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In 2007 Crytek, a German developer whose initial outing Far Cry shook up the development community years previous, released Crysis. It was a beautiful and smartly done shooter that, to this day, is still one of the largest graphical benchmarks in all of gaming. After releasing a standalone expansion, Crytek went quiet and all but disappeared to focus on internal expansion, opening new studios all over Europe. They reappeared at E3 2009 to show off the CryEngine 3; a heavily modified, multiplatform version of the engine that powered Crysis, and its flagship title Crysis 2.
With a dramatic shift toward multiplatform development can Crytek’s latest prove that a PC game doesn’t have to be limited by having console brethren?
They Used to Call Me ‘Prophet’
Crysis 2 picks up three years after the Lingshan Islands incident that saw a major battle between the United States and North Korea awaken a dormant extraterrestrial species called the Ceph. As the governments of the world struggle to keep secret the fact that we are not alone in the universe a mysterious and highly contagious virus begins to spread and widely infect the citizens of New York City. Fearing a statewide outbreak the government quarantines Manhattan Island and declares martial law. With all communication with the outside world cut off the civilians trapped in the quarantine zone can only watch as their city slowly dissolves into chaos. As seismic activity begins to rock the city the military realizes that the virus isn’t their only problem: the Ceph have returned and a full scale invasion of the city has begun.
Players take on the role of a Marine codenamed Alcatraz. His mission: locate and extract Dr. Nathan Gould, a researcher for Crynet Systems, the creators of the Nanosuit. As he and his team are inserted into New York’s bay area via submarine an explosion cripples the sub. Alcatraz and some of his team manage to escape but only receive a short reprieve as a Ceph gunship rises from the water and kills the survivors. As Alcatraz floats toward shore dying he is found by Prophet, former US Navy SEAL and commander of Raptor team during the Lingshan invasion. Dispatching the gunship, Prophet drags Alcatraz to safety. Alcatraz wakes up sometime later wearing the same advanced Nanosuit Prophet had earlier. Prophet’s corpse lies next to him and as Alcatraz beings to realize what happened to him the suit plays a flashback video, Prophet’s final message: he has failed and if Alcatraz doesn’t reach Gould in time it may just spell the end of humanity’s dominance of Earth.
The story of Crysis 2, much like many modern shooters, is a tale that plays out over time without many hints as to what has been happening elsewhere or with many of the series’ main characters. Noticeably absent (and painfully so) is any information regarding Nomad, Psycho, and Helena Rosenthall, the main characters from the first game, as well as what happened after Crysis’ cliffhanger ending. Unfortunately you learn little about the truth behind Crysis save for a bit regarding Prophet’s involvement. So for those looking for resolution after being stuck on the edge of your seat three years ago when the credits began to roll you are sadly out of luck.
What you will find though is an action-packed story with plenty of bumps and events along the way. The rescue of Nathan Gould is but a small portion of the story and by the end of it all you really feel like the badass one man army the Nanosuit is designed to make you. An experienced shooter player can finish the singleplayer campaign in roughly 8-10 hours depending on how they play but the game encourages replays thanks to collectables found in each level. It isn’t quite the epic adventure we experienced three years ago but Crysis 2 succeeds in leaving you quite entertained.
Let Him, Who Desires Peace, Prepare for War
Crysis 2, much like its predecessor, takes a different and very much welcome approach to combat. Whereas most shooters these days have you killing wave after wave of enemies before advancing forward the Crysis series has always been about you being able to protect yourself and survive based on being more tactical than offensive. In essence, like the marketing tells you, the player is actually the weapon.
Excellent singleplayer and multiplayer experiences
No DirectX 11 support, unresolved between-game story issues