Friday, 8 April 2011

Game Review - Crysis 2

Formats: (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

At last console owners can tell their hardcore PC building friends to shut up, as Crytek's renowned system-killing FPS comes to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Having missed out on the previous installment, will most consoles owners have the confidence to jump straight into the sequel, or will they suffer from a Crysis of faith?

Picking up 3 years after the events in the first game, Crysis 2 depicts a shattered New York in the grip of a terrible flesh-melting viral outbreak as well as a horrifying alien invasion. Talk about your bad days! Stepping into the stealth-cloaked shoes of Prophet, new silent protagonist Alcatraz dons the heavily advertised Nanosuit and uses its increased armour, power, speed and stealth to dominate his enemies and master his environment.
At least that's what I was expecting from this game. Upon encountering my first small set of enemies, I was surprised to find my heavily armoured super-soldier being bested by the lowliest of grunts. After restarting the first section a number of times, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and chose to sneak past my unstoppable adversaries using the Nanosuit's stealth mode. Indeed, many of my early experiences with this game involved me tiptoeing around invisibly, quietly exclaiming expletives whenever a NORMAL SOLDIER MAN walked in front of me unexpectedly. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't playing as a highly trained US marine wearing a cyborg super-suit leave you feeling slightly empowered?
But don't get me wrong: things do get better. I'm not sure if it's because the level design becomes a bit more manageable or if it's because your weapons and armour deal and absorb more damage, but after a while things start to click. Since you can take more punishment, you feel more confident in trying out some of the more complicated moves and strategies, and the game becomes much more rewarding.

Of course, all this talk of rewarding gameplay and difficulty curves is piecemeal to some of you. The more pressing issue of "But how are the graphics, though?" is surely more important. Well, I'll start by saying that the visuals are, hands down, the best I've seen on a console. While they suffer from a low draw-distance and various other glitches (at several points during the game my gun magically disappeared), I was at times completely taken aback by the incredible environments, particularly by the use of lighting within them. Crytek has done a phenomenal job of creating a range of believable lighting effects, from stark noon-day sunshine to the brief muzzle flash of gunfire in a darkened room, and even the eerie glow of extra-terrestrial machinery. On top of that, the developers have put a lot of effort into creating intricate and interesting environments to explore. The virtual landscape of a destroyed New York is one that has to be seen to be believed. Obviously this game would look better on a high-spec PC, but this is probably the best looking game most console owners will play.

On paper, Crysis 2 appears to be the greatest game in existence; Incredible visuals, customisable weapons and on-the-fly armour abilities, smart enemy AI and a strong and exciting (but not necessarily emotive) storyline all point towards the AAA blockbuster title that everyone expects. However the early portions of the game lack that certain spark, and that may prevent many people from discovering a real feast, peppered with great set-pieces and topped with a delicious twist ending (let's just say the main character suffers a 'Crysis of identity'! Ho-ho!) . The online component is also great fun to play, and has an addictive level up and unlock ranking system, and encourages players to select different classes and armour abilities in order to back each other up. If that wasn't enough to keep you playing, the single player portion contains loads of secrets to discover, as well as a new game+ mode that allows you to carry your upgrades through to subsequent playthroughs. Even if you're new to the Crysis franchise, I suggest you slip on a Nanosuit and Power Sprint to your nearest CEX to pick up a copy!

Lukao gives Crysis 2 8 gun attachments out of 10.
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