Crysis 2 review

  • Absolutely unbelievably good looking
  • Nanosuit powers are endlessly entertaining
  • Multiplayer rewards creative thinking
  • Yet another mute, personality-free protagonist
  • Frequently buggy enemy AI
  • Irritating automatic taunts in multiplayer

Here we are. Crysis 2 has arrived at last. It’s a seminal moment – not due to some monolithic expectation of gameplay, but rather a test of hardware. Hell, the original Crysis still can’t run on the average PC and certainly couldn’t run on PS3 or 360. So how could developer Crytek pull this off? The answer is in CryEngine 3. Whatever they did to optimize the code, it worked. Crysis 2 does run on consoles, and it does so beautifully. We’re calling it now: Crysis 2 is possibly the best-looking console game ever. It’s not leaps and bounds ahead of other graphical heavyweights, but it’s probably just a bit more polished, a bit more detailed… and yet running at a very respectable framerate. It also sports what might be the best 3D we've seen in a game (you can see our analysis here). We didn’t believe it could be done, but now there’s no question the tech is a success.

So what about the game? This is especially a big question for those who haven’t played the original Crysis (and unless you’ve invested cash into your PC, you haven’t played it). Other than the snappy visuals, the main hook of the Crysis series is the nanosuit, an outfit that makes you look like a naked, cooked cyborg (it covers you in fibrous material that looks like exposed, gray muscles). The suit gives you semi-realistic super powers: you have super strength and super jumps, but you’re not exactly Alex Mercer from Prototype. You also fight aliens. Strangely, the aliens in Crysis 2 don’t look exactly like the ones in the first game, but we’re sure they’re supposed to be the same species – we just imagine the artists didn’t want to repeat themselves.

The nanosuit

Without the nanosuit, Crysis 2 would be just another “save the world from the alien threat” shooter. The suit is the core of the game, though, and it feels like more than a simple gimmick since to use it well you must manage your very limited energy and you must come up with creative ways to exploit every aspect of its powers. The idea behind the nanosuit is that it can alter its structure to suit your needs. What this boils down to in gameplay terms is that you have super speed, strength, and jumps by default, but you can also activate an armor mode and a stealth mode by hitting the shoulder buttons. Let’s ignore the special modes for a moment and focus on the agility factor. Your sprint is faster than most shooter’s sprints, but then it uses up your suit’s energy (and is nowhere near as fast as the sprint from Crysis 1, which is something we miss here). While running, if you tap crouch you’ll go into a cool-looking slide, and if you want to be a super –smooth killing machine you can even fire your gun or perform a kick while sliding.

Above: Or maybe a shaved gorilla?

The super jump is something we just never get tired of. Hold down the jump button and you’ll spring about fifteen feet in the air – it’s not a crazy, anime mega-jump, but we like it how it is. Something about the movement is just fantastical enough and yet bound by realistic gravity that it really makes us want to say “whee!” every time we do it. Also, when combined with the sprint, the super jump will actually get you across some surprisingly large gaps and it always feels rewarding to barely make a jump that looked too big. Helping this along is the grab feature: launch up near a ledge and you’ll heave yourself up quickly, but with a chunky feeling of weight and momentum that’s really satisfying. During a super jump you also have another option – the air stomp. Tap crouch and you’ll bomb downward, your fist smashing the ground and pulverizing any foe underneath you - another move that never gets old and allows you to play out your long-standing first-person Super Mario fantasies.

All of these little touches come together to allow you, once you get the rhythm down, to be a greased kangaroo sliding and bouncing all over the streets of Manhattan, and reminds us of a certain game that holds a place in our hearts, even if it wasn’t perfect.

Above: Faith has returned in spirit. Want more Mirror’s Edge in your shooter? Here it is

You can also kick cars into people. That’s never not a fun thing to do. Want to make it more hilarious? Stick some C4 to the car first. Now we’ve touched on another of Crysis 2’s strengths: the ability to tackle the game’s problems (be it single-player or online) in many, many different ways. On that note, let’s get back to the nanosuit’s powers.

