Review by horror_spooky
Escape from New York 2023
Crysis 2 was the first game in the series that Crytek released on consoles. After the success the original game saw on PC, Crytek saw an opportunity to expand their audience by branching out to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Unfortunately, I feel a bit of heart was lost in this sequel.
From a story perspective, Crysis 2 is interesting, even if the plot is a little out there. Instead of Nomad, players take control of Alcatraz. A series of (unfortunate) events occur that end with Alcatraz in the Nanosuit, and then the rest of the game plays out in a similar fashion to the original. Players can become invisible by pressing RB, and they can activate armor by pressing LB. They can sprint, which also drains energy, and there is now a new visor with the suit that feeds tactical information to those that are wearing it. The Nanosuit has seen a slight upgrade, but for the most part, it's typical Crysis.
The game takes place in New York in the year 2023, three years after the events of the original Crysis. This is a shame. The original Crysis ended on a cliffhanger, and we are given little information about what happened when Nomad and company returned to the island at the end of the first game. Instead we are thrust into the plot head-first, expected to care about this new character that is a mute. Granted, Nomad was annoying every time he decided to say something, but Alcatraz is really difficult to get behind due to the fact that he never speaks, and we know next to nothing about him except that he is a marine. Meanwhile, there is an interesting conspiracy plot that unfolds around him that is engaging and fun to dissect, with a few surprises to keep people on their toes and it is heavily influenced by the more sophisticated first-person games, like BioShock.
In the original Crysis, players were introduced to a race of aliens that were found on an island. This time, players are in New York City as these aliens invade Earth. They are now known as Ceph, and the aliens encountered in Crysis 2 are much more deadly and capable than the ones from the original. They seem to be more outfitted for battle, and have a more squid-like appearance. They are outfitted with metal armor and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are small ones that skitter about on the ground and examine things. There are the normal-sized Ceph that comprise most of their appearances in the game, and then there are taller ones that are more deadly, beefier ones that can shoot rockets, and even a few that can turn invisible like Alcatraz. They make intriguing enemies, but it is not explained why they don't look like the aliens from the first game.
Aliens aren't the only threat to Alcatraz in the game. Humans are equally as dangerous. Players have to use a combination of stealth and raw power to get through most sections of the game, but unfortunately, there are areas when abilities such as invisibility can be abused to such an extent that I was able to simply walk through virtually entire levels at a time and not die and barely engage any enemies in firefights. Stealth sections in the game are thrilling and make Alcatraz seem powerful, plus the action has been upped as players can walk around with detached turrets and have access to even more explosive devices than before.
Alcatraz can be upgraded by collecting the dead dust from killed alien enemies. This dust converts into points that can be spend on upgrading the Nanosuit in a variety of ways, but unfortunately, none of the upgrades are all that compelling. I found myself upgrading the suit just for the sake of upgrading the suit, and if one decide to kill all the aliens they see, upgrading the suit can be completed in no time. This feature could make for interesting gameplay mechanic, but Crytek did not explore these avenues fully enough in this installment.
While it certainly isn't as open and free as the original game, Crysis 2 still feels markedly different than most shooter nowadays. The linearity has been upped a bit, featuring on-rails shooting segments and silly "follow me" moments, but most of those "follow me" sections are used for story purposes, not to restrict gameplay as we see in the Call of Duty titles. I appreciate this change of pace from typical FPS fare, and while Crysis 2 definitely lacks the same amount of originality that the original game brought to the table with its design, it's still fun, compelling, and most importantly, different.
Arbitrary extra goals have been added to the game. Alcatraz can collect items from the environment, unlock music by beating levels, and find hidden dog tags next to fallen soldiers. This is supposed to encourage players to more fully explore the environments, but why? There's really nothing to see. The entire game takes place in New York City, a setting that has been done to death in both movies and video games to the point where it's a bore now. Interior levels in the game are far more entertaining, and it's just a disappointment that Crysis went from lush, tropical environments with a lot of terrain variety to a decrepit, depressing, grey, dusty, and mostly destroyed New York City.
That's not to say that Crysis 2 isn't still the graphical beauty that the original game became famous for. The framerate runs smooth as ever, the character models look fantastic, and the set-pieces are absolutely stunning (it helps that they are interactive, too). Visually, the game is just wonderful. It's just that, from an aesthetic standpoint, it's not very good to look at -- it's boring. Except for when this boring environment is being destroyed in awe-inspiring, in-game ways that are just out of this world, even today.
Besides the campaign, Crysis 2 offers multiplayer. Now, I've only played the original Crysis on Xbox 360, and that game lacked multiplayer. So, Crysis 2 marked the first time that I stepped into the realm of online multiplayer for the series, and I have to say, I was mostly disappointed. While the progression system is good, the maps are pretty poorly designed, and the game is just yet another Call of Duty clone. Seriously, it's just Call of Duty with Nanosuits. Granted, Call of Duty perfected multiplayer, so it's obvious to see why other developers are endlessly copying the formula, but Crysis 2 is a game that should be different, just because of the premise. Unfortunately, it's just a gimmicky version of Call of Duty with worse maps and no offline multiplayer support in any form.
Crysis 2 is a bit longer than the first game, I found, and there is multiplayer, which is sure to appeal to hardcore FPS enthusiasts out there, even if I didn't find it very great. While the silly collectibles thrown in the levels are just an artificial way to increase replayability, completionists may have a fun time hunting every little item down. Achievements in Crysis 2 are mostly good as well, which was something that helped the replayability of the original game, too. Crysis 2 will keep anyone busy, but I suppose the issue is that the content won't appeal to everybody.
Crysis 2 has a mostly great campaign with a few flaws that make it measurably weaker than the first game. I appreciate the inclusion of multiplayer this time around, but instead of carving out its own identity, Crysis 2 is content with just meeting the status quo. All that being said, it's still better than a lot of other shooters out there, and I don't regret the time I spent playing the game. Crysis 2 is a more than capable shooter, but is simply not as polished as the original, and it's easy to tell that a lot of the developers didn't put forth the same effort that they did for the first game.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Crysis 2 (US, 03/22/11)
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