Crysis 2 Review (PC)

Who remembers the first Crysis? Sure… a lot of us do, but what comes to mind? For me, and a lot of others, it’s the fact that it was gorgeous but brought nearly every PC to its knees with its system requirements for the ‘high’ and ‘ultra’ settings. Underneath all the graphical splendor, the gameplay experience wasn’t quite as overwhelming despite being solid and very entertaining. I chalked it down to the storyline (or player experience) not being as immersive as, for instance, Half-Life 2’s was. Crysis often felt like completing a shootout in one location only to travel to another and repeat the process all over again, feeling removed from the experience in between.

Along comes Crysis 2, with some important differences. For one, this sequel is no longer a pc-only game, but is also being released for Xbox 360 and PS3. I couldn’t help but wonder if this would entail a sacrifice on the graphics front, despite sporting a brand new game engine. Another important change is that the story was written by science fiction author Richard Morgan this time around, which of course had me hoping for a more immersive experience. I’m happy to say Crysis 2 does not disappoint. On both accounts, actually.

I was SO wrong to worry about the graphics. This game is stunning, and makes fairly recent games like Black Ops feel dated. From the quality of the animation to the amount of detail in the scenery, this game never fails to amaze. Another plus is the variety offered, with indoor and outdoor scenes mixed as well as shifting the action from a street level to jumping across rooftops. I could probably go on and on about how good this game looks, but will let the countless videos and screenshots on the web speak for themselves instead.

So with my worries about the game’s looks out of the way, what about the gameplay experience? What I was hoping for was an immersive game, and that is where the storyline comes in and where we see some vast improvements over the first game. Where Crysis was almost entirely set in a jungle environment, the sequel starts off in one of the most urban environments one can think of: New York City. Or what’s left of it, after an alien lifeform tore the city to shreds.

You play the role of a marine named Alcatraz, who (as is made very clear by the game) doesn’t really stand a chance against the alien forces. However, you soon inherit the nanosuit we saw in the first game, granting you special powers that offer you a fighting chance. One of the features that the suit offers is a tactical overview allowing you to not just go in “guns blazing”, but instead flank your adversaries or take up a sniper position. It helps to even out the pace of the game according to a player’s gameplay style, and also (at least to a small degree) frees the game from the linear style of the original. I say ‘to a small degree’ because the lack of an ‘open’ jungle environment does in fact push you towards your goals in a somewhat obvious way. However, I did appreciate the alternative solutions in Crysis 2 being more than just ‘taking the long way around’. To aid in exploring these gameplay options, the nanosuit offers the same options it did in the first game: cloaking, extra speed, extra strength en<–this is Dutch, I think you mean ‘and’ extra armor, all of which can only be used a limited amount of time.

I obviously wouldn’t want to give too much of the story away, but it’s safe to say this is exactly what I had hoped the first Crysis was. The way the action plays out is not too much unlike Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare titles: the game at times feels like a big budget Hollywood movie with amazing special effects, plot twists and edge of the seat-suspense. The only downside is that it’s all over too quickly. The single player experience wrapped up after about 7 hours of gameplay (though this was on easy, and higher difficulty levels will require more restarts). Still, I could see myself playing through the entire game again in a few months, which is a rarity for me and says a lot about the replayability and quality of this game. Then again… I might just wait for the expansion or follow-up that the open ending seems to be suggesting. Either way, the game has succeeded in leaving me wanting more.

All in all, Crysis 2 impresses and is the first big FPS hit of the year. PC owners will also be happy to know that the game engine has been optimized to allow even a modest system (like my own: see the test system below) to run this game. If you are able to run the original Crysis at a decent framerate, this won’t require you to do any major upgrades. The game itself, however… is exactly that. A major upgrade to the original Crysis, and very much recommended.

Test system:
Case: Fractal Design R3 Define
Power supply: 650W
CPU: Core 2 Duo E8500
Video card: 8800 GT
OS: Windows XP

Score: 9/10

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