Crysis 2 review: This sequel picks up after the events of the original game, dropping you in the middle of a near-future NYC
- Gripping campaign that plays out across 10+ hours, looks incredible in 3D, great balance of sci-fi and real-world, multiplayer is awesome
- Uninspired alien designs, campaign loses steam midway through, requires too much reloading and weapon-swapping.
Crysis 2 is a stellar sci-fi shooter, featuring a gripping single-player campaign, action-packed multiplayer, and some jaw-dropping visuals.
Rain hammers down on the streets of New York City's Times Square. Upturned police cruisers spit fire into the night as the top half of a giant skyscraper lay crushed over the back of an 18-wheeler. A NYC police station is a few feet from my location, but I'm hardly safe. A State of Emergency's been declared, ordering the "Evacuation of Manhattan," and cement barricades lined with razor wire alongside heavily-armored military vehicles choke off the famous intersection.
I clench a Joint Anti-Tank Weapon -- or JAW -- in my hands, remembering my orders to defend this chopper evac site at all costs, as something stomps towards my location: A hulking mechanical killer built from nearly indestructible alien technology, inaptly named the "Pinger." This is just one of many missions packed into Crysis 2's meaty campaign (which takes a good 10-12 hours to complete), but it provides a clear image of what it's like to actually play the game, all of which takes place in various real and fictional locations in and around New York City.
Crysis 2 picks up after the events of the original game, dropping you in the middle of a near-future NYC, which is stricken by not one, but two disasters: a viral pandemic and an alien invasion. At the beginning of the game you inherit the new and improved Nanosuit 2, which the game describes as a piece of combat technology so complete that "the divide between man and weapon disappears." Crysis 2's science fiction feels a bit familiar at times, but the experience itself is really what makes Crytek's multiplatform sequel stand out amongst others in its class. It's an exhilarating action game, both in single-player and multiplayer, that sets a new standard for sci-fi themed shooters.
I played the original Crysis in 2007, but like many gamers I'm not convinced that I really played the game...at least, not the way Crytek intended it to be experienced. I played it on a pig of a PC hardly ideal for gaming, which means I had to crank down the quality to prevent my computer from imploding. With that in mind, Crysis 2 is my first "real" taste of the visual spectacle the original was known for delivering. And I don't think I'm alone in that, considering the first game only released on PC, requiring high-end PC hardware to run properly.
While I wasn't necessarily a Crysis "expert" heading into playing the sequel, console first-person shooters are my genre of choice. I play everything from realistic military shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield, to sci-fi themed offerings like Killzone and Halo. Interestingly, Crysis 2 doesn't exactly fit into either group. While it has aliens, futuristic weapons, and other sci-fi elements, the universe Crysis 2 presents is more grounded in realism than shooters with similar subject matter like Halo or The Conduit. The game does such an exceptional job of combining real-life (New York City, existing weapon technology) with fantasy (aliens, fictional weapons, skintight suits that grant superhuman abilities), that I think it'll appeal to a lot of shooter fans in both camps.
One of the biggest things I walked away from Crysis 2 with was how much I've enjoyed the multiplayer. With many FPS games I usually have a better time with the single-player experience, but Crysis 2's multiplayer is absolutely electrifying. What really sets it apart from other online shooters is how (in most multiplayer modes) everyone is battling in Nanosuits -- unlike the campaign, where you're the only one taking advantage of its unique abilities. Multiplayer matches become frenzied and intense due to the limitless ways you can adapt to and take advantage of your own Nanosuit. And the more you play you begin to develop new tactics to engage the enemy with, who likely have their own unique style of Nanosuit fighting.
On top of your basic Nanosuit features like Predator-like cloaking and the ability to temporarily bolster the strength of your armor, there are a number of multiplayer modules, or perks (21 in total), that you can assign to your Nanosuit. These include everything from a proximity alarm that signals when you're near enemies to my personal favorite: the "air stomp," where you jump up into the air and (hopefully) land down on an enemy with all the force of a freight elevator dropping 30 floors and slamming into the ground. The modules, which you unlock with experience points, add another layer of strategy to multiplayer matches.
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