Back in 2007, Crytek released a game that really set the bar for visuals for its time and is still stunning, even today. But that came at a cost. You needed a something reminiscent of a supercomputer to run it. But now its sequel, Crysis 2, has made the leap to consoles, but how does the tactical future shooter hold up against its PC cousin? When you consider the likes of Killzone 3, Bulletstorm and Homefront that have all been released in the past month or so, there’s certainly no shortage of console FPSs at the moment. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give Crysis 2 a look…
Let’s start with the story. I’ll be honest, I’ve never, ever seen more than a single gameplay video of the original Crysis, so the series is something completely new to me. At the start of the game, Prophet’s (or Nomad’s) suit is inherited by a new protagonist, named Alcatraz. New York has been overthrown by an alien invasion and while your job over the first handful of levels is simply to track down Professor Gould (whom despite wanting to meet you, seems to constantly be moving further away from you), the plot soon thickens and you find yourself in the middle of it all. Will you be completely lost at parts if you don’t know the backstory? Well, the concept is easy enough to grasp, the only thing is, at first you know literally nothing about the suit or where it came from, so perhaps a five minute backstory wouldn’t have gone amiss, for those of us who missed out on the original.
It goes without saying that Crysis 2 looks great. I’ve seen some PC footage and while I can safely say the console versions don’t touch it in that respect, it’s hardly a surprise given that it’s essentially a PC game. It’s still nice though. Explosions look particularly brutal and the Big Apple is immensely detailed too. Anyone worried about Crysis 2 looking like a bucket of vomit on consoles can put those fears to rest; it’s definitely not a lazy port and can definitely hold its own against its more powerful counterpart.
The gameplay itself has a very Tom Clancy feel to it. I don’t know why, but special abilities aside, I felt like I was playing Rainbow Six at times, just without a squad to command. You have a different way of tackling each area: In the vast majority of cases, you’ll be given the option to tackle the enemy head on, stealth around them, or even take up a tactical point so you get the best attacking vantage point available. It gives you the choice of how YOU want to play the game. I preferred going in all guns blazing, but if you’re playing on the Supersoldier difficulty setting it’s perhaps not such a great idea! The weapon selection is pretty generic.; there’s no silly weapons in keeping with the more serious theme of the game. Each weapon is customisable when you collect the appropriate part, but these don’t stem far beyond your usual array of silencers and scopes and whatnot. It does great whilst planning different kinds of attacks on the enemies, mind. There’s also pretty damn special RPG which launches swarms of rockets though. Pity there wasn’t more of that…
One of Crysis 2’s unique perks is the array of special abilities on offer. Scan allows you to scout for tactical options, as well as weapon and item locations. Ways to progress through the current area are kind of hard to miss with a big yellow marker, whereas items are more subtle, and can be tagged so you know exactly where they are when your Scan is turned off. Then there’s Nanovision, essentially an infra-red heat detector and your Armour ability which allows you to turn your energy into extra shielding for Alcatraz. Finally, and most importantly, is the Stealth mode, where you use your energy to go invisible to the naked eye until you’re up close. Aliens can still detect you, mind. While this power can seem a bit cheap, you’re not allowed to walk far before your energy is depleted and you once again become visible, so you’ll need to plan how you’re going to get from A to B in advance, or risk being gunned down in the blink of an eye. Although each of these drains your energy meter, it recharges itself in about five seconds, so don’t worry too much about that, you’ll have ample opportunity to play about with your powers.
While gunning through soldiers offers no reward other than seeing the explosion of blood as they hit the deck, killing aliens allows you to absorb points, which you can use to upgrade your Nanosuit. Abilities range from making your Armour more sturdy, to a tracking device. To beat the game, you don’t NEED a mass of upgrades, but if you’re looking for 100% game completion and an assortment of kit to make even 007 himself, James Bond jealous, then your inner completionist/tech geek will take over.
There are a couple of issues in Crysis 2 though. Although it performs generally well, the frame rate does tend to get a bit jittery when too much is happening at once and sometimes when just taking a stroll, taking in the sights of New York, you feel that it could perhaps runs a little smoother. Then there’s a slightly inconsistent AI… I found that sometimes, when I came out of Stealth mode, ducked behind cover with a wall behind me and no one to my left or right, that somehow, someway I was seen. It’s as if they had Derren Brown on the team, sneakily telling them exactly where I was. It’s rare, but annoying. Then another time, I managed to Stealth kill three guys stood practically next to each other without either one blinking an eye. And then yet another time, I go in to a building to find a soldier walking into a wall! He didn’t stop moving once at the wall, he was just walking but not moving anywhere. Still, these issues are rare, and hardly a cause for concern.
Outside of just shooting things, there’s a bunch of collectibles on offer. I know, everyone just loves collectibles! They range from car keys and souvenirs, to dog tags and emails. There’s a fair few and the vast majority and very well hidden, especially when you consider the size of the sprawling maps. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.
The online side of things is different to the likes of other shooters. Although at the time of review, getting a game wasn’t exactly a walk in the park due to the small fact the game hasn’t been released yet, what I saw was fun and engaging. It has your usual killstreaks (Boo!), but also allows you to make use of the special abilities from the single player game. Only problem with this however, is that there seems to be an overreliance on Armour. Here’s how a typical gunfight plays out…
You: Hi, I’m going to shoot you!
Enemy: Hi! No you’re not, I’m going to equip my Armour!
You: Nice idea, me too!
Enemy: Excellent, may whoever’s Armour last the longest win!
It means that there’s a lack of emphasis on other abilities. Stealth mode is practically useless given the nature of the way the game plays out online; it’s a fast, frantic place where there’s no corners to hide in and plant traps for unsuspecting others to fall foul of. There’s over two hundred Dog Tags to collect for, well, nearly everything too, which should keep you playing for a very long time if you’re intending to get everything.
Overall, Crytek have succeeded in bringing their flagship title over to consoles successfully. While visually it may lack the ‘WOW’ factor of the PC version, its stylish attention to detail and vast array of tactical options mean that it can still hold its head high. Even if you haven’t played the original, I’d still recommend giving Crysis 2 a look, despite missing parts of the first game’s story that really should have been covered early on. Even if you’re up to your neck in FPS’s at the moment, one more can’t hurt, can it?