Crysis 2 Reader Review
Looking back, it was a real achievement making a game that was so graphically outstanding that even now, almost 4 years later, it is still used as a benchmark of a computer’s graphical prowess.
Crytek previously specialised in open ended first person shooters set in lush tropical environments. Part of their appeal was the tactical freedom you were given to achieve your objective. There was very little hand holding. Far Cry and Crysis were rightly praised for the enemy A.I. behaviours which seemed a cut above most other games of a similar type. Enemies would intelligently fan out, flank or call for reinforcement. This added to the sense of immersion. Even if the gun play didn’t appeal to you the environments were so lush and pretty that just wandering around them was almost akin to being on a nice holiday.
This game is transposed to a ‘Cloverfield’ type mid apocalyptic New York City. Once again you are tasked with initially taking out swathes of opposing mercenaries with occasional battles against the Alien ‘Cephs’. Helping you in this task is your superpowered suit, that now seems to have taken on a life of its own and deemed itself responsible for single handedly eradicating the alien threat.
At the beginning of each mission you are given a broad overview of what the main objective is. As you arrive at certain areas the suit informs you that ‘tactical options’ are available. These may direct you to a turret, or a weapons dump or perhaps a good sniping area. I felt these interrupted the flow of the game a little and removed some of the challenge. Given the general reduction in freedom from the previous titles, it might have been better to force players to explore the areas and discover these places for themselves.
The suit retains the same basic powers as the last game, although their use has been streamlined to two basic button presses. Stealth mode invokes a cloaking device and armour mode unsurprisingly beefs up your defence. Superspeed and Strength are initiated by holding down the sprint, jump or melee buttons. This seems much easier than the fiddling about with the middle mouse button that was necessary in the last game. This time the suit is upgradable. Currency can be accumulated from the bodies of dead ‘cephs’ and spent on suit enhancements which can reduce the challenge still further. Proximity detectors, guard direction trails, reduced suit power consumption and the like are all available.
The relocation to a city location allows a degree of verticality to the action. Battles can take place over rooftops, although the importance of securing higher ground does not seem to influence the tide of battle much.
There are fewer vehicle sections to add variety to the action in this game, perhaps reflecting the more constrained environment in the city. There was certainly nothing to rival the awesome tank level in the first game.
The visuals are genuinely arresting in places. The harbour areas and some of the rooftop sunsets were particularly memorable. I played the game in 3D. The effect was quite understated but worked well. By and large, the game is far better optimised than the first title. There was none of the crippling slowdown that marred the climax to the first game.
Despite its level of polish and high production values, the experience left me a little cold. I did not enjoy the city location as much as the previous tropical locations and the lack of freedom was disappointing. I think for me though, the main problem was just a general malaise and apathy towards the straight forward FPS format. It just felt too familiar and there was nothing to really elevate it above previous titles that I played in the past.