Iron Man. Master Chief. Isaac Clarke. Everything is better with a superhero suit - this is fact. When the dude in the suit turns up, everyone knows that it's all going to be alright. The world isn't going to end anymore! The aliens will retreat! That penny I accidentally ate at lunchtime will come out fine in due course! Life is a better place with supersuited gentlemen around.
But what about when that suit starts taking on a life of its own? Crysis 2 follows Alcatraz, a Recon Marine who, on his last legs, is given the Nanosuit, a powerful bioweapon that begins molding itself into his body and making him insanely powerful. Which is pretty useful, really, when you consider that New York City is being over-run by an alien infestation.
Coming in for a kiss!
Crysis 2 is bloody gorgeous, and by far one of the most polished games we've ever played. Watching the cityscape come crashing down around you in all its HD glory is quite the sight, especially in some of the more open areas midway through the main campaign. Whether you've diving across rooftops or making your way into the heart of an alien hive, it's all jaw-dropping throughout.
The Nanosuit's abilities are back, although in a much simplier and easy-to-use form this time around. The main abilities, armour and cloak, are available via the shoulder buttons, and will make up the majority of your energy usage. The d-pad houses other less-used abilities such as enemy marking. It works much better than the original game, and makes switching between abilities a breeze.
This distinction between the two main abilities is what gives Crysis 2 such an edge, as both are as good as each other. We managed to worm our way through most of the game using just the stealth options, hiding every now and again in alcoves to regain energy. Then when we felt like something a little different, we'd pop the armor mode on, jump out into the middle of the road and let loose on the surrounding enemies, under the knowledge that we could take a great deal of pain before dropping dead.
In other words, the game plays however you decide to take it. If you're the tactical type, you may want to hide in the bushes while streams of enemy troops run by. Or, if you're the run 'n' gun type, you can rush forward blasting. Replay value indeed!
Just to make the game feel even more open-worldy, multiple paths are available on most levels. As you walk through the city, you'll be able to take different roads and levels to get to your destination. You may want to stick to the rooftops, taking out snipers and leaping from building to building, or perhaps jump down to the ground and use vehicles as cover. Variety is definitely the spice of life in Crysis 2.
What the game does the best, however, is making you feel insanely powerful. Weapons pack a serious punch, and creeping up on enemies and stabbing them in the back is serious fun. New York City is your playground, and experimenting with different ways to end your enemies is a game in itself.
It helps that the story is at least moderately entertaining. For the most part its 'go here, kill things, now go there, repeat', but there are a good number of big twists to the plot that kept us glued to the controller from start to finish. Towards the end it perhaps becomes a little repetitive, but at ten hours in length, we won't complain too much.
There are a number of NYC landmarks available to explore and defend
While that feeling of power surging through play is phenomenal to get to grips with, it also leaves Crysis 2 on the less challenging side of the scale. Playing through on Normal difficulty, we found that we could simply run through each level cloaked, diving behind obstacles to regain power every now and again, and then continuing on our way.
Even if you find yourself running out of energy and uncloaking right in front of an enemy, your power will come back online within just a few seconds, so you can simply take a few hits, then cloak right before their eyes and continue on your way. Even switching to the harder difficulties, we found the going not very tough at all.
The enemy AI is also pretty dire. Once you're spotted, the surrounding soldiers will then begin sweeping the area, checking hiding spots and looking for you. Yet it's so easy to escape - you can usually hide right out in the open, and they'll give up before finding you.
Here's an example from our playthrough: At one point, we were cloaked right behind an enemy soldier. Rather than taking him out, we aimed across the street and took his friend out instead. The soldier right in front of us didn't even flinch - he simply stood his ground as if nothing had happened. We were then able to walk forward and knife him. You'd think someone firing right behind your eardrums would get your attention!
As mentioned previously, the story does become a little samey towards the end, although this may be emphasised by the lack of variation in the level environments. Since the game is set entirely in New York City, pretty much every single scene looks the same, with destroyed skyscrapers all around and cars and road blocks to hide behind.
Even later on when the game becomes a little more out-of-this-world, it simply feels like the developers have slapped a different colour on past levels and churned it all out again. When you compare the Crysis 2 world to, say, the variety in the recent Killzone 3, you can really see the difference.
What of the multiplayer then? Where the enemy AI in the singleplayer fails, online players are obviously a lot more aware. Cloaked players can be seen close up as wavey outlines, although it's still easy to miss someone camping in a corner or waiting as your approach. Fortunately, you've got your team to help you spot your opponents too, and going around as a group is definitely the best tactic available.
Individual suit powers level up separately depending on how often you use them. This turns out to be a really interesting feature, as you can plot the type of player you are, while it also eggs you on to try different tactics. As you level up, different weapons and abilities become available, and everything is tracked via an online My Crysis system.
The multiplayer is where you can really get your cloak on
In general, it's brilliant fun and we wouldn't be surprised to see the online modes pick up a modest following. Our only concern is the lack of feedback - as you lay into an enemy, you don't really feel like you're actually doing them damage, and we found ourselves simply emptying whole clips into people before they'd finally die. Perhaps not as satisfying as we would have liked, but on the whole enjoyable enough.
CRYSIS 2 VERDICT
Crysis 2 ticks all the right boxes, with a lengthy campaign that packs plenty of replay value and multiplayer options that are bound to prove a big hit. If only the suit’s powers were managed a little better, and the AI was up to scratch, we’d be recommending this outright.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Around halfway through the story, it all gets a little bit awesome.