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Critical Reception: Crytek's  Crysis 2

Critical Reception: Crytek's Crysis 2

March 23, 2011 | By Danny Cowan




This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Crytek's first-person shooter sequel Crysis 2, which reviews describe as "an exciting journey that's as much your own making as that of the developer." Crysis 2 currently earns a score of 87 out of 100 at Metacritic.com.

1UP's Jose Otero gives Crysis 2 an A- grade. "Originally a PC-only game, Crysis set high expectations for future games in the series by providing a flexible empowering experience," he begins.

"Though it seemed unlikely an equally impressive follow-up could be created on console, developer Crytek has delivered a sequel that captures many ideas of the original game, and implements a few new ones as well."

"The biggest change from Crysis to Crysis 2 are the controls; more specifically the tailoring of every action in the game to craft a simpler, console-friendly setup," Otero notes.

"The previous game implemented a control wheel to let you quickly switch between the parameters of Stealth, Power, Speed, and Armor in your Nanosuit -- a powerful piece of combat armor designed to help you develop your own play style and creatively dispatch enemies."

"Although this worked great on PC, it was scrapped and retooled for the sequel. Everything you do is now mapped to the controller, and switching between suit abilities is no longer required because the armor abilities are automated."

The result works well in the context of a console first-person shooter. "The new simplified controls of Crysis 2 are an elegant solution to the slightly complex setup of the first game, and surprisingly nothing is lost in the transition," Otero assures. "Instead, the streamlined features of the Nanosuit make more sense, and every suit ability is conveniently tied to offensive/defensive options making Crysis 2 much easier to pick up and play."

Crysis 2 also boasts an array of graphical improvements. "It's hard not be impressed by the visual detail, and most of the settings are based off of actual locations in downtown Manhattan," Otero writes. "You'll cruise along familiar areas like the FDR Drive, or stomp around the financial district and other tourist hot-spots battling your pursuers."

"Crysis 2 is a beautifully realized game that delivers impressive environments, simplified controls, and a plethora of tactical combat options," Otero praises. "Unfortunately the visually strong presentation and gameplay can't hide the mediocre setup for Crysis 3; for most of the game you play a silent protagonist who goes from mission to mission, following instructions as ordered."

"Then, when you reach the end of the campaign your character suddenly starts talking and you learn that this entire conflict is just a small part of something much bigger."

"Acid-trip style memories, reflections, and final recaps try to tie the plot together, but it still leaves you feeling a bit unfulfilled with just a flat, to-be-continued cliffhanger. But the ride there is still thrilling, even if the payoff is mediocre. Yet despite any story hiccups, I can't stress how incredible it all looks."

Kevin VanOrd at Gamespot scores Crysis 2 at 8.5 out of 10. "Crysis 2 does an admirable job of living up to the original's reputation of sheer technical prowess, though the visuals aren't as immediately impressive as you may expect," he warns. "But this sequel still looks great and plays that way too."

"The jungle is now of the urban variety -- New York City to be precise," VanOrd continues. "You make your way through office buildings, across crumbling bridges, and around broad city squares, where robotic aliens infest hallways and swarm across rooftops. Large environments give you room to maneuver and grant you freedom to approach battle in a number of ways, which makes Crysis 2 a great alternative to the plethora of first-person shooters that usher you down corridors on your way to the next action movie set piece."

VanOrd feels that the game doesn't hit its stride immediately, however. "If you haven't played the original Crysis, the first few hours of the sequel might make you wonder why it is so beloved," he notes. "You spend the early going pitted against relatively dumb human enemies who run past you but fail to shoot, stand around staring straight ahead, and otherwise act as if they don't know you are standing right there pumping them full of lead.

"The troublesome AI is Crysis 2's most notable flaw, and it often combines with other glitches in bizarre ways. In an early foggy level, you might shoot at a soldier who not only fails to respond to you even though blood is gushing from him each time a bullet finds its mark but also fails to die. You catch friendlies and aliens standing around together, looking like they might be enjoying each other's company. Aliens run into objects and then just run in place rather than go around them or leap over. The AI simply isn't good, and its mediocrity stands out all the more against the otherwise convincing climate."

