PS3 Review – Crysis 2

Crytek has made it no secret over the past year that their new game Crysis 2 would have some of the best graphics of any game to date, and would earn a solid 90 metacritic rating. Of course, this has led to much speculation over whether or not Crytek could follow through with their claims, and it’s time to find out if they were able to. Will Crysis 2 power slam everything else out of the water, or disappear in the shadows of other FPS games?

It comes as no surprise that the graphics of Crysis 2 are incredible. It’s debatable if they’re the best ever, but there’s no doubt that the level of detail achieved sets a high benchmark which all full retail games should be striving for. Absolutely everything is polished, from the environmental details, to the water flowing down the sides of the rocky terrain, and the discharge from guns as they fire away. Smoke and particle effects are top notch, blood splatters from kill shots are sickeningly gooey, and moving in and out of stealth mode’s translucency has a cool predator like effect. All this makes for an incredible presentation, and it’s quite possibly the best looking multiplatform game to grace the PS3 yet.

Beauty isn’t everything though, and the core experience is what makes or breaks the game. Crysis 2 definitely delivers in this department as well. The nanosuit your character is equipped with provides a multitude of abilities, allowing for numerous tactical options that break up the monotonous shooting gallery pit that so many other games of the genre fall into. Rather than simply charging into each battle shifting from cover to cover in every situation, a tactical visor allows the player to assess the situation before hand, and choose the optimal course of action. When in use, the visor can ‘tag’ allies, enemies, guns, ammo caches, tactical objectives, and various objects in the area. The tactical options it points out often consist of where a good sniper location is, a stealth sneaking route, or which way to go to flank enemies. It’s incredibly useful, but an unfortunate drawback is that once something is tagged, it can’t be untagged. This becomes a minor nuisance when an ally is accidentally tagged, resulting in chasing their icon until you can see it’s not an enemy. However, in combination with all the other abilities of the suit, it provides the opportunity to play through each combat scenario many different ways. Trying to find the best way becomes a lot of fun.

The suit has two core abilities to use throughout the game, stealth mode and armor mode. Each are tied into an energy bar the suit has, which depletes with use but recharges while idle. The stealth camouflage mode allows the player to turn virtually invisible, similar to the Predator, and sneak past large groups of enemies, or flank for a stealth kill. The energy from the suit is drained more quickly according to how fast the player moves, or any actions taken – like making a stealth kill, or outright firing a gun. Thus, the power is limited, meaning each move must be carefully planned if you wish to escape discovery.

The counter balance to this is the suit’s armor mode. Not only does it reduce damage done by enemy melee attacks and incoming bullets, but it’s especially important for dealing with explosives, fire, and dropping from huge heights. Throughout the entirety of the game, alternating between stealth mode and armor mode is key to progressing through the scenes, but the suit’s other abilities help provide variation to the formula. There’s also a super sprint, super jump, power melee, and nanovision that acts as a heat sensor. Any turrets found can be ripped right off their mounts, and large objects like cars and desks can be power kicked into enemies for brutal devastation.

With all these abilities at your disposal, it’s easy to feel incredibly powerful at times, but since every single ability uses suit power, the need to find cover and allow the energy to recharge is ever-present. It’s very easy to get overconfident using armor in a fire fight, only to find that your suit power has run out, leaving you as a sitting duck out in the open. This leads to a very different line of thinking than in most FPS games, which is a very welcome and entertaining variant. Many scenes can be completed with pure stealth, if carefully planned, and those same scenes can be completed in all out warfare thanks to the armor mode. However, learning to balance and alternate between these two abilities on the fly is where the real fun comes in, making Crysis 2 one of the most entertaining console shooters to date.

Most levels have multiple paths, allowing you to stick to the rooftops, stay close to the ground, or try out various combinations. With the stealth suit power added in, it allows for gamers to pick the approach that is best suited to them, tailoring gameplay to fit the desires of the individual player. Additionally, this allows for players to try out several play-throughs without feeling bored, adding to the length of the game.

Crysis 2‘s story is rather average – it starts out with a tragic scene, that ends with the player in control of a silent character only known as ‘Alcatraz’. Alcatraz has just acquired the nanosuit for reasons unknown, but the present danger of alien invasion makes an escape more important than explanations. Throughout the game, three various factions are fighting each other, and trying to take out Alcatraz. These are CELL, a corporate privatized military force, the American military, and the aliens known as the Ceph. Throughout much of the game, the human factions are under the mistaken impression that the previous owner of the suit, ‘Prophet’, still resides within. Since most of them want Prophet dead, Alcatraz will find enemies at every turn, and in the meantime the suit is gaining power by assimilating with the alien presence.