So there’s the armor mode, which does the obvious, but it also slows you down and drains your energy, so you can’t use it all the time. A big skill in the game is knowing when to turn it on reflexively to save your ass and when to leave it off so you can get to cover faster. It also absorbs fall damage, so if you want to go running and jumping all over the place, you can leap off really high ledges and flick on armor at the last second to survive. The game rewards planning, so you can time a frontal assault by activating armor just as you step out into the open.

The real game-changer is the stealth mode. It means that you can play Crysis 2 in very different ways: you can be Duke Nukem in your armor, Faith with your agility, or Solid Snake with stealth. In the single-player campaign stealth will make you invisible unless you get right up in an enemy’s face. The balancing factor is that the energy drains quickly. The drain is relative to how fast you move, so you can sprint from cover to cover and recharge out of sight, or creep along and break necks at a measured pace. We played through the game using every power of the nanosuit, but you could easily ignore stealth and play a straightforward shooter, or even get through most of the game without killing a single enemy (we crept through entire stages barely killing anyone).

Above: Only a melee attack from behind will allow you to remain in stealth during a kill. Easy in single-player, but much more challenging to pull off online

The nanosuit also provides two types of vision: tactical and thermal. The thermal vision doesn’t do much in the single-player, but becomes vital in multiplayer since you deal with lots of invisible (and smart) opponents. The tactical vision adds another layer of choices to the single-player which encourages creative thinking. Anyone who’s played any of the “Cry” games, dating all the way back to Far Cry, will be familiar with the tactical vision. At certain points in the campaign you’ll be prompted to check out your tactical options. Perch on a ledge and whip out the goggles and you’ll see not only enemy and weapon locations, but the visor will point out tactical approaches such as “flank,” “stealth,” or “avoid.” It’s fun planning out a route of attack and brings quiet moments between the bullet-flinging.

The nanosuit is the star of the show and rightfully so. Yes, it’s been simplified since the last game and we miss the super-super speed mode, but it makes ordinary shooter gameplay into something you can customize and play around with on the fly in a way other shooters don’t quite offer.

The campaign (or yes, it’s NYC again)

We love a good romp through a tropical island as a game setting. The original Crysis had huge, open swaths of jungle to creep through, keeping things gorgeous and varied. When we heard that Crysis 2 would be set in Manhattan, we were disappointed. Not only has the city been done to death, but a bunch of streets and buildings is far less interesting than jungle and mountains – both visually and from a level design perspective. We ended up not minding the setting as much as we thought after all, for two reasons: it’s the best-looking version of Manhattan ever, and the destruction of the city means that the level design is not a bunch of straight lines and right angles at all. Crumbling walls, cars hanging precariously over ledges, giant craters and gorges right in the middle of streets, downed alien spacecraft, and massive metal tentacles piercing through the landscape ensure that the environment is constantly visually interesting and offers unexpected spatial dimensions to navigate.

Above: This is Manhattan, not some alien planet

The overarching level design is more linear than the first game, but it’s by no means an A to B corridor punctuated by set pieces. There are a number of huge open spaces that offer exploration, and with the nanosuit’s powers combined with the tactical options, there are numerous paths for tackling just about every situation. If one were so inclined, some replay value could be gleaned from going back through the campaign and doing the opposite approach in each encounter. Even for a single playthrough, though, Crysis 2 is no slouch: you’re looking at a good 8-10 hours if you employ a combination of stealth and Rambo approaches. We’d bet some players will blow through it more quickly, but it’s a bigger campaign than a lot of its contemporaries.

More Info

Release date: Mar 22 2011 - PC, Xbox 360, PS3 (US)
Mar 25 2011 - PC, Xbox 360, PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Shooter
Developed by: Crytek
Franchise: Crysis
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Violence
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending
Matthew Keast

My new approach to play all games on Hard mode straight off the bat has proven satisfying. Sure there is some frustration, but I've decided it's the lesser of two evils when weighed against the boredom of easiness that Normal difficulty has become in the era of casual gaming.

