Crysis 2 – PC Game Review
Crysis 2. PC Game Review. Publisher: Electronic Arts. Developer: Crytek. $60
Passed Inspection: The Nanosuit makes gameplay exciting and thought-provoking. Campaign is fun. Best multiplayer of the year so far. Best graphics of any game. Excellent online leveling system.
Failed Basic: Enemy AI isn’t challenging enough. Weak plot. Sections of the campaign should have time restraints but don’t.
Having fun is the most important part of gaming. Recently, many titles seem to have forgotten about the fun, instead focusing on time-wasting virtual activities, social time with friends and strangers, building complicated stories and detailed characters, etc. Crysis 2 doesn’t waste it’s time on any of this gloss. Developer Crytek just made a game that is damn fun to play.
Crysis 2 is built on the basic premise that a powerful suit of armor called the “Nanosuit” is the most powerful weapon in the game, more than any gun. As with the prior Crysis titles (Crysis and Crysis: Warhead) players enjoy traditional first-person shooter (FPS) gameplay while wearing this advanced suit, and using its abilities to combat insurmountable odds. The Nanosuit has four major functions: armor lock, which makes the Nanosuit impervious to gunfire and explosives; cloak, which makes users almost completely invisible; speed, which is a fast run to evade enemies or steer clear of explosives; and a power jump.
These four abilities make what would otherwise be a standard FPS into a wonderland with literally an unlimited number of ways to deal with combat situations. Thanks to the wonderful use of apocalyptic New York City, where the entirety of Crysis 2 takes place, players can run amok in the urban environment, jumping across rooftops, through subway stations, inside buildings and in open expanses. The Nanosuit makes the levels come to life. Every piece of a given level inherently has strategic and tactical value, which players can assess and take advantage of with abandon.
As a side note – and it really is a trademark of developer Crytek – Crysis 2 looks amazing. It’s the most graphically beautiful game made to date. Running Crysis 2 is demanding on any computer, but Crytek has also optimized the game to run efficiently so even less powerful PCs can show remarkable detail. Using the suit to navigate New York, looking as stunning as it does, amplifies the value of gameplay.
Using the Nanosuit’s powers alone makes players extremely dangerous, and using them in combinations deadly. To keep gameplay fair because players are too powerful, each power costs energy. No power can be used for too long before the suit needs to be recharged. There are also up to four secondary traits which don’t use any additional power, instead supplementing the primary powers or the suit in general. Up to twelve secondary powers are available, such as faster recharge, quieter footsteps, and quicker phasing in and out of cloak. Secondary powers can only be purchased by collecting special nanobots, which can only be found by killing Ceph.
Ceph are the main adversaries in Crysis 2, an alien race far more advanced than humans. These squid-like creatures wear large suits of armor and several different kinds infest New York. Some are fast and dart around attacking with knives. Others are walking tanks. The Ceph menace take 60% of all combat in Crysis 2; the other 40% is against humans working for Cell, a super-conglomerate with its own private military and one main objective, to return the Nanosuit which players wear.
Putting the story aside for a moment, Crysis 2 is essentially a sandbox FPS. Players are given a number of tools and simple, easy to understand objectives. There is no right or wrong way to complete any objective. This is half the reason the campaign is so fun. No matter how you play, each session is different from the last. If one method doesn’t work, players can escape, reassess the situation, and try again differently.
This style of complete freedom in gameplay does have its drawbacks. At times in the campaign characters demand that players quickly complete an objective, but there are never timers to force players to rush. There is no sense of urgency to complete objectives. Actually completing objectives is dull. Combat on the harder difficulties players can literally take 20 minutes to traverse just 50 feet, and every second will be exciting, but the objectives only act as an excuse to move from point A to point B.
That lack of urgency limits enemy artificial intelligence. Crytek made the game so players could take as long as they want, which in turn makes enemy AI quick to forget recent combat. If they find one of their own dead, there is no alert that the proximity has been breached, no communication between various sprites. Instead, after 15-30 seconds, they’ll walk away as if the body isn’t there. The worst part is that with the cloak ability, it’s all too easy to disappear long enough for this to happen consistently, making Crysis 2, even on the hardest difficulty, often very easy.
That’s not to say the AI is poor, just forgetful. Enemies in Crysis 2 are tough, make good use of cover, and act the part. Ceph variants all enter combat differently, some running for defensive positions while others waltz gallantly into battle. Enemy soldiers open fire without hesitation and use different weapons strategically. That said, I’ve gone through the full campaign twice, on Normal and Superhuman (the hardest mode) difficulties, and have rarely died. The AI is intelligent, but it doesn’t communicate. Combat is fun because of the process to figure out the best strategy and performing it, not because the enemy is so capable.
The single-player game, however, is just a warm-up to prepare players for the main course: multiplayer. The single-player campaign allows players the opportunity to learn how to use suit powers to its maximum potential. Multiplayer puts those skills into practice. It’s the real meat of Crysis 2.
Multiplayer is fantastic, by far the most exciting game this year. Using the Nanosuit powers brings new dimension to online play that really hasn’t existed before, even in the previous Crysis titles. With the ease of control, switching between any of the four powers is so simple and fluid that it’s no longer about firing first or having the best aim, but who can adapt to new situations and use suit powers accordingly.
Maps are also built to take advantage of the Nanosuit, utilizing multi-layered buildings, expansive open areas, small closed structures, and plenty of ledges for players to sneak, run, jump, and fight any way, anywhere. Just like in the single-player campaign, multiplayer is a sandbox environment where players can handle situations as they see fit. All the same tools are available, but now you fight actually intelligent adversaries. Playing against other people with completely different styles of play and their own understanding of powers makes a world of difference.
Standard limitations in gameplay also disappear. Thanks to the jump power and the ability to fall from great heights, multiplayer is no longer two dimensional. Players can come from anywhere at any time, from above or below, hiding in the corner cloaked, or suddenly attack you from above. There are fewer movement restrictions. Jump up a wall instead of walking up a staircase, leap buildings instead of walking across bridges. And teamwork is just as important as keeping your eyes open, because one strong player can take out an entire squad with relative ease.
If there’s any way to sum up this game, it’s that Crysis 2 is damn fun. The Nanosuit gives players every tool they could ever need to be creative, and the entire single-player and multiplayer is designed around just that. Even with its limitations, Crysis 2 is an absolute joy, one we’ll be playing for a long, long time.
Armchair General Rating: 91%
About the Author:
James Pikover is a veteran videogame and technology critic, covering high-profile games and hardware from coast to coast. He’s managed to continue being a PC gamer—against all odds—in the face of a monstrous console generation. He lives and works in Los Angeles.