Standing apart from the pack is no mean feat these days for first person shooters. It requires name recognition – like Call of Duty games or a unique gimmick like the over-the-top elements of Epic's Bulletstorm. Crysis 2
has the advantage of riding the reputation of it's predecessor, a game known best initially for its luscious visuals and it's demanding system requirements.
Unfortunately, the computing power of PC gaming has almost caught up with the series, but even so Crysis 2 is a game that offers visual fidelity seldom achieved by video games today. The “Will it run Crysis?” joke may be a faded Internet meme, but it's not forgotten. Luckily most gaming platforms, including the Xbox 360 and PS3 can indeed run Crysis 2.
The upgraded Cryengine 3 powering this game renders some of the most lifelike environments imaginable. It's impressive that the developers made the choice to move from the lush jungles of a far off island to the concrete jungle of New York for this outing. Instead of continuing the direct story of either Crysis or it's follow on title Crysis Warfare, Crysis 2 advances the timeline to show a world under assault.
You're inhabiting a new protagonist this time out. Instead of Nomad or Prophet from the earlier games Crysis 2 pulls players into its world through the eyes of Alcatraz, a Marine Force Recon team member sent to infiltrate the abandoned Manhattan Island in the midst of a viral outbreak and alien invasion.
Alcatraz becomes the wearer of an upgraded nanosuit – skintight battle armor designed to augment its wearer's combat abilities, strength, and endurance along with granting limited camouflage invisibility and artificial intelligence command and control functions. Alcatraz acquires the suit from Prophet, the Air Force Delta Force member from the original game.
Much of the campaign consists of Alcatraz adapting to his new armor while fleeing or stalking the paramilitary forces that occupy New York City. CryNet Systems, the makers of the nanosuit, continue to pursue Alcatraz believing him to be his predecessor in an attempt to regain control of the nanosuit for their own purpose. At the same time the alien Ceph are ravaging the metropolis and working to destroy humanity.
The main story of Crysis 2 has its share of twists, not all of which are completely predictable. Alcatraz fights his way across the ruins of the once great city and the game encourages and rewards intelligent play. Crysis 2 is not a game that encourages players to break down the front gates and go guns blazing through the world. While you can survive a lot of gunfire in the suit, players must employ stealth and tactics to survive against the overwhelming numbers of foes. Luckily, the nanosuit offers players some new tricks to make this possible.
Players can still sneak and slip past enemies using the active chameleon ability, but now the suit also offers some limited time buffs to help players adapt to difficult situations. There are times when knocking down the front door is the only option, so players can strengthen the suit's armor to grant more resistance to hits, or when players need that boost of speed to clear an open courtyard the suit offers enhanced speed or lightning reflexes meant to aid in making precise kills while those around you move in slow motion These upgraded suit modes become key to completing the game and offer more flexibility than seen in either of the earlier titles.
Crysis 2 is a pretty tight experience as a single player game. The storyline is about the average length of any modern shooter but it delivers some interesting plot points. The quality of the experience high, especially for fans of the previous titles and in the end it's pretty clear there is still narrative space left to be discovered in this world.
This is not just a single-player shooter though, as is expected, Crysis 2 also offers online multiplayer gameplay. I wish I could claim that there was something new being brought to the field of FPS multiplayer, but aside from shooting enemies in the wonderfully rendered arena maps it's pretty much more of the same. Team Instant Action is a team based mode comparable to deathmatch play and Crash Site adds the Crysis setting specifics like the alien Ceph to a command point capture game mode.
There are a nice variety of maps available and the game offers persistent rankings and upgrades for those who play frequently.
The Crytek 3 engine really shines on all the platforms. Thanks to an amazing rendering engine and impressive lighting technology it's hard to recall a video game that made me feel more like I was tromping through the ruined streets of New York City. While I reviewed Crysis 2 on the Xbox 360, there were a number of initial issues with its PC version after launch including the lack of a few promised features like DirectX 11 support. While this enhanced graphics mode is still not available, the game does support 3D.
If you're a gamer with the horsepower of a modern gaming PC and the option of either console it is a bit of a toss up where you should go. The console versions are competent and simple to play while the future power of mods and DirectX 11 are strong lures to buy on the PC.