Crossing the Steams 10.16.12: Crysis 2 Maximum Edition
Posted by Marc Morrison on 10.16.2012
Does this scifi FPS game manage to use the Nano suit to its full capabilities? Or does it suffer a systems crash due to an alien-caused attack? 411mania’s Marc Morrison finds out inside.
The sequel to Crytek's stand-out fps game Crysis, Crysis 2 is a weird beast. While Crysis was the uber-graphical powerhouse game, Crysis 2 was developed more for the console kids in mind. With this ideal, it turns the Crysis game from something a bit obtuse, into something that is actually playable. More than that, it makes the game feel fairly unique, especially compared to other FPS games.
So yes, Crysis 2 is a FPS game with a *lot* of science fiction trappings. The crux of the game is that there are aliens invading New York, and your character is a soldier sent to stop them. You get wasted within the first 5 minutes of you pressing "New Game", and then the real game begins.
A "Nanosuit" drops down, saves your character, and envelops you. Then you get jerked around by various people following the big blue dot that is always pointed on the hud. The Nanosuit is the crux of the game though, and where all the fun emanates from.
The Nanosuit has several abilities that can be used in combat, both offensively and defensively, as well as some auxiliary powers as well. The powers are slightly pared down from the first Crysis, but that's actually a good thing. The first Crysis gave you too many options, especially with 6 powers to be selected from, and this game simplifies the system a bit. There is a power system that is displayed on the hud that details how much power you have at any given time.
The main offensive power is the "Armor" ability which drastically increases your armor/health, as well as having a neat honey-comb effect on your hud. The tradeoff is that the armor ability makes you heavier so you can't move around as well. The armor drains slowly when you use it, but rapidly drains as you are taking enemy fire.
The main defensive power is the "Cloak" system. When you use it, you turn pretty much invisible. You can still be spotted if you are near enemies, or if you are moving fast (not crouched), so enemies can hear your footsteps. From a medium distance though, you are unnoticeable, and can sneak around enemies or stealth kill them from behind. To stealth kill, you need to sneak behind an enemy and press the RS button. The problem though is that melee combat is also tied to the RS button, so sometimes you'll do a melee kill (which is noticeable), and sometimes you'll do a stealth kill. When you stand still the power meter slowly drains, as you move around (slowly) it drains a little more quickly, and when you move around fast the power meter drains very quickly. The moment you take a shot also 40 of your energy points (out of 100) get expended, so shooting is only rarely advisable.
The rest of the powers fall mainly under the "auxiliary" banner, but still have their combat purposes. The big one is "Power", which combines the first game's two powers, Strength and Speed into one all-purpose skill. Power lets you sprint around the battlefield, do leg slides, have a power-assisted jump, and be able to pick up large objects, or do a charged attack. Every action takes suit power, but not nearly as much as the Cloak and Armor.
Another suit power is "Nanovision" which is basically a fancy name for "thermal vision", allowing you to see enemies around the environment, as well as the outline of cloaked enemies. The last power (tied somewhat to Nanovision) is the Tactical Vision, which lets you tag specific things around the environment, ammo resupply, enemy locations, tactical info (flanking areas, jumping points, etc.), so that you can always know what is going on. Usually, before you enter a new location where enemies are, the suit will tell you that there are tactical options available. This is your cue to pop open the Tactical Vision, so you can begin scanning the environment and marking things.
These 5 abilities make up the Nanosuit abilities in Crysis 2. Along with these 5 core abilities are also suit upgrades that you can buy. When you kill the Ceph (squid aliens) in the game, you collect "Nano Catalyst" (money) to spend on the suit, upgrading it. You do this all from an in-suit menu which has a really nice effect associated with it. There are 4 schools in the upgrade menu; Tactical, Armor, Power, and Stealth. They all have various upgrades that help in their own specialization, such as a Tactical upgrade called "Threat Tracker" that lets you see bullet trajectories, to a "Stealth Enhance" that dramatically increases the Stealth capabilities, as well as decreasing the overall power drain the Stealth ability uses. There are 3 upgrades for each disicipline, where you have to upgrade them sequentially. You can only have one ability, per discipline, active during the game as well. It would've been nice if you could have all three Stealth abilities on at all times, for example, but that probably would break the game a little too much.
Another interesting system is how guns work in the game. Guns have a separate customizable menu that is built into the suit (that also looks quite nifty). Guns can have various attachments put onto them, silencers, laser scopes, etc., but the kicker is that you need to find the gun in the environment first. Let's say you have an assault rifle with a scope on it, but want the Ironsight attachment instead. You'll need to find a version of that weapon in the game, equip it, and then you always have that attachment. You can then pick up your old gun, and select the new attachment for it. It's a quirky system, but it does give you a lot of options for your weapons, as well as incentivizing you to collect new weapons on the battlefield. You can carry two weapons at the same time, as well as a "special" weapon, like a rocket launcher. Only your two main weapons can be altered, be it pistol, shotgun, or assault rifle.
