Thursday, April 7, 2011

Crysis 2 Review

Note: Don't consider this an 'official' review from me; just an approximation of one. My true reviews are more involved than this, and I don't do them until I have at least completed the game. While I am quite close to the end, I have not actually completed the campaign in its entirety.  (I have since completed the campaign). I also only focus on the campaign here; the multiplayer doesn't interest me and is not discussed to any detail.

Title: Crysis 2 (Xbox 360; 2011)

Crysis 2 takes place in an alien infested world ravaged by disasters of both the natural and unnatural variety. Society is on the verge of collapse, its human element fractured, its outlook for the future a bleak and empty mass of resignation. The main setting is the iconic, world famous New York City, the residents of which struggling to survive, facing both an epidemic plague of unknown origins, and the malevolent alien invasion. The city is in ruin, and no officials, police, military, mercenary, or otherwise, have been able to excise the interlopers. Their technology is too far advanced; we do not possess any technology advanced enough to counter them.

At least, until now.

There exists a piece of technology, long whispered about but never witnessed, believed by most to be myth, legend, lie. The Nano-suit. A biotechnological wonder of advanced technology and ingenuity, capable of transforming those who wear it into wonders of modern science. Now, one man must become humanities last hope. Donning the Nano-suit, you, the player, become that man.

You seek out the alien invaders with the goal of defeating them, one by one if you have to. The suit provides you with the abilities to tackle the advanced race attempting to conquer your world. Unfortunately, it also changes you. It gnaws at your psyche, and as it interacts with with your neurobiology you get the distinct feeling that the line between man and suit, once clearly defined, is blurring.

The only question that remains is, will you be able to control the suit and stop the alien horde, thereby rescuing humanity? Or will the suit destroy you, taking with you humanities' last hope?

Such is the story of Crysis 2. A fairly straightforward and by this time, well worn premise. Luckily, unlike the story, the gameplay is anything but common fare.

See, I do not much care for FPS games at this point. I find them to be mostly ho hum, repetitive, unimaginative, unrewarding games. Years of playing them has burnt me out on them. So, imagine my surprise when I play Crysis 2....and actually enjoy it.

The difference here, however, is that you can utilize stealth in this game, if you so choose (via the biosuit's cloaking ability) and this, combined with the high jumping, fast running speed, often lack of linearity (to a point), armour mode (ability to turn your suit's armour power on and basically become a walking tank for a bit), the fact that you can actually run from fights (my motif for the first 2/3 of the game: if stealth fails, RUN!), the ability to kick cars at people, the fact that the game actually demands a bit more out of the player than 'run down this hallway, point and shoot, then run down the next and encounter a scripted event, then rinse and repeat ad nauseam,' and the excellent presentation, has made this a title worth playing, in my opinion.

Of course, everyone's been talking about the graphics. Yes, it's beautiful; however, Crysis 2's graphics on the console really do not live up to the hype. Now, don't get me wrong, I was terribly impressed at first as well, but the more I played, the more I looked around and realized that, if you actually look at things in detail and up close, a lot of the objects in the game look downright poor. There are background objects which feature low resolution textures that look as though they would fit right in with a game from a decade ago. There is some rather evident texture pop in, as well as some object flickering and jagged edges on shadows.

Lol, the truck and background ground texture.

Lol, garden texture (right). LOL.
On the other hand, some things really are quite impressive, and it can look really amazing at different times throughout the campaign. The last few levels, however, are where it all really shines, in a remarkably beautiful looking series of nightime scenes. The city lights illuminating the dark, foreboding sky, the special effects (like sparks, and explosions), their scattering rays of light illuminating darkened surfaces, the background of the city skyline with, well, I won't say due to small spoilers (but it looks great) and all of just looks phenomenal. A bit grainy, but fantastic. Also impressive are the character models; they are spectacular throughout the game, that's for sure.


Again, if you really focus on the details, you'll see some really low resolution textures, and jagged shadows (no (or very little) anti-aliasing I guess) but it really does impress at the end, which I suppose goes along well with the increasing action and tension.

So, the game looks great, for the most part, and the gameplay is varied, which separates it from the pack. This variety is bolstered by the presence of the Nanosuit, which provides the player with enhanced attributes, such as speed and strength, as well as granting new abilities not naturally inherent to the species (such as the ability to cloak). The game, as I mentioned, is somewhat non linear, which helps to facilitate the stealth aspects (levels, however, differ in terms of their linearity; some are unfortunately quite linear, and others are wide open). In addition, there is not an over reliance on scripted events, which helps to keep the gameplay fresh and maintains the feeling of choice and variety, especially across playthroughs.

All of that being said, there certainly are some downsides to the proceedings, with respect to both the gameplay and the design. Crysis 2's campaign isn't perfect. It started off very promising, and I found myself engaged for the first few hours. Halfway through, however, and I found myself growing bored and questioning some of the design decisions, especially in a couple of areas mid game. There was some stuff done that seemed to me like padding for length. You would complete these objectives, and as you were doing them you'd be feeling as though you were being sent on what amounted to busywork missions.

This feeling was confirmed when there was basically no payoff for these actions, and the fact that the level design was such that completing these tasks was made as annoying as possible by some really unintuitive navigation (something that rears its ugly head at different junctures throughout the campaign). It just seems like they made you do some things simply to extend the game's length, and/or annoy you, and this etracts from the overall experience in a significant way.

The other main issue is the so called 'smart AI' as the developers have coined it. The AI exhibits major pathing issues. It's not uncommon to see an AI caught against an object, walking in place, completely stuck even though it could just back up or turn 90 degrees and be in the clear. Sometimes, they will also just stand there motionless while you attack them. It may provide a brief respite from the taxing, tense action, but it's still stupid, and immersion killing.

I'd say that this 10-12 hour adventure has been a mix of both fantastic and ho hum, with it averaging out to pretty good.



  1. Might be fun if years down the road I see it on Steam for $5. :P But I also am not really into FPS very often. This game looks like it could be fun for a while, especially since I'd be playing it on the PC, but right now its not worth the price tag for me.

    Good review btw.

  2. Thanks. I;m not much into FPS game smyself these days, as I said, but this one did enough to make it worthwhile....for one playthrough. No way I'd ever buy it, or play it again.

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