Tossing someone into the air just isn't what it used to be. In the first Crysis, which was on PC only, you had four different suit powers and now in the sequel you have but three. Power and Speed have been merged into just Power, while Stealth and Armour remain. The latter two's functions can be easily guessed, but Power is an all-purpose ability that is used by performing actions, like sprinting, jumping and whacking cars onto unsuspecting enemies.
It also involves grabbing people and tossing them into the air or off a building, something that was always a good laugh in the first game. It's lost something here though and you'll probably ignore it once you've got the achievement for killing five people with it. Same goes for the power slide, which to anyone who's played Bulletstorm recently, is incredibly flaccid in its execution.
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Crysis 2 arrives on our consoles with people still not quite believing how developers Crytek have done so. The original swallowed whole legions of lesser PCs whole when it first arrived and even now, four years on, it's still the benchmark to use for impressing people with a rig's power.
So to be playing its sequel on the Xbox 360 (in this case) is a big deal and, surprisingly, its made the transition remarkably well. The controls are well implemented, allowing for the array of play styles Crysis was famous for to be workable with a controller. The original had three main types of players – one who would hang back and pick off enemies slowly from distance before moving in, another who would just go in and kick Korean/alien arse right from the get-go and, finally, the ones who would use the stealth mode loads, avoiding detection where possible and attempting to remain undetected.
Crysis 2 manages to make all three of these approaches equally valid. Most encounters can be approached from a number of different positions. Vantage points are all over the place, sneaky shortcuts can be spotted by the trained observer and there's always plenty of ammunition dumps to stock up from if you've just waded in gun first.
It would be incorrect to suggest you had as much freedom as you did in the first, though. Given the New York setting, there aren't many forests to lose yourself in, so by default routes are more obvious and more confined. Having said that, it's clear a lot of thought has been put into giving you options, right down to even showing you a handful when you press up on the d-pad, yellow markers indicating possible tactical options for you to explore.
Generally, you're left to choose what you do to achieve your prescribed goal, although sometimes you have to follow along with a group of marines. It makes a refreshing change to the usual bullshit follow-'em-up shooters we're constantly subjected to nowadays. Who'd have thought that giving the player some freedom might actually work? Crazy!
As well as being spacious enough to allow for a degree of freedom, the environments are extremely impressive from a visual perspective. Arguably some of the finest visuals seen on the 360, Crytek have done a great job keeping things running perfectly smoothly while maintaining a high degree of visual quality. Even the load times are acceptable.
Another good choice was mapping the stealth and armour suit modes to the right and left bumpers respectively. These controls are absolutely vital and so making them easy to access hugely helps you develop a smooth play style of your own. Crytek could have bungled this by having an overly complicated radial menu, but thankfully it's just click and there, you're invisible.
It's just one example of a large number of solid design decisions made by Crytek when transporting the PC-oriented original's gameplay over to the console. It could so easily have gone wrong, but it hasn't. Well, not all of it hasn't. Let's talk about the reasons the score below isn't higher than you might have expected.
For a start, too often do enemies decide to clip against scenery and do the running man on the spot. Once is acceptable, twice is getting a bit iffy but once a level? Not good. Other than that, the AI is more than adequate, believably attacking your last location if you cloak in their line of vision and not always just heading right for you when there are other, easier targets available. You feel like a special character on the battlefield, but you never feel like you're the only person that's doing anything.
Oh, unless you're fighting a big boss-type enemy, of course. Then you are. In fact, one of the missions sees you having to eliminate an alien gunship, preferably before any of the marines you're escorting dies. All of the marines died on my watch, but their commander's voice could still be heard telling me the gunship was arriving.
Crysis 2 is at its worst when fighting the bigger aliens, and sadly Crytek seem to have made the same error they did in both Crysis and even Far Cry – fighting the humans is so much more satisfying than fighting the aliens. There's not a great deal of feedback as to how much damage you're doing to them, especially the larger ones.
It's also disappointing that there aren't more moments like the drop from the plane that started the first game so spectacularly or when you come out of the mountain and gaze in awe at the snowy wastes now stretching out before you. It won't matter to those of you who never played the original, of course, but still.
Multiplayer should at least this time be a big improvement on the first game's rather abortive and unpopular effort. It's got more than 100 unlocks, 50 ranks to level through and the nano suits stealth mode making fighting a very cat and mouse tactical affair. However, it's only 6 v 6 and some of the maps do seem a little bit big, especially with people cloaked all the time. There's the potential here for a lot of wandering around without spotting anyone bar your team-mates.
It's also one we'll have to revisit in the future to see just how it's taking off, as judging this sort of multiplayer pre-release is naturally incredibly difficult. Suffice it to say it does bring enough new ideas to the table to be worth a glance at the very least.
So, Crysis 2 has lived up to expectations and proved that you can indeed have a more intelligent, freeform shooter on the consoles than we're currently being served up by other, less ambitious companies. Crytek will doubtless be financially rewarded for their decision to expand their operations to the console market and rightly so, as they've delivered a genuinely very good game here, which falls short of greatness for far less reasons than this sceptical reviewer initially thought it would.
Keep an eye out for our comparative look at the PC version in the near future too.
- Freedom! Freedom!
- Very impressive visually
- Controls have been transposed well onto a controller
- Some AI glitches
- Weedy power throw and slide
- Aliens still not as fun as human enemies
The Short Version: Well, they did it. Crysis 2 does indeed work on a console and, more importantly, it works very well indeed. Shame about the aliens though, again.