Review: Crysis 2

Crysis 2 is the sequel to the critically acclaimed tech demo/game Crysis. The Ceph, the aliens from the first game, have released a plague on the world, and it’s up to newcomer silent protagonist Alcatraz to don the Nanosuit and save the world…by doing a bunch of unimportant stuff right up to the end.

The Good

  • Beautiful Visuals
  • Fantastic Soundtrack
  • Good enemy AI

The Bad

  • Terrible protagonist
  • Terrible plot
  • No Alien Weapons
  • Infuriatingly cinematic
  • Most of the game spent fighting humans

I played the original Crysis years ago, playing it really slowly and with minimum settings, as my computer at the time didn’t have the power to play the game as its creators intended. I found the game tremendously disappointing, a glorified tech demo with a barebones plot. You spent most of the game fighting Koreans instead of the Aliens you were supposed to, the latter showing up midway through the plot and sluggishly becoming the main threat.

The sequel continues this tradition by having you spend most of the game fighting CELL soldiers, right up to the moment the Ceph really get going, replacing humans as the main enemy, not that you stop fighting humans by then. You keep fighting the soldiers almost until the end of the game.

Silenced Sniper Rifle - The Hand of God
Silenced Sniper Rifle – The Hand of God

Crysis 2 took its original’s gameplay and simplified it, removing the Nanosuit’s Strength module as a separate mode and simply integrating it into other actions. For example, you now perform super jumps by keeping the jump button pressed and your sprint is a super sprint by default; when holding the sniper rifle, pressing Shift (default key) steadies your aim using Super Strength; and finally, using your melee key on highlighted objects lets you super kick them. The ‘active’ or ‘manual’ modes in the armor are Nanovision, which is pretty much a thermal vision to be honest; Cloaking, which drains a tremendous amount of energy out of your suit, but less so if you’re crouching; Maximum Armor, draining constant energy to reduce damage, even from explosions; and the suit’s visor, used to identify targets and tag them.

Nanosuit upgrades are the new suit mechanic. By collecting Nanites from fallen Ceph you can unlock new abilities for your suit, such as faster and longer cloaking, more resilience in max armor mode or even bullet tracing, showing you the path each round takes, helping you avoid them.

You can carry two main weapons, grenades, explosives and rocket launchers. Pressing the left mouse button fires the weapon and keeping the right one pressed brings up the sights/scopes. Grenades in this game are very different to other games. Instead of being a secondary weapon you use while holding your main weapon, you must cycle to them before you can use them, holstering any other weapon you might have been holding. You get used to it, but it’s not the most intuitive way to handle subweapons in a game. For the C4 explosives, it makes sense, but not for grenades, at least not in terms of videogame design. The bad part is that unlike Crysis where you could take and use a few alien weapons, in Crysis 2 you’re stuck with the human ones…and the Ceph weapons are cooler, much cooler. The upside of human weapons, most of them at least, is you can modify them, setting the barrels, scopes, stocks, etc. Sadly, you first have to find the parts on other weapons before you can use them. It makes sense, but it also makes you feel like the configuration you want is locked away for most of the game.

Couldn't stop laughing when I met this invisible wall!
Couldn’t stop laughing when I met this invisible wall!

Enemy AI is pretty good, considering they’re on the losing side fighting against a cloaked enemy (how I play the game at least, I’m very sneaky-stabby). The best thing about it is that Human and Alien AI are completely different; they behave differently, which makes tons of sense. Most games give different enemies, even different species, the same behavioural trees, but in Crysis every unit has its own independent ‘thought process’ which makes every enemy unique in its own way.

