Thursday, May 26, 2011

An Empire State of mind in "Crysis 2"

"Crysis 2"

There isn't much video game developers and publishers can do to make their first-person shooters stand out. Give gamers a 6, 7 hour game, a decent multiplayer and it will sell like hotcakes in front of a Jenny Craig support center. It's not hard to make a good shooter - but it takes serious thought to make a great shooter.

Few shooters have the arrogant rep the Crysis games have had. Most shooters that claim to be *game killers* (I'm looking at you, HALO-killer, Killzone) often trip over their own combat boots. Bernd Diemer, senior game designer of Crytek, opened his mouth and inserted his foot back in the day when he said the original PC killer, Crysis, had to have a full-tricked out PC to run it - or risk having a fiery pile of metal and plastic that WAS your PC. He explained that next-generation consoles don’t offer enough computational power to run Crysis, German publication Heise reported.

Diemer explained that “next generation consoles like the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 do not offer the sufficient power” to assure the quality of gameplay Crytek demand for Crysis.


Fast-forward a few years. Technology advancements have opened the door for the graphically-intense shooter to find a home on video game consoles.

Developed by Crytek and published by EA, Crysis 2 throws players into chaos in the Big Apple, New York City. In the single-player campaign, gamers play as a futuristic Marine named Alcatraz. You are sent to investigate an incident in New York City when your team is ambushed. You are pulled to safety by this huge, armor-covered soldier who tells you that you will finish the job that he started.

So your adventure starts. The game is easily one of the best-looking video games to ever grace consoles. Crytek did a fantastic job recreating areas of the Big Apple - if you love great graphics and visuals, you won't be disappointed.

The shooter is fast paced and will keep you on the edge of your seat. The gameplay is slick - your suit gives you superhuman strength in the game. You can give cars the boot, which really comes in handy against enemies and allows you to become invisible (Cloak engaged) though one thing baffles me about this. It's the future, right? Why in the devil do batteries last such a short time? Seriously - you have all this awesome tech and battery life is still a joke. The suit can also become a steel cocoon - protecting you from brutal attacks or melees. The suit also heals, as long as you are out of direct fire. Sometimes, you can use cloak to hide from enemies, then rest briefly and engage maximum armor and get back into the fight. You can also upgrade your suit and weapons with points you earn from killing aliens. The harder the foe, the more points you earn.

You can also use infrared vision, as well as use a tactical display which offers you movement options. You don't have to rush in with guns blazing. You can take a stealthy approach and catch the enemy by surprise.

The enemy AI is inquisitive. The aliens and mercs aren't dumb, even on the easier levels. They are relentless, and trust - you'll remember your first alien. You'll take a deep breath when you see just how hard it is to bring one down. The enemy, however, needs a basic lesson in military tactics. If you have an enemy pinned down, pour it on - don't let up. Fortunately, they don't teach things like that at the alien academy.

The graphics, as stated, are marvelous. It is the best-looking shooter, even video game, I've seen on the 360. There were a few stutters - mostly when a bunch of aliens bum rushed me, but most of the time, everything flowed.

The audio is equally impressive. I have to hand it to EA - they are really stepping their game up with their soundtracks, as of recent. The score is haunting and engaging, and oftentimes sets the mood and tone of the scenes.

Ready to go online? Gamers have several game types to choose from. If you want to get into the thick of it, choose Instant Action. You can also play on a team with Team Instant Action. There's the Crash Site game type, where gamers have to capture energy from an alien craft before the enemy does. There are three other game types, including Assault, Capture the Relay and Extraction. Good news is - it's fun and the controls are solid. Even better news? Crytek isn't requiring gamers who buy this title used to buy an online pass. For one of the biggest shooters, that's a welcome addition.

The verdict? 9.5 (out of 10) Aside from the weak battery rant, this is a fine example of an awesome shooter. The story is truly a sad tale, but one that is challenging and well worth a second (or third) play through. Online is ok and offers tons of game types for multiplayer fiends. Saving the Big Apples isn't a walk in the Central Park, especially when it's suspended in midair.

No comments: