TEARS OF JOY
Nanosuits better than ever; surprisingly enjoyable multiplayer.
Frequently lousy checkpoint system; occasionally brain-dead enemy AI.
You can take Crysis out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of Crysis. For those worried that Crysis 2’s city-slicking setting would turn it into a cramped corridor crawl, go ahead and activate strength mode, grab your fears, and ragdoll them 30 feet in the air. Crysis 2—while not quite as open as its predecessor—is subtly complex, brilliantly paced, and morbidly satisfying from start to finish. Sure, it’s far from revolutionary, but sometimes, you just want to put on a talking suit and shoot squid monsters, you know? OK, that made more sense in our heads. Allow us to explain.
The fight shifts from an island in Crysis to the urban playground of New York City.
Crysis 2 throws you headlong into a tale of military in-fighting, invasion clichés, and whiny scientists crying into your ear that’s, well, honestly kind of terrible. But that’s not the point. The nanosuit has always been the Crysis franchise’s real main character, and this time around it’s quite apparent that Crytek knew that. The end result, then, is a stylish piece of sci-fi chic that—while at first glance appearing “dumbed down”—has been expertly refined. Now you have two central modes to aid in your almost unfairly one-sided manhunts: stealth and armor. That doesn’t mean your old pals strength and speed have abandoned you, however. Rather, Crytek has decided that there’s something to that whole “making sense” idea that everyone’s always talking about, so speed is now rolled into your normal sprint, and holding down your melee attack automatically gives you a hulked-out variation on the theme. All told, the new approach is even more empowering because picking a central mode is now a snap decision. One or the other: no more fumbling through superfluous nonsense. As a result, tailoring your play style to the task at hand quickly becomes second nature.
Deformable environments change dynamically during gameplay.
The Crysis franchise’s other main pillar—largely open level design—holds up its end of the bargain in a similar fashion, sacrificing a bit of freedom for a pace that makes the game nearly impossible to put down. So yes, we encountered a few “if only there wasn’t an invisible wall here...” moments, but they were far outweighed by a fusion of smart, sparingly applied scripting and impromptu chaos. Combat, you see, isn’t quite like anything else on the market. In Crysis 2, you’re neither Rambo nor Solid Snake. The nanosuit’s limited energy capacity doesn’t allow it to go all-in with either, so hit-and-runs are your best option. And that’s the beauty of it. Any enemy, alien or human, can and will kill you if they catch you with your superpowered trousers down, and that element of real danger ensures that you never feel like a bored child stepping on ants. Instead, you’re a mighty hunter—easily at the top of the food chain—but your prey’s no slouch, either. And even though levels are more confined, they’re no less varied, managing to be both hauntingly beautiful and suitably vertical.
You’ll go through numerous weapon changes throughout the game.
Then again, given the franchise’s history, that’s not exactly shocking. On the “pleasant surprise” end of the spectrum, meanwhile, is Crysis 2’s multiplayer. Again, the nanosuit’s the star of the show here—especially in modes like Assault, where one team doesn’t have nanosuits at all, but makes up for it with better weaponry. Other than that, Call of Duty’s the obvious inspiration (gain XP, unlock weapons/attachments, etc.), but Crysis 2’s superpowered shenanigans put it near the front of that particular pack.
That’s not to say, however, that Crysis 2 is without flaws. Foremost, the game chose to stick with an antiquated autosave system that’ll turn your smile into a scowl faster than you can say, “But I played this area, like, 20 minutes ago.” Also, enemies—while generally the ShamWows of brutal bullet-sponging—occasionally suffer from AI brain farts, resulting in staring contests with walls and the always comical, “Oops, I guess it was just a false alarm,” when you’re standing two feet away from the enemy. The game’s graphical customization options, meanwhile, are shockingly limited compared to other PC games, presenting you with literally four options and nothing else.
A thermal imager makes sniping a snap.
All told, however, Crysis 2 is an extremely empowering action-fest that absolutely deserves your attention. It’s a game that sprinkles creativity and planning atop a heaping helping of chaos, and during this age of mindless Call of Duty clones, it’s exactly what the doctor ordered.
$59, www.ea.com/crysis-2 , ESRB: M