Be Fast, Be Strong…Be the Best! Crysis 2 reviewed!

After many months of anxious chewing fingernails down to the quick and scouring the internet for any scrap of information, Crytek and Electronic Arts bring their sci-fi  FPS title Crysis 2 to an expectant gaming audience. Will it live up to the hype and expectation? Or will gamers once again have made it impossible for a developer to live up to their dreams as they have done so before? Discover the truth in the GamesMediaPro review of the most eagerly anticipated game of 2011.    

Emerging into the first person shooter genre from a cloaked location to perform a perfect precision take down of the competition comes the latest blockbuster from Electronic Arts and Crytek. But will the stealthy and stylish shooter have the stamina to stay the course against the seasoned console stalwarts of the already established FPS franchises? Let’s find out in our review of Crysis 2.      

Long held in highly anticipated regard by the fortunate masses of PC gamers, who have been enjoying Crytek titles for many years, comes the console debut of the developers latest collaboration with Electronic Arts in the much-hyped and anxiously awaited Crysis 2.  This stylish spectacular has ever promised console gamers a new range in graphical content and gameplay mechanics when it arrived, and let’s face fact’s here dear readers, it hasn’t put a foot wrong since the day of its launch on March 25th, 2011. Admittedly there was alway’s going to be howls of dissent from the ‘Meh Brigade’ that seem’s to have infected gaming on every forum and social media site, but the baying cynics aside, take it from all of us here at GamesMediaPro, Crysis 2 is taking the level of expectation and excellence in the first person shooter genre to new heights. 

With Black Op’s dropping the ball and games like Homefront and Killzone 3 failing to capitalise on the unexpected upsurge in anti-Activision sentiment, following the price hike in DLC for their titles and the very blatant broken port across to the PS3, it has now fallen onto the very wide, and very capable, shoulders of Electronic Arts and their affiliated developers to fly the flag, as it were, for FPS gamers everywhere, and with the latest shooter title to come out of the powerhouse publishers being the stunning Crysis 2 you could well argue that said ‘flag’ is more of an all-encompassing banner!

The story to Crysis 2 takes place against the backdrop of a New York under attack on two fronts from not only the Earth-born antagonists ‘The Cell’, but also from the extra terrestrial entities of the ‘Squids’ that make up the Ceph nation. You play as US Marine ‘Alcatraz’, a strong silent type whom we are introduced to in the game’s opening sequences as you and your buddies are transported by ship to a location under attack by Cell troops.

Now before we get any further into the game’s plot and storyline we had better make some introductions. The Cell are a shadowy bunch of reprobates and their main function in Crysis 2 seems to be the total elimination of anything remotely connected with the normal governmental status quo, and in doing so they intend to place themselves as crowning glory at the head of people. The Ceph on the other hand are an intelligent alien species who will offer are far more meatier challenge as opponents than their human counterparts. Total global domination and the extinction of our species is the order of the day with our interstellar attackers. But all of this makes for frantic combat situations as whenever you encounter either of your foes, whether it be a firefight with the The Cell or fisticuffs’ with The Ceph, undoubtedly the gunfire and explosions will attract the attention of the other players in this deadly game of global supremacy, and so not only will you have to worry about the possibility of reinforcements arriving to back up their brothers in arms, but you may also have to take into account the fact that unless you can silence the enemy troop’s quickly and quietly that you will be fighting your war on two fronts, and ask any despot or dictator throughout history from Napoleon to Hitler and they will tell you the same thing that this is not a pretty prospect. So basic introductions being made we return to take our seat on the aforementioned ‘Boat Ride to Bullet Town’.

Back to the action we go then as we sit with our fellow ‘grunts’ on the Road to Hell, and all is going swimmingly until a sudden explosion rocks our vessel and we are blasted from the water and end up in a frantic bid for air as we scramble for the surface. Alas, as we wipe the salty liquid from our stinging eyes we spy our attackers looming over us like an angry LED lit cloud of doom . This is our first encounter with the tendrill-headed Ceph in all their technologically advanced glory. So we are now playing ‘Piggy-in-the-middle’ against a group of ruthless mercenaries known as The Cell, who just may or may not have begun spreading a terrifying new disease known only as ‘The Manhattan Virus’, as well as an invading alien horde hell-bent on the committing genocide against the Human Race. As the light of life fades from our eyes we catch a glimpse of our oncoming assassin, as the Ceph craft approaches our position to deliver the Coup De Grace. But in the nick of time a shadowy figures appears almost as if from thin air, and stands like a beacon of limitless power and strength as they open fire on the alien gunship and bring it crashing into the waves with a satisfying ‘boom’ of combusted machinery and explosives. As the unknown musclebound messiah strides toward you, your vision fades and the light of life in your eyes is extinguished….or is it? With the enigmatic soldier known only to you as ‘Prophet’ instructing you on the high tech Nano Suit that he has just saved your life by depositing you in,  as well as bringing you up to speed with the deadly toxin that he himself is a victim of, your story is far from over, Crysis 2 has only just begun.

