Crysis was the brilliant successor to Far Cry, a game that was original and ground breaking for its time. Giving you the ability to approach any mission how you liked, Fay Cry set a trend that the games industry would follow for quite some time, Crysis took the torch and continued this trend to new heights. Crysis 2 was only the natural successor that took this torch to a new audience: the console gamer.
In order to cater to this new gamer, the Crytek team had to dramatically change a lot of what made Crysis, Crysis. It was a shame, but a necessary evil to cater to this new market of customers, so the nano suit was revised to make for quick and easy allocation of powers, and the graphics were scaled down to compensate for the console’s lack of power. Don’t get me wrong, Crysis 2 is still a pretty game, but for such a generational shift in engine, there’s not much to show for it.
The level design is easily one of the biggest changes the series has seen. In Crysis and Far Cry, the island was so wide and open that you could approach any objective as you saw fit. I would occassionally hide in the bushes a mile away from the danger, slowly throwing rocks or nearby animals (chickens, turtles etc.) to get guards attention to slowly make their way over to me. It was fun, exciting, and allowed me to play the game at my own pace, doing what I wanted to do. Crysis 2 on the other hands feels like a linear experience, no different to a game like Doom. Your huge, free roaming island has been traded for a small, dense urban environment, with the game directing you where you should go and where you shouldn’t with arbitrary dead ends similar to what’s found in a Naughty Dog game. Cars will conveniently be destroyed and piled up blocking one way down a street, or an alien tentacle will be conveniently protruding from a wall blocking access to a door. It’s all very frustrating if you’ve played the original games, and even more irritating when the developers shouted about the game being all about choices. You are indeed allowed to choose how you approach a combat situation, but only within the confines of a small space between buildings, something that feels very contrived and not very open.
The enemies of Crysis 2 are very unoriginal, varying from human soldiers that patrol around and shoot you, to aliens that patrol around and shoot you. It’s a shame considering the first game had aliens as these weird hovering mammoths that could kill you quite fast, and running was usually your best option. Instead, we now have aliens that act and behave like the human AI in the game, which makes for some boring combat scenarios instead of the potentially exciting ones they could have been. The only variance you do get is in a giant hulking tank of a alien, which requires a lot of firepower to take down, but even that isn’t original in today’s market. I found that you could never take it head on, so your best tactic was to turn invisible, run to cover, and wait until it patrols again before bombarding it with rocket launcher ammo.
As mentioned earlier, the Nano suit has had a overhaul. In the past, you’d have to click your mouse’ scroll wheel in to bring up a radial menu which you then pointed in the direction of the type of power you wanted your suit to use. There were 4 options to choose from: Armor, Strength, Speed or Cloak. Activating speed for example would allow you to walk faster, crawl faster, and sprint extreme distances in a short amount of time. Crysis 2 does away with these powers up front, and instead only activates them when you go to perform a certain action. The Speed example I just gave is only activated when you sprint, and cannot be activated normally. This new way of working takes the control away from the player, meaning you’re left with an experience where more likely than not you’re only activating your armor ability due to the amount of enemies shooting at you all at once.
A lot of spectacle was made of Cryteks employment of famous comic book novelists, saying that the story of Crysis 2 would be the next generation of story telling, and a new way to experience plot within a game. I can’t help but feel these were all marketing lies told to get people to buy the game, because the stories undergoes the same arcs as any other FPS out there. Nothing amazing leaps out of you in terms of the plot, with the only plot piece worth mentioning being the fact humans are contracting a disease that turns them to goo for the aliens to use, I can’t help but think Crytek have failed on the story aspect as well.
In the end, Crysis 2 turned out to follow the pack of generic FPS’s, when it could have been so much more and diverged. If you don’t think whilst playing games and just want some action on your screen with pretty visuals, Crysis 2 is right up your street. But if you’re looking for something different in the games industry, something that truly lets you feel emotion and gives you choice, then Crysis 2 isn’t for you.