Publisher:Electronic Arts Platform:Xbox 360, PS3, PC Release Date: 22 March, 2011
We may as well get right to the point and say that, no, Crysis 2 doesn’t look as good on consoles as it does on PC. Electronic Arts and Crytek would probably like punters to believe that it does, but the reality is that there’s just not enough graphical grunt in Microsoft’s beige box (which is now five years old and still aging) to compete with modern PCs when it comes to pushing polygons. You’re deluding yourself if you think otherwise, frankly.
That’s not to say that the Xbox 360 version of Crysis 2 looks bad, though. It’s just that, while the preview builds of the PC version are recognisable as the best looking game we’ve seen, the Xbox 360 version just looks like another console shooter. The texture detail is lower, the anti-aliasing is lacking and all the fancy, gee-whiz touches that will make even the newest graphics cards baulk are entirely absent.
Graphical compromises are to be expected though, as less powerful systems will naturally produce less beautiful scenery. Instead, what really bothers us is how the console version seems to have affected Crysis 2’s development in other ways.
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In previous previews of Crysis 2 on the PC we’ve detailed how Crytek has tweaked the Nanosuit’s abilities to make things a bit more streamlined across all platforms and it’s been something we’ve bought into readily. The original Crysis’ array of special powers has been consolidated into fewer, more universally useful powers. There’s no longer a need to switch between Maximum Speed and Maximum Strength just to execute a long jump, for example.
While Crytek would have us believe that these changes have been borne out of feedback the studio received for the PC version however, we can’t help but feel otherwise. Our impression of playing Crysis 2 on the Xbox 360 made us feel that it was the limitations of console controllers that had bred these alterations and that Crytek had been forced to simplify the ability-switching system to make it easier to manage on a gamepad.
There’s nothing ostensibly wrong with these changes in theory, as the alternative would be almost controllable, but it does mean that Crysis 2 sacrifices some of the tactical depth we liked so much in the original. That’s especially evident in multiplayer too, where split second reflexes count more than anything. It’s good because you can flick into stealth mode at the touch of a button, but you also can’t shake the feeling that there used to be more to the Nanosuit than ‘Press RB to be invisible’.
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In our experience of the multiplayer game, the Nanosuit also served to slow down the pace of the game on occasion. The armour mode is the source of both these problems; because all Nanosuit modes eat through your power reserves and because you want to save that power for when you really need it, you can’t have armour on all the time. You only turn it on when you think you’re going to need it, meaning that the first thing you do when you run into an enemy is turn your armour, rather than attacking. It only takes a second, but it still leaves some encounters feeling very stilted as players fumble for their bulletproofing buttons.
Worse than that though, the Nanosuit’s armour mode can regularly leave multiplayer battles feeling unfair and frustrating. If you round a corner and come face to face with an enemy who has the same health and weaponry and skill, but he has enough suit power to turn on armour mode and you don’t, then he will win. Not through any blinding display of skill or luck, but merely because he can soak up twice as many bullets as you can.
Granted, that feels great when you’re the one who's selected the appropriate suit mode, but it’s enough to induce a rage-quit when you aren’t.