Four years have passed, and still Crytek’s stunning sci-fi first person shooter Crysis is the graphics benchmark for all superior action games. Thankfully, PC technology now enables most high-spec machines to play Crysis in all its glory – which is why Crysis 2 has been one of the most eagerly awaited launches of the year.
You know you’re in for a treat when a game’s opening announcement trumpets that it’s the first title to boast Crytek’s new high-definition game engine, CryENGINE 3, which is 3D-friendly. Beginning with a bang, your first action is to escape from a damaged military submarine to find the New York skyline in flames, thanks to human riots and alien attacks.
You’re rescued by the Nanosuited soldier Prophet from the original game, who’s been infected with the killer alien virus that is decimating the population. He kindly gives you his Nanosuit before he dies. If you remember, the nanosuit in the first game was the star of the show, allowing you extra strength, speed and armour as well as brief invisibility. However the range of powers in Nanosuit 2 is considerably enhanced, as every alien you kill provides you with DNA for upgrades.
This encourages you to avoid using stealth to avoid tough combat situations and to rely more on your armour capability to wade into the fray. Weaponry can also be regularly upgraded with scopes, silencers and so on, according to the demands of each mission. Your super-strength lets you fling barrels at opponents, flip cars and leap from one skyscraper to another.
The aliens are back
Two other gameplay techniques that provide invaluable assistance as the game progresses are the heat-sensing mode in low-light conditions and the chance to tag your foes so that you can decide whether to engage or avoid. Interestingly, the previous game really became challenging after you got past the kill-a-Korean stage and took on the aliens direct.
The same is true in the sequel, as the early hours (the campaign takes roughly ten hours in total) involve mostly fighting against CELL troops who want to capture your suit. Once you start taking on the different alien species and bosses, though, you know you’re in a spectacular firefight. Your enemies’ artificial intelligence (AI) also improves significantly in the second half of the game, with less standing around waiting to be shot and more coordinated assaults.
Outstanding sound and vision
Visually, Crysis 2 is even more stunning than its predecessor – even though the graphical demands and tweaking options are less than in the original Crysis, and there are now X360 and PS3 variants. The detail in the downtown destruction sequences is superb, and even without initialising the 3D feature, there’s a remarkable depth of perspective. Allied to a vast horde of combative sound effects and a stirring musical score, this is one FPS that will resonate in your mind long after the last Ceph has bitten the dust.
When it comes to multiplayer, what distinguishes Crysis 2 from the also-rans is once more the Nanosuit, with all the abilities open to you in the six combat modes (a mixture of solo, team, Assault and Extraction). Nothing quite beats decloaking behind an adversary after you’ve silently snapped his neck and then leaping to a high vantage point to plan the next sniper attack. Can’t wait for Crysis 3…
- The Nanosuit, which has revolutionised FPS combat.
- Takes time for the action and the AI to warm up.
It was a tough act to follow, but Crytek's new high-def engine makes alien-shattered New York look jaw-droppingly awesome - and the new Nanosuit abilities have expanded the game's range of fighting possibilities. Crysis 2 could be the next benchmark for the FPS.