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.
The gunplay is also a success and has less of an "arcade" feel - like you might find in a Call of Duty title. Enemies are tougher to take down, but not impossible, giving even veteran FPS players a challenge on the normal difficulty. Fans of weapon selection will not be disappointed, Crysis 2 offers a plethora of weapons to use in the fight to save New York. Each weapon has its own attributes and are suited better to certain situations, whether it be an assault rifle, SMG, microwave gun, or gauss cannon. Weaponry can be customized with a number of attachments ranging from sights, suppressors, and under-slung attachments. Like the guns themselves, each attachment will have very obvious uses and excel in certain situations - and fail in others. For example, entering a close range gun fight with a sniper scope on your assault rifle won't be the best idea.
If there were any concerns regarding the story for Crysis 2, there shouldn't be. Sci-fi author Richard K. Morgan delivers a narrative that's both compelling, interesting, and easy to follow - factors he feels aren't present in most games. The main story of New York City under siege serves as the backdrop for secondary stories (even the Nanosuit has a part) that add to the overall strength of the narrative. As players progress through the game, certain collectibles can be found that add even more backstory for those who decide to seek it out. The narrative doesn't feel like it's merely been retrofitted - to serve as a driving force for the gameplay. It might not blow you out of the water like Half-Life did, but Crysis 2's story does create the want for exploration and desire to see more in the world.
Crysis 2 also includes a multiplayer mode that will be familiar to anyone who spends the majority of their shooter time engaged in virtual combat against other players - except this time you get to go about it while wearing a super suit.
Multiplayer is divided up into six game types - each with a Crysis twist on them. Instant Action and Team Instant Action offer regular free-for-all or Team Deathmatch options. Crash Site, where players must capture and hold an alien ship against an enemy team. Capture the Relay, which is essentially capture the flag. Extraction, competing teams must locate and extract Ceph Ticks which, upon successful retrieval, reward the capturing team with energy upgrades for the Nanosuit. Finally, the last multiplayer mode available is Assault, where one team is equipped with Nanosuits and must break into the enemy (who aren't equipped with Nanosuits) stronghold to steal blueprints. In order to counteract the suit abilities, the defenders get stronger weaponry. Assault is the only game type that offers only a single life per game.
As of launch, there are 12 maps to play in multiplayer: Skyline, Impact, Pier 17, Liberty Island, Parking Deck, Evac Zone, Lighthouse, Sanctuary, Wall Street, Terminal, Downed Bird, and City Hall. There will also be three more maps available through DLC in the future, Shipyard, Park Avenue, and Transit. Crysis 2 alters the typical kill-streak reward program by establishing predetermined rewards on each map - in an attempt to make things feel a little more contextual. Some maps will not be conducive to an Orbital Strike, but will for a Ceph Airstrike. Including the former two, Nanosuit Jammer, Radar Jammer, Maximum Radar, and Maximum Nanosuit make up the rest of the Support Bonuses - which are earned by not only killing enemies without dying - but collecting their dog tags as well.
Multiplayer is fun. Combining suit abilities with traditional shooter mechanics actually adds a good amount of variety. Interestingly enough, players can also take most of their single player campaign abilities directly into the multiplayer. Gamers who pick up Crysis 2 multiplayer won't find themselves having to adapt for a different play-style.
There are four pre-determined classes, combined with five custom slots to make your own character - which allow players to experiment with their favorite Nanosuit upgrade combinations. Speaking of, there are seven modules to upgrade for each Nanosuit category: Power, Stealth, and Armor. Each module is essentially a "perk" system that allows a player to customize their load-out accordingly.
Crysis 2 is not disappointing in the least. In fact, it has given the shooter market some new life in certain ways. The single player is actually compelling, playing out like a Michael Bay (with a compelling story). Multiplayer is fun, playable and doesn't have a huge learning curve. The entire game is a great offering to the first person shooter market - hopefully Crytek won't make us wait too long for Crysis 3.
Crysis 2 is available now for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.