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  • NanoAssassin11 - November 20, 2011 7:13 p.m.

    The multiplayer was kick butt too
  • NanoAssassin11 - November 20, 2011 7:12 p.m.

    Crysis 2 along with the previous crysis games had awesome graphics and lol at the mirrors edge thing (I played the demo) but anyway I would reccomend the game for a steampunk action shooting alien loving guy! mostly like a shoot em up featuring aliens and C.E.L.L operatives lol
  • mEMAN34 - May 1, 2011 7:56 p.m.

    This game had the best graphics in the history of x-box 360 games! I loved playing it
  • mEMAN34 - May 1, 2011 7:49 p.m.

    This game had the best graphics in the world! This was a very good game also.
  • Demsky - April 15, 2011 3:44 a.m.

    @OrionOnyx No you are not alone
  • Demsky - April 15, 2011 3:43 a.m.

    If you dont got it get cant buy it then gamefly it a must play
  • OrionOnyx - April 1, 2011 5:14 a.m.

    Crysis is sooo much better than COD... Am I the only one that thinks that COD is way overrated???
  • pots555 - March 28, 2011 9:36 p.m.

    The single-player campaign is amazing. This is how a FPS should be made. I can't stop playing and I usually hate shooters. And the graphics are excellent.
  • philipshaw - March 28, 2011 10:14 a.m.

    The game looks amazing but I'm not that intrested in the multiplayer so I will get this when it's cheaper
  • MusicalHog08 - March 26, 2011 3:15 a.m.

    I just got FREE Xbox Live until MARCH 2012!!! Thank you sooooo much !!! + the codes actually work!! The only site you can trust out there!!!!
  • Zeb364 - March 24, 2011 10:57 p.m.

    Great article. Clear, conscice, and backed by solid facts.
  • Dorglesisthebest - March 24, 2011 2:16 a.m.

    Im glad people agreed with me on bulletstorm, I loved the campaign until it ended 5 hours early and left me with blue balls. The multiplayer was no fun, it needs a longer campaign
  • Zepaw - March 23, 2011 11:29 p.m.

    I liked the MP demo but did not love it.
  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - March 23, 2011 2:32 p.m.

    Looks interesting, but I'm about to start playing Dragon Age II, so I have no time for this.
  • presc1ence - March 23, 2011 12:08 p.m.

    FINALLY someone mentioned something about crysis's gameplay and not just the feckin grpahics! And suprise suprise , its a fairly generic story , with fairly generic charecters. YAWN. Never got the hype for this cookie cutter space marine story. Do have to say its not all bad , the MP is quite good. The 'mario-ness' of the movement is fun! I'll probably get it for the MP, but to hear people rave about this , you would have thought the single player would have been bit more up to scratch.
  • lordvader178 - March 23, 2011 9:30 a.m.

    Saying Crysis is better then Crysis 2 because of the opinion that you like sprinting and jungles better isn't a viable decision. That's your opinon, and has no reflection on the quality of the game. If you are comparing games, you compare whats in the game, not what you liked in thegame.
  • Spybreak8 - March 23, 2011 8:39 a.m.

    I'm just happy I'll finally be able to play this game. This quote reminded me of Gears of War 2: "On top of this, if your team loses a round, you’ll hear some random commander tell you how terrible you were – it’s like the game specifically wants you to have as little fun as possible when you’re losing. We guess it wants to motivate you to win, but it’s the wrong way to go about it." They trying to emulate Hoffman's don't let the grubs win soldier attitude? ^^ Sweet, I'm in for the single player so I'll be getting it down the road.
  • jmcgrotty - March 23, 2011 7:52 a.m.

    People need to quit making such a big deal about multiplayer. Games are better off without it, and the single-player campaign is all anyone should ever need. Give up on multiplayer. It's jumped the shark months ago.
  • Yeager1122 - March 23, 2011 5:58 a.m.

