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OXCGN’s Crysis 2 Review: First Person Shooters Finally Evolved

OXCGN:

“Moving from PC to consoles for a sequel is always a risky proposition, especially when the original was a showcase title for gamers with graphics card installations that cost more than the average personal computer. There’s always the sense that developers must be dumbing down the game somewhat and pandering to a broader audience. Far Cry 2 wasn’t a resounding success on consoles, but it proved to be an ambitious open world adventure far deeper than any regular FPS already released on the 360 or PS3. Crysis 2 has arrived with some lofty expectations and what it does different is clearly what will set it apart from the horde of franchise shooters.”

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OXCGN’s Crysis 2 Review

The First Person Shooters Have Finally  Evolved

by: Belgavion

©2011 Gav Ross

Moving from PC to consoles for a sequel is always a risky proposition, especially when the original was a showcase title for gamers with graphics card installations that cost more than the average personal computer.

There’s always the sense that developers must be ‘dumbing down’ the game somewhat and pandering to a broader audience.

Far Cry 2 wasn’t a resounding success on consoles, but it proved to be an ambitious open world adventure far deeper than any regular FPS already released on the 360 or PS3. Crysis 2 has arrived with some lofty expectations and what it does different is clearly what will set it apart from the horde of franchise shooters.

• Crysis 2 ‘The Story’

The newest Force Recon Marine to don the Nanosuit is named Alcatraz, who inadvertently ends up being mistaken for another officer codenamed ‘Prophet’. Things get grim for Alcatraz as he tries to traverse his way through a decimated New York City as soldiers working for an organisation known as CryNet are desperately trying to take Prophet down and retrieve the coveted suit.

The story of the alien race that started causing havoc in the first Crysis continues here and it’s now 2023 (a couple of years after the conclusion of the original).

Popular cyberpunk novelist Richard Morgan was given the task of coming up with the thrilling plot – which is fairly convoluted and difficult to really sink your teeth into, but the art direction and sense of place really make up for it

New York, I love you but you’re bringing me down

Even if you’ve only ever seen New York City on television and in films there’s still an incredible sense of being there and a part of the disaster that has struck the metropolis in Crysis 2.

Real-life news footage that has been concocted for the opening sequences only helps to cement this.

Whether Alcatraz is wandering around the crumbling façade of Wall St or defending an evacuation point at Times Square (which is a treat that comes much later in the game), the feeling of immersion is constantly intense.

It’s all about ‘the suit’ – You’re the weapon

The Nanosuit 2.0 is more than just a neat piece of tech armour: it’s an ecosystem for Alcatraz.

Similar to the non-menu inventory screens pioneered by games like Dead Space, Alcatraz can upgrade weapons and aspects of the suit simply by raising his arms.

The controller face buttons are mapped to his fingers and upgrades can be bought by harvesting cells from dead aliens met along the way.

A cloaking ability and armour mode can also be easily accessed by pressing the shoulder pads, but this, along with sprinting, can bring down Alcatraz’s energy and thus make him more susceptible to an early death.

The strategic use of the Nanosuit and how to choose which abilities to use given the situation at hand make playing the game a constant thought process, rather than mindlessly running and gunning through whatever comes your way.

If looks could kill…..

When the cover of a new release boasts “the best looking console game to date” it’s either cementing something it knows as fact or the publishers are trying to exaggerate in order to hide flaws (or get better sales off the shelf).

Showcasing Crytek’s latest, freshest CryEngine 3 game engine, it’s difficult to argue with the bold statement. Put simply, Crysis 2 is a jaw-dropping visual experience that not only easily rivals any other game on 360, it surpasses them by miles.

Arguments could be made about whether it is graphically superior to some PS3 titles like Uncharted 2, but on the Xbox front it’s clearly a leader. For a detailed comparison between the 360, PS3 and PC versions, slip over to EuroGamer, where they have a solid 12 mins of actual gameplay comparisons. Well worth the look.

Actually, there’s very little between the 3 platforms, with the PC coming out on top of course, we all expect that, and consoles couldn’t even match the PC, but checking out the vid will definitely open your eyes.

• Crysis 2 screenshot slideshow

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There’s a crystalline glossiness to the entire city and CryEngine 3’s greatest strength seems to be its use of light.

When first emerging out of a building into a sun-drenched, decaying New York City, blindingly-white light refracts and infuses everything in the environment until Alcatraz gets his bearings and his eyes become accustomed.

There’s also plenty of darkness to be had as well. In the underground subway tunnels beneath City Hall, Alcatraz must use his Nanosuit’s infrared ability to seek out alien baddies lurking in the gloom.

Frame-rate concerns can be put to rest as Crysis 2 runs almost flawlessly in that regard. There were a few brief moments where there might have been a miniscule amount of slow-down during some of the more intense firefights, but that doesn’t take away from what a stunning achievement this engine is.

• Crysis 2 in-game video #1

The absence of any kind of screen tearing is also pleasing. Running at 1080p, I doubt even the most cynical graphics hound would find much to complain about.

For now, Crysis 2 is king and should stay at the top of the heap for a decent while, or at least until Battlefield 3 hits.

The battlefield is your oyster 

After spending years playing shooter sequels on the 360 and feeling like a well-trained sheep being hurried through a corale by a well-trained ‘Boarder Collie’, Crysis 2 is certainly a refreshing departure.

It’s far from being a free-to-roam sandbox city, but each level is expansive enough in area with multiple tactical options, that it feels like there are no bounds for your exploration.

When coming across a new area to battle through, Alcatraz can flip his Nanosuit visor down and get a reading about what various tactical selections are possible for him to take. Usually there are 2 or more at a minimum and they range from taking a detour through an underground bunker or using a well-placed ledge to gain an advantage from up high.

• Crysis 2 in-game video #2

Each level can be played differently each time. In many instances it’s possible to sneak your way around the expansive areas, executing stealth kills when needed or bypassing enemies entirely, therefore reaching checkpoints without any bullets even being fired from yourself or the enemy.

Or, of course, there’s the choice to jump gung-ho into the thick of it and take whatever cover is available.

Enemy AI is ruthless and a constant challenge. There are times when a soldier will unpredictably flank and appear behind when you least expect it, even if you have been restarting the same checkpoint and trying to slog your way through a tough section.

Their reaction times are lightning fast and rarely will they not take full advantage of cover. They will notice you when you least expect it, so you do need to keep your wits about you when negotiating through some levels.

Compared to a multitude of other FPS titles, the AI in Crysis 2 is fantastic, but – it isn’t perfect.

Occasional random spawns when Alcatraz is near a checkpoint can be frustrating and there was some glitchiness encountered now and then throughout the campaign (including some amusing ragdoll physics where a deceased soldier seemed like they were breakdancing whilst sliding up and down the road on their backside.)

Where Crysis 2 might not quite live up to expectations is the multiplayer.

• Crysis 2 multiplayer in-game video

On the surface it has everything that should make it a success: a reasonably robust community, varied maps, loads of weapon and suit ‘perks’ to be unlocked etc. But it’s overrun with balancing issues in terms of too many players using the cloak ability and being too friendly with sniper rifles.

Top Notch Collectors Edition for the PS3

For someone who spent a lot of time with the multiplayer demo released earlier in the year it’s probably easy to sink into, but for newcomers it can be a bit off-putting.

It’s difficult to think that any other single player experience for the remainder of 2011 could rival what Crysis 2 offers.

The story might not be the strongest, but it sets a benchmark for blockbuster gaming on a grandiose scale.

OXCGN’s Platinum Award

9.5/10

©2011 Gav Ross

xxxxxx

• Crysis 2 screenshots gallery – 180+ screens


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