This has been a good month for shooter fans. Earlier this month we got the controversially marketed Homefront and today the long anticipated followup to 2007’s visual juggernaut Crysis is finally here. The Crysis series is most well-known for its incredible visuals, and its in this department where Crysis 2 excels. But crazy realistic effects and high polygon counts aren’t enough to sustain interest in a game, it also has to have a gripping story, compelling characters and for shooters specifically, a finely tuned arsenal of weapons.
If Halo: Reach, Black Ops and Homefront are growing stale and you’re looking for a game to help spice up your collection of shooter games, Crysis 2’s crumbling New York city setting might just be the breath of fresh, and somewhat dusty air you need. So why don’t you strap on your Nanosuit and brave this spoiler free review with me? Come on, we can do it together. The Baby Factor: If the gunplay (and looming alien threat) of Halo got together with Killzone’s sexy visuals, Crysis 2 would be their beautiful and freakishly strong offspring.
One of the first things you’ll notice about this game is its stunning visuals. The game opens with a bang, literally, and from then on it just gets better. The amount of detail in the environments is stunning and they help make the city actually feel like a futuristic New York that’s just barely survived an alien attack. There’s little time to take in the scenery as the world crumbles around you you’ll likely be busy getting to know your new Nanosuit enhanced abilities.
First and foremost, the gunplay. Each of the guns feel strong, they have a sense of weight and they sound pretty damn satisfying when you’re using them to cut down the waves of baddies that come your way. Much of the arsenal you’ll get to choose from consists of the classic weapons any shooter fan will be familiar with, like assault rifles, sniper rifles, pistols, shotguns and a variety of grenades. They cause all sorts of chaos and don’t take any getting used to. On top of the various guns in each category there’s also some light customization for you as well. Want to go in silently? Throw on a silencer.
When you want to get up close and personal with the guys you’ll be killing that’s when the various execution moves come to play. You can sneak up behind unsuspecting enemies before stabbing them or snapping their necks or you can walk right up to them, grab ’em by the throat and snap their neck. My first couple hours with the game I was a neck-breaking fiend, and you can be one too.
This is a game that’s been built to give you multiple ways to go through an area. If you want to go in guns blazing that’s a choice, but if you’d rather find a vantage point where you can activate your Visor and decide on the optimal approach to eliminating each and every soul in your way. The level design offers plenty of options for either choice, and the Visor’s handy ability to target enemies Splinter Cell: Conviction style makes keeping track of your foes quick and painless.
The Visor also lets you eavesdrop on an enemy’s conversation, find weapons and ammunition on the battlefield and it even marks the places where you can best unleash your chosen play style, whether it’s the prime point to toss a grenade or the top spot for a stealthy attack. When things get a little hairy you can activate your Nanovision, a helpful little feature similar to Infrared vision that lets you easily spot any heat signatures in the area. And when the air is thick with dust this is something you’ll be thankful for. I know I was. Plus, even when it’s not necessarily needed I actually enjoyed activating my Nanovision, cloaking and making that ticking sound the Predator makes before it attacks. Yeah, I’m a nerd.
Don’t worry, you won’t be exclusively fighting nameless soldiers here. Throughout the game you’ll have to take on various well-armed vehicles, including helicopters, and when fighting humans get dull there are the Ceph. The Ceph are the aliens that are unleashing a variety of destructive flavors on New York City. They’re fast, strong, and they can scale small buildings in a single bound. Add to that their alien weaponry and they’re a formidable foe alone, even more so when it’s you against multiple aliens.
If you’re looking at the multiplayer as the main reason for getting this game, I suppose it would be remiss of me not to touch on that a bit. First off, I’m terrible at the Crysis 2 multiplayer. Granted, I’ve only played a handful of games, but generally speaking I’m above average when it comes to shooters. I say this so you know that a large majority of my experience with the game’s online mode was spent respawning. With that said, the respawning is quick so I’m thrown back into the chaos after a few short seconds so I can wander around aimlessly until I get killed again.
The multiplayer maps are just as gorgeous as many of the set pieces found in the single-player campaign. I should know since I spent a good amount of time looking around the detail heavy locations, which incidentally, might’ve been the reason I died so often. There’s a great variety in the maps as well, some take place in roof top glasshouses, alien crash sites, city streets and a pier, to name but a few. The variety also makes its way into the character customization as well. You can choose your class, create custom classes (much like the Call of Duty series), pick what attachments you want your weapons to have, choose your dog tag and you can customize your abilities (like the ground slam move that never gets old.)
Crysis 2 has it all. The single-player is great, takes a good amount of time to complete and has more than a few memorable moments you’ll be thinking of long after you beat it. The multiplayer is just as good; there are plenty of modes to choose from including the familiar Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes, the character customization is satisfying and the kill streak bonuses are very cool.
The Final Word: This is an easy recommendation for genre fans, though I doubt they need my opinion to justify getting this game. For everyone else this is a must-play, it’s gorgeous, fun and when it’s over it’ll leave you wanting more.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Crysis 2, which was provided by the publisher.