Vault Play: Crysis 2
Platform | Release Date
360, PS3, PC | March 22, 2011
Developed by Crytek
Published by Electronic Arts
Aliens are decimating New York City, only you have the technology to survive. Adapt in real time using the unique Nanosuit 2 Stealth, Armor and Power abilities, then tackle the alien menace in ways a regular soldier could only dream of. Crysis 2 redefines the visual benchmark for console and PC platforms in the urban jungle of NYC. Be The Weapon.
Crysis 2 desperately wants you to care about its story. Characters constantly talk at your character over the radio. In-engine cutscenes frequently take control of the action. Modern Warfare-style interstitials fill the load screens with technobabble. Aside from a killer twist eighty percent of the way through, the story is a steaming pile of…ugh.
The game is constantly talking but all I ever hear is, “blah, blah, blah.”
Revisiting Crysis 2 has been an odd experience. Because I used the game as a frequent tool for hardware benchmarking, I’ve been through the first half of the game six or seven times, and certain sections of the game over 100 times. In replaying the game, I cranked the difficulty up, started a fresh playthrough and hammered on the game until I was done. It’s been a mostly enjoyable ride, but all-too-reminiscent of Crysis.
Crytek’s first entry is best known for crushing hardware requirements at the time but few talk about the stunning gameplay. Enemies were intelligent and the island setting was a massive sandbox to play with, but the terrain and mission objectives offered enough guidance to keep it out of “open world” territory. Crysis 2 at its best is a more focused experience than Crysis, but offers many of the same sandbox thrills. The sections I’ve played multiple times? I still found new ways to beat them this time around.
The first half of the game is an incredible joy. If you’re at all familiar with the mechanics of the series (i.e., abuse the hell out of cloaking), crank it all the way up to Post-Human Warrior and you’ll thank me later. Human enemy AI is pretty dumb, but the player as Alcatraz is a glass cannon. With judicial use of the cloaking ability and silenced weapons, you can tear through the game. Make one mistake and you’ll be its breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Stealth also plays a large role in fighting the Ceph, who show up much earlier in this game, and are also much more intelligent in fighting against you. They will aggressively rush corners they glimpsed you cloaking in, ping sonar to reveal your position, and also take considerably more damage than human enemies to bring down. I didn’t hate fighting them this time around, and that’s a huge compliment to Crytek.
When Crysis 2 goes south at the halfway mark, it’s not nearly as bad as Crysis’ awful zero-gravity-but-underground water levels, but close enough that it made the repressed memories come back. The middle of the game is unrelentingly linear and by the time the game opens up again I just wanted it to be over.
I’m okay with a corridor here or there. Early levels switch seamlessly between optional stealth approaches and mandatory gunfights, but the later sequences increasingly take the stealth approach away. Nowhere is this worse than in the thrice-repeated Pinger boss fight. This walking tank repeatedly blasts an EMP which fries your cloaking ability. Fine, take the suit’s edge away, but don’t claim the tank has a weak spot when that “weak” spot can withstand 5+ direct RPG hits. Make the tank more aggressive, but also weaker, and it would have been fun. Once. As it stands, I almost rage quit the third time it showed up.
Crysis 2 plays phenomenally well, especially in the first 6 hours, but it could have been so much more. For one, Crytek should have thrown a lot of the story out, or at least lightened up on the budget-intensive scripted sequences. Imagine if those extra resources had been put into AI programming for the human enemies, procedural levels (or at least randomized enemy placement), and made the game all about replayability. The core mechanics offer a massive toolkit but the story is just so mind-numbingly idiotic. After finally seeing the game to its end, I have zero desire to return.
I’m not sure whether that makes me more excited, or terrified, for Crysis 3’s impending launch. What I’ve seen via the multiplayer beta (something I never touched in Crysis 2) is really good. Despite both games using CryEngine 3, even the beta version is leaps beyond the prior game in fidelity. If the single-player levels offer a similar degree of detail, I’m stoked to jump back into the Nanosuit. Just keep the story out of my face.