Crysis 2 Console Review
It’s clear that, in terms of graphics and performance, Crytek has had some issues balancing Crysis 2 atop of the Xbox 360’s six year-old hardware – and the key word there is definitely balancing
. There are places where Crysis 2 looks nothing short of phenomenal. There are others where it verges on unacceptable.
First, the good news. Not only are the levels impressively large, but Crytek also seems to have learned a lot more about how good play-spaces should be designed since Crysis. Each level tends to feature at least one large arena where players have a number of choices about how to tackle enemies. Tactical options are then flagged in an optional viewing mode, so if you’re having trouble then you can get some new ideas without having them automatically shoved down your throat.
The routes between these larger arenas are a lot more linear and there are times when Crysis 2 can feel more constrained than it actually is as a result, but this breeds a sense of variety into the action that we came to appreciate. The vehicle sections are still mediocre at best, if only because they strip players of their Nanosuit powers, but linearity isn’t bad in and of itself.
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Many of the scenarios and fights that Crysis 2 puts you up against are nothing short of awe-inspiring too. Crytek might not have taken advantage of everything New York offers on a narrative front, but in terms of explosions and setpieces, Crysis 2 is stunning. Bridges collapse while you cross them, skyscrapers tumble around you and more than once will you be plummeted from cloud to street level in seconds.
Crytek may not run enough of these events together to create the breathlessness offered by other games, but the fidelity is astounding nonetheless; the work of seasoned special effects artists, if not ace directors.
There is bad news too, however. The frame rate drops that occur in the bigger battles, for example, may not define Crysis 2, but they still do significant damage – performance hits of this magnitude aren’t something we’re keen to tolerate. We found they showed up a lot when we mixed stealth and sniping tactics too, likely because of the large distances and fancy stealth shader effects.
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It’s also clear that Crytek has taken far too many shortcuts in order to fit the full Crysis 2 experience on to consoles, in our opinion. Numerous little niggles, such as mirrored textures and static props, sap the spectacle of some of its power. It’s not uncommon to find cars with unbreakable windows, or bulletproof walls that are stubborn enough to shrug off bullet decals with ease.
Most of what wounds the game on the graphical front, however, is a simple lack of AA combined with a lot of low-res textures. Even at its absolute worst it would be unfair and melodramatic to claim that Crysis 2 looks bad
, but it’s also impossible to hold it up as a pinnacle. It looks OK, but Crytek’s given up so much in its quest to make the CryEngine work on consoles at its original scale that it’s no longer as visually impressive as it once was.
In some ways, it’s actually quite depressing. The original Crysis was so good-looking and hard to run that it attained legendary status on the PC, yet the sequel which was supposed to move the technology on even further, ends up looking merely middle of the road on consoles.