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Crysis 2 - Xbox 360 Review

The sequel to Crytek's Crysis from 2007. Crysis 2 starts off shortly after the end of the original Crysis (you can read my review of Crysis here) and start in the instantly recognizable New York Harbor; naturally  there are explosions and bullets and water ( the theme for first person shooters at the time was water ... everything seemed to be revolving around water and yes, I'm looking at you Call of Duty and Battlefield games ...).

 As the game moves on you are introduced to the primary bad guys, Cell, as well as the CEPH (though, I won't say much more on the subject to avoid spoilers). The general gist of things though, is that New York is under attack and you're there to do something about it.

Graphics - 9.5:

 I may be going out on a limb here, but Crysis 2 is likely one of the best looking games I have seen the Xbox 360 to date (I've played more modern games, but this one's level of polish is amazing). The way the camera blurs when you're running / moving your head quickly is a great little addition, as is the sheer level of detail that you get out of ever single item in the game. Small laptops and computer monitors, if you decide to turn them on, have desktop icons and other regularly-found computer items on it (a taskbar! with icons!), you'll find bottles, papers, first aid kits, all laying around that are meticulously detailed that bring in a level of realism seldom found in other games. The draw distances aren't as far as in the first Crysis, however, the nature of the game doesn't really fit well with far draw distances (New York is not as open as a small island), and in the few areas that the draw distance really does matter, it does more than a passing job. Overall, the graphics are stunning (as are the rag-doll physics) and they definitely bring in a level of depth not found in many first person shooters. The only downside that I found was the color palette; it seems pretty bland at times (most urban areas in any game are pretty bland), but not enough to detract from the overall beauty of the game.

Sound & Music - 8:

The music here is passable, your telltale signs of a large battle are there (you know, music change to something fast and hard just before you're about to get into a crazy firefight), but I found it distracting for the fact that, just like the first Crysis, sound plays such a large role in this game. If you're taking the stealth routes, you can actually hear the footprints / guard chatter as they come and go the different audio cues will help keep you on your toes; having the background music on can get in the way of hearing those little bits and can inadvertently cover them, thus granting you a surprise melee attack from the back as a guard walks up and thumps you on the head. The weapon sounds are superbly done, the full auto of a turret to the gut-punching sound of a shotgun are all deep, rich, and a solid enhancement to the series. The only sound bite that I found to be a bit lacking was when you used used a strength-enhanced punched on a poor Cell soldier, it doesn't ring out with a satisfying crunch; more like you're punching a plastic bag; nothing atrocious, just not expected (though, punching CEPH units yields a satisfying crunch).

Gameplay - 8.5:

 The controls for Crysis 2 are similar to those in the original Crysis; they get the point across and give you access to your different armor abilities, weapon customization features, and interactive capabilities in an adequate fashion. I do have to say, though, that the lack of a "Prone" position was a big let down for me, as I prefer the stability of bing prone while I'm trying to snipe, though, Crytek did go through and drastically reduce the head-bob / weapon-weave while you're crouched, it is something that I missed throughout the course of the game. Outside of that, the controls are pretty much identical to the original Crysis so you'll feel right at home.

 By-and-by it is very similar to the original Crysis, however, you'll have a few new animations, most notably that when you power jump towards a ledge you will reach out and haul yourself up the ledge; the same goes for jumping over obstacles. Depending on the obstacle you'll gracefully slide over the top of it rather than just bounding across it. The neatest feature, though, is that you have far more tactical options that you can take when confronted with an obstacle. You can find a vantage point (with a conveniently placed ammo box) where you can go through and snipe. You'll also find small sewer tunnels and rubble-strewn passages you can sneak by; mounted turrets for an entrenched offensive, or conveniently placed vehicles (that explode if shot too much) that work as useful shields for flanking. 

There is, also, the oft-used, but most difficult, run through the middle of the bad guys flinging grenades and bullets until nothing is left. As I moved into some of the more tense combat situations I found myself sticking to a pseudo roll of stealth and in-your-face combat, the reason being is that weapons with silencers can be fired multiple times while you're cloaked, which brings a number of possibilities (I found myself almost exclusively using the M12 Nova pistol with a silencer and the SCAR with a silencer in the early parts of the game, to be replaced with the Hammer silenced pistol and the DSG-1 Silenced sniper rifle, as they pack a lot more punch). Overall the number of options that you have to take down your opponents and the different ways to move through a level bring the same (though improved upon) open qualities that the original Crysis did.

Intangibles - 8.5:

 As with Crysis, the numerous options you can take to get through a level and the number of different options for upgrading your suit with different capabilities ( a new feature added to Crysis 2 that was not in the original Crysis ) add a wonderful level of replayability to the game. In truth I was hoping for more options, though, it may be that I was simply wishing for more than what the game could provide, so a part of my let-down feeling is likely my own fault (that and wishing there were more 'RPG-style' elements to the game) so I may be a bit disgruntled by my own faults in that respect. Multiplayer, when you can find a decently populated server, felt better than some FPS games out there, however, it's nothing to write home about as it is pretty standard fare.

Overall - 8.5:
Overall I like Crysis 2 as much (and in some respects, more than) the original Crysis, as I enjoyed the chaotic urban struggles that were apparent in Crysis 2. There were plenty of times throughout the game that I could have sworn I somehow transported to City 17 from Half Life 2, with the oppressive feel and the overall look of New York, which is a good thing, in my opinion. I did find myself wishing for more open area, more wilderness, someplace I could go and truly hunt my enemies, as opposed to the corridor-feel that some of the levels had. Overall, though, I definitely have to say that Crysis 2 stands up to the quality of it's predecessor and surpasses it in some ways. On the other hand, the ambient audio in the original Crysis was far superior to what Crysis 2 has, however, I tell myself that it's because sound travels differently in a city compared to sound out in a subtropical rain forest. For a continuation of the story that started with Crysis, Crysis 2 is a more-than-worthy successor and has helped cement the Crysis franchise as a favorite in futuristic first person shooters. I highly recommend playing this spectacular follow-up.

Review by Robert 

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