Crysis 2: A Second Take

[Editor’s Note: We encourage you to submit articles to our editors for home page consideration. Steven Chaffin (SchaffinOSX), an active member of our community, is the author of this “second take” review. U.K. Editor Steven Williamson penned our original Crysis 2 review. In opposition to Williamson, who found the single-player a bit dull and the multiplayer exemplary, Chaffin adores the campaign and thinks the multiplayer is repetitive.]

Opposition ahead. Go invisible, sneak up, and execute them? Snipe them from afar? How about taking the enemies head on? Or perhaps you’d prefer to jump into the sewer to flank them. Gamers consistently make these kinds of choices in Crysis 2.

The developers at Crytek faced high expectations for the sequel to Crysis, the original PC behemoth. They had two eager audiences to please: PC gamers, who after experiencing Crysis expected an even more earth-shattering experience in Crysis 2, and console gamers, who had heard so much about Crysis and hoped the console versions of Crysis 2 wouldn’t be watered down. Luckily, Crytek’s confidence and development talents paid off. Crysis 2 for PlayStation 3 takes the first-person shooter genre head on, challenging — and often topping — the big wigs like Call of Duty and Battlefield, Killzone and Resistance.

Let’s begin with the campaign mode. In short, Crytek pieces together an interesting story for gamers who were looking for one. Players assume the role of protagonist Alcatraz, a marine who happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. When his ship goes under fire, Alcatraz turns out to be the only survivor of the attack. Laying in floating wreckage as enemy aircrafts fly overhead, the situation looks grim for the battered hero. Moments before his inevitable death, “Prophet” arrives. Prophet is the individual operating the ‘nanosuit’ at the beginning of the game. Prophet fights off the enemy forces, saving Alcatraz from what would have been his last stand. Prophet, infected by the disease that wiped out most of New York City’s population, gives the suit to Alcatraz (note that Alcatraz is unconscious throughout this exchange). Before Alcatraz awakens, Prophet commits suicide. The story is rich and detailed, but sometimes the sheer sensory overload of the momentous set pieces — crossing a collapsing FDR Boulevard, for example — overwhelms a coherent narrative flow.

After donning the nanosuit, you soon gain access to its primary functions, like the ability to super-jump, sprint, turn invisible, and bolster your armor. These powers allow gamers to take on each combat situation in their own unique way, whether you’re a stealthy, patient warrior or a brazen, tank-like Rambo. By no means do you have to commit to one style of playing, either.

Players aren’t left to fend for themselves entirely. From time to time, you’ll hear a metallic voice whisper “tactical options available.” These options help guide players towards effective ways to continue onward. Examples of tactical options you’ll encounter are sniping positions, opportunities to flank your enemies, ledges you can use to have the high-ground advantage, and so on. While these tactical options are helpful, they aren’t foolproof. Gamers still need to be creative in order to move forward successfully. All of the above factors make successive playthroughs unique experiences.

Crysis 2 also features weapon customization and an upgrade system. Customization options increase throughout the game as you discover additional firearms and attachments. Say you pick up a silenced shotgun, for example. If you pick up a shotgun later in the game, you have the ability to attach a silencer. This encourages players to experiment more, rather than sticking to the same weapons. You can upgrade the nanosuit at any time by using ‘catalyst,’ a substance acquired by walking over the corpses of dead alien enemies. Some upgrades are more universal, such as those concerning energy, while others give you new abilities.

Every aspect of the nanosuit revolves around the aforementioned energy system. The nanosuit is extremely powerful, and therefore requires limitations in order to make the game challenging. When using the suit’s special abilities, your energy level will decrease. Each function depletes energy somewhat differently. Super-jumping will take a few bars of energy away, while becoming invisible or using armor will deplete your energy slowly. Moving while invisible or employing extra armor also plays a role in the speed at which energy is depleted. Energy depletion can be slowed substantially through upgrades, and it restores at a very generous rate from the beginning of the game.

The controls for Crysis 2 resemble other modern first-person shooters, with a few odd exceptions. Since both L2 and R2 are assigned to Nanosuit functions — armor and invisibility respectively — grenades are thrown by double-clicking the triangle button. I found this fairly awkward at first, but I quickly became accustomed to this layout. Grenades play a small role in Crysis 2, anyway — using them is rarely practical. Most people will be able to pick up and play Crysis 2 without any control issues.

In Crysis 2, Crytek included a multiplayer mode from the get-go. Online play allows all players to access the functions of the nanosuit, making for what would seemingly be an interesting experience. Unfortunately, the multiplayer mode is not as spectacular as the single-player campaign. While it is certainly enjoyable, some key issues mar the experience. Essentially, it puts a bunch of overpowered soldiers into a match together. The same functions of the nanosuit that make the campaign so enjoyable make the multiplayer mode feel repetitive. You consistently shoot someone who has more armor or who is invisible — now, this scenario is not brought on by a lack of skill, but due to the fact that they are some of the only abilities available. Plus, the “You’ve been disconnected from the server” message appears far to often for my liking. The multiplayer can certainly provide several hours of fun, but it is by no means as addictive as Call of Duty.

Of all aspects of Crysis 2, the game’s graphics remained at the forefront of pre and post-release discussion — for good reason. To put it simply, Crytek’s shooter is the prettiest multi-platform release to date. The first time you encounter some of the stunning visuals the game has to offer, you’ll likely find yourself standing still, jaw agape, soaking up the scenery. Crysis 2, a showcase of dazzling technology, raises the bar for graphics in the FPS genre. Throughout the game I experienced only one visual bug — a temporarily invisible weapon — and simply switching my weapon remedied the issue. Crytek did a great job with the game’s voice acting, too. It isn’t perfect — there are a few moments when I just don’t buy it — but it is well above the average game’s voice acting.

In its entirety, Crysis 2 is the best first-person shooter on the market. It brings everything to the table that a great FPS should have, like a solid multiplayer component, stunning visuals, engaging audio, an engrossing campaign, and innovative gameplay. The game is fun from beginning to end, and comes highly recommended.