If you’re anything like me, then you probably missed out on the first Crysis because you didn’t have a job that paid well enough to afford the ridiculously expensive PC hardware you would have needed to have a hope in hell of even running the game. I still don’t, in fact, and I’m sure I’m not the only one – which is a real pity, because it was without doubt an amazing-looking game with some very well though-out gameplay.
If you’re still licking your wounds from missing that boat, you’ll be pleased to know that the sequel, Crysis 2, is now available for the PS3 and Xbox 360 as well as the PC. Those of us who aren’t inclined to spend thousands on a new motherboard and video card, tweaking driver settings and using registry hacks to unlock overclocking options and sealed off capabilities to squeeze a bit more juice of their rigs, can simply pop the game into our consoles and play it at its fullest on that platform.
Crysis 2 picks up some time after the first game as the player character, a faceless, voiceless soldier named Alcatraz, sits in a submarine bound for quarantined New York. His mission: rescue a scientist who has vital information about the viral outbreak that’s taken hold of the world since the last game. Just as they’re about to dock, the sub is attacked, and Alcatraz and his squadmates manage to swim to the surface, where they’re shredded by gunfire from a UFO. Luckily, Alcatraz is dragged from the water by an unknown benefactor, a man coded-named Prophet. It’s clear that Prophet is on our side, but he’s also on his last legs, and so he imbues Alcatraz with a parting gift, his nanosuit. This technological wonder bonds with Alcatraz on a molecular level, granting him superhuman abilities – and he’s going to need to exploit every advantage it gives him if he’s to have any hope dealing with the armies of government clean up squads, aliens and armoured vehicles standing between him and his goal.
This premise sounds like a pretty decent setup for a scripted shooter, and it is, but while Crysis 2 might appear to a casual observer to be just that – another super-sexy scripted shooter – a few hours of play will begin to reveal unusual and well thought-out core gameplay that makes it stand out from the rest in more than just looks. Alcatraz, who takes on the codename “Prophet” once he dons the suit, is contacted by his scientist friend frequently and given new objectives, usually simple things like go here, do this, go there, get that, gunning down everyone who gets in the way. You know? Typical shooter stuff. Where the differences start to creep in is in the execution of it all. The environments are huge, man, huuuuge, and Prophet can choose his own path and means to get there, using whichever combinations of weapons, weapon mods, and nanosuit powers he likes to do it. You don’t even have to kill that many enemies if you don’t want to.
The nanosuit is the centre of Crysis 2’s gameplay, and has three modes: Power, which is the default and allows Prophet to jump high, run fast and kick and throw large objects; Stealth, which allows prophet to become invisible to sneak around undetected; and Armour, which turns him into a damage-absorbing tank not at all unlike The Terminator. Prophet’s suit also gives him access to a handful of useful visors, including a night-vision mode and a tactical visor which he can use to survey an area before going in, marking enemies and important items, like ammo caches. Anything marked in this mode is indicated by an arrow on the visor, even if they’re behind an obstacle – very useful. At a certain point, Prophet will start to face agile aliens, and every time he kills one, he can harvest genetic material from them which he can use to improve his abilities, like decreased energy drain for his armour, or the ability to move faster in stealth mode.
Prophet has access to an arsenal of different weapons too, all of which will be taken from enemies, since he’s essentially going in alone, and all weapons have different mods you can attach and detach at will via a very quick and simple interface. But, you’ll need to find a weapon that has the mod you want attached first – after that, it will be available indefinitely. Your weapon choice should reflect how you want to play. If you plan to play as an armoured badass, you’ll probably want large clips, big damage and shotguns with indiscriminate fire spreads, and if you plan to be stealthy, you’ll probably want to equip silencers on your weapons to make sure your sneaking isn’t for naught. Prophet can also deliver melee attacks, knife enemies from behind and kill enemies with thrown objects.
If your primary reason for getting Crysis 2 is the multilplayer, then you probably won’t be disappointed. Everyone already knows what to expect – rank based multiplayer in all the usual modes, deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, terrirtory defense and so on. As you rank up, you’ll gain access to better equipment and abilities for your nanosuit which you can customize to suit the way you play, so if that sounds good, then you’ll probably have a blast with it. No LAN option, unfortunately, which seems to go hand-in-hand with rank-based multiplayer shooters, these days – but that still doesn’t mean we have to like it.
Distilling a game into a recommendation is often a tricky affair, but in the case of Crysis 2, it’s quite easy. Shooters are a popular genre with a lot of appeal, so if you’re in the market for a bit of gorgeous-looking blasting action that holds up equally well in single player or multiplayer, Crysis 2 is probably your best bet right now.