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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Crysis 2 - A Few Thoughts

Title: Crysis 2Systems: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
Release Date: March 22nd, 2011
Formats: Subtitled, Online Capabilities, 1080i HD, CryEngine 3
ESRB: M for Mature (16 in the UK)
Developers / Publishers: Crytek UK / Electronic Arts

Let's be honest: Science Fiction is a pretty popular genre for video games. With stellar releases like Halo: Reach and Starcraft II popping up in the last year, not to mention Fallout: New Vegas's intelligent, futuristic apocalypse (in a way that's sci-fi), world, the realism in games seems to have toned down, included in games like Mass Effect.

Crysis is a real eye-opener. Fenced in by breathtakingly earth-shattering visuals and a tight FPS feel, mixed with a new, unique game engine and strategy elements, the previous Crysis game (and it's expanded, less talked about version) was definitely a shocker for 2007. Now, nearly five years later, comes Crysis 2, a highly anticipated follow-up to Crytek UK's masterpiece. In all honesty, I wasn't expecting a whole lot. When an earth-shattering first game comes out, you wonder: "Will the sequel be better?" In the case of Modern Warfare (remember, this is all opinion-based), that's not happening. In cases like Mass Effect and Halo, yes, the sequels are better. Ultimately, Crysis 2 isn't better. Though the expansion from the PC-only game to other modern day gaming system is a big step up for the series, not to mention an improved multiplayer mode.

Crysis 2 is not full of nostalgic reminiscing. Don't expect the large variety from the 1st game. The setting is different, your protagonist is different, the enemies are different. This is set in a post-apocalyptic (man, everyone seems to like that) New York (poor New York, always used to be apocalyptic), but there's a twist: it's been evacuated due to aliens. So, you have to "take care" of the aliens.

If there's one thing that I heavily enjoyed romping through in Crysis 2, was the awesome combat. You still have abilities from the original Crysis, such as turning invisible, adding limited-time weapon attachments, but you have a new Nanosuit, called the (yeah, unoriginal) Nanosuit 2. You can kick cars, you can vault walls, throw anything around you, perform special melee moves on enemies. In fact, when you fire an assault rifle and burst down anything in your path, you'll know something's changed, and for the better. From Crytek's long-time experience and expectations for Crysis 2, it should pass by as no surprise that Crysis 2 is indefinitely an improvement over the original Crysis, in terms of gameplay.

Bugs, though, are oddly present. I've seen some questionable AI movements present in Crysis 2. In fact, when the half-always present dumb alien just sits around on his ass, it made it somewhat easier. Granted, the sense of threat and danger is present in this alien-invested New York vision, but it doesn't exactly show outside the visuals and character interaction, not to mention the amount of stealth forced inside said game. And the save system annoys me to the point of smashing buttons, it's all checkpoint-based, which gets tedious and furiously repetitive.

There is thankfully a long plot to keep a fan satisfied. Your character, Alcatraz, has an interesting story that's easy to follow, and lengthy for those who want to keep on going. And there's plenty. The violence does seem very over-the-top. Firing rifles and smashing enemies into walls, or strangling someone until their vocal cords are entangled is very fun indeed. (That kind of sounds like I get sick pleasure out of homicide, but whatever) But stealth is becoming more and more forced into the game, as I said before. You can skip entire stages of combat by just engaging a stealth mode, sneaking off, waiting in a spot when your stealth area discharges, wait a ridiculously short couple of seconds for it to re-energize, then sneak off again. You just rinse and repeat, and then boom, you're done.

Since I never have exactly been one for Crysis's multiplayer, I'm pleased to say that the sequel is actually quite brawny and interesting. It's straightforward and based on multiplayer today, basically. There's the team deathmatch, which pits players in the Nanosuits versus regular armored soldiers, the 'defend objective' mode, called Crash Site, my personal favorite, where you have to defend pods, and other modes to keep you entertained. The maps are nicely designed and diverse, so it's quite nice to see a change of pace (though they are all set in New York City, perhaps to follow the game's story?)

Crysis 2 is a game that sets high expectations, and for the most part, I think it meets them. The scripting is interesting. The visuals are breathtaking, I can't play this game on an HDTV without standing there in awe. There's a lot of length and diversity in the game to keep any gamer entertained. There's still the numerous moments where bugs will piss you off, and it can be difficult (or sometimes too easy, and that's a stab at the stealth), but overall, I highly recommend it. It's (hard to believe) an improvement over the first.

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