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Review: Crysis 2 (PC Version)


In 2007 Crytek, a German developer whose initial outing Far Cry shook up the development community years previous, released Crysis, a beautiful and smartly done shooter that, to this day, is still one of the largest graphical benchmarks in all of gaming. After releasing a standalone expansion that took place concurrently with the game�s main storyline, Crytek went quiet and all but disappeared to focus on internal expansion, opening new studios all over Europe. It reappeared at E3 2009 to show off the CryEngine 3, a heavily modified, multiplatform version of the engine that powered Crysis, and its flagship title Crysis 2.

With a dramatic shift toward multiplatform development though can Crytek�s latest prove that a PC game doesn�t have to be limited by having console brethren?

They Used to Call Me �Prophet�
Crysis 2 picks up three years after the Lingshan Islands incident that saw a major battle between the United States and North Korea awaken a dormant extraterrestrial species called the Ceph. As the governments of the world struggle to keep secret the fact that we are not alone in the universe a mysterious and highly contagious virus begins to spread and widely infect the citizens of New York City. Fearing a statewide outbreak the government quarantines Manhattan Island and declares martial law. With all communication with the outside world cut off the civilians trapped in the quarantine zone can only watch as their city slowly dissolves into chaos. As seismic activity begins to rock the city the military realizes that the virus isn�t their only problem: the Ceph have returned and a full scale invasion of the city has begun.

Players take on the role of a Marine codenamed Alcatraz. His mission: locate and extract Dr. Nathan Gould, a researcher for Crynet Systems, the creators of the Nanosuit. As he and his team are inserted into New York�s bay area via submarine an explosion rocks the sub, crippling it. Alcatraz and some of his team manage to escape but only receive a short reprieve as a Ceph gunship rises from the water and kills the survivors. As Alcatraz floats toward shore dying he is found by Prophet, former US Navy SEAL and commander of Raptor team during the Lingshan invasion. Dispatching the gunship, Prophet drags Alcatraz to safety. Alcatraz wakes up sometime later wearing the same advanced Nanosuit Prophet had earlier. Prophet�s corpse lies next to him and as Alcatraz beings to realize what happened to him the suit plays a flashback video, Prophet�s final message: he has failed and if Alcatraz doesn�t reach Gould in time it may just spell the end of humanity�s dominance of Earth.

The story of Crysis 2, much like many modern shooters, is a tale that plays out over time without many hints as to what has been happening elsewhere or with many of the series� main characters. Noticeably absent (and painfully so) is any information regarding what happened to Nomad, Psycho, and Helena Rosenthall, the main characters from the first game, as well as what happened after Crysis 1�s cliffhanger ending. Unfortunately you learn little about the truth behind Crysis 1 save for a bit more information regarding Prophet�s involvement so for those looking for resolution after being stuck on the edge of your seat three years ago when the credits began to roll you�re sadly out of luck.

What you will find though is an action-packed story with plenty of bumps and events along the way. The rescue of Nathan Gould is only but a small portion of the story and by the end of it all you really feel like the badass one man army the Nanosuit is designed to make you. An experienced shooter player can finish the singleplayer campaign in roughly 8-10 hours depending on how they play but the game encourages replays thanks to collectables found in each level. It�s not quite the epic adventure we experienced three years ago but Crysis 2 succeeds in leaving you quite entertained.

Let Him, Who Desires Peace, Prepare for War
Crysis 2, much like its predecessor, takes a different, welcome approach to combat. Whereas most shooters these days have you killing wave after wave of enemies before advancing forward and while the cover, shoot, advance, repeat method still works just fine for most games the Crysis series has always been about you being able to protect yourself and survive based on being more tactical than offensive. In essence, like the marketing tells you, the player is actually the weapon.

The elephant in the room that seperates the Crysis series from other games is clearly the Nanosuit. As fearsome and powerful as its appearance, it is nigh a character unto itself and is only limited in power by how you play. Crysis 2�s redesigned Nanosuit retains many of the suit�s powers form the first game while making it easier for players (say those wishing to play on a console) to use them equally. The new Nanosuit is composed of three different modes: Power, Armor, and Stealth. Power mode is what you�ll be using most of the time and gives you the ability to move large objects as well as sprint for a short duration and jump much higher. Armor mode, while narrowing your field of view, increases the density of the suit�s material and allows you to take more damage out in the field before your health starts to drain away. Stealth gives you the ability to be almost invisible and sneak past enemies, though it is a significant drain on the suit�s power source. While in many games you are placed in the role of a super soldier with mixed results Crysis 2 makes you feel and play like one.

The great thing about the series� gameplay is that, apart from a few specific sequences per game, you can tackle and objective almost any way you want. Need to get into a building and detonate an explosive inside but it�s surrounded by enemies. You could do some balls-to-the-wall gunplay and eliminate all of them with the added safety of Armor mode. Or, if you feel like saving your much-needed ammo for later you could sneak in and extract using Stealth. The choice is entirely yours and you can feel free to mix and match as you please. The Nanosuit itself will also give you some tactical advice using its visor but you can choose to ignore it if you wish.

One welcome addition to the Crysis formula is the ability to further customize your suit to how you want to play. Much like the perks system present in Call of Duty, players can purchase new abilities called modules to augment the Nanosuits already powerful modes, though only four of them can be active at one time. Players can obtain these enhancements by recovering nano-cells from dead Ceph though you won�t be able to reap the benefits of these modules since you don�t actually fight many Ceph until you are over a third of the way into the game. Still, they are very useful and, since they can be switched out on the fly, it is well worth your time to collect them.

