Tech News on G4
'Crysis 2' needs a new plan
May 12, 2011
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
*Note - Due to the ongoing issues with the Playstation Network, this review of Crysis 2 solely covers the single player campaign.
Despite being set in one of the most renowned cities on the entire planet, Crysis 2 often manages to be about as exciting - and unpredictable - as a trip to the corner store in Newark, New Jersey.
We've all seen this setup before: aliens that are hell-bent on destroying humanity invade the major population centres on Earth. It's up to one man to beat the impossible odds and stop the invasion in its tracks.
In Crysis 2, that task is left to a soldier known simply as Alcatraz. He, along with the rest of his team of recon soldiers, ends up floating in water just outside a freshly-razed New York City after the submarine they were in gets blown to pieces.
Things are looking grim for Alcatraz to say the least, as the none-too-friendly aliens are quickly making their way to him. Out of nowhere, a mysterious person who is decked out in a suit that looks like a cross between Venom and Iron Man takes care of the aliens and carries Alcatraz to safety.
Alcatraz wakes up a few hours later wearing what's known as the Nanosuit 2.0. Besides giving him extraordinary physical abilities (more on those in a moment), the nanosuit is somehow able to show him certain memories of Prophet, who is the man that saved Alcatraz earlier, and is the last person to wear the suit.
The Nanosuit 2.0 is the bread and butter of Crysis 2. It allows Alcatraz to jump higher and farther, become invisible, absorb an exorbitant amount of bullets, and much more. There's a lot more to it beyond that, but mentioning anything else would border on plot spoilers. Suffice it to say that without the Nanosuit 2.0, Alcatraz has about as much chance of stopping the alien invasion as Jeff Goldblum did without his trusty Apple PowerBook in "Independence Day."
Besides the nanosuit, the other big hook in Crysis 2 is the ability to play through the game and its multitude of scenarios in different ways. Problem is, at the end of the day, there are really only two ways of going about reaching objectives: cloak yourself and inch painstakingly toward the goal, or do anything but that, and end up in a full-on firefight against every alien anywhere close to you.
There are problems with both of these scenarios. If you decide to take the stealth approach, you'll be as bored as Keanu Reeves appeared to be in the remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still". Certain games, like those in the "Splinter Cell" or "Metal Gear Solid" series are meant to be played like that. In Crysis 2, it feels like nothing more than a tease to know that you're wearing a billion-dollar nanosuit that gives you superhuman powers, and you're sneaking around the sewers of New York City like some kind of pansy.
Then there's the guns-blazing approach. While this is certainly much more exciting than the first approach, it highlights other issues. The first is that the nanosuit actually isn't all it's cracked up to be. Using any of its multitude of powers uses up a special charge meter, and it's less-than-generous to say the least. Performing long-jumps or power melees, or even getting shot, cause the meter to deplete very quickly. The only way for it to recharge is by hiding in a corner out of harm's way, and that's a lot more difficult to do than one would think. Once the enemy AI has spotted you, typically the only way to get their eyes off of you is to kill every last one of them.
Again, this latter approach creates a few cool moments, but it ends up making Crysis 2 feel like every other generic shooter on the market. There are a lot of weapons to choose from, but there's really nothing the average FPS player hasn't seen before, and most of the enemies consist of the same generic alien grunts. They may look slightly different from those that appear in other games, but when push comes to shove, they're all the same.
Though New York City has been painstakingly - and gorgeously - recreated for Crysis 2, there are numerous hiccups that appear throughout the game. It's not uncommon to see debris such as newspapers floating awkwardly off the ground or black areas appear randomly in floors. Enemy AI suffers as well, with some characters getting stuck on pieces of the environment and walking in one place in a loop until you pop them in the head. As fantastic as this game looks, it's moments like these that manage to really take you out of the moment.
There are other nagging issues that can't be avoided. The nanosuit actually talks to you throughout the game, and feels the need to announce updates every time something is activated or deactivated. It's not only annoying to hear "Maximum armor" or "Cloak enabled" hundreds of times throughout the course of the campaign, it means you'll miss key dialogue as well. Often the nanosuit will be saying something (presumably) important while a friendly NPC is also saying something (presumably) important. It becomes downright grating.
There are a few FPS concepts that appear in Crysis 2 to keep players engaged, but they do anything but. There are several collectibles to be found and while some help answer plot questions, they seem like little more than an excuse to get people to play through a second time. The nanosuit can also be upgraded by using special "nano catalysts" acquired from the bodies of dead aliens, but the upgarding system is as rudimentary as you can get and feels like an afterthought considering it isn't difficult to get through the game with minimal upgrades.
As neat an idea as it is to set a game in New York City and make it a gamer's playground, and despite the amazing job the people at Crytek did putting the city onto television screens, Crysis 2 is a surprisingly hollow experience. It never really manages to recover from a slow start despite a valiant effort from the developers.
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