This is a Crytek and Cry Engine game so it’s absolutely jaw-dropping, drooling-ly beautiful. Location and enemies are highly detailed and there are so many particle effects, water effects, textures and shadows to make your head spin. It’s just beautiful. The cloaking effect in particular was my favourite, how every inch of the suit starts to disappear. Ceph aesthetics and lighting are also very nice, makes them seem vibrant, full of energy. Matched with the amazing visuals is an outstanding soundtrack and sound design. Music during all-out combat scenes gets you pumped with adrenaline, and makes you feel like the hero in a 80s action movie. Voice acting is superb, from the lowliest grunt to Leonard Nimoy’s character Jacob Hargreave.

I just wish the effort gone into the engine to make it so outstanding had gone into writing a less messy plot and a less disappointing protagonist. At the start of the game Alcatraz is rescued from almost certain death by Prophet, one of the original Nanosuit soldiers. Prophet, spent and infected by the Ceph, strips out and puts Alcatraz in the suit before shooting himself, to break the symbiotic connection so it binds to Alcatraz.

Cloak Engaged!
Cloak Engaged!

At no point do you feel like the hero or that you matter, as Alcatraz, because he never says anything. He’s completely silent, a Grunt from start to finish, a puppet in a cool suit. If he was expressive in any other way, or they explained why he’s silent, then it wouldn’t be such a problem. Worse still is that most think he’s Prophet, and never suspect he might not be when he doesn’t talk, something Prophet can’t stop doing. It’s the type of silent protagonist that doesn’t make a lick of sense and breaks any and all immersion.

Part of the puppet feeling translates to the plot, which doesn’t seem to know what it wants. It’s one of the most ADHD titles I’ve ever played, changing style, and mood and focus every other mission. First, it’s all about unlocking the suit, then no, you need to fight the Ceph, then changes its mind to protecting civilians, then changes it again, and back to undoing the Ceph plague, then gets you to go kill more humans before the big and frankly disappointing assault on the Ceph. By the end, you can’t really find a coherent line in the plot. Worse still, the coolest Ceph units, capable of cloaking, only show up at the last moment of that final assault, and only four of them. I wish they’d have shown up earlier, would’ve made the game much more interesting.

Another bad point is how ‘cinematic’ the game is, in a bad way. The cloaked enemies are just an example, trying to show them at the end, during the climax. But the most common way in which Crysis 2 tries to be cinematic is by having you play moments that could easily and preferably been cutsenes, such as alternating button presses to crawl between cutscenes. Actually, this particular one happens so often it gets infuriating. Another point of annoyance is how often the game took away my weapons. I had my gear all loaded up and ready to go and because of how cinematics went, I often started a new mission with a handgun and nothing else, or a completely different set of rifles.

Locations are fantastic
Locations are fantastic

In the end, Crysis 2 just falls slightly short of being a fantastic game, with its bad design choices. It makes you fight humans for too long, the plot changes focus too often, its protagonist is a non-character and has one of the most underwhelming and disappointing finales in gaming.

The Mental Attic Score: Wait for a Sale. Right now you can find Crysis 2 maximum edition on Steam at a very low price, but even so, the game doesn’t deserve anything but being but during a sale. It’s not worth its current, albeit low, full price.

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I love everything readable, writeable, playable and of course, edible! I search for happiness, or Pizza, because it's pretty much the same thing! I write and ramble on The Mental Attic and broadcast on my Twitch channel, TheLawfulGeek

4 thoughts on “Review: Crysis 2”

  1. I disagree completely with you. I love all of the Crysis games and I would recommend them to anyone looking for a different type of FPS game to play instead of the usual COD and Battlefield. I actually got into Crysis just last year.

    I never gave it any time because I thought I would hate it, but it surprised me. All three games are powerhouses though. Well… not Crysis 1 anymore, but 2 and 3 are.

    1. Been a while, Drakulus!

      It’s not a bad game, it’s just not a fantastic game. Its design and writing don’t match up to the work that was put into its visuals. If it had, it would be The One Game To Rule them All 😛

      1. Yeah I know. Sorry I haven’t been around to your blog. Life has gotten really busy.

        I think some of the best sound effects and voice acting I’ve ever heard in a game are in the Crysis games.

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