Crysis was an epic game, and whether you loved or loathed it, for many years it became a ‘ benchmark’ for PC gaming, and opened many debates along the lines of ‘yes,but how well can you run Crysis?’. I liked the original – it was fun, it was entertaining, and with the ludicrous hardware demand it became a personal goal of mine to get it running well at high settings on my 1080p plasma TV. The followup? well Crysis 2 is a very different kettle of fish.
Firstly, the game is based around Direct X 9 code, this has opened up the floodgates for complaints, with many gamers bitching that their new high end hardware purchases are going to waste. I get it, even if I can’t afford a GTX590 and new Sandybridge system, it seems slightly unusual for an Nvidia sponsored game to be somewhat ignoring the highest, most powerful hardware. I am pretty sure that Crysis did help Nvidia sell tons of graphics cards at the time. With a rumored Direct X 11 patch coming ‘sometime’ this may change, but the impact of a high demand ‘state of the art’ launch title has been ruined.
Today, I am not looking at the PC version, but the Xbox 360 version. As we all know, Crysis 2 is still based around the legendary NanoSuit, and a soldier called Alcatraz. For the first half of the game all the characters you meet assume that you are in fact, him. You are a nobody in his suit. Everyone wants the suit, you are just in the way. This suit has many capabilities, from giving super strength to the wearer, offering invisibility and armor capable of withstanding grenade explosions.
The various suit modes offer a high octane experience. With super power you can run much faster and escape an unforeseen ambush or run across dangerous landscapes in a fraction of the time. Invisibility means you can remain undetected, even in the close vicinity of a group of enemies – just be careful that you have enough energy to maintain it or things can get nasty, very quickly.
Crysis 2 rises above the masses of mainstream action games by putting all this at the disposal of the gamer, you can choose when to use the powers and more importantly how to use the powers. Monitoring the suits reserves is equally as important, because the timing can be crucial. If you use invisibility, only to run out in the middle of a group of enemy soldiers, the joke is on you.
The developers have fine tuned the suit system since the last time, which many people will be pleased to hear. If you stand still, the invisibility for instance will drain much slower. If you run with it on, it will be gone in only a few seconds. Realistically this makes sense, after all if such a thing were to actually exist, it would require a lot more power for it to adapt to the surrounding environment if you were moving faster through it.
Graphically, the game is extremely pleasant. I know people will be ready to jump on me for saying it, but I found the engine extremely well coded, detailed enough to create a sense of a living breathing virtual world, yet smooth enough to handle everything it throws at you without juddering to a halt. Graphical touches are detailed, with falling debris, smoke, particles of dust and superb ambient lightning. It is actually hard to believe that this is possible in Direct X 9.
To be fair, I did notice some slow down’s in some of the more intense environments, and having later played the PC version, these are gone. This was with a simple quad core i5 and a GTX560, so its not ‘ultra high end’ by any stretch of the imagination. There are some bugs too, such as soldiers getting stuck in environmental objects and rag doll effects which are not at all realistic. I saw one soldier get hit by a rocket and get catapulted into the sky by the impact, all intact. Sure, its picking holes and for the most part it didn’t bother me, I actually expect it now in most games and have gotten so numb to it, that I can ‘tune’ it out. It really annoyed my friend, but I just blocked it out.
I like the damage model they have incorporated into the final build, if you fire at the walls, they will break and chunks will fall down. Shotgun blasts will remove parts from concrete and wood. Additionally this means that you need to be careful about which materials you take cover behind. Hiding from a chain gun based vehicle behind a wooden table is not the best way to stay breathing.
On a story level, I found the game entertaining enough to be engrossing, but ultimately rather stupid. To be honest, I think we all expect these games to be fairly dumb anyway, so it hardly is a deal breaker.
Crytek have developed an online mode which keeps many of the suits single player abilities intact. Having a group of eight players all using suit powers, hiding around corners with invisibility and jumping onto high ledges with super strength is very exciting to be a part of. It certainly injects a little more diversity after a raft of mundane Call of Duty style online deathmatches. You can earn Armor, Power and Stealth XP depending on how you use the suit during the fighting, as well as XP for the specific weapons you use. The RPG leveling concept is a welcome idea, but I did notice that some new players were having a hard time getting to grips with everything that was happening. Experienced players above level 10 have a huge advantage when playing the newbies, but I think this is only fair, even if it seems mean to the people who have just started.
I really enjoyed Crysis 2, there is enough variety with the combat and environmental designs to keep you playing until the end. Then when you do beat it, the online aspects deliver a lot of potential value for money. Fans of fast paced futuristic shooters will have a blast, I know I did.