Tuesday, 12 April 2011

REVIEW: Crysis 2

Being one of the most exciting games with a brand spanking new engine to boast about has been causing quite the stir. But is it all that it's meant to be?

The new CryEngine has blown away it's competitors, but now with Unreal having announced their follow-up engine (perhaps the most used engine on the market), where does this leave Crytek? It's staple example of the engine being Crysis 2. Well, undoubtedly, this is a very pretty game. What you will notice the most is not necessarily the characters, but the fluidity of natural elements such as fire, light, water, smoke, explosions etc., it's these that are remarkably impressive. But does the game work?

As an engine, it works very well. However, as a game it's a different story. I came onto this right off the back of Homefront and it was a complete change of pace, but looking back on it now, Crysis 2 is only marginally better. Sure the graphics are superb, perhaps the best I've seen on a next-gen console, but it lacks something.

I feel the main reason is that it still feels like a PC FPS, and to a lesser extent, a poor man's Halo. The aliens are colourful, pretty, but to be honest they are quite similar and range from soldier ones, hard soldier ones, massive ones, and a big War of the World type one - which there are about 4 or 5 in the game. You are fighting humans as well who want your suit, but in theory it's the aliens that are the real threat. This also brings up the issue that I haven't played Crysis, so I've no idea where these aliens have come from, who The Prophet really is, why it's set in New York and if any of these 'flashbacks' are relevant. It's a simple story of reaching A to B with people trying to kill you and nab your suit or some such thing - really, it's all a lot of nonsense. You're a super soldier who has to save the world (basically Master Chief).

The controls are typical FPS except you have to double click your 'change weapon' button for a grenade (ridiculous), you hold LB for armour and RB for cloak. You can upgrade your alien-like powers (which I saved up for no reason really) and of which it's never fully explained why you should care that the suit is part alien or something now. You can also customise your weapon mid-game, it's a nice touch. However, what you find is that cloaking is a complete ball-ache and you're much better off going in guns-a-blazing, which almost defeats the point of it. I would usually try going in using the cloak first and if I didn't get far or got found out, then when I respawned, I'd just shoot everyone and complete it in a quarter of the time. The AI isn't too bad, but sometimes they do just stand there while you shoot them in the face. You don't have health really, but rather an energy meter where basically anything you do apart from walking uses up the energy meter so the nice bit is you've got your eye on it the whole time, always reaching out a bit further from when you can recharge your cloak to move to the next spot. All very nice touches and a storyline that isn't too crap. But why am I not feeling it?

It could be that for something so uniquely epic in a devastated New York, it actually feels rather small. You just continue moving, shooting, moving and really, it feels like it should be bigger than it is. The visuals were great, but I feel they were wasted with some perhaps quite poor game directing - it was rather short, easy and constantly anti-climatic. Your suit kept 're-booting' and there were some lame 'Press A For Defribulator' moments that felt pushed in and really the whole thing annoyed me slightly. The constant 'visor' to check out who was lurking about was like a chore that I soon ditched when I realised I didn't need it. The game just felt like it had such a powerful machine behind it, but was let down by some quite boring, unoriginal and uninspiring gameplay.

I'm not saying this was crap. Far from it. It's a smooth, sleek, well-furnished FPS that is worth it's money. It has a pretty good multiplayer section and is generally good fun, but it didn't have that epic story, that real emotional pull that other FPS games might have. Instead it was a cock-out action piece that had some stealth elements thrown in that slowed down the game, rather than adding a new dimension to it. The story was rather bland and about a quarter of the way through I just wanted to complete the thing - I didn't care anymore.

I had really high hopes for this game. The end 'crawling' bit reminded me of MGS4, which is a few years old now and that did it a whole lot better, remember all those amazing multiple screens? It heightened the drama whereas Crysis 2 makes you feel like a lame duck. Your suit keeps buggering up, but it doesn't matter because it reboots and works fine in a matter of moments anyway. Your looking around going 'that looks cool' when really it's taking away from the fact that it's a completely average shooter.

As far as FPS's go, it's a definite contender. It's a gorgeous game that will have you playing it for a good couple of days or perhaps weeks if you're more casual, but it's nothing that made me feel like it was the future of gaming. Instead, when I wanted to come away with a Wow, I came away with a small sigh and a little smile. It's worth shelling out for just to be pretty, and if you have a 3DTV and all that, but this is not an urgent game, you can definitely wait for it to come down in price, rent it, or just complete the game that you're doing now and save Crysis 2 for a later time because, unfortunately, it's not going anywhere. It does get an extra mark for being so bloody beautiful, the cheeky minx.

Rating: 7/10

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