It could be easy to forget that the first Crysis was more than just a tool for benchmarking your PC’s power, it was an interesting FPS that combined Far Cry with aliens and super suits. While I enjoyed the original, it was another computer game that I lost interest in and never finished. But I did enjoy it enough to give Crysis 2 a shot when it was made cheaply available to me. And I was happy to find a perfectly competent, pretty game waiting for me. Wait, isn’t that exactly what I said the first game was more than? Oh bother.
Crysis 2 opens with a bang. You’re Alcatraz, a member of a team of soldiers on a submarine heading to New York City. Because there’s a war going on between the military, a PMC and aliens. The game doesn’t do that great a job setting the stage, or really explaining much at all. But your sub sinks and you’re miraculously saved by Prophet, the squad leader from the original game. He gives Alcatraz the super suit and tasks you with reuniting with his scientist buddy. Things escalate from there.
The entire game takes place in New York City and I really enjoyed the urban setting. It was a great change of pace from the tropical setting of the first game, although the environment doesn’t substantially change like it did last time. The skyscrapers look great and make quite a spectacle when they come tumbling down. The city streets do make the game much more linear, basically taking you from combat arena to combat arena. You do have options for each battle, which the game makes a point of explicitly telling you, which is a bit weird. You pop up your binoculars and are told “here is a good place to snipe” and “here is a good place to sneak around.” It’s a bit weird, but I guess you don’t have to use the binocs if it really bothers you.
There’s a lot of politics and side switching going on in Crysis 2, and after a while I just started ignoring it. The game never really made me care about what side I was fighting for and I didn’t really worry about who lived and who died. What I did like about the story was the absolutely brutal beating Alcatraz takes. In most games, the main characters get beaten and shot without showing any wear and tear in the cinematics. In this game, it often takes Alcatraz a while to just get back up after a heavy hit. People look at you like you shouldn’t be alive. It’s made explicitly clear that without the suit, you would be dead a hundred times over. That’s great.
The suit is a bit streamlined compared to Crysis 1 as well. Instead of having a speed or power mode, you automatically use suit power to sprint and jump farther. That just leaves you with stealth and armor, the most useful powers from the first game. Armor lets you take more damage, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Stealth lets you go all Predator and sneak around, so long as you don’t run out of power. Both can be upgraded using organic tissue gathered from dead aliens. I found stealth became a little too powerful with upgrades, and I was able to bypass battles if I wanted. But the suit powers elevate the games otherwise standard gameplay. The gun selection is not that interesting, although the ability to customize weapon scopes and add-ons returns. And there are a few alien weapons, although they’re not that exciting. The shooting is exactly as tight as you would expect it to be.
Crysis 2 also includes a more robust multiplayer mode, as it is a first person shooter and therefore must vie for Call of Duty‘s thrown. While the suits do make things a little different, I just didn’t care about playing this game online. But I guess if you think you’re really good at the game it could be a fun way to destroy your ego.
Ultimately, Crysis 2 kept me entertained through its campaign. It plays absolutely fine. It looks great, although perhaps not groundbreaking. I played it on PC, but the console version is probably fine. This is totally acceptable entertainment, and suitable for a long weekend. More importantly, if all the games coming out these next few months have captured your attention, it’s totally fine to put this one on the back burner for a while.