This is as far as we go into the storyline of Crysis 2, as our regular readers will know by now we don’t want to spoil any of our viewers enjoyment of the titles that we review. But take it from us, as far as first person shooters go, Crysis 2 is as in-depth and utterly engrossing as anything else out there, and far more besides. The storyline, written by renowned penman Richard Morgan, has created a tale that many would lie, cheat and steal to have gracing their next title. The author promised a story that would be the envy of the FPS world, and truth be told he has delivered, in our opinion.

But the beauty, and by far and away the most relishing prospect, has to be the games’ graphical content and far superior gameplay to just about every other action title on the market, with the possible exception of EA’s own Battlefield 3 which is also due to knock gamers for six very soon. Crysis 2 gives players a veritable smorgasboard of visual feasts as you are taken by the games’ storyline from one epic location to the next. New York has been used for gameplay in so many titles, but never before has the Big Apple looked so truly staggering in its clarity and detail.  Take the described opening sequences above for example, if the onslaught that gamers are treated to at the beginning of Crysis 2 was made any more realistic than the developers would have had to make a ‘Scratch and Sniff’ peripheral to enhance the gameplay, because there is nothing in those series of events that could make me think that they could be, or should, improved upon. The poignant images that the developers have conjured up have pure magic running through their coding, and awe-inspiring scenes such as the destruction of the Statue of Liberty, or the passing of her torch as the light that has come to signify the Land of Free lies forgotten and forlorn in the ruins of a decimated New York only serve to further cement the graphics into the annal’s of videogaming folklore as a true turning point in its history. Never before has a first person shooter looked this good, and nor have they ever played as good, but with the mechanics contained and built upon in Crysis 2, by using the developers own awesome Crytek 3 engine, allowing the games designers to produce a piece of gaming brilliance that runs smoother than silk and has AI so intelligent that it will complete The Times crossword as it awaits your arrival at a border checkpoint, Crysis 2 as taken the FPS genre to a new level. 

Yes, we have heard the tales of falling through levels, or of AI walking into walls, and if we were honest with you all there were a couple of occasions when we came across a pair of arms floating in mid-air, as well as a truly baffling event that saw us having to go back to a checkpoint and restart the level, but in all honesty? When you have a game that has been designed for use on PC and then has to be tweaked so that it is compatible with far less powerful consoles, it is inevitable that there will be slight oversights. I accept this, as do we all here at GamesMediaPro because, unlike another famous franchise at the moment, the very slight niggles that are few and far between in Crysis 2 are limited to the single player experience and they in no way impacted on our pure and unadulterated enjoyment of Crytek’s stunning masterpiece.

One of the games main pulling points, even though it has a multiplayer made in gaming Heaven, is the way that Crytek have invested so much time and effort into the games single player campaign, and in doing so have constructed the game in such a way that it is almost two games in one package, as you can attempt to conquer Crysis 2 from very different opposing perspectives. In the first instance you have the opportunity to just blast straight through with all cannon’s blazing white-hot like twin star’s set to implode. Just set the amazing Nano Suit to ‘Shields‘ and charge headlong into the fray and kick some serious butt! Alternatively you could always go for the sneaky approach and adjust the Nano Suit’s setting to ‘Stealth Mode’, and from there its just a case of slaying all you come across in a flurry of expert takedowns without them ever being aware of your shadowy presence. Whichever way you choose to take on Crysis 2 one thing is alway’s a massive feature in either method, and that is the Nano Suit. This little beauty is such an integral part of the game’s make up that it is core to the storyline and to the gameplay, and well it should be when you get to see just what this baby can do, as you collect fallen Ceph energy to upgrade your Nano Suit as the games’ storyline progresses. Some of the awesome features of the suit include the incredibly handy ‘invisibility Cloak’ as well as your ‘Shields’ and ‘Power Slam’ to name but a choice selection of the Nano Suit’s amazing abilities. The use of the suit can not be understated in any way as it is central to all that you do, and all that you can become, during your time spent in the world of Crysis.    

The gameplay is further enhanced by the suit’s full face helmet as it offers up an intuitive HUD that allows you to plot and plan your route around, or through, obstacles and environments with pinpoint precision by highlighting everything from the best options for a stealthy path around your enemies, right through to where the weapons caches are located. You are even able to mark your targets, as well as tagging friendly troops, and this makes things notably easier, especially on the more difficult levels or the insanely challenging ‘Super Soldier’ setting. Customization on both your Nano Suit as well as the individual weaponry in your personal armoury are also here, and the addition of ‘Boss Battles’ in a first person shooter title was a welcome return to a gaming staple.

Another break from the fold is the way that Crytek have gone totally against the grain by offering players a campaign mode that will, depending on your difficulty setting, see you enjoying some of the most compelling and best looking gameplay for a good 15+ hours. The sound effects are sublime and compliment the genre topping graphic’s by turning the whole Crysis 2 experience into the complete package.

