Review by Master_ShakeXXX
"A flawed masterpiece - Crysis 2 is the stuff that legendary shooters are made of"
As someone who has primarily been a console gamer since the early 90s, I can say with 100% certainty that I have never played an FPS quite like Crysis 2. After having experienced countless scripted corridor shooters year after year after year, I can't even express just how refreshing Crysis 2 is. I realise Crytek has taken a lot of heat from the PC community for supposedly dumbing this down from the original, but personally I couldn't thank Crytek enough for finally opening my eyes and showing me how shooters SHOULD be done.
First, the campaign...
The campaign opens with an introductory scene that could only be described as epic. Now I haven't played the first game, but of what I have read from other users and reviews is that there's a pretty big "twist" towards the beginning of the game (one of the few connections to the original's story), therefore I will not go into detail so as to avoid spoiling it for fans of the original. After having survived a near fatal alien attack, you wake up in the famed nanosuit - an advanced combat uniform that grants you superhuman abilities, and the one primary device that separates Crysis 2 from most other FPS.
It allows you to run incredibly fast, turn semi-invisible, survive an otherwise fatal flurry of bullets, and jump high distances. Using these abilities drains the nanosuit's energy bar, and when fully depleted you are prevented from using the abilities for a few brief seconds, until it has time to recharge. It's in these moments where you are very vulnerable to enemy attacks and it's best to seek cover.
The first hour or so of the campaign is basically a tutorial, so the aforementioned abilities don't come into play from the get-go. Because of this the beginning sections are not anything memorable or exciting - just your basic shooter gameplay, but they do a good job of helping you learn the basics. However, once all of the nanosuit abilities become available to you, and the environments grow larger, Crysis 2 becomes a whole different monster entirely. If you're primarily a console gamer like myself, you are undoubtedly used to shooters that force you down narrow corridors in a virtual shooting gallery like fashion where enemies pop up all over the place and you effortlessly gun them down. Not in Crysis 2...
The best way how I can describe Crysis 2's campaign is that it's kind of like being handed the keys to a sexy sports car, and then being told by it's owner to do what you want with it. There are no limitations in this game, at least not in the traditional sense. Enemies patrol wide open environments, and it's your job to scout out these patrol routes, then form your strategy on how to deal with these "obstacles." This is where the nanosuit and open-ended environments come together in creating a one of a kind gameplay experience. Wanna go in guns blazing like Rambo? You can do that. Wanna silently stalk and kill your prey like the Predator? You can do that. Want to avoid close confrontations altogether? Climb up to high areas like rooftops, semi trailers, balconies, etc and snipe your enemies.
Want to perform a flanking maneuver? Climb down into the sewer system, traverse through the tunnels, and come out behind or beside your enemies. Need a distraction? Pick up a bottle, box, pizza, piece of toast, or one of the other hundreds of objects you can interact with and toss it out in the open to draw your foe's attention, then go in for the stealth kill. Want to be creative? Kick a car into a baddie, or, if you prefer, get INTO the car and run them over. Also, if you ever feel like seeing your enemies "fly" like superman, grab them by the throat and toss them off the side of a skyscraper. These are only a small number of the vast amount of tactics that can be used to batter the enemy into submission. The only limit is the players' imagination and creativity.
What is already an insanely deep gameplay experience is made even deeper by having the option to instantly customize your weapons and suit abilities on the fly. By that I mean, with a quick press *or hold* of the back/select button, you are taken into a menu (these menus are in-game, so enemies can still attack you) where you can equip silencers, laser sights, scopes, extended clips, grenade launchers, etc to your weapon of choice. The nanosuit module menu allows you to increase your abilities, like being able to stay semi-invisible for longer, increased sprinting distance, easier detection of enemies, further resistance to bullets, and the list goes on. These things only add to the wide-open gameplay, and ensure that no person will play exactly the same way.
