I never played the original Crysis, but as a gaming fan, I knew of its existence. The original Crysis was a game that people measured their PCs by--you needed a beast of a machine to run the game on optimal settings. It was gorgeous, but most people never got see how gorgeous it could be. As far as the game itself, it was a first-person shooter with an alien invasion storyline--not exactly breaking the mold. However, the game added a twist to the usual formula in that the suit the main character was wearing could switch modes, emphasizing speed, strength, stealth or durability as the player saw fit.
The great thing about Crysis 2 is that it brings pretty much all of the core elements of the first game to consoles. Between the stunning visuals, the strategic gameplay and a solid multiplayer mode, it’s one of the better shooters I’ve played in the past few years.
The storyline in Crysis 2 introduces a brand new main character, and it’s easy enough to catch up on what you missed if you skipped the first game. The short of it is that in the the original Crysis, an alien base was discovered on an island in the South Pacific. Despite the efforts of the characters in the first game, they were unable to defeat the aliens, who have now sent out invasion forces around the globe. Crysis 2 takes place in Manhattan, where an invasion force has landed, not only occupying the area, but also infecting the local populace with an alien virus. You play as a soldier who is rescued by one of that characters from the first game. He passes on to you his Nanosuit, a special suit that protects you from the alien virus and is can augment your abilities in combat. You then have to try and stop the alien menace.
The Nanosuit is what sets Crysis 2 apart from most other shooters, as the shooting mechanics are pretty much the same as most other games. With the click of a button, you can go into Stealth Mode, allowing you to sneak around enemies or sneak up behind them for a Stealth Kill. Another click switches to Armor Mode, where you can withstand a lot more punishment. There is also a Power Mode, which can be used in short bursts to either sprint, or to kick large objects around the environment. It’s not really a “mode,” as much as a situational action that you can take. Finally, the suit can also scan the battlefield for enemies, ammo and objectives, and can tag enemies so they are visible to you even when they’re behind cover. The Nanosuit can only stay in a mode for a certain time, and then must be recharged, much like shields in most modern shooters.
Another strong element of the game’s design is that encounters are arena-based. Like the Halo series, Crysis 2 sets up large areas that are crawling with enemies, then lets you decide how best to take them down. It’s because of this that you can use the Nanosuit to it’s fullest, and play the game the way you want. I always prefer stealth and sniping over more run and gun gameplay, so I meticulously made my way around each encounter, only getting into an outright firefight when I needed to. There are some times where that can’t be avoided, of course, like during some of the boss battles, where you have to defeat the enemy to move on. These weren’t overly frustrating though, and did not take away from the flow of the game for me.
Visually, Crysis 2 is the most impressive game I’ve played on the XBox 360. Everything from the lighting to the particle effects are amazing. Add to that the fact that a lot of the game takes place outside and in broad daylight, and it’s even more impressive.
The campaign is a long one, which is rare for shooters these days. Depending on your style of play, it could be longer or shorter than the 12 hours it took me to complete. There’s also a solid multiplayer mode in the game, featuring a levelling system, and the ability to unlock new gear. Much like the single player campaign, the Nanosuits are what separates the multiplayer in Crysis from other games, especially because everyone has them. I had a lot of fun playing the deathmatch and control point modes in the first few weeks after the game’s release. Sadly, Crysis 2 suffers from the same problem most online shooters face--once a few weeks go by, the game becomes unbalances, as you have the super=powered, high level players running around the same battlefield as the underpowered newcomers. It makes for a frustrating time, and this game could have benefited from a solid matchmaking system like the Halo series has.
Even without the multiplayer though, Crysis 2 is easily worth buying if you’re a shooter fan. It’s got a fun story, a long single-player campaign, great visuals and a suit mechanic that separates it from the most other games in the genre. I had a blast with it.
4.5 out of 5 Cthulhueque Aliens