Shoddy AI aside, the game's presentation is exceptional, according to VanOrd. "Perhaps its most astounding feat is that it displays so much on the screen at once and that distant objects are rendered with more detail than you would typically expect," he says. "Look closely and you begin to appreciate the details. Birds strut on the pavement and then fly off as you approach. Alien dropships cast ominous shadows on pockmarked concrete and abandoned taxicabs. There are multiple stunning sights, such as a nighttime vista of the burning metropolis from a famed island in the East River."

"Crysis was a superb game, and it wasn't so just because of the astounding technology that brought it to life," VanOrd writes. "Crysis 2 doesn't make as strong of a mark, but in a sea of me-too shooters, it feels unique and offers an exciting journey that's as much your own making as that of the developer. The wow factor is undercut by a few issues -- the bargain-bin AI and some unfortunate bugs among them. But while the lows are inescapable, the highs are intense, and the more you play, the more extraordinary they become. If you give this sequel a little patience, it will bombard you with the thrills you came seeking."

Giant Bomb's Jeff Gerstmann gives Crysis 2 4 out of 5 stars. "Considering the company's past work, it's easy to be a little concerned about the direction Crytek's taking with Crysis 2," he admits. "It's a game that's being released simultaneously on PC and consoles, shaking the folks that still think of the first game as a benchmark for technical graphics in modern video games. It loses the jungle setting for New York City and it ditches Koreans entirely, instead focusing more on the aliens that were widely thought to have been the weak part of the original Crysis.

"If I had to guess, I'd say that there will be some Crysis purists that won't be able to come to terms with Crysis 2, and that's a real shame, because it takes some interesting turns along the way that help set it apart from the typical multiplayer shooter that seems to get released every few months."

Crysis 2's suit gives the game needed personality. "Unsurprisingly, Crysis 2's strongest suit is its suit," Gerstmann quips. "The powered armor you wear while playing the game grants you abilities that make you much more powerful than the average Marine. Alcatraz's suit is easy to use with its streamlined functions. You use the shoulder buttons on the controller to turn on either maximum armor or a Predator-style cloak. Neither mode is perfect and they only last until your suit energy runs out, at which point you'd be wise to take cover for a few seconds and let your power recharge."

"The game is surprisingly good at making both abilities feel powerful without completely breaking the game," Gerstmann continues, "and the larger enemies you face later on, though not all that fun to fight, at least give you some targets that can't just be wiped out with one stealth melee attack."

The suit is also a welcome addition to Crysis 2's multiplayer modes. "Taking the nanosuit into an online match is surprisingly thrilling," Gerstmann praises. "Maybe I'm just surprised because the series' previous attempt was a dud, but Crysis 2's multiplayer effectively marries the power of your suit to the standard modes and styles of the recent Call of Duty games."

"You'll play modes like team deathmatch, capture the flag, and capture-and-hold variants, but a lot of it is freshened up by the ability to slap on your extra armor at the first sight or trouble or stalk around with your cloak running, hoping that it works on human players as well as it does against the AI (it doesn't). You'll also enable perks that fit into each of the three suit states, letting you don more powerful armor when your armor mode is enabled, giving you that same air stomp, settling down the recoil on your weapons, and so on."

"The game also has killstreak bonuses in the classic form, granting you a support power like 'maximum radar' for staying alive while downing the enemy repeatedly," Gerstmann continues. "The catch is that your kills only count toward that streak if you collect the dog tags that fall out of the enemies you kill. You can't steal other dog tags--they only appear when you get the kill--but it means you have to get out there and risk your neck to get those bonuses, by default."

"Crysis 2 is dragged down a bit by a lot of relatively minor issues, but the suit really saves it, making the action a lot more entertaining than it would be otherwise," Gerstmann concludes. "Direct comparisons might not be terribly favorable if you hold the first game in high regard, but when removed from that context, there are a lot of great moments in Crysis 2."

"The suit abilities are easy and powerful, giving you just enough variety to let you deal with encounters in multiple ways. And though you'll recognize large parts of its multiplayer design and gameplay from, well, every other shooter released over the last three years, the suit abilities add enough of a new wrinkle to make Crysis 2 stand out in an incredibly crowded field."


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