Crysis 2 Review

Somehow it feels like we got what we deserved.

DisCONNECT is still on a break while I keep saving lives and shit like that. Getting a little sick of this though, emergency nursing isn’t nearly as entertaining as it sounds.

I really don’t understand the hype and fanboyism surrounding Crysis. Actually on second thought people rant and rave about AMD and Intel to the point where they’ll stick with their products despite having obvious flaws, kind of like a misguided Apple fanatic. You know that’s pretty funny, before the Core2Duo line when Intel had the Pentium 4 and AMD had the better CPUs, people would rave on for ages about how Intel sucked and AMD was awesome but that they weren’t fanboys and they just used the best tech and crap like that… but then the C2D range came out, AMD had their thumbs up their arse or something and let Intel stomp all over them, and yet people still stuck with AMD despite their CPUs being inferior. But don’t call them fanboys, because they still think that their CPU wins out in the end. Somehow.

Rawr.

Anyway my point is that when you really look at Crysis 2 it was 80% techdemo, 15% shooter, 4% interesting gameplay, and 1% story. About the only interesting thing it did was include suit modes, the only two useful ones being cloak and armour since everyone just wanted to snipe like a tool or sneak around for fun. Yeah you could tear shacks apart with strength mode but really it didn’t serve much of a gameplay purpose, so who cared? You’d do it a few times to play with the physics and then leave it alone. Crysis’ storyline used the same shitty 3-way-fight storyline that was in Far Cry except with the DPRK, dudes in nanosuits, and aliens. It’s a technical achievement on the PC for sure, but as a game it’s generic and hardly revolutionary. Like I said, a very impressive tech demo, which incidentally ran at max settings on just about nothing. It’s a game that’s supposed to scale with better hardware. Alternatively, it’s another piece of shit to fuel the videocard wars which keeps AMD/ATI and nVidia laughing all the way to the bank. Crysis was carried to “success” by benchmark enthusiasts who didn’t care about the gameplay but were more interested in watching an FPS counter tick over.

Oh I geddit, a reference to Crysis. Very subtle...

Crysis 2 on the PC has a lot to live up to. We expect it to look awesome. Actually that’s probably about it, Crysis’ gameplay wasn’t exactly stellar so I really didn’t expect any better from Crysis 2. Being a console port, there was a lot of speculation about how bad the PC version would be, or how “dumbed down” it would be. Crysis wasn’t a particularly smart game to begin with but there’s a definite fear that the graphics would be toned down to allow it to cope with the other console capabilities. We’ll get to that in a minute. Firstly though the storyline: you’re some dude named Alcatraz who is sent to Manhattan with a group of other soldiers for some reason to meet up with Prophet from the first game. There’s been an outbreak of an alien virus and Manhattan has been quarantined. There’s also this bullshit newsreel sequence that brings in peak oil, global unrest, the GFC and all that crap. What the hell is it with peak oil and friends showing up in games today? There’s way too many of them using this as an angle to set up their storyline. Christ, think for yourselves for a change! I’m so sick of “Oh the world is totally screwed because of avian flu and AGW and shit!” Anyway Prophet is infected, so he gives the suit to you and tells you to go get some scientist dude working on a cure. Or something, I’m not following it too well because quite frankly, I just don’t care.

How the hell did that happen?

Starting the game up initially I was pretty pissed off because it refused to launch. It’s at this point that I discovered that Crysis 2’s 1.0 release, much like that beta that was leaked so close to launch, doesn’t support some USB headsets like my G35s. It’s only on updating to 1.1 that the game will launch. We’re not off to a good start, Crytek. I’d seen the beta screenshots so I knew that there were lots of console references, like “Press Enter to start” and “adjust the brightness of your TV” or some crap like that, things which PC gamers shouldn’t have to do. I don’t get the whole “push start” thing either. Why do I need to do that to bring up the main menu? Whatever, moving on…

 

I played the game at Very High settings (Extreme is one level up, and causes a bit of slowdown). It’s a little hard to judge Crysis 2’s graphical capabilities mostly because Crytek finally decided not to make a tropical island and have moved into a cityscape. Some parts of the game look great and live up to the technical expectations I’d have of Crytek, particularly some of the street scenes. Other parts look messy and give an impression of laziness on the part of the developers. Also the game is post-processed to Hell and back, especially at the Extreme video setting, with mega bloom and blur and shit all over the god damned place. Sometimes the colours are a little weird as well and don’t look quite true to life. Also some things are absurdly shiny, like they’re made out of chrome or something. Performance wise, Crysis 2 is very forgiving about system configuration, and it ran flawlessly at Very High 1080p on my i7 920 5850HD 6GB Win7 rig. And seriously I’m willing to sacrifice a bit of image quality for Crytek to finally make something that looks great and runs well on current hardware which most people actually own, as opposed to just making shitloads of shaders and massive textures and saying “Oh well you guys can catch up later.” There’s no challenge in that, but there’s plenty of challenge in this.

