Thursday, March 24, 2011

Xbox 360 - Crysis 2

Crysis 2 by Crytek / EA

Format: First Person Shooter
Save Type: Checkpoint only
Rating: Mature

Ever since I'd heard about the Cryengine 3's 'fabulous' rendering capabilities, I'd been anxious to play a game that actually uses this engine on a console. Well, Crysis 2 is finally here. Unfortunately, it's not everything it's cracked up to be. Oh, it's definitely better than many game engines, but I'd say that it's not that much better than the engine driving Halo 3, Gears of War or even what is driving Bioshock.


Ok, so let's start out with the best part first. The graphics are very very good, but are by no means perfect. I was actually expecting a lot more out of Cryengine 3. The shadows of objects on the ground is fairly well done. The edges are 'softer' by using very small dots rather than big block to create the shadows. So, while the shadows are better than what's in Halo 3, it's not that much better because the shadows are kind of flickery. Specularity is good, but not great. Sunlight color appears natural.

Although, there are some other problems with the shadow system, too. A big feature of the Nanosuit is that it can be cloaked. However, even though the suit is cloaked, the shadow is still fully dark on the ground. If light were truly penetrating through a transparent surface, the shadow would also become much more faint. This is an issue that should have been addressed and wasn't. So, either the Cryengine 3 doesn't manage this properly or the coders didn't write it correctly. Either way, the shadow needs to reflect the cloaking. Seriously, if there was a solid shadow on the ground moving around, you'd definitely know something was cloaked.


The person operating a Nanosuit (armored biosuit), Prophet, is just about spent due to the suit's symbiotic relationship. So, just as he is about to die, a wounded soldier (you) happens upon him. He takes the opportunity to shed the suit onto you and then he kills himself to sever the link to the symbiote so the suit will accept you as the new host. That's where the story begins.

As you progress, the suit gains strength (and points) from the hard-to-kill alien DNA. As you kill more aliens, you gain more DNA from them. So, it enhances the suit's capabilities.


This game's physics system is a bit on the weak side. When you kill an enemy, the enemy falls to the ground and stops in an unnatural way... sometimes with their arms or legs straight up in the air. Also, when bullets penetrate a surface, it does nothing to the surface (it doesn't leave a mark, yet the bullets sometimes do hit you). If you're going to spend this much time on realism, please add these small details that really make it seem real. Basically, the physics system should have been tested better.

Bugs as a result of physics

There are times as you are playing where the enemies will randomly kill themselves. I've seen this happen several times. In one case, it was an enemy soldier. He was jumping through a window. The move seemed to work going through the window once. On return jump through the window, the character seemed to get caught on the window frame and then he becomes a projectile who then flies across the room and dies.

The second time I had this happen with a soldier, it was on a level where you are tasked to sneak across an island and disable the power grid. In this case, there is a round staircase that leads to a lookout post. Under certain specific timing conditions, the soldier at the top will do something and then die as a result of some physics glitch. The issue with this particular glitch is that it will trigger your presence if this soldier doesn't respond to a request for status. If he doesn't respond, then the soldiers become alerted to your presence even though you had nothing to do with that soldier's death.

I've also seen this physics bug manifest with the Seth aliens as well, but not as a show stopper as above.


The gameplay is about standard for a first person shooter. You have mostly one-handed weapons that fire a variety of projectiles (bullets, missiles) as well as grenades and C4 explosives. Nothing spectacular here with regards to these weapons. I was hoping for more, but no. The weapons don't even have much in the way of cool factor. But, that goes back to another issue which I'll discuss further down in this review.

As you progress through the levels, you find alien DNA (as you kill each alien) that acts as points to buy upgrades.


Crysis 2 heavily borrows its look and layouts of some interior and exterior environments from games such as Enslaved, Half Life, Halo 3, Halo 3 ODST, The Darkness, Fallout 3 and F.E.A.R. On the one hand, the environments are familiar, on the other it's a bit too familiar. Whether this was intended as an ode to these games or simply cutting corners is not known. What is certain, I would have preferred to see more original layouts.


Repetition here is the key. Once you see the bosses, this is what you have to beat over and over. The AT-ST style walker, which is a nod to Star Wars, is a bit annoying once you understand what you need to do. It's also highly annoying that the bosses always 'see' you whether or not you're cloaked. However, if you get far enough out of their sight box, they will then focus on other threats and leave you alone. That is, until you fire a single bullet. Then they 'see' you again and immediately come after you. So, killing the bosses takes far too long to do as mostly you're just trying to avoid being shot up. This is not challenging, but it is frustrating.


There are times where the controls and collision detection severely lag. It is especially bad when you're in a battle doing melee hits. So, you know that you've hit and killed the enemy (it has fallen to the ground dead), yet the enemy manages to get one last damage hit into you long after it has hit the ground dead. So, you're standing over the dead alien body and you're being hit by some phantom projectile. In one case, it was enough to kill my character. This is extremely frustrating and enough for me to put this game down. But, I'll work my way through it only because I'm about halfway through this so far.

The first time this phantom projectile happened to me, I thought there was another alien somewhere close hitting me. Yet, I've looked around and there wasn't another on the level. So, the game is definitely glitchy here.


The sound is average. Nothing spectacular here, but noting horribly wrong either.


The upside to this game is that the environments are mostly very polished and look great. The 3D look appears solid and has a realistic feel, until you get up close. Then everything breaks down. This game does not use levels of detail for up close viewing. So, if you get close to a sign, everything is extremely pixelated and barely legible. So, this is a disappointment in what should arguably be one of the best looking game engines out there.

The fact that Crytek chose this game to be a first person shooter makes the whole idea of the superb graphics combined with the Nanosuit a frustrating experience. Here you are in this cool looking Nanosuit, yet you get to see only one arm in the view window the entire game. The game never pans away from the suit so you can see the whole suit from a different vantage point. It doesn't even do this in cinematics. This is very disappointing. Since the game is all about the suit, this game should have been a third person shooter (or toggle between first and third) so you get to see the suit.

Unfortunately, this is a drab and uninspired first person shooter wrapped in a nice looking package. The problem is, the developers spent so much time making the graphics engine look good, they forgot all about the gameplay, the physics and the motion capture. So, the characters move in odd stilted ways and the physics of the game is, at times, bad (weights are off, characters don't fall down dead believably, etc). Crytek now needs to take time to mature the physics and collision detection engines. They need to spend as much time on these as they have on the rendering engine. Only then will this game engine rival those of other game campanies.


  • Sound: 8/10
  • Graphics: 9.5/10
  • Gameplay: 5/10 (average shooter)
  • Story: 6/10
  • Bugginess: N/A
  • Controls: 6/10
  • Bang-to-buck: 2/10
  • Play Value: $20 (rent first, then buy)
  • Overall: 5.5/10 (average gameplay overshadows excellent graphics)

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