Now as the saying goes, nothing is perfect, and Crysis 2's campaign has it's flaws. The enemy AI can be surprisingly dumb and buggy at times. Sometimes they will run into walls, stand there mindlessly as you gun down their comrades, or (hilariously I might add) trip over objects. There was even a few times where I witnessed them killing their own guys and themselves with grenades. While humorous and overall rare occurrences, these AI bugs could potentially serve to take you out of what is otherwise a highly immersive experience. Other flaws include framerate drops and clipping issues. These are not big problems, but still feel out of place in a game boasting such terrific production values and attention to detail.
I want to add that, by the time of this review, there has been a patch released to the public that supposedly addresses a lot of these problems. I haven't had a chance to see how much it has actually improved yet, but the list of improvements is pretty big. Keep that in mind.
As a whole, Crysis 2's campaign is one of the absolute best I have ever experienced in a FPS. The gameplay and environments are wide open, providing almost endless possibilities in terms of player creativity. The soundtrack is epic, and worthy of appearing in a summer blockbuster film. The graphics are some of the absolute best available on consoles. Few games manage to even come close to Crysis 2's beauty. The story did a good job of holding my interest, which is more than I can say for 90% of the other shooters out there.
Normally with so much effort being placed into the campaign, one would think that the multiplayer would end up being a tacked-on forgettable mess, but this is simply not the case. While Crysis 2 borrows some ideas from other popular FPS like Call of Duty, it plays and feels nothing like them. Things like killstreaks, perks, ranks, and upgrades (which have pretty much become a staple in multiplayer shooters these days) are present, but most of them play such a small role in what is a very challenging and skill based multiplayer.
Now when you defeat another player, this doesn't immediately count towards your killstreak. Downed players drop dog tags, and you must pick these up in order to get killstreaks. What sounds like a simple mechanic, actually goes a long way to improving the multiplayer experience. Dog tags render camping useless - if these players want their killstreaks, they're going to have to leave their hiding spots and run out into the thick of the action. It also adds a risk vs reward type scenario, where if you kill somebody from afar, you must decide to either run out into danger and collect your dog tag, or play it safe and wait patiently to come across another player.
Killstreaks cannot be chosen in this game; they're map specific, so everybody gets the same options. Some players may not take too kindly to that, but I think it adds a level of balance that most shooters lack. Everybody is on a level playing field in this regard. Game modes are your standard death match and objective based stuff, with a more unique mode called "Assault" where players donning nanosuits must race to complete objectives while heavilly armed standard soldiers try to stop them.
Now the nanosuit, just like in the campaign, is a big game changer here. Just about all of the suit abilities remain intact, and if you learn to use them effectively against the other players, you can become a real force to be reckoned with. Some abilities require a little more effort to master here than others: For example, it can be risky to run at your opponants and perform a ground slide, because if their bullets hit you, you stop sprinting. If pulled off correctly though, the outcome could be incredibly stylish and satisfying.
The same could be said for the ground pound, where you jump from high areas and devastatingly crash down atop your opponent's head. Stealth kills can also be performed on other players - it's all here. The weapon and nanosuit module upgrades also appear in the multiplayer, but these need to be unlocked by completing matches and gaining experience points. Since the gameplay is just so damn fun, grinding to unlock these things is a blast, rather than becoming tedious.
Also like the campaign, the multiplayer comes with it's fair share of problems. The same framerate dips appear here, as well as the occasional lag, which can be expected in any online game that doesn't use a dedicated server. Crysis uses P2P, but they work surprisingly smooth. Occasional host migration and host advantage are all here, but they are no where near as frequent as they are in, say, Call of Duty: Black Ops for example. The Multiplayer could definitely use some improvement in these areas, but overall it's a solid experience.
If you enjoy FPS or just shooters in general, you owe it to yourself to play Crysis 2, as it's one of the best in years. The campaign offers plenty of epic and memorable moments. The multiplayer offers fast paced, challenging, and sometimes frantic action. It's the whole package.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 04/04/11
Game Release: Crysis 2 (Limited Edition) (US, 03/22/11)
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