Crysis 2 (PC)

Posted: March 24, 2011 in Games & Fun

If Crysis was known for one thing, it was amazing graphics. That was with good reason, as the game didn’t offer much else. While it boasted a few interesting ideas, the game felt imbalanced, had bizarre difficulty spikes, and felt more like a tech demo than an actual game.

With Crysis 2, Crytek has scaled back its focus on pure visual overkill with a game that still looks thoroughly gorgeous while providing something a little meatier than surface-level eye candy. It may surprise you, but there are a lot more than pretty textures to talk about.

Crysis 2 swaps the lush jungle for the war-torn streets of New York, where a killer virus is destroying civilization and a gooey race of alien invaders known as the Ceph are wrecking everything in sight. As US Marine Alcatraz, your job is to step into a superpowered Nanosuit and wipe out not only the Ceph, but the CELL private army that wants to take you down. It is a story. You likely won’t remember it. Now let’s blow some stuff up.

Almost as soon as the player gets a gun, the improvements over the original Crysis are clear. The game’s four main superpowers — enhanced strength, extra armor, stealth and super speed — have been altered considerably, leading to a more intuitive and balanced experience. Strength and Speed are now passive abilities — they’ll automatically kick in if you charge melee attacks or start to sprint. Armor used to be the passive default option for the Suit, but is now an activated ability, along with stealth.

Unlike last time, taking advantage of the Nanosuit’s powers feels rewarding rather than punishing. Activing Stealth and Armor won’t drain your suit’s energy within milliseconds, allowing you enough time to navigate to an advantageous position or absorb heavy fire. Balancing your offensive power against your defensive ability is a careful game, and one that provides a consistent challenge without becoming overbearing.

Crysis 2 offers players a chance to actually feel like a badass, which is something Crysis sorely lacked. With the improvements made to stealth, you can engage in serious cat-and-mouse games with your opponents, stalking your prey and stealthily murdering them, or sneaking into position, switching to max armor and spraying a confused crowd with bullets.

Enemies will react to your shenanigans, crying out to allies if they see you switch abilities and homing in on your last known position. Their paranoid chatter of enemies and your ability to toy with them evokes memories of Batman: Arkham Asylum and I’d say the predatory stealth in Crysis 2 can be just as satisfying here as it was in Rocksteady’s classic action title. The only thing that lets the stealth down is the randomly spotty AI, which will see enemies get stuck on scenery or sometimes kill themselves. I saw a group of about four soldiers aim a grenade at a wall and stand right in place for the explosion to take them all out. I suppose you can pretend it’s the enemies freaking out and making mistakes if you don’t want to break the illusion.

Indeed, should you get over the energy of the action, you’ll realize that the the fundamentals of Crysis 2 aren’t quite as innovative as its gimmickry. While there are a range of weapons covering both realistic and futuristic firearms, most weapons are simply variants of the same assault rifle with attachments, and when you’re in a straight shootout with only one or two enemies, there’s a risk of feeling like you’re in any generic first-person-shooter. Most of the unique weapons aren’t all that useful in an actual fight, so you’ll likely want to stick to the dull assault and sniper rifle combo, which is a shame.

Every so often, the game’s overall structure can feel a little repetitive. Once you’ve performed one stealth kill, you’ve performed them all — almost literally, as there are only two animations for stealth kills, and both of them are rather mundane. Despite the wealth of tactical options, nearly all opportunities lead you down the same sneak/shoot/run/shoot/sneak/shoot path. While most of the game still manages to stay fun in spite of this, there are a handful of distinct moments when the game feels like it’s treading water.

Crytek successfully lifted the solid, enjoyable, often addictive combat of Call of Duty while positively enhancing the experience with the Nanosuit’s abilities. All players are able to dash at super speeds, cloak themselves, and increase their armor, giving everyone a chance to be an overpowered supersoldier. While this could easily have become a chaotic affair, the super abilities are balanced so well that it works. Stealthy players can be spotted by anybody paying close enough attention, while armored players will go down if killed with skill. You can’t just turn invisible and run around stabbing everyone.

As the game progresses, players can specialize and get access to more unique abilities — such as decoy devices that project holograms of players and draw enemy fire. The Nanosuit can be fine-tuned for players who prefer to remain strictly sneaky or would rather charge into battle with guns blazing. There’s plenty on offer, and players who get into this mode will find a lot to love.

Naturally, the gameplay is all wrapped up with some of the most gorgeous visuals you’ll see in a videogame. Even on the PC, Crysis 2 is an optical treat, especially when it comes to the setpieces, which are tastefully kept to a minimum but always kick you right in the eyes when needed. In the years since Crysis’ release, this sequel’s graphics are no longer the mindblowing revelation they once were, but you still won’t find many better looking titles on a console or PC. More surprising is the game’s soundtrack, which is damn fine and takes the boring “sweeping orchestral score” that infests most shooters and takes it in a few new directions. The game’s main theme is particularly atmospheric.

Crysis 2 is less ambitious than Crytek’s previous games, but it is also the most polished, refined and enjoyable title that the studio’s ever produced. With tighter gameplay, better level design, and an exquisite sense of flowing action, Crysis 2 is a damn great title that any shooter fan would do well to play at least once.

Word to the wise: if you don’t know how to do this, and don’t possess CloneDVD or something similar, this will be a huge waste of your time – but if you know what you are doing, this is the leak of the year (and has been tested.)

Gamespot: Link | Download : Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Crack

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