Chaos has erupted in Manhattan, New York, as an infectious virus eats the flesh of countless inhabitants. From an incredibly well done first person visual perspective, you follow the soldier, Alcatraz, as he and his team make their way up the Hudson River in a submarine to investigate the situation. When the ship is attacked by an unidentified enemy, you escape the flooding death trap only to be mowed down by plasma-like gunfire at the surface. Aliens are in New York.
Alcatraz is a marine, a common grunt, and as he lay dying in the water he sees a man, “Prophet,” battling in futuristic armor as players of the previous of games may recognize. Prophet drags the dying marine out of the water and gives him a gift, the nanosuit, before revealing that his own time is up – the infection got him. The suit keeps Alcatraz alive, making him a super weapon that may hold the key to defeating the alien invasion.It’s a wonderful premise, but unfortunately rises to none such potential.
Told entirely from the human perspective, the situation in Manhattan is complicated. The U.S. military is desperately attempting to evacuate civilians, while a private military company called CELL seems to have its own goals in what to do with you, the man at large in a nanosuit. Multiple problems occur with how this narrative carries along, largely because much of the game is simply traveling among repetitive set ups– running through fortified zones of enemies to reach a scientist to speak with, or going to aid groups of soldiers. Everything about the game’s pacing is simply direction after direction – “I need to see you,” “hold this position,” “go through this tunnel.” By the time you actually get to some plot development, it’s when things really start to deteriorate.
The dialogue is horrendous, and while that might be an aspect most Crysis fans would naturally not care about, Crysis 2 is a rare breed of game that truly does grate on the ears. Whether it’s the ramblings of your scientist friend, Gould, or the over-the-top outbursts of profanity laced anger from other characters, nothing sounds rational in Crysis 2. Each conversation ranges from humorous to annoying, from cliché to simply nonsensical. Even your nanosuit feels the need to repeat every minuscule direction you receive in a heavily computerized, droning voice. Though its predecessors may have had equally shallow plots and characters, Crysis 2 is a game that takes itself very seriously. It centers on a humanistic approach of how it feels to defend a city populated with innocent lives, and this comes across as awkward, out of place, and pretentious thanks to the hugely melodramatic script that’s in your face at every turn. It may be easy to shrug off and simply enjoy the eye candy, but the amount of effort seen in the game’s impressive cinematic presentation falls short of having any real substance.
The trump card of Crysis games, the nanosuit, can engage in a variety of functions at the cost of suit energy: Cloaking makes you invisible to enemies, allowing you to avoid dangerous encounters, pick off enemies with silenced weapons, or sneak up for stealth kills. Activating armor gradually depletes suit energy as it gives you increased protection. And kicks, punches, and jumps can be charged to powerful effect for any reason you see fit. As seen through your visor, the suit helps you out in identifying options to take advantage of in each zone your pass through. Sniping from an elevated point, restocking or grabbing a new weapon from a nearby munitions dump, opportunities to stealth, and turrets or vehicles to utilize — it’s all up to you. Like its predecessors, Crysis 2 touts these abilities heavily in how it affects typical first-person shooter gameplay. It’s all truly a good bit of fun, especially if it’s your first entry to the series where the idea of the nanosuit certainly feels quite novel. The game’s incredible production values really make the actual gunplay enjoyable, however basic it may seem, and give the weapons some real weight and control with a rather raw sense of power. Aliens bust apart in a gooey mess, explosions are hearty, and there are some awfully beautiful set pieces to play through. However, while encounters appear to be a playground of possibilities, it quickly becomes clear how limited the nature of Crysis 2 really is.
The primary issue is that its concept of variety is vastly overplayed – there are really not many interesting approaches for the creative player to take. You can stealth kill an entire encampment, or quite factually, cloak past most encounters in the game entirely. Your other choice is to engage in frantic firefights. That’s it. There might be a vehicle in one zone or a turret there, but at the end of the day each encounter is very similar to the last, and the options your helmet highlights for you is really just pointing out fairly obvious elements that any title of the shooting genre would contain. Enemies are challenging though, and can tear you down rather quickly if you don’t balance the use of your suit energy. But they also come in very little variety, ranging from basic human soldiers to more agile, melee oriented aliens, both being suspect to your usual trick of hide-and-go-seek. Throw in some more armored foes that take a few grenades to defeat, and you have a very typical, if not generic, shooter.
A large reason why Crysis 2 ultimately comes across as routine is the environment you’re placed in – – a city. On paper the idea of bringing the super soldier of the North Korean jungle to tear up New York sounds awesome, but Crysis 2 limits the player to a stifling point. The city environment is notably less free than the jungle of its immediate predecessor, Warhead, but on top of this challenge, the suit itself if notably less impressive. Maximum speed is no longer an option; instead a sprint key depletes energy and seems like a light jog compared to zipping around in the previous games. On top of that, your super strength now comes in chargeable bursts that leave you defenseless after draining all your energy, rendering its usage impractical, especially on harder difficulties. The feeling of freedom is stifled from the tired use of the same set ups and cramped zones with no power to break the experience open. You can spend as much time as you please trying to cloak through here, or open fire there, but all that awaits you in the next zone is another identical encampment, maybe this time with a turret, at most. Nothing about such a playground is memorable.
Historically, the developers behind the Crysis franchise have had a hard time bringing the nanosuit concept into a smoothly flowing multiplayer experience, and understandably so. It’s undeniably frantic and questionably balanced with everyone running around with super powers, namely the ability to stealth. You sacrifice a great deal of survivability to run around as the invisible killer, so it’s more interesting than game breaking, but it also comes across as a bit gimmicky — thrown in with no real thought into how it would play out. Crysis 2 does indeed makes the biggest improvements yet seen, but really only in the form of the commonly accepted rank reward system shooters so often incorporate these days. It doesn’t blow the roof off anything in multiplayer FPS, but it can have its moments, and is all round a fair bit of fun in much the same way the single player is. Gun customization and suit perks transfer from the single player in the form of unlockable perks, but beyond the superficial attempts to egg you on, there’s not enough depth to the game to keep an impressive culture around it.
From start to finish Crysis 2 will satisfy a good many of itchy trigger fingers, and it’s a ride worth enjoying for its admirably presented use of the first-person perspective. It wavers, however, namely failing to deliver on its promise of power and choice, muddling its beautiful scenery with a feeling of limitation that shouldn’t be there — turning what was the unique concept of a shooter into another unrecognizable face in a crowd of many
Love it or Hate it: Safe Bet