    Sounds good but not good enough for a $60+buy wait for a price drop on this then come back to it.
  • TheVoid - March 23, 2011 5:11 a.m.

    Aside from agreeing with FOZ completely (including his "what did I just say?" tirade), here's something that Baron164 mentioned that continues to rub me the wrong way: "If you('re) going to play a PC (game) at medium or low settings then you('re) better off with the console version." Grammar issues notwithstanding (dying knowledge that it is), this point makes no sense. Please, Baron, do tell why us PC gamers would be better off with a console version? "...most PC games are now just ports of the PS360 versions" Ah, I see. Except for the fact that the PC ports from consoles - if even the case, more often than not if you knew the console-spanking wide breadth of PC games - tend to be enhanced in several ways from their console counterparts. And I'm not just talking graphics, despite it being the most obvious of improvements (let alone the scalability of said graphics, meaning that even a meager PC can generally play most games if you tone things down a bit - rarely a sacrifice that brings it to sub-console levels). I'm not even going to dwell on the many extras tossed into PC versions, often included as worthwhile incentives for otherwise unfortunate later PC game releases. And as much as I'd like to bring it up, I'm even going to steer clear of the "mouse & keyboard vs. gamepad" arguement, being sure to not even mention the fact that PC gamers can use gamepads too (whether identical to XBox, PS2/3, or somethign altogether different). What I will focus on are the following: Free (let me say that again for effect: Free) mods and unofficial patches/fixes: Sometimes it brings a lousy port back from the grave, other times it makes a game you've played to death entirely new and exciting. In any case you have the option to get way more bang for your buck beyond what the developers had intended. Best of all? It's generally encouraged (if not full-blown supported) among the PC development communities. Show me a console that has THAT. Abandonware - Hey, what's this? More free? While consoles nickel and dime fans of the old school by charging for games that have been off the shelves for decades, PC gamers have an incredibly wide variety of games to choose from that are theirs to download 100% legally, free and clear. As far as I know consoles only very rarely throw users an actual free-and-clear game (and even then only if you are at the right place at the right time), and more than likely those freebies aren't much to write home about in the first place. Meanwhile PC gamers get to rifle through hundreds of freely available games, albeit from a different era, but classic and free nonetheless. After all, a truly great game never grows old... ...But consoles do, which means all those console games you have right now will likely be boxed up and in some form of storage ten years from now. Meanwhile I'm still able to fire up games I bought more than 10 years ago on my PC because, well, that's kind of the point with a PC. I will mourn the day my Dreamcast dies - when (not if) that happens finding a new one might be a punch in the shorts - but when my PC dies it is almost cause for celebration because it means it's time to upgrade (which I've only had to do twice in the past 10 years, and even then only marginally, and yet I've managed to stay on the cutting edge of PC gaming). Speaking of upgrades, those console games you cherish so much? They will never look any better than they do right now. The PC versions, on the other hand, may look staggeringly better following an upgrade to my system, to the point where replaying a game I've already beat almost feels like playing it again for the first time. The first Crysis is a great example: I played it on an only slightly-better-than-average PC when it came out, certainly having made adjustments to make it playable (yet still graphically smooth and impressive). Years later I upgraded my rig and fired it up - this time with everything maxed - and lo and behold, the difference was mind blowing. What console game offers that? Last but not least, it's cheaper than console gaming. Steam's head-spinning sales aside, even picking up a physical copy tends to be cheaper than getting the same game for a console. I got BF:BC2 for $20 when it was still begging $40 for PS360. Even same-day-release games tend to hit PC gamers for $50 while asking console gamers for $60. So I save money, can enjoy playing the game for much longer, use a superior control scheme, enjoy flexible graphics options that allow any game to run silky smooth, apply tons of user-made content that greatly expands the game's lifespan, and possibly appreciate some developer-made enhancments that the console side never saw, let alone possibly getting the whole boat for free if I have the patience to wait long enough. So tell me again, why am I better off buying a game for a console rather than PC?