Crysis 2

Tearing It Up in a Concrete Jungle

Open environments and nanosuit powers let you control the flow of combat, but how is the story?
Author: Brian Albert
Published: April 13, 2011
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I fondly remember battling Crysis, tweaking numerous graphical settings with hopes of finding that elusive sweet spot. You know the one; it’s somewhere between “this is a beautiful slide show” and “this is running smoothly now, but it needs to die in a fire.” My PC crashed time and time again as I wept in the corner, silently cursing Crytek’s devious artists. When I finally did stumble upon that mystic combination, I was rewarded with a satisfying sandbox shooter – one with beautiful visuals and open-ended gameplay. To this day, hunting enemies in the dense forests of the Lingshan Islands as a nanosuited badass remains one of my favorite gameplay experiences. Needless to say, my expectations for a sequel were high.

So I’m glad to say that, much like its predecessor, Crysis 2 has more going for it than a beautiful coat of graphical paint. The level design is directed yet open, nanosuit powers have been combined and simplified, and light RPG elements have been added, creating a gratifying sense of progress.

But then there’s the story…

The year is 2024, and New York City is several kinds of screwed. The town is under martial law, aliens are attacking, and a mysterious virus is devouring the population in horrifying numbers. To make matters worse, humanity’s various scientific and militaristic organizations have failed to unite against the foreign invaders. You play as Alcatraz, a voiceless marine with half the personality of my desk. Why is he called Alcatraz? What are his motives? You don’t know, and it ultimately doesn’t matter. Alcatraz is a merely a tool that the player uses to wield a weapon. If you controlled a floating rifle and a pair of hands, nothing would be lost.

Through a series of events I won’t disclose, you come into possession of the nanosuit. It’s a combat exoskeleton that grants its wearer augmented speed and strength, as well as the ability to cloak temporarily. It’s also what differentiates Crysis 2 from dozens of other shooters, but I’ll touch more on that later. You’re informed that the only way to repel the assault on the city is to track down an important researcher.

Dialogue is scarce, and the most important story chunks are presented via pre-mission videos. These often feature spinning helixes and alternating numbers – which of course equate to science and fancy computer stuff in video game speak.

While the narrative largely fails at immersing you or evoking compassion for its characters, it does succeed at guiding the player into some fantastic combat scenarios. Bridges will crumble, skyscrapers will fall, and you’ll be right in the center of it all. Fortunately, these jaw-dropping moments are frequent enough to distract you from the lackluster story.
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