During all of this, Alcatraz remains entirely silent for no apparent reason. People are addressing him as Prophet, accusing him of various things, and never acknowledge his various injuries. At any time, Alcatraz could speak up and clarify the situation. Instead, he never says a word, and it’s hard to believe that a marine with a suit bestowing such incredible healing abilities wouldn’t allow it’s user to talk. As a result, Alcatraz has zero depth as a character, and many scenes are incredibly frustrating, since so many problems could be solved with simple communication. Even if there was an excuse for him to not talk, these are the types of scenes where excessive hand waving and charades would have been appropriate to get a point across. The plot of alien invasion serves as enough of a motivator to kill everything, but the silent protagonist approach causes the plot to fall short of its full potential. A couple of surprising twists, and engaging set pieces helps to draw people in, despite the flaws in the plot.

Crysis 2‘s single player campaign isn’t without other short comings either. The game’s enemy variation is slightly limited for a sci-fi shooter, with only about seven different kinds the entire time, but it is still far more than most FPS’. Until the final battle, the only enemies you will face are human soldiers and tanks, Ceph grunts, slightly bigger Ceph, Ceph destroyers (think giant brute), Ceph walking robots, and Ceph aerial units.

This also leads to the other minor shortcoming of the game – enemy AI. The aliens in particular behave erratically, often appearing confused, regardless of whether or not stealth is in use. In some scenes, the enemies would get stuck on each other in an attempt to cross paths, ending up in what looks like a shin kicking dance of confusion. There were several instances where a Ceph grunt would target my character and attempt a melee, and, upon dodging the melee, I would turn to find the alien had completely lost track of me, and began to simply walk away. Other times they would be shooting at me, and simply turn around and run away for no clear reason, then stand in the open unaware of the present danger. Enemies would also get stuck on various objects, such as cliff faces, explosive barrels, or just random walls. All this was mostly noticeable when fighting alone, but luckily as the game progressed to larger battles with allies fighting alongside you, the aliens would have more to target, and the issues became less noticeable. Other minor glitches were present as well, such as a clipping issue when melee attacking an enemy in the back, which would cause them to fly through a solid wall, only to walk back out of it a moment later ready to retaliate. None of these were game breaking, but is a nuisance that’s hard to ignore.

The multiplayer mode for Crysis 2 brings the nanosuit abilities into a deathmatch style arena. Every player has access to the armor and stealth abilities, as well as nanovision, the visor, and super jump. Each player can create multiple custom load-outs, which include three perks, a primary and secondary weapon, and accessories for each. The perk slots are specific to armor upgrades, stealth upgrades, and weapon upgrades. While the armor and stealth upgrades are unique in a sense, the weapon upgrades are extremely familiar. They include perks like extended weapon clips, faster firing rates, faster reloading, and the ability to wield two primary weapons.

The combination with the suit’s abilities adds a new flavor to the multiplayer FPS mix, and makes it entertaining to play. A robust number of unlockable weapons, accessories, perks, and dog tags means there’s plenty to earn, and will keep players coming back for more. Match making is incredibly quick, easy and smooth, gameplay is virtually lag free and, in the instance a host drops, host migrations are generally successful. Several unique game modes are included, such as one called Extraction, where successful completion of extraction goals increase the suit’s powers. Another called Assault trades offense and defensive positions between rounds, with only one life per player. Crash site offers a king of the hill style mode, with teams battling for control of alien drop pods. For better or for worse, these unique games modes are only unlocked at higher rankings, so don’t expect to get the full online experience without investing a hefty amount of time into it.

Overall, Crysis 2 lives up to expectations. The single player campaign features large-scale battles, epic explosive scenes, and awesome visuals all accompanied by the incredible powers of the nanosuits. At about 14-15 hours in length, it’s refreshing to finally play a shooter campaign without feeling short-changed at the end. The minor AI glitches sometimes detract from the experience, but everything else the game does so well makes that easily forgivable. The online mode has a huge multitude of unlockable components, and the nanosuit yet again changes the line of thinking and tactics used in player versus player battles. The final product sets new precedent as one of the smoothest, beautiful, and fun multiplatform shooters to grace the PS3 yet, and it would be a shame to miss out on such a stellar game.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Phenomenal Graphics and Scenery

+ Nanosuit Abilities Create Fun, Tactical Battles

– Erratic Enemy AI

9 out of 10