Crysis 2 Review

Crysis 2

It’s no secret that first-person shooters have stagnated. Carbon copies with shinier textures continue to sell incredibly well. Like these clones, Crysis 2 does little to create new material in the genre, though it cobbles together disparate gameplay elements that do create a level of interest that another modern Middle East liberation sim can’t. All the trappings are there, to be sure: reward-driven online multiplayer, customizable campaign attributes, the infamous “sandbox gameplay”… but haven’t I done this already?

In the jump from PC to consoles, gamers worried that the Crysis series would sacrifice the trademark high-fidelity graphics from Crysis for a wider audience, because everyone knows a game without mind-bending lightmass calculations and extreme texture morphing can hardly be called a game at all, right? Crysis 2 on consoles doesn’t exactly match the PC version in presentation, but it’s still one of the best-looking games on consoles today. Even aside from the fidelity, the design of “Independence Day” New York City has all the detail, destructible cover, and breathtaking set pieces that a modern shooter could dish out. Unfortunately, it’s a little redundant.

Almost every level hinges on the same premise: using the powers of the Nanosuit, navigate from start to finish however you see fit. This usually begins with a Tactical Assessment, where the player’s options are shoved into three or four suggested plans. Thankfully, these can be ignored, and Alcatraz, the protagonist and Nanosuit bearer, can utilize cloaking, heavy armor, acrobatics, or weapon-specific tactics to either pave the way to victory in blood or in nothing. Seriously, there are some levels that can just be walked through using stealth.

crysis 2

These choices are the saving grace of Crysis 2, because without the somewhat limited tool set available, I’d give up after the first firefight ended in dues ex machina number one. In between the catastrophic floods and collapsing buildings, the Tom Clancy lovers can have a field day sneaking in plain sight, performing stealth assassinations, and essentially turning the game into another Splinter Cell. And Terminator fans can take the more direct approach by flipping on additional armor and mashing down the trigger, offering a more conventional shooter experience. The levels are also designed to encourage creativity of movement (especially vertically) which adds another layer to the “player-driven experience.” The problem is that after four or five levels, the unique mechanics have been worn to a repetitive nub, despite the upgradeable Nanosuit abilities and parkour-oriented level design. There are varying locales, but a disappointing formula applied to all of them.

There is a story behind all of this, by the way, but it fails to arrest attention or capture imagination in any more than a supplementary fashion. The Nanosuit and its mysterious semi-alien origins surround the intrigue of the plot, but it’s devoid of almost any emotional pull (outside some suspiciously aloof huddled masses in the subway), and the biggest plot points hinge on technical science-fiction. The moment later in the game that was clearly intended to be the “NO WAY!” moment is as unremarkable as the rest because it’s hard to care about these characters or their journey. The whole thing is so disjointed, I barely ever knew my next objective or why I might be headed towards it. I think there was something about killing aliens…

crysis 2

What’s most interesting about Crysis 2 is below the plot on the unspoken, maybe even unintentional level of subtlety. The main character is a marine named “Alcatraz,” the name of a real-life site of a former military prison mainly housing prisoners of war (primarily Non-Americans or Native Americans), who inhabits the suit of a man called “Prophet” for whom he is consistently mistaken and hunted. The story takes place in New York City, America’s original melting pot, and one of the levels finds Alcatraz traveling to a military base on Roosevelt Island, formerly known as Welfare Island and home to not only an insane asylum but also, you guessed it, an island prison. Scattered throughout the game are the broken and washed up pieces of Lady Liberty herself, a symbol of American immigration, which, particularly in the 1920’s, caused significant spreading of not only cultural ideas but also foreign diseases analogous to the “Manhattan Virus” plaguing New York City’s denizens during Crysis 2. To top it all off, overheard dialogue in the first level amounts to “Those damn aliens better get of our land!”

When interesting sub-contextual messages are, arguably, the stickiest memory of a game, the rest must be fairly immemorable. The real value that most players will draw from Crysis 2 resides in its multiplayer mode, which contains all the standard carrot and stick upgrades that any AAA multiplayer system has today, along with the ability to cloak and enhance armor. Just like the campaign, though, these aspects wear down as quickly as the mediocre gunplay, though level-restrictive servers make for new challenges every ten or so levels gained.

Crysis 2 represents AAA shooter polish and cannibalization at its most aggressive, but immersion and intrigue near its least. It’s possible that I’ve simply become jaded by formula, but I imagine that most gamers will be likewise disappointed with a game that does the same so well and adds so little. And if there’s one phrase that can now send me into a searing, repetitive rage… “CLOAK ENGAGED.”


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Author: Dan Crabtree View all posts by
Dan is Managing Editor for GamerNode and a freelance gaming writer. His dog is pretty great. Check him out on Twitter @DanRCrabtree.

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