommon problems, although, it would have been nice to see these bugs polished up before release. Does it destroy the experience outright? Of course not. On the gameplay front, problems were more on a nit-picky side than anything else. The hit boxes while shooting at enemies are a bit smaller than you might be used to. Dead aim isn’t required completely, but accurate aiming is going to be needed if you want to down an enemy.
One other problem that isn’t game-breaking – but still an annoyance: Most of the objects in the world are interactive and can be picked up (and subsequently thrown). The action is performed by highlighting an object in the visor and holding X to pull it out of the environment. However, sometimes the game requires the crosshair to be extra-precise and if the reticle isn’t completely on the object, I couldn’t pick it up. This was a pain to deal with in certain portions of the game – when you have to continuously pick up a resource while you’re under fire from enemies. It also makes the ability to thrown objects at enemies mostly uselss.
As the game progresses, the Nanosuit becomes upgradable through collecting nano catalysts off of dead Ceph. There are four categories available for upgrade: Stealth, Armor, Visor, and Power. Each category affords the suit new capabilities – like using the aforementioned air stomp, faster energy recharging, or being able to see where enemy bullets are coming from. Once the game is complete, you may choose to play through again with the suit completely upgraded, (provided you found enough nano catalyst). When more suit powers become unlocked, it’s hard not to feel like the ultimate battlefield weapon.
Crysis 2 has a bit of a learning curve – especially in terms of utilizing the Nanosuit to its full capabilities. If a player is taking too much fire, they can turn on the armor and run away to recover – or power jump onto a ledge to get an elevated advantage against enemies. Using the Nanosuit as a weapon makes fights much easier – and it’s not long before using the suit in combat becomes organic and second nature.