Multiplayer is another place where Crytek’s gaming jewel sparkles like a diamond in the sunlight. The 6×6 gameplay is set out across some stunning map’s taken, in part, from location’s that players who have completed the campaign will find familiar. Everything that is on offer in the story mode is also available to the multiplayer gamers as the suit will permit Invisibility, Stamina, Armour and Power Slam upgrades, albeit for a limited period until the meter refills with enough energy again. Players can custom load-out’s as well as purchase and improve weapons and suit attributes by unlocking various attachments and upgrades as they progress, although the road to success is not one that has to be travelled for any considerable length of time before you can equip yourself with enough improvements to stop you from becoming a bullet magnate for more experienced players. In an excellent touch you also have interactive comm’s in Crysis 2 that will alert you to immediate threats and dangers from snipers. Very handy when you are on the hunt for those gamers who like nothing more than to attach themselves limpet-like to the nearest corner or distant outcropping, only ever appearing when their cloak is sufficiently powered to allow them to get off a few shots from 1000 yards before scurrying back to their den.

When all is taken into account with Crysis 2 it has to be said that the developers have managed to take the staid and humdrum first person shooter and breathe a huge breath of fresh air into what was fast becoming an over-populated and overblown genre. Gamers thinking otherwise would do well to realise this. Before the launch of Crysis 2 every other FPS title would have a single player campaign that was noticeably shorter with every new release in their franchise, whilst concentrating their efforts on securing the lucrative pot of gold at the end of the multiplayer rainbow. Graphically inferior, laggy and riddled with faults every major release that has tried to follow this formula has steadily lost gamers faith as they turn into clones of each other, and then comes Crysis 2 with its minimum 15 hour single player campaign and engrossing storyline, with its innovative multiplayer, that has broken away from the arcade style point and shoot and has gamers actually having to think about their gameplay and plan their tactic’s if they want to survive and claim their rewards. Then there is the absolute certainty that gamers have never before played a first person shooter with so much attention to detail that it makes the gameplay handle smoother than the proverbial bambino’s behind.

The beauty of Crysis 2 and the reason we have called this game a genre buster, is that it has raised the bar by which all future first person shooters must be measured. The success of coming titles in this genre can no longer be guaranteed by mere multiplayer alone, as more and more players purchase a game to enjoy all that the single player mode has to offer before even turning on to the multiplayer section. If anything it should be noted that every time an FPS title has tried to sell itself to gamers as multiplayer only then that game has flopped dramatically. Just how many people are still playing Breach? Or even MAG or Blacklight Tango Down for that matter? No, success is dependent on what you offer to the solo player primarily, as at the end of the day it is the individual’s hard-earned cash that has made the purchase in the first instance. To have a commercial success, especially in today’s economically challenged climate, then one must offer an all-round exemplary experience that is unlike anything the gamer has played before, this is where Crysis 2 steps in.

Graphic’s: Simply spectacular and unlike anything else in the genre as Crytek use the power of their ground breaking engine to make Crysis 2 the example by which all future FPS titles will be measured. Beautiful textures and amazing backdrop’s lit with all the stunning detail and clarity that you could possibly wish for in an action title. Crytek have pushed the boat out so far with this one that a tug is required to haul it back to shore. Everything about the game just looks so much better than titles that have come before it. The Big Apple looks good enough to take a juicy bite out of as the developers combine their talents with the staggering power of the Crytek 3 engine and display all that they have to offer in a glorious feast of visual delights.     10

Gameplay: Perhaps’ the crowning moment of the entire title, but maybe one that has been overshadowed a little by the sheer power of the games graphic’s and visual impact. Crytek have managed to make the gameplay as engrossing as the storyline. To say that the approach is refreshing is to underestimate all that Crysis 2 has to offer to the FPS genre, as it takes the best of both world’s, from the all out guns blazing ‘Gung Ho’ attitude to the more sedate, but just as lethal, stealth approach and allows you to tackle the game from both standpoints, giving added longevity to the title as well as making the single play experience double from around 15 hours to a whopping 30. The weapons are nicely rounded and perfectly balanced and powered, and the cloak brings a new angle that is deeply satisfying when taken full advantage of.       10

RePlay Value: Bearing in mind that we have just outlined in the previous paragraph why the game can offer up to and above 30 hours of uninterrupted gorgeous gameplay, and you can see for yourselves that Crysis 2 has already broken the mould as far as this generation of shooter titles goes. Couple that with the excellent online multiplayer, co-op and inevitable DLC packages that will soon be on the way and Crysis 2 offers more bang for your gaming buck than most. Pound for Pound Crytek’s masterpiece has to be the new Number 1 contender for Heavyweight Champion in the FPS genre.           10

Presentation: Without a shadow of a doubt Crytek have delivered on every promise and claim they made to gamers in the run up to the launch of Crysis 2. Whether you should choose to get this title and enjoy all that it has to offer is entirely your decision, but all we can say is that when you consider what other options you have out there in direct opposition to what has to be the best looking and smoothest playing first person shooter game on the market, then if you pass up the chance to experience all that Crysis 2 has to offer what else are you going to play?  Crysis 2 just offers up so much more than a 6 hour campaign strung together by the most tenuous links between multiplayer maps.  But whatever dunk’s your digestive? Crytek have managed to produce an absolute stunning piece of gaming, that stands alone like a masterclass in the face of its competitors. To miss out on the opportunity to play this game is to miss out on what could well be the first person shooter of the year.       10

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