Crysis 2: a short review

The problem with Crysis 2 isn’t that it’s a bad game, it’s just not that good. Ok, maybe that’s a little bit harsh; It’s not like I gave up halfway through, like I have with several other, similar games, but I did find it hard work quite early on.

It’s practically guaranteed that the first thing to get your attention in Crysis 2 is just how good it looks – and it does look good – but, rather worryingly, it’s also the only thing you’ll remember about it. Crytek were obviously eager to showcase CryEngine 3 with a big blockbuster game and visually they did a great job, but everything else is just standard FPS fare.

The “nano suit” your character wears is capable of two main powers: ‘Cloak’, which allows you to hide from your enemies briefly, and ‘Armor’, which, rather unsurprisingly, allows you to take more fire before you start dying. These both drain the suits power; rapid movement drains power quicker whiled cloaked, and taking fire will drain your armor power.

At almost every set piece area of the map, your suit kindly reminds you of the tactical options available: stealth, flank, avoid, etc. Crytek had clearly envisioned players using these powers tactically and efficiently while making their way through the game, which is…admirable. Problem is, it didn’t take long before these ‘tactical options’ started to grind on me, and I found it infinitely more fun to just open fire and cause some chaos.

It’s fairly common for a game’s storyline to be fit around the game mechanics, so it’s not really a surprise to see it happen here, it’s just a shame that the story is so agonizingly generic – Alien invasion in New York; Yeah, there’s a bit more to it, but it’s all fairly predictable and it was never likely to make an emotional connection with anyone.

It is fantastically cinematic in many ways though; the story itself may be fairly bland, but thanks to a decent score and the great atmospheric effects and visuals, those dramatic moments in the story do carry a lot more weight than a lot of low-budget games can normally manage, which is at least encouraging for games as a story-telling medium. There’s a long road ahead, mind, at least based on this story.

It shouldn’t really be of any surprise that the game plays as well as it does; this is clearly a big-budget game that knows where it’s priorities lie, I just feel that they didn’t really get those priorities right. Yes, having a cloak and armor mode is slightly unconventional for a shooter of this stature, but it feels like they were chosen because they aren’t commonplace, and not because they were actually interesting and fun to use.

Maybe I am being a bit harsh, but shouldn’t we be more critical of games with big budgets that fail to do anything we haven’t seen before? Don’t let the general negativity of what I’ve said put you off though; Crysis 2 really isn’t a bad game, and if you enjoy first-person shooters you’ll undoubtedly find something here you’ll enjoy. If you’re a fan of stunningly beautiful games, I can’t recommend it enough (though I would prepare yourself for the occasional quirky bug). But if you’re looking for the next Half-Life 2, you’ve come to the wrong place, even if you do find some disturbing similarities in the storyline.

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