Age rating: 16+
Ah, New York – so familiar and overused it is as a videogame setting, we’re pretty sure most gamers have seen all of the good bits in pixel form. It might be the greatest city in the world (we all know London is rubbish and Paris is overrated), but there’s a breaking point when used as an interactive locale – fortunately, Crysis 2 offers a rendition that is far and away better-looking than any other videogame that has tried to depict it to date (not counting Grand Theft Auto IV’s spin on it), though the story doesn’t appropriate the setting in a way that can be called original.
With that in mind, Crysis 2 takes pretty much all of its visual cues from I Am Legend, as New York is nearly deserted from what seems to be a deadly alien virus. The premise is all guff, though, since it’s basically about you marching around in a powerful futuristic suit, picking off foes with near-superhuman abilities.
It’s as sophisticated as modern shooters get, benefiting from enabling players multiple approaches without quite as much hand-holding and linear bullshit (see the recently released Homefront), with decent AI and vast environments to explore. First-person shooters these days tend to be about limitations, like low health and spending most of the time in cover, but here you have tremendous power over your surrounding foes, by turning invisible or becoming an armoured monster when necessary. Like the story, though, the mechanics are unoriginal.
We appreciate the way Crytek has meticulously reconstructed the feel of New York, with the developer’s much talked-about technical capabilities giving skyscrapers a painful level of polish and atmospheric sound design creating a certain eeriness – Hans Zimmer contributes a typically booming main theme, too, if that kind of Hollywood touch is your thing. We wish the story felt more credible, rather than an excuse to have a man in a supersuit running around an infested Times Square. Even with the weak script, Crysis 2 is the most enjoyable core first-person shooter released over the past year or so.