Editors Note: Since the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions have been reviewed separately by different editors located in different countries, the PS3 review of Crysis 2 will have no relation to the Xbox 360 review of Crysis 2. Hence the final score/views for both platforms may or may not be different.
Finally console gamers get a chance to see what Crysis is all about, with Crytek bring Crysis 2 along with its amazing graphics to the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and of course the PC version to let just say – keep it real. For many, Crysis has become the benchmark for video game graphics, with the first game being dubbed the best graphics ever seen in a video game. Unfortunately, you need quite the expensive and well made PC machine to run that, but thankfully it is now on consoles, with the PC version sticking to its graphical limits. Several titles have attempted to surpass the graphics of the game, but nearly four years since the original came out, none has succeeded. With the release of the Crysis 2 multiplayer demo, it gave the developers the opportunity to ensure that Crysis 2 had the full package, balanced, glitch free and graphically pleasing. Hardcore fans of the original might say they compromised development, eliminating time and sacrificing content that could have been used to make the PC version better. Crysis 2, not only continues Crytek’s graphical superiority over the competition, but offers a coherent, well rounded gaming experience. The game even offers a 3D experience which tops the chart for me.
The year is 2023 and you begin the game right outside Battery Park and make your way through famous landmarks such as Grand Central Station and Times Square. Even with finale taking place in Central Park as most of the game takes place right in the much familiar Manhattan to most, bringing realism to the game. Crysis 2 boasts open areas that allow the player to advance in several different ways. These areas are connected by linear segments or are pieced together with a cinematic. New York City has been invaded by a bipedal, mechanical squid-like race of aliens known as the “Ceph”. Additionally, military and medical personnel are struggling to thwart a virus that is rapidly spreading throughout the city. You are “Alcatraz”, the silent protagonist and a United States marine. Nestled in a submarine in the Hudson River, you and your squad are instructed to find and rescue Dr. Nathan Gould, a scientist who has essential insight and knowledge on Ceph. Shortly after your briefing, the invaders attack your submerged vessel. On the verge of death, you swim to shore and greeted by a person, a lone soldier donning an advanced body armor called the Nano Suit. Being infected with the virus, and his life waning, and you unconscious, he drags you to an abandoned warehouse. To make his situation worse, PMCs have been ordered to kill him on sight. He’s essentially a dead man walking, which becomes a common theme throughout the story. Knowing his demise is looming, he gives you his suit, in hopes that you will finish the mission he was unable to complete. After a brief monologue, without spoiling anything, his life is over, now dead leaving you, the Nano Suit. You eventually wake up and get back on your feet, with the soldier’s corpse before you. With a pistol in hand and after few basic tutorials, you’re outside. From this point on, it is now up to you to find Dr. Gould, discover why the Ceph have come to New York, stop the invasion as well as cure those infected with the alien virus. After your eventual rendezvous with Dr. Gould, you learn about the severity of the Ceph incursion as well as the critical role the Nano Suit plays in stopping it.
The story itself is fairly basic and easy to follow. There is no need to have played the first game to understand what is going on. There are a few references to the events from Crysis 1, but nothing so significant or in such detail that will confuse the player. Basically, you are a marine who has unexpectedly been appointed the task of killing a bunch aliens in New York City. Aside from the occasional painful groan, Alcatraz is mute and has no dialogue which was disappointing, but to a certain point necessary. Every character, both major and subliminal, play their role the way one would expect them to. For instance, military personnel exhibit the typical gung-ho bravado, which is a common personality trait exhibited in most first person shooters. Dr. Gould is a nerd. He is wordy in his diction, verbose and gives you more information than you need. Most of the time, whenever interacting with other characters, he is either cut off or completely ignored. Besides the Nano Suit’s AI, Gould, as well as other characters you meet, serves as your personal dispatcher and informant. He’ll tell you where you need to go or pick up the pace if you’re not going fast enough. He may remind some players of Otacon from Metal Gear Solid, but with a hint of Jeff Bridges. Overall, the dialogue is solid, but nothing that is exceptionally memorable. Fellow marines are full of expletives and have some witty one liners that you will get a kick out of. There is a plethora of action, people dying and stuff blowing up making the game as epic as ever. The campaign is action packed and will surely not disappoint anyone who has the ability to be entertained. Between action, there are much needed segments to give the player a breath of relief. Crytek put a lot of thought into the game’s pacing, giving you moments to regroup, reload and find out where to go and what exactly is going on. By the end of the game, you will have a firm understanding as to why the Ceph are in New York and what your purpose is. You will finish Crysis 2 without having questions that will cause you to lose sleep at night. With that said, the developers created a marginally compelling story, but avoided making it painfully basic and frankly would make a great film.