One complaint that has to be ousted though is the size of the levels in the game. While Crysis took most of its level-design ideas from Far Cry with large, open environments to explore and long distances to travel, Crysis 2 instead switches to a more linear style. You�ll have pretty of room to maneuver and explore throughout the majority of the game but it really opens up when you enter a large arena-esque area filled with baddies. The large, open environments from Crysis are missed but the more direct focus of the game�s combat warrants this. Still however this redesign significantly cuts down on the amount of terrain to explore, effectively reducing the numerous ways to go after an objective.

Plenty to Prophet From
In addition to having a robust singleplayer experience Crysis 2 has taken note of today�s more traditional multiplayer experiences like Call of Duty and brought their own unique interpretation to the game. Players take on the role of either US Marines (contrary to the Navy SEALs that the main characters were in the first game) or CELL mercenaries hired by Crynet amidst the chaos of the singleplayer campaign. Taking place across twelve maps, players will compete with or against fifteen other players in seven gameplay modes.

The gamechanger though is, once again, the Nanosuit. In almost every mode the player is fitted with a Nanosuit with the same abilities as Alcatraz has in the singleplayer. Crysis 2 utilizes the familiar leveling system created by Call of Duty that has become a standard for online multiplayer. You�ll kill enemies, collect experience points, and level up to unlock new things to enhance the overall experience. The leveling system ties directly into the same Nanosuit module system used in the singleplayer (though with altered abilities and not carrying over to the main campaign) so you�ll notice a definite impact in your gameplay based on what you choose to enhance. You�ll have to utilize your suit�s Stealth, Power, and Armor modes though in order to unlock these modules but in the end you�ll find that the things you want to unlock are the ones you actually want.

Crysis 2 features takes on the standard fare of multiplayer modes with their own little twist. Instant Action (Deathmatch) is well worth playing as well as Crash Site (Domination) but the two most interesting modes have to be Assault and Extraction. Assault tasks to opposing teams with the objective of either defending or downloading data stored at terminals throughout a map, a mode very reminiscent of Splinter Cell multiplayer�s Neutralization mode. Extraction is similar to Assault with defending/attacking teams but this time the attackers are trying to steal Bio-ticks that give the user enhanced Armor or Stealth Nanosuit abilities.

Wherein Crysis 2�s singleplayer level design was a mostly boxed-in approach with less exploration than anticipated, the multiplayer component�s twelve levels offer a nice variety of locations of varying sizes taken from both the main game as well as entirely new levels, giving you lots to traverse and explore. The levels also feature a large focus on verticality, something that is being increasingly featured in shooters but hasn�t yet reached a zenith level quite like Crysis 2 has. Each map also contains killstreaks specific to each one that can be activated with the collection of dogtags dropped by fallen enemy combatants. These killstreaks range in power and scope and can be a little hard to obtain but the reward far outweighs the frustration as a friendly Ceph gunship rains down molten lead upon your helpless enemies.

Overall players will find a delightful and addicting multiplayer experience that nicely blurs the line between Call of Duty and Halo. For PC and Playstation 3 players who have never experienced the later, Crysis 2 is a great way to see what Xbox 360 players have been fussing about for nearly a decade.

Beauty within Destruction
Crysis was a benchmark three years ago for PC gaming and, without a doubt, Crysis 2 will be its successor for some time to come. Simply put, Crysis 2 is gorgeous across the board and, though the game doesn�t currently take advantage of DirectX 11, when played on Extreme settings it is probably one of the most beautiful games in recent memory. Even despite playing on the maximum settings the game is incredibly stable with almost no slowdown to be had throughout the entire experience. Textures are beautifully drawn and character animations both feel and look great. Facial animations, particularly those on main characters, are quite believable and feel like they�ve received the same amount of love Valve put into their characters in the Half-Life 2 saga.

The work Crytek put into the game�s sound design is just as impressive. Weapons each sound unique and give a sense of power to them and ambient sound effects really help sell the environments. Ceph sound effects in particular are very well done and really sell you on how alien they really are. The game�s voice acting is a little off at times but this can easily be attributed to the script and screenplay more than the actual dialog.

If you�ve been looking for a game to test out your new PC gaming rig then look no further. Faster, even better looking, and far more stable than its predecessor, Crytek�s showcase title for their Cryengine 3 is quite the testament.

It�s Up To You, New York, New York
2011 is looking to be a hot year for shooter fans what with a jam-packed Fall and Winter season coming up but Crysis 2 may just be what you�ll keep coming back to for the rest of the year. An exceptionally enjoyable singleplayer campaign is married to a well thought-out multiplayer component that is just as addicting as Call of Duty ever was. If you were ever looking to find a game whose overall package could stop even the most insatiable gaming snob you�d be hard-pressed to not show them Crysis 2. Do we already have a 2011 Game of the Year contender?

We just may.

You can read more of my reviews at HookedGamers.com as well as my personal blog at Slackerwerks.com. Thanks for stopping by.
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About Chris Davisone of us since 6:13 PM on 04.27.2010

Hi there! My name is Chris and I'm a writer and editor for Hooked Gamers as well as an aspiring game and tech journalist. I've been writing for years but only recently have I started to post my articles on other sites like Dtroid. I graduated from Austin Community College with an associates degree in Journalism and am currently undecided on my continued education plans. What I do know is that I enjoy writing for sites like Destructoid and, though I may not post on my Dtroid blog very often I do share articles and reviews here that won't appear on my other sites.

I can be found primarily at Hookedgamers.com and 4playerpodcast.com. I've also started up a personal blog (Slackerwerks.com) where you'll see all of my future articles posted.

You can find me most of the time on Xbox Live and occasionally on Steam under the same Gamertag. If you need to reach me I use the same ID wherever I go so please don't hesitate if you have any comments or questions you'd like to throw my way.

Thanks for stopping by!
Xbox LIVE:Slackerchan
Steam ID:Slackerchan


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