RARELY has a game had such a titanic weight crushing down upon its shoulders.
On the one hand, PC gamers want a game that pushes their systems into a Chernobyl-style meltdown and causing graphic cards to burst into flames.
On the other hand, console gamers were promised a Modern Warfare-beater- a game of such epic proportion it could restructure gaming as we know it.
Does Crysis 2 succeed in this? Yes. To a degree.
Crysis 2 is, without a doubt, a truly magnificent game to behold.
There’s so much eye candy on offer it would make the bunny-earred occupants inside Hugh Hefners’ mansion look boringly average in comparison.
The game provides you with a vast playground, full of gleaming, sun-drenched skyscrapers and dank subways.
There are also times when the true scale of city becomes eye-wateringly apparent, with one particularly stunning section seeing you storm into a Central Park that has been lifted thousands of metres into the sky.
All the action is set in the year 2024. New York city is under siege for every direction. Buildings are collapsing, with famous monuments blackened heaps of ash and rubble. Combine the atmospheres of Cloverfield and Battle: Los Angeles and you wouldn’t be too far off the mark.
There’s an uneasy alliance, between the military and a privately-owned security company, known as Crynet.
On top of that, alien forces are bombarding the city in a unrelenting campaign of pure annihilation.
New York is no longer a holiday destination you would be keen on visiting any time soon.
The game thrusts you into the spit-polished boots of a U.S Marine, known only as Alcatraz, as he travels into the devastated, war-stricken metropolis.
Before he can get his boots on the ground his marine platoon is ambushed by an alien gunship and Alcatraz is thrown into the murky depths of the Hudson river.
When he awakes, he is sporting the Nanosuit- a semi-living piece of combat armour with enhanced AI and a built-in life support system.
From here on, everything you do will involve the suit. Whether it is pausing the game, upgrading weapons or improving your abilities- the armour controls it all. It brings a great sense of cohesion to the game.
You can’t stop mid-fight to admire your abilities- the enemies in Crysis won’t take a tea break to allow you to indulge your ego.
They’re smart and unforgiving. You’ll find yourself in situations that will require a cool head and some quick-thinking.
The nanosuit will be your main weapon that will get many tricky situations. It has three different modes, each with their own tactical advantages.
The armour mode temporarily enhances your bullet-absorbing skills and is extremely useful if you’re surrounded by multiple enemies, all keen to riddle your body with as many neat, little holes as they can. It also means you can drop from heights that, ordinarily, would have you visiting the ‘game over’ screen.
Stealth mode provides you with partial invisibility, allowing you to sneak past enemies to gain a greater, tactical position.
The final mode is strength. With this you can sprint at speeds that would have Usain Bolt spluttering in your wake. It also grants you the power to produce some bone-crunching melee attacks.
However each power will drain the suit of its energy, so it’s vital that they’re used wisely.
Prior planning before attacks will be the key to success.
If you’re skulking through open terrain and you haven’t found ample cover to recharge your energy, chaos will ensue.
The enemy AI will respond in a co-ordinated and aggressive fashion.
Crysis forces you to fight a gorrilla-style war. Players who chose to run in, all guns blazing will be sent packing.
There is no chance for Master Chief bravado in Crysis. Although you’re tougher than the average grunt, you’re still vulnerable to enemy fire, particularly on the more difficult settings.
The nanosuit’s AI helps you been pointing out tactical options on your visor’s heads-up display. This could range from showing you positions ideal for sniping from, advising you a stealth route past the enemy or giving you the option for a balls-out assault with a fixed turret.
The decision is yours. The game varies between wide, sandbox expanses to narrow, high-octane rat runs, with each section challenging even the most veteran FPS gamers.
The only niggling issue Crysis has in the form of its online play.
This, sadly, isn’t a game changer. There’s the usual affair of team death matches and domination style games. But it’s very unimaginative.
It’s not that the multiplayer is bad. It’s not. But it would have been nice to have seen something a bit more innovative, considering the calibre of the singleplayer.
At times the story line also flags behind the action. To be frank, this isn’t a game with the depth of Mass Effect 2, for instance.
Characters will come and go making very little impact.
Fortunately this doesn’t distract from a game that is genuinely stunning.
The action comes at you thick and fast, with some of the slower segments of the game acting as a well-earned break, allowing you to take in the surrounding chaos.
Although Crysis 2 isn’t a game-changer, it’s most certainly worth a play.
8.0 Gameplay: Adrenaline-fuelled and unrelenting. Controls are responsive but a larger arsenal of weaponry would have been appreciated.
9.0 Graphics: Stunning and utterly engrossing. It delivers on almost every level, with the PC version easily outstripping both the 360 and the PS3.
8.0 Sound: Music is tense and atmospheric with guns providing a satisfying clunk. However some over-acted scenes do spoil parts.
8.0 Lasting appeal: The campaign is a solid eight hours long, depending on your ability. Multiplayer also has a decent levelling system. Many hours of fun to be had here.
8.0 Verdict: Crysis 2 is a compelling, heart-thumper of a game. It’s beautiful in nearly every way but is let down by an unoriginal multiplayer.
Available on: PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Crytek Studios