They say clothes maketh the man. In the case of Crysis 2 they maketh you an invisible death-dealing supersoldier. Crysis 2 is a first-person shooter that uses interesting suit abilities and brilliant visuals, to be a bit of a powerhouse for PC and console gamers alike.
Crysis was the great looking game that few played, due to the demanding PC requirements. Its second outing is a bit more market-friendly, coming to the PC in a usable form, while also being released for console gamers too. From what I can gather the story loosely follows on from the first but I say this early on, if you are looking for a powerful narrative this ain’t the place to look.
While in New York City during a viral outbreak, the super soldier from Crysis gives you (cue standard marine grunt) his “Super-suit”, and the suit is the key to saving the world. That’s about it really. Don’t let that put you off, as the guts of the game, i.e. the shooting, is rock solid and great fun when combined with your abilities.
You have three main abilities; Armour, Stealth, and Power, which you can level up through the game by collecting alien DNA, which drops when you kill them. You spend the DNA, or “Catalyst”, on power-ups such as faster armour recharge, tracking invisible enemies, or faster transition in and out of stealth. This is all done “in-game” and is a nice application of the levelling idea without menus. Stealth is essentially invisibility, and it does make you feel like a bad-ass, but like many games that rely on stealth, it shows up the holes in the enemy A.I. Still there is something special about getting the perfect ‘neck-snap’ on a muppet baddie.
Armour lets you go the way of the tank. Sacrifice some mobility, rip off a mounted heavy machine gun, armour up and start mowing stuff down while the bullets bounce off you. On the higher difficulty settings you have to be a lot more tactical using a balance of armour to hit hard, but saving enough power to use stealth to sneak out of contact and recharge.
The weapons are standard fair with shotguns, assault rifles, sub-machine guns and pistols. There are a couple of odd ones which are great fun like a micro-wave gun that cooks the aliens in their suits, and a lighting gun that fire bolts of electricity. Once again the cool “in-game” customization system, similar to the levelling system, is used for weapons. You hold the back button and your supersoldier holds the current weapon up in front, and then each face button corresponds to what attachment you want, like scopes, extended mags, silencers or ‘nade launchers. The more you use a weapon the more unlocks you get. Overall it feels very slick and can be changed on the fly but the limited array of guns means you will probably find a couple of loadouts and stick with them.
Putting these abilities and weapons into use is the strength of Crysis 2. Within each level are sub-levels or arenas that are essentially lite-puzzles that you can solve any way you want. Your suit will prompt you to assess the scene to see what options you want to take. These can be front-on assaults, sneak ‘n stealth, or taking advantage of the verticality in the environments. This has real similarities to Halo when you have to change your methods depending on your enemies. However Crysis 2 certainly doesn’t boast the variation of enemies or strong AI that Bungie offers.
Visually the game is breathtaking to say the least. It is without a doubt the best looking first-person shooter I have played on a console. The first thing that struck me while standing on a destroyed New York street, was the light and colour. It was such a nice change from the ‘Unreal’ browns and greys that seem to saturate our games nowadays. The sun streaming through the tree tops, the green grass and blue sky — it all looks so good. Some of the vistas you overlook before bringing the hurt are real post-card images (even if they are a bit apocalyptic). It does stumble at times though, with some pop-in and up close textures. But from what I have read that appears to be the consoles, as apposed to the game code which was produced for PC as the lead SKU.
I played through the game in 5.1 Surround and it was solid — nothing made me take pause and say “wow” but it served its purpose and immersed me in the battle at hand.
Multiplayer is such a big part of games nowadays and Crytek have made a solid entry. It’s all standard stuff with free-for-all and team deathmatch, but the armour and invisibility change things up, with suit loadouts that have options you can unlock as you level up. There are also match variations such as full armed soldiers vs. super-suits only armed with pistols. I played a bit and enjoyed the cat ‘n mouse element, and the verticality in the levels. You can jump about 10 metres high so jumping from roof to roof is a fast way to traverse the map, but you will burn through your suit power as opposed to parking up with stealth engaged, waiting as long as you want to strike. Overall it’s a good blast and some will love the niche suit elements.
I played this on the 360 and I would say this is a must play, even if only for the single player. On the standard difficulty it’s a 10 hour run through. On “Supersoldier” (Hard) I would say another 3 hours on top, as two good hits and you’re dead, so sneaking and planning are a must. The visuals are very impressive and the core gunplay is as good as any industry leader. Multiplayer is worth a run but I got the feeling of some balancing problems with all the suit options. Without a doubt the strength of Crysis 2 is the solid campaign, which as soon as I hit the finishing screen, I loaded up and started again.