Top Ten of 2011 – 8. Crysis 2

Crytek are notorious for creating some of the best-looking games out there, and Crysis (released in 2007) is still used as a benchmark for PCs today. It’s always assumed you needed a behemoth of a machine just to get their games to run, but that all changed with the release of Crysis 2. It was their first game to be fully optimised to run on this generation of consoles, and the result was one of the most beautiful console games ever made.

I played Crysis 2 on the PC, and was expecting to find a dumbed-down consolified shooter, but was pleasantly surprised at how good it really looked. I couldn’t believe how Crytek had managed to get this game to run on the aging 360 and PS3 hardware. Soft dazzling lighting effects shimmer outwards from spotlights and detailed particles drifting from the rubble of burning buildings look stunning. I’d seen apocalyptic cities many times before, but this eerie vision of New York under an alien attack felt very real as it was full to the brim with details. I often found myself wanting to stop and take it all in, but this being a Crytek game meant the action very rarely let up, and you are ushered from one glorious set piece to the next. Featuring an all-new nanosuit which essentially turns you into a superhero with strength and stealthy powers, the game throws smart enemies both human and alien at you and they are hugely entertaining to fight as you improvise your way out of one hairy situation after another. 2011 saw a number of good shooters, but for me Crysis 2 is hands-down the best-looking one.

One thing is for sure… Crytek know how to make an ordinary person feel like a badass. Crysis 2 and it’s ability to allow you to play the ultimate super soldier, and not in an ‘I’m-good-at-guns-and-hiding-behind-cover’ sort of way, but in a super-suit-full-of-awesome-abilities kind of ultra-cool way. Following on fairly loosely from its predecessor, this game’s story picks up some time after the invasion of the fictional Lingshan Islands by mysterious, previously dormant aliens, and now has them in your face every 5 minutes, killing people, smashing buildings down, and blowing the crap out of vehicles. Not only are the aliens being very anti-social, but there’s once again a faction of human opponents to deal with, too, and while I personally preferred taking on the humans to the aliens, I had a great time sneaking up on them and stealth killing all of them without a hitch.

What makes Crysis so great, however, is not just that you can genuinely go in all guns blazing or be silent and deadly without setting off any alarms, but the fact that when it occasionally does go wrong, you are forced to improvise and resolve the situation in its new chaotic form. Do you escape the frantic chaos that erupts when the enemy knows you are there and wait for it all to blow over before picking off the more alert enemies who are waiting for you? Or do you switch off the stealth systems and activate your strength and armour instead, ripping a heavy machine gun from atop a tank and pulverizing your enemies in plain sight? I can tell you that half way through the game, I found myself wanting to experiment with the different possibilities, and found that full-scale