You also can do some of the dumb Crysis 1 stuff, namely being able to pick up objects and throw them around. This doesn't serve much of a purpose, but it can be used to create distractions around levels and such. There is also a cover system in the game, but it's pretty half-assed. You have to get in close to a wall, or box, and hold the Left Trigger. This enters you into "cover mode", where you can move the gun around from behind the object, but you have limited movement for going above the cover, or below it. The reason it feels weird is because in most FPS games now (including this one), you use the Left Trigger to aim down the sites. Since it's tied also with the cover system, you can't aim carefully while you're in cover. This limits the overall effectiveness of the cover, since you can't take potshots as enemies.
The thing I like about this game is just that it feels "right". Everything has a weight and a heft to it, be it slowly inching your way up an enemy infested street, to grabbing an alien and snapping his neck in half, to driving the vehicles around and shooting stuff. The feel of some FPS games isn't great, with you either not having enough tactile response (like in Painkiller), or that the shooting isn't impactful enough (like in Borderlands 1). That is the main thing I want to get across, more than anything else; this game feels good to play, and to get through.
Graphically, the game holds up well (Wow, what a shocker, considering the developer), with the technology driving it still being impressive to this day. The textures all look good, environments are nicely detailed, as well as some good artistic direction. Unlike most shooters of this generation that use Unreal Engine 3, Crysis uses CryEngine 3, which is impressive. Mainly, it doesn't have the texture load-in problem that has plagued Unreal Engine 3 games to this very day. Everything looks sharp, and realistic, with the suit's powers being appropriately unique.
The audio of the game is decent as well. The main audio theme is militaristic, but a bit jaunty in its approach. The rest of the game's music varies in quality, often times you won't even hear it at all, then all of a sudden, it'll come crashing in. Voice work in the game is a bit dopey, but considering the story (which is nonsensical), that fits in fine. Sound effects are good though, with footsteps being heard, and all the guns sounding different from one another.
The game installs fine, but has a funky EA DRM measure in it. You can play the single player fine, but you need to login to the EA server in order to play multiplayer. As "DRM" goes, it's actually fairly non-intrusive and annoying, but it still is a bit odd. The game has full gamepad support, and it's kind of required, especially for the different powers on the suit.
There is a nice amount of replayability within the game. There's a New Game + option, for when you beat the game. You can go through the game again, this time with all your abilities and upgrades equipped. There is also a robust multiplayer mode as well. It apes the Modern Warfare system with various classes, kill-streak packages, and upgrades, but it's all fairly serviceable. It didn't blow the world away like CoD 4's multiplayer did, but you will have some fun. Actually, compared to MW, the multiplayer is easier to get into. The suit is a good balancing mechanic, and while you can get upgrades and such, everyone still has a good baseline for their own starting point.
I enjoyed my time with Crysis 2 immensely. The game has solid shooting mechanics that help support the unique abilities the Nanosuit provides. There are some stumbling blocks, the Cover system, or how the story doesn't matter at all, but these don't detract much from the game. The game is well worth a look at, especially if you are fans of the genre.
Graphics -- 9.5 The game looks visually stunning, even now. Considering it's only a year old, the game engine is still fresh and new. The suit's powers are nice to see.
Gameplay - 8.0 Everything has solid weight behind it, and there is a variety of things you can do during the game. Every situation can be handled differently, if you want.
Sound -- 7.5 The main theme is probably the best part of the sound design, with the other music being un-memorable. Good sound effects help immerse you in the game.
Ease of Installation/Playing -- 7.5 The game uses a funky EA DRM system, but only for online play (so it doesn't bug me too much). Good gamepad support is included.
Replayability -- 8.0 A New Game + option can keep you back for the single player. There is a good multiplayer component to the game that is fairly easy to get into.
Overall -- 8.1 (exact) which I'll round down to 8.0
Other Steam News
There are only three releases due out this week. On Oct. 16th is the PC port of Rocksmith. I'm not sure how that works, since you need a guitar to play it. It probably involves just hooking it up via some USB device or something. Also on the 16th is Edna & Harvey: Harvey's New Eyes. This looks like an adventure game with a simple & cartoonish art style. The final game is due on the 17th and is called Ravaged. This is a multiplayer focused first person shooter, only with a lot of vehicle combat thrown in. So…great. Next week I shall look at Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.