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Crysis 2: suit yourself

Can Crysis run on consoles? Crysis 2 answers that question with a resounding yes. The sequel to the 2007 graphical beast that many PC enthusiasts still use to put new gaming rigs through their paces is nothing short of a technical marvel on the ageing Xbox 360 hardware.

Crysis 2 moves from the jungle island setting of the original game to the concrete jungle of New York City, which is in ruins as a result of an alien invasion. Again, you’ll find yourself in the high-tech nanosuit that transforms your character into a super-soldier. He can turn near-invisible, soak up huge amounts of gunfire and leap a good 5m into the air with a single bound.

The game is a stunning advertisement for developer Crytek’s Cry Engine 3 and will surely position it as a worthy competitor to Epic’s Unreal Engine. The first-person shooter brings a disaster-struck New York City to vivid life as it crumbles around you following an attack by the squid-like Ceph aliens.

Familiar landmarks such as Central Park and the Statue of Liberty lie shattered. You’ll find yourself slack-jawed as any New York tourist as you take in the particle and lighting effects that swirl around the destruction.

All of this eye-candy comes with a price. There’s a fair amount of texture pop-in on the Xbox 360 version and the frame-rate does occasionally slow down into a slide show when there’s a lot happening on screen. The occasional hiccup is excusable, given just how much detail Crytek has packed into the game.

Forget about how Crysis 2 looks for a moment and consider how it plays. PC gamers that remember the original Far Cry and Crysis may be a bit disappointed by the fact that the game maps are a little more restrictive than they were in Crytek’s earlier games.

Since the game areas are so much smaller, vehicles barely feature in Crysis 2’s playground of destruction. This change — probably made to accommodate the dense detail of a city setting and to work around the limitations of console hardware — is arguably for the worse.

But many elements of the gameplay have been refined and enhanced — the controls are slicker and the nanosuit powers work better than ever before. And although the environments are more compact than they were in Crysis, they still offer you a number of approaches to each goal.

This level of freedom is refreshing in a market that has become saturated with shooters that funnel you down narrow corridors from one scripted event to another.

Usually, you’ll scout a new area from a high vantage point and check out the lie of the land with your binoculars. You’ll be given some tactical advice on your heads-up display, but it is completely up to you how you will get through the area and complete your objectives.

You can use your nanosuit’s cloaking ability to creep up on enemies and kill them quietly with a knife. Or you can stock up on explosives to blow them to smithereens, or pick them off from a distance with a scoped rifle.

Familiar streets of New York ravaged by war (click to enlarge)

You can customise the game’s many weapons with a selection of scopes and attachments, adding even more depth to your arsenal. The ability to mix up a selection of abilities and tactics keeps the game feeling fresh throughout its single-player campaign, even if there aren’t that many different alien and military enemy types to fight.

On the subject of enemies, the game is often badly let down by its artificial intelligence. It’s not unusual to find enemies running into walls or staring blankly into space as you kill their friends. It’s a strangely amateurish mistake for a developer like Crytek to make.

The multiplayer component of Crysis 2 is a valiant attempt to take the fight to the Call of Duty and Halo franchises. There’s a diverse spread of well-designed maps to choose from as well as a fairly standard selection of game modes such as death match, team death match, assault-and-defend and a capture-the-flag variant.

Crysis 2 trailer (via YouTube) — contains strong language:

Again, it’s that nanosuit that sets Crysis 2’s multiplayer apart from its rivals. The suit powers are reasonably well balanced for multiplayer and give you a choice of viable tactics to use against your fellow players.

You can use the cloaking power to skulk around in corners and take other players by surprise or use super-strength to leap up to a high point and snipe. Or you can simply switch on the armour power and run headlong into the fray — Crysis 2 is flexible enough to accommodate you however you play.

Like most modern shooters, Crysis 2 allows you to unlock new game modes, weapons and equipment as you rank up by scoring kills and winning games. But unlocking these rewards does involve some time-consuming grinding. Crytek could take some tips from the Battlefield and Call of Duty games about pacing multiplayer progression a little better.  — Lance Harris, TechCentral

  • Reviewed on Xbox 360. Also available for PlayStation 3 and Windows PC.

5 Comments

  1. Great review Lance. Looking forward to picking up my copy today. Not sure when I’ll get to it though, because I’m still busy with Bulletstorm (ugh) and I have yet to unpack Homefront. The joys of life with a young child 😛 Think I’ll get through them all by the time Battlefield 3 arrives…

  2. I’m playing this on the PC – great game, but I feel that they made far too many compromises to bring it to console. Farcry shook up the FPS genre with its open world approach, and taking the franchise to console has severly restricted Crytek’s ability to do that in this game, which is a great pity. Also, they’ve done FAR too many cutscenes and set pieces. Again, another sign of dumbing down the game for the console players. Farcry/Crysis were well known for their crap storyline and awesome gameplay. We still have a crap story here, just far more of it.

    The AI is pretty good on the PC version, I’m playing it through on hard and you actually have to use skill and cunning to kill the baddies, they use cover well, communicate with each other to flank you, and generally try and keep themselves alive. I’m assuming the X360 version is let down by the resources available for processing here.

    I agree with the new nanosuit – it just keeps getting better and better.

  3. Hi, Lance.

    Great review…loving the game.

    Just check your ‘gameplay’ score though – ‘heavily scripted hooters’???? Loving it!!! hahaha!

  4. Lance Harris on

    Let’s pretend that was a deliberate April Fool’s Day joke, shall we? 🙂

    Hopefully, editor Duncan will fix that when he has a moment.

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