Crysis 2 review: A breath of fresh air in the era of generic FPS games
- Looks great, plays great, and finally -- a modern FPS with a single player mode!
- Well... nothing really -- loved every second of this game
Crysis 2 is how FPS games should be made. Simple as that.
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It's been a long time since a FPS game really clicked with me. Years ago, I enjoyed some of the classics such as Medal of Honor Frontline and the original Aliens vs. Predator. Since then, for various reasons, I've been uncomfortable with the direction this genre has been heading.
It's not that the genre itself bores me, but the direction that it takes doesn't suit the way I like to play. I don't like being led down linear paths like in Call of Duty, I'm not a fan of big, noisy action like a Killzone game. These are shooting gallery simulations and rollercoaster rides — not $100+ games. I want an FPS with a touch more subtlety, and I like to have some room to experiment as I play. Crysis 2 is that game.
It starts with one of the most cinematic introductions I've ever seen, not least because Hollywood legend, Hans Zimmer, scored the opening theme. It's sweeping, atmospheric, and does a great job of preparing you for an immersive game.
The plot itself is (for a FPS) well-written and intelligent. Whereas a game like Homefront bludgeons you with propaganda, Crysis 2 keeps the themes bubbling comfortably under the surface. The story of a soldier rescued from the brink, given a super-powered "nanosuit," and set about on the task of beating back an alien invasion is generic, but told with a light enough touch that it remains a compelling story to follow through to the end.
Which is just as well, because Crysis 2 is long enough to fit three other modern FPSers into it. At a leisurely pace, you're looking at a good 10 hours to reach the end credits, an impressive feat given the current trend for this genre to use the story mode as little more than a glorified tutorial. Despite the length, the game never grows stale, constantly throwing up new quirks and challenges. It's also quite open ended in terms of how you can approach objectives. While still linear, there's some breathing space this time around, and it puts corridor shooters like Call of Duty to shame.
There's also a nice variety of fun weapons and objects to tackle objectives with. Guns have decent kickback, and you're able to kick cars to knock over hiding enemies. Once you get really skilled, you'll be able to leap great distances and splatter an enemy with an awesome "ground pound" style attack. The nanosuit is upgradeable to give an extra edge in combat, and you'll need it because the AI is usually quite strong.
There are also stealth elements involved — the game makes a great deal out of the cloaking ability of the nanosuit, and it's one of the most effective methods for getting around the levels. You'll need to time your movements with the length of time you can stay cloaked before the nanosuit needs a few moments to recharge, which introduces some interesting pacing to the game. Some later enemies are able to see through that clock, which means you'll need to use different tactics. Throw in some vehicle sections (which are the weak point in this game, but still very playable), and the room for experimentation, and the ability for the game to keep you on your toes, is genuinely impressive.
Visually, the game is incredible, too. The controversy over which version looks better is moot — the game looks far better than any other FPS on the PS3, even if it is the supposedly 'inferior' version. It runs at a smooth framerate and has a heck of a lot of detail in it. Even simple touches like seeing a tree fall over during a multiplayer map add a touch of life to the game that make other games look plastic by comparison.
Speaking of multiplayer, it works well, though unlike FPS games with bite-sized single player games, it doesn't really need it. It features the same progression path that has become standard in FPS titles, and as with other games, getting to the maximum level will take many, many hours.
Of course, those who have reached a higher level do have a substantial advantage over newbies, which is why the inclusion of a dedicated server for new players is a nice touch — one that other games (hello, Killzone 3) would have done well to consider. This game is actually welcoming to new players (assuming you mute the foul mouthed 13 year olds).
Crysis 2 remains an oddity in the modern FPS space (in fact, with Bulletstorm, EA seems to be making a conscious effort to distance itself from Activision and its clones). It's a single player game first and foremost, and less interested in being a rollercoaster ride as giving people something to actually play with. It's a great package, and has given me a degree of hope that the FPS genre hasn't fallen into an endless spiral of generic carbon-copies just yet.
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