One of the examples of where Crysis 2's graphics shine.

Gameplay unfortunately isn’t quite up to scratch. The storyline, although it’s not a rewrite of the general ideas from Far Cry (which means Crytek actually put some thought into it), isn’t particularly interesting or memorable. It’s just an excuse to go romping through a city. The suit modes return but in a new form. Cloak works as you’d expect, but the others have different activation modes. Armour mode is no longer the default, and when activated it’ll drain suit power constantly, as well as draining more when you get shot. How is that an improvement? Speed always kicks in when you sprint. Strength is the weirdest of the lot now; it kicks in when you hold down jump to jump higher, or when you hold down the melee key. I’d rather have had a toggle mode to be honest. Apart from that you more or less take on the same enemies again and again.

 

Tactical options weren’t actually all THAT diverse in Crysis. Face it, most people would sneak around or snipe, because realistically there was only so much space you had to work with, the objectives never changed, and sneaking and sniping were the safest options. Crysis 2’s binocular/suit visor mode now points out “tactical options” in an obnoxious way. And some of them are ridiculous, like pointing out an open drain or manhole cover, or pointing out grenades, or the descriptive “Explore” tag. No thanks asshole, I’ve got this, I don’t need any more advice on how to approach the target, let me think for myself for a change. Combat is pretty bland and uninteresting to be honest. There’s nothing really entertaining about it at all. Also because the city environment is naturally a bit more claustrophobic and tight than the open beaches and rolling hills of the tropical paradise in Crysis, your options are even more further limited and are often painfully obvious, even without those stupid sledgehammer prompts. At least there’s no mouse acceleration!

It's a DN3D reference!
I ain't afraid of no Quake.

I honestly think though that Crysis 2 represents what’s wrong with PC gaming today. People complained that Crysis had ridiculous requirements, and yet also complain that Crysis 2 is too easy on most systems. Well, we can’t have it both ways. Crytek aren’t my favourite developers and really I think they should just drop what they’re doing and make shit for Futuremark but I’m probably in a minority with that statement. I’m pleased that they actually made an attempt to make the game look good and work great on current hardware that most reasonable people own. And make no mistake Crysis 2 looks good in most areas. Crysis had a hell of a lot of ridiculous post-processing in the first game too which gave it a washed-out look at times, and Crysis 2 is no different in that department. I honestly think that a lot of the bitching is coming from the benchmark crowd who wanted a sequel to their glorious timedemo that had a game bolted on for good measure. Even then though it doesn’t excuse the pretty standard gameplay which quickly becomes boring and repetitive. Do PC gamers deserve this? Probably. We’re one of the more vocal and unforgiving crowds when it comes to anything not made by an indie developer, despite the fact that lots of indie games are short, pointless and crap with a few exceptions. But I digress.

 

 

GAMEPLAY: 2/4

Yawn. End of story. Speaking of stories, this one isn’t very good, and neither is the gameplay. It’s more or less what you saw in Crysis, except much less entertaining. Which is saying something.

 

GRAPHICS: 3/3

Crysis 2 is graphically impressive, make no mistake about that. Also the engine runs fantastic and scales very well. One thing they need to work on though is character animation. Faces in particular still look too static despite being very detailed; it often looks like lips are flapping around with minimal jaw movement. Valve manage better animation with less detailed models, so it’s obvious that Crytek just aren’t very good at animating people. They all look so stiff, particularly in cutscenes.

 

SOUND: 1/2

Well the voice acting isn’t bad, but it isn’t very memorable either. That’s about all I can say I guess.

 

LIFESPAN: 0/1

None. If you want a techdemo, use the original.

 

 

OVERALL: 6 PASS

Is Crysis 2 a bad game? Not necessarily. A score of 5 or 6 (a PASS mark) doesn’t mean that a game is shit. Lots of people treat the 1 to 10 score as something like 9 is worth playing, 8 is okay, 7 to 2 is shit, and 10 and 1 are biased. Crysis 2 passes because it’s a fairly competent shooter but the appeal has worn off by now. I’m also a little bit pissed that they couldn’t remove some blatantly obvious console references from the PC version. I don’t get these “Push ENTER to begin” screens that keep popping up with games today. Just display the god damned menu! What was wrong with that? I thought that worked pretty well. In any event Crysis 2’s biggest problem is that it had to live up to the benchmark appeal of Crysis, which it doesn’t because Cryengine 2 actually appears to be designed to run on existing hardware. This is why it cops a lot of negative flak: if you strip away Crysis’ graphical powers though you get a fairly standard shooter. Crysis 2 carries on that tradition, but since the benchmarking capability is now diminished, it just exposes that flaw for all of us to see.

 

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