As with any other game, graphics are just a part of a larger product. Thankfully Crysis 2 isn’t just a graphical powerhouse or a tech demo, it is a solid shooter that is the strongest alternative for those worn out from playing Call of Duty or Halo.
The level design of Crysis 2 is the antithesis of Call of Duty. While there are moments of corridor shooting the majority of time is spent in inventive wide open mini-sandbox areas with multiple paths towards the objective. Not only does the level design cover a physically wide area, there is also a scale of height that is not present in other shooters. Instead of simply pursuing objectives at street level, Crysis 2 allows players to take to the rooftops and even below the streets into the sewers. The different alternatives challenge the formulaic level design of other shooters and helps define the game’s style.
The style of approaching situations with multiple alternatives is not only present in the level design but in the gameplay mechanics. The protagonist, Alcatraz, wears a one of a kind nanosuit that gives him unique abilities that provide a distinct advantage in combat. The three abilities are strength, stealth and armour. Stealth allows Alcatraz to become almost invisible to onlookers, armour increases the amount of damage Alcatraz can take while strength amplifies running speed and jumping height. These special abilities drain the nanosuit’s energy supply over prolonged use, making the player balance the type of tactics they employ.
These different abilities in combination with the unique level design present many options on how to tackle different situations. Stealth can be employed to sneak around enemies and avoid conflict entirely or used as part of a hit and run tactic. Strength allows you to throw several objects at enemies, kick cars at them or jump down from the rooftop while pounding the ground to send them flying. Armour would allow you to take enemies head on or survive massive fall or explosion damage.
Using a combination of abilities becomes essential when faced with multiple enemies. Aside from some minor issues, the enemy A.I is quite adept during combat and will often try flanking manoeuvres if you stay in one position for too long. The enemy A.I becomes an entirely different experience when aliens make their debut using walls to run on and lunging themselves at Alcatraz.
Aliens play a large role in the story of Crysis 2. The story can seem rather complex and convoluted due to the constant action which can be distracting and the sheer amount of levels. There are eighteen single player levels in Crysis 2 and remembering a plot hook from an earlier level and how it ties into current events can prove challenging. It may also simply be because the combat is so engrossing that I didn’t want to focus on anything else. That being said the story was penned by one of the best sci-fi authors of our time Richard Morgan. There is even an achievement dedicated to the man.
Aside from loading screens the entire story is presented from Alcatraz’s first person perspective. Upgrading the suits armour or customizing weapon attachments is also done via the nanosuit’s heads up display. It may seem like a minor point but it does help to create a sense of immersion and realism that is often broken in other games for prerendered cutscenes.
Crysis 2 Multiplayer Review
The length of the single player campaign will have gamers spending seven to fifteen hours with Crysis 2. The multiplayer component could well increase that number if it catches on. Crysis 2 shipped with twelve multiplayer maps, each of which is a slightly altered version of an area from the single player campaign. As I stated during the single player review the level design in the multiplayer maps are incredibly different than most other shooters you have played through. Each map is non-linear and is not symmetrical creating some interesting conflict dynamics over points of power.
The different abilities of the nanosuit also make their way into multiplayer with the ability to upgrade each ability by unlocking different perks. Much like Call of Duty, Crysis 2 has a progressive leveling system with new perks, weapons, attachments and game types becoming available as players rank up to the maximum level fifty.
Crysis 2 multiplayer does take some getting used to, particularly learning how to effectively use each perk and ability as well as how to counter them. The amount of maps coupled with several different game modes should increase the amount of time the audience spends with the game. I’m interested to see how people embrace the online experience and how large of a community forms around the game.
My time spent with Crysis 2 both online and offline were very positive. There were a few minor issues or annoyances I found while playing through the game but nothing that warranted mentioning in the review. The length and quality of the single player campaign alone is enough to recommend the game, the additional multiplayer component only increases its value. At the very least Crysis 2 can become the game that you show off to friends regarding how great the graphics can be on the Xbox 360.
This review is based on a retail copy of the 360 version of Crysis 2.