Controls for the game have been streamlined and modified in order to cater to console gamers. Just the sheer interface of the game menus and upgrade screens, among other things is very elegantly smooth and well as very easy to control. Right Bumper enables invisibility while left bumper activates armor mode decreasing physical damage and enhancing aiming capabilities while getting shot at. In the classic FPS console game style, a click of the left stick lets Alcatraz sprint. Tapping the B button (Circle for Ps3) during a sprint will make you slide, which is useful for getting under low obstacles in a hurry as well as stylishly killing enemies on the go. If you press down on the d-pad you will turn on your Nano Vision, which is basically thermal goggles where various yellow, orange and red hues show heat signatures. This is useful in dark places or areas where enemies tend to blend in with the surroundings. Reminding me of the latest Fallout games, you are able to pick up nearly any small to medium sized object around you, whether it’s a telephone or a bottle of water and throw it with the Right Trigger, holding down the trigger lets you throw it farther. You can even kill people with objects like barrels chuck at them (be careful of those flammable ones). Just don’t try and be sneaky clocking yourself while preparing to launch an object, because a floating object in mid air.. well it’s just a dead give away. You can even grab enemies by the beck and choke them out or toss them to their demise. With the right finesse, pressing A or the jump button will allow you perform a massive vertical jump as well as ledge climbs. Every single one of the aforementioned abilities use energy, even sprinting, your energy bar is indicated on the right-hand portion of the HUD. Once energy is depleted, you will have to wait for it to recharge. In spite of having a powerful suit, you are not invincible, Alcatraz is still human, taking damage as anyone would and he will die. So you cannot just run around using all your abilities as you like, it will take timing, finesse and strategy to be able to use your powers effectively to complete missions.
In large, open areas, pressing up on the d-pad will highlight points of interest on your HUD, and will help you decide on what course of action you may want to take. Maybe you want to use your cloak, dispatching your foes, one by one with stealth. Perhaps you want to ascend, jump to higher ground and take out enemies with a sniper rifle. Or, you can just run straight in, with guns blazing. All this is indicated by your visor and just pressing up on that d-pad gives you numerous tactical options, as you will find it difficult to just run into battle shooting everyone.. that really won’t work. For most scenarios, players can navigate obstacles and take out enemies in whatever method they see fit. Abilities and weapons seem limited, but there is good deal of freedom embedded within the game. When you kill the Ceph they will drop “Nano Catalysts” which is essential for you to pick up so you may upgrade your suit. Depending on the size of the enemy, they can drop Nano Catalysts in increments on 20, 100, 300, 500 and 2000. Tapping the back button once again brings up an elegant interface where Alcatraz will lift his left hand into center view. Each finger is assigned several abilities, each with their own cost. Obtain enough catalysts to make your footsteps quieter, or give yourself the ability to perform a powerful downward punch during a jump. These upgrades are not always so much as useful in the campaign other than a few of them, but in multiplayer they can make quite a big difference.
The suit upgrades however are not all the customization in the campaign as holding down the Back button will raise your weapon into the middle of the screen. From here, you can add on various scopes, silencers, laser sights and grenade launchers to your gun. You can carry up to two weapons of any type, a rocket launch and C4. Ammunition is scattered everywhere. It is unlikely, if ever, that you will run out of ammo but it does happen. There are special, rare weapons that you will encounter, such as the MIKE, that fires a concentrated microwave beam. Also, you can detach mounted turrets to give yourself more firepower, but at the cost of your mobility.
The AI in the game is relatively smart although there are occasional hiccups where allies (or enemies), will get stuck in a wall or forget how to fire their weapons and even just look like they are dancing behind a sandbag for a few seconds before they come to there senses. This is more of a short laugh and far from a game breaking issue. The Ceph tend to be smater and harder to kill than the human PMC’s, mainly due to their incredible speed and acrobatic abilities. There are four difficulty settings, all of which can be chosen when you first start the game, or changed at any time during the campaign (voiding any Achievements/Trophies), with them being Easy, Soldier, Veteran and Super Soldier. In addition the orchestral score is amazingly done by Borislav Slavov, Tilman Sillescu and most noticeably Hans Zimmer (Blockbuster film & game composer) and fits well with the whatever mood is being portrayed on-screen.
The multiplayer in the game is something entirely new and re-inventive as your don’t normally have to ability to become virtually invisible on the battlefield in most first-person shooters. Crytek has fully redone the multiplayer experience from the original Crysis giving the player 50 ranks the progress through plus 5 reincarnation re-boots which I am assuming is like prestige in the game. There are of course custom load outs tons of unlocks and a number of ways to customize you player. That is just the beginning as there is Nano Suit Modules that upgrade your suit but also ultimately will help increase your rank, upgrade weapons and eventually give you access to the Nanosuit 2! Now with all this new to you average first-person shooter, the multiplayer matches become intense, fast paced and action packed. The multiplayer is no walk in the park though even if you are used to first-person shooters as it takes a little getting used some one sneaking up behind you, invisible or power stomping you from above. Once you get used to it, you will have to use the modules, armor, stealth, weapons, mobility and the environment all in sync with each other to flawlessly overcome your opponent. Know when you to use what at the right time is essential to your success as well as having strategies, team based or not. You won’t do well running around looking for the next enemy to kill like in Call of Duty.
The games multiplayer offers 6 online modes which you will have to unlock as you rank up. The different modes being Instant Action, Team Instant Action, Crash Site, Capture the Relay and Extraction. The modes are as follows:
• TEAM INSTANT ACTION ‐ A standard game mode pitting 2 teams against each other. Kill as many
opponents as possible, whilst attempting to minimize your own deaths. Use the Nanosuit to sneak up on
enemies in Stealth mode, or charge in and gun them down in Armor.
• INSTANT ACTION ‐ A standard game mode pitting all against all. Kill as many opponents as possible.
• CRASH SITE ‐ A standard game mode that is capture and hold based.
• CAPTURE THE RELAY ‐ A standard game mode where there are 2 relays, one in each team’s base. Each
team attempts to use the Nanosuit’s abilities tactically to capture the enemies’ flag and return it to their
• EXTRACTION ‐ One team must locate the Ceph Ticks which are being guarded by the defending team, and
bring them back to the extraction point where the escape helicopter awaits. Extracting a tick gives that
team an energy upgrade to the Nanosuit which can be used tactically to capture the remaining ticks. There
are armor Ticks and Stealth Ticks. Round based.
• ASSAULT ‐ An asymmetrical game mode where one team play equipped with Nanosuits, attempting to
infiltrate the enemy stronghold and download the vital blueprints. The other team play as special forces
soldiers with brutal weaponry but without the dynamic abilities of the Nanosuit. 4 Rounds and only 1 life.
5 data terminals.
There are also game modifiers with some being unlocked right and other come in time being:
• STANDARD ‐ Regular version of the mode supporting up to 12 players of any rank.
• BEGINNER’S PLAYGROUND ‐ Restricts access to players of rank 10 and below only.
• PRO ‐ A more realistic combat experience, with reduced health, minimal HUD and
support bonuses disabled.
• CLASSIC ‐ Strips out the Nanosuit for a classic FPS flavor.
• FAST ROUNDS ‐ Minimizes the intermission times for players who just want the action.
• SOLO ‐ for individual players only – no squads allowed.
• SINGLE LIFE ‐ provides a tense and tactical experience where each player only
has 1 life per round.
You will also unlock up to 256 dog tags, some being more rare than others as you complete challenges in the game, which you can customize your player card with. The challenges also give you XP, like taking the least damage in a match or even taking to most damage in a match. As you progress in rank you will unlock weapons and by using those weapons you will unlock attachments for them. The weapon list includes 22 primary weapons, 4 secondary weapons, 5 explosives, a mounted machine gun and the single player only ‘Swarmer’ guided mini missile launcher unit. There are also 11 weapon attachments total that you can unlock being a suppressor(silencer), Grenade Launcher, Hologram, Light Shotgun, Gauss(Precision Shooting), Extra Mags, Single Shot(Switch between single shot fire and full auto) which even seems like a single shot causes more damage. You can also unlock Reflex Sight, Laser/IR Pointer, Assault Scope, and a Sniper Scope. Most of these are also available in single player as well. There are 12 maps in game; SKYLINE, IMPACT, PIER 17, LIBERTY ISLAND, PARKING DECK, EVAC ZONE, SANCTUARY, WALL STREET, TERMINAL, DOWNED BIRD and CITY HALL, with DLC Maps on the way (Shipyard, Park Avenue and Transit). There are also 21 Suit Modules with 3 Tiers each which include 7 armor modules (Threat Tracer, Proximity Alarm, Air Stomp, Armor Enhance, Nano Recharge, Detonation Delay, Energy Transfer), 7 Stealth Modules (Blindspot, Stealth Enhance, Tracker, Visor Enhance, Covert Ops, Jammer, Cloak Tracker) and 7 Power Modules (Side Pack, Point Fire Enhance, Aim Enhance, Weapon Pro, Loadout Pro, Rapid Fire, Mobility Enhance). There are also Support Bonuses which are literally like kill streak bonuses and they include: Maximum Radar, Orbital Strike, Nanosuit Jammer, Radar Jammer, Ceph Airstrike and Maximum Nanosuit – giving you unlimited energy for a short time. Last but not least, for those having a tough time and are dying a lot, there are Fatality Bonuses which include Deflection, Sniper Countermeasures and Shrapnel Resistance. With all these aspects in multiplayer, it can take time getting used to it, but at the same time open the door to a whole new multiplayer experience.
With Crysis 1 being dubbed have the best graphics in a video game, where do go from there, with the release of the sequel on multiple platforms? Crysis 2 has the some of the most impressive visual fidelity in a console game ever. Crytek put a remarkable effort into making sure that this game looked nothing short of amazing considering that the use of Cry Engine 3 would be optimized for three different platforms, especially consoles with limited memory and horsepower. The frame rate may drop on occasion but it never stutters or is disappointing much less noticeable in any way. Characters, objects and scenery are extremely detailed, where ever you are looking, highlights and shadows give everything a splendid visual pop, and create a wonderful range of depth. Even during the moments between action and sometimes especially, there is still an excess of visual goodness. Crysis 2 will impress you from start to finish.
Crysis 2, like it predecessor has set the graphical benchmark yet again. Crytek may not have revolutionized the first person shooter genre with this game. The story may be average at best. However, one cannot deny both the superb visuals and the overall, great presentation as Cry Engine 3 breaks boundaries in gaming opening doors for other games to do amazing things. It will give you a well rounded gaming experience, with enough challenge and unlockables to keep you entertained. Whether you buy it immediately, or wait for it to go on sale, at some point, it would be wise to add Crysis 2 to your collection.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
***Thanks to Adam Greer for his inputs to the review.
Has some of the best graphics seen on console games with incredibly detailed environments. Excellent, smooth interface. Multiplayer aspects that are in depth and are new to shooters while at the same time feeling familiar. 3d capable.
Predictable story. Limited arsenal of weapons that could have had more types or subclasses. Some of the Nano abilities are not all that useful in campaign while the more useful ones cost too much.