Ever since its initial release in late 2007, Crysis has been touted as one of the most visually impressive games to ever to be released on the PC. But no one really talks about the gameplay too much. That could have something to do with the fact that in order to experience the wonder of said graphics and not just look on in awe as demo reels were shoved down your gullet, you needed the world's fanciest PC gaming rig. Still, there were plenty of people who did have a good enough computer to run Crysis and even more who wanted it to be available on the home consoles as well. And while the original game may not have made it to the 360 and PS3 (at least, not yet; but there's always hope, right?). Crysis 2 is making that nanosuit-boosted leap through the air to the console market in a brilliant and impressive manner.
[image1]For part two, the fight has moved from the imaginary island of Lingshan to the very real New York City; the only difference being that in this version of The Big Apple, there's a virus going around that melts people into a pile of goo and an invasion from some very squid-like alien beings. It's now up to you as the man in the fancy nanosuit to give these bastards a run for their money. This time around, though, instead of just wandering around an open world and blowing all the pretty bits up, you're guided through a level-based experience that keeps the plot fluid and creates a more streamlined gaming experience.
Somehow the team over at Crytek has found a way to make their sequel just as visually remarkable as the original and without the need to spend a fortune on a fancy new video card and extra RAM (on the console at least). The desolated streets of Manhattan have an eerie presence about them. The once bustling metropolis has a sense of recent and sudden abandon written all over it, like everyone just stopped what they were doing and disappeared. It's the most "living" dead city I've ever seen in a game. Anyone that's ever been to the five burroughs of NYC will probably agree with me that the essence of the city has been captured in the graphics.
From a visual standpoint, the whole vibe of the game is Planet of the Apes meets Escape from New York while the gameplay itself is more Halo meets Metal Gear Solid. You can choose to go balls-out guns-a-blazing through every level like a suicidal badass, all the while utilizing the suit's armor mode much in the same way a Master Chief would, or you can use the suit's stealth mod e to sneak by the enemy undetected, creep behind him, and stab him in the head like a sneaky Snake might. It's up to you how you want to carry out missions and you're given a variety of ways to deal with situations. You could even skip combat all together and just sneak around everything if you're good enough or just bored with fighting. Obviously, there will be points where fights are unavoidable, along with some moments where you're forced to drive vehicles and run over stuff while blowing other shit up (doesn't need to be specific, really), but overall Crysis 2 does a good job of letting you choose how to handle everything in your own way.
As you progress, you can customize your nanosuit to better fit your playing style whether it be for longer lasting stealth mode, quieter footsteps, or a flying stomp attack to get the drop on enemies. The customization features along with the ability to choose how you play makes this one of the few FPSs on the market to have any real playability to it.
[image2]For the most part, the AI does a good job of not letting you walk all over them, but there are a few times where I found myself blindly punching the crap out of my opponents with the armor mode engaged to get out of situations. I even employed the same tactic on some of the game's heavy armored enemies with success, so it's not without its flaws. Overall, though, this was no walk through Central Park, even on normal mode. Thinking through attack plans and being patient still pays off more in the end and has you dying a lot less than a run-and-punch strategy ever will.
The plot is also a bit boiler-plate and most of the shocks or twists are pretty easy to see coming. But even though you'll figure out that Darth Vader is Luke's father long before you should, there are still some very surprising things in store for fans of the series, though most of them seem to occur earlier rather than later in the plot. But I find it hard to fault an FPS for having an absurd plot at this point; considering the convoluted gunk they spewed out for Black Ops and the cheesiness of Bulletstorm, the fact that Crysis 2 even tries to put together something you can follow is an impressive feat for the genre, but it's still not as good as a game this high profile should be and must be faulted for that. Especially the ending which comes off as more than a little cornball and self-serving for a sequel.
Beyond the single-player campaign mode, there is a wonderful world of multiplayer mayhem awaiting those of you brave enough to go online. This is one point that Crysis 2 has done seriously well. Although for the most part, gameplay modes are the standard deathmatch, capture the flag, or "hold this point for a certain amount of time" types that we've seen in every other FPS before this one, they're done in a brilliant way that utilizes the unique features of the nanosuit. The action is fast-paced and doesn't allow for mistakes to be made in a way that creates a truly enjoyable competitive environment. I'm not one to fare well in the online arena, I mean, I'm no n00b, but I definitely don't have what it takes to be a master of the arena and even I had moments to true badassery in the multiplayer arena, such as sneaking away with the opposing team's power cell (flag) undetected. I even made the MVP in a few rounds, which I don't think I've done before.
Crysis 2 has done an amazing thing here. It's a sequel that while borrowing heavily from the first Crysis, plays out absolutely nothing like it and creates its own standalone experience. While most FPS like CoD series or Halo do improve in each iteration, this is one of the few games that dramatically enhances its previous installment. This is the new FPS, the thinking man's FPS, and I can't wait to get my second playthrough started.