Crysis 2 review

Crysis 2

Shotgun-pumping the bright orange face off a squid-backed alien and leaving a sucking wet maw where his head used to be is the chewy chocolate centre of Crysis 2. The moments immediately preceding this shellshock blow to interplanetary relations involve turning your nanotech one-piece into a body-hugging strip of iron and switching on your invisibility cloak, then popping into view like a heavily strapped jack-in-the-box and taking aim. Peekablam!

The mechanic, and your Swiss Army knife space leotard, are play-it-again awesome. But getting to this chewy centre takes maybe five hours of persisting with what initially seems a thorny, poorly signposted and indifferent shooter.

This is a game about defeating an alien invasion with a super-soldier death suit – it should be an easy sell. And, given patience and perseverance, Crysis 2 is a visually elite FPS that pushes the genre into regions no-one else on PS3 has explored. Given a cursory look though, it’s a pain in the nano-tech contoured buttocks.

It doesn’t help that the game’s big opening is bungled. For PS3 players who are unfamiliar with the PC-only original, this is a particularly crucial bit to get right, but our transition into the series is ugly and underwater.

You’re cramped in the hold of a submarine with a unit of Marines heading to an unspecified crisis in New York. Annoyingly, you’re called Alcatraz. Then, in a sequence full of on-rails movement and screen-flashing dips to unconsciousness, your sub is hit, your team are wiped out, and a man in very tight trousers comes to your rescue.

He says something about being out of time (having completed the game, I still don’t understand this), and shoots himself in the head, apparently after peeling himself out of his spandex hardware and suiting you up. Then tutorial babysteps are combined with confusing mid-flow narrative exposition. It’s a bad mix.

The nanosuit that eventually gives Crysis 2 its defining moments drives like a manual-everything vintage car – beautiful to handle, but only once you learn its pointed quirks. Amid the confusion of whatever-the-hell-is-happening in New York (private military contractors roam the streets and hate you, while some kind of evacuation-level disaster is underway), learning the ins and outs of the suit’s tactical HUD, invisibility and armour abilities is a confusing distraction.

The good news is that while you’re not enjoying these loosely designed first hours, you will be enjoying the fact that Crysis 2 looks and feels fantastic.