Crysis 2 for PC Review

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When Crysis 2 first came out, I was excited because I could play it on console. At that time I had an interest in the first game but didn’t have a PC that could run it well. I acquired the 360 version of Crysis 2, beat it, and then I acquired and beat the first game on 360 when that version came out. It is inferior to the PC version which I did eventually beat later down the line after I built a more powerful PC. Developed by Crytek and published by EA, Crysis 2 was released for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in March, 2011. It was the first game in the series to release on consoles and the first game to showcase the CryEngine 3 game engine. For this review, I played the PC version, specifically the Maximum Edition which includes all of the DLC.

The story takes place three years after the events of the first game and the setting is a destroyed New York City. Apparently there was an outbreak of a virus known as the “Manhattan virus” that causes complete cellular breakdown which led to civil unrest so the city was placed under martial law. Soldiers from the private military contractor known as CryNet Enforcement & Local Logistics, abbreviated as C.E.L.L., police the chaos. A Marine unit is deployed by submarine to extract former CryNet employee Doctor Nathan Gould. The alien race known as the Ceph sink the sub and wound a Marine known as “Alcatraz”. He’s rescued by Prophet, the same Prophet from the previous game. Prophet commits suicide in order for his Nanosuit to assimilate and revive Alcatraz. Alcatraz then sets out to complete Prophet’s mission to rescue humanity from the aliens. Not only does Alcatraz have to engage aliens but also CELL forces, led by Dominic Lockhart who was given orders to retrieve the Nanosuit from CryNet founder Jacob Hargreave. The plot is a bit more interesting than that of the first game and Warhead, although it’s let down by below average voice acting and uninteresting characters. In fact, I cannot stand Nathan Gould who is a major character in the story. I find him extremely annoying. I think it’s a combination of his personality and voice which by the way doesn’t match his appearance in my opinion. There’s just something off about this guy and he doesn’t seem like a believable character, either. Hargreave is another character that fails to impress, mainly because of the voice acting. I hear him speak and I’m just not buying it.
You play as Alcatraz who is outfitted with the Nanosuit 2 early on in the game and health does regenerate. He can run, jump, crouch, lean around cover, kick, drive vehicles, detach emplaced weapons, perform a melee attack and stealth kills, and pick up and throw objects and enemies. You can use the suit’s visor to analyze the battlefield and tag things like enemies and supplies. You can also utilize Nanovision which is like thermal vision. Like the first game, the Nanosuit is the real gimmick here and grants Alcatraz special abilities which have been streamlined this time around and in my opinion, improved. The suit comes with three modes – Armor, Stealth, and Power. The abilities of each mode do consume energy which will regenerate. You can activate Armor and Stealth manually. Armor mode grants you extra protection and when you activate Stealth mode, you’re basically invisible. It’s exactly like the cloak in the first game. Power abilities are only used when you perform certain actions. For example, you can perform a power kick to kick large objects like vehicles. Holding down the jump button allows you to perform a power jump which means you jump higher than normal. The only thing I don’t like is that sprinting is considered an ability and consumes energy. You can’t move at super speed like in the first game so it’s just like sprinting in any other game. You can perform a power slide if you sprint and then crouch.

Being able to seamlessly switch between Nanosuit modes on-the-fly makes a big difference and the fact that energy doesn’t drain as rapidly as it did in the first game results in more enjoyable gameplay. Armor and Stealth can be active for a good amount of time before your energy needs to regenerate. This means you can now remain cloaked while moving for much longer and take out multiple baddies in succession and still have time to get away clean. You still have multiple options when it comes to engaging enemies but now you have a bit more leeway in terms of stealth. Because you can remain cloaked for longer while moving, it’s not as easy to get detected. You can easily sneak up on enemies and perform stealth kills or you can just sneak past them. If you attach a silencer to your weapon, you can take them quickly and silently from a distance and still remain cloaked. When Ceph enemies are killed, they drop Nano Catalyst units which act as a form of currency. The Nano Catalyst units can be spent on Nanosuit modules or upgrades. There are multiple modules for each mode and, unfortunately, you can only have one active per mode but you can switch between any unlocked modules at any time. I think this module/upgrade system could have been a lot better and I often found myself forgetting the modules exist. There’s one that reduces the sound of footsteps, there’s one that highlights incoming bullet paths, another allows you to perform an air stomp, certain modules reduce energy drain, and there’s some others. Some modules are better than others and they can make a difference when it comes to engaging foes but not enough to really standout. As I mentioned earlier, I often forgot the modules existed.

You will get your hands on quite a few weapons which can be found in the environments or are dropped by fallen enemies along with ammo. Weapons can still be customized on-the-fly with different attachments but you’ll need to unlock a lot of them by finding weapons with them already attached. You can attach different scopes, a laser sight, silencer, under barrels like a shotgun, gauss, and grenade launcher, and use extended clips. There’s different types of pistols, assault rifles, submachine guns, rocket launchers, and shotguns you can use. Some of the more dangerous weapons include the Gauss Rifle, DSG-1 sniper rifle, MK.60, and grenade launcher and you can also lob grenades and plant C4, great for taking down tougher enemy types. There are some unique weapons like the X-43 MIKE, Swarmer, and K-Volt. The X-43 MIKE is a microwave emitter which is very effective against the Ceph. The Swarmer is a multi-shot rocket launcher and the K-VOLT is a submachine gun that fires electrified pellets, great for stunning enemies but it can also disrupt Nanosuit energy. The game contains a good variety of weapons and all of them feel satisfying.

The enemies are a bit smarter than the enemies in the previous game and the Ceph or aliens are much more enjoyable to engage here. The C.E.L.L. enemies and Ceph do share some basic behavior like shooting at you, running around, and taking cover. C.E.L.L. soldiers can throw grenades and they can call for reinforcements. The Ceph come in many types and are more humanoid in appearance. Some are extremely agile and quick. They’ll run around and jump all over the place and even off walls, and they can take more damage than any of the C.E.L.L. soldiers. The more dangerous types include the Grunt Commanders which are equipped with shields, Heavies which are heavily armored and move slowly but are equipped with deadly firepower, and Guardians that can cloak themselves. You’ll get the opportunity to shoot down a few gunships and there is a boss-type enemy known as the Pinger and you’ll have to battle several of them. Enemies can be found patrolling areas and the Ceph are often deployed by drop pods. Every now and then you’ll be accompanied by friendlies who will shoot at and kill enemies but you will be doing most of the work.

Instead of taking place in lush tropical jungle locations like in the first game, Crysis 2 is set in the urban jungle of New York City. You’ll fight your way through buildings, on rooftops, in the subways, and on the streets and engage enemies at iconic locations like Time’s Square, Roosevelt Island, Grand Central Station, and Central Park, among others. The environments are not as open as the environments in the previous game and, instead, are more linear here. However, battles usually take place in wide open areas which offer multiple ways to approach and engage enemies. So while the environments are more linear, the action is contained, and the pacing is a bit more consistent than that of the first game. You can take enemies on all-guns-blazing, sneak up on them, and in some cases, sneak past them. The environments will often contain areas and/or rooms off the beaten paths that usually contain goodies like weapons, ammo, and collectibles so there’s definitely reasons to explore. And as you progress through the campaign, you’ll unlock things like videos, flashbacks, and music. There’s less of a focus on vehicles in Crysis 2. You can drive vehicles and there’s a neat set piece where you’re driving and fending off enemies at the same time but you won’t ever need them for travelling long distances. You’ll be on-foot most of the time and you’ll never have to travel far to get to the next battle, cut scene, or objective. Many of the objectives have you going from point A to B whether it’s to meet up with NPC’s or do something specific and you’ll be shooting a lot of enemies in between.

Crysis 2 looks great and includes a pretty good representation of New York City as far as I can tell. The game contains plenty of details like objects, debris, and destroyed vehicles littered throughout the environments. Parts of the city are visibly destroyed and alien tentacles and structures will consume certain areas. You have full body awareness so you can see your legs and feet, fire releases sparks into the air, muzzle flashes look great, and smoke and sparks will fill the air during firefights. The textures are sharp, the character models look decent, and the particle effects look incredible. The environments are somewhat destructible which does enhance the gunplay a little bit. Bullets will rip through parts of walls and structures and dirt and debris will kick up from bullet impacts on surfaces. Explosions look great and the gore effects are pretty good. C.E.L.L. enemies will leave behind blood when they take damage and Ceph enemies release a jelly-like substance. It’s quite satisfying to blow off a Ceph’s head or just blow one up in general and watch it explode into pieces. The sound effects are excellent thanks to booming explosions and weapons fire that is loud, satisfying, and will often echo with each shot. The soundtrack is phenomenal. The main theme is very memorable and was composed by Hans Zimmer. There’s some fantastic tracks here that do a great job at setting the mood or enhancing the action. Now I did some research and read that Crysis 2 is very memory intensive so I downloaded the NTCore 4GB Patch which improves performance on 64-bit Windows systems with more than 2GB RAM by allowing it to access up to 4GB RAM. Before installing that patch, the game crashed each time I tried to launch it. I did encounter some stuttering here and there but for the most part, the frame rate was smooth. The only bug I noticed was an enemy stuck in the environment.

I’ve beaten this and first game before and I used to think the first game was better. Now that I’ve played Crysis 2 again, I think I like it better than the first game. When comparing the two from a gameplay standpoint, Crysis has large wide open environments, giving you a ton freedom and ways to approach and engage enemies. I would say it’s one of the game’s best aspects. However, the rapid energy drain really brought down some of the potential in that game in my opinion. That’s not the case here and you still have freedom when it comes to encounters. But the environments are significantly smaller. I think almost everything in Crysis 2 is an improvement. The gunplay, the enemies, the AI, the pacing – all improved. With the exception of the sprinting not being anything special like super speed, I think the streamlined Nanosuit stuff is a positive change. The module/upgrade system could have been better and it’s easy to forget the system exists. I had a great time with Crysis 2 and I love New York City so the setting here is awesome. The story kind of sucks and I lost interest in it pretty early on but I do like the science fiction element and the super soldier-vs-aliens thing going on in this series. And the aliens or Ceph are so much more enjoyable to fight than the aliens in the first game. The multiple difficulty modes, collectibles, and multiplayer which I didn’t try do give the game some replay value and it does support mods which is always a plus.

I would definitely recommend Crysis 2 to fans of the first game and first-person shooters. Not only does it look gorgeous but it’s fun to play and the gameplay still holds up. The gunplay is satisfying, the music is excellent, there’s a good amount of replay value, and it’s a visual spectacle. Ultimately, I think this is a fantastic sequel that improves almost everything established in the first game. The storyline could be better but if you like the idea of playing as a badass super soldier taking on an army of aliens, definitely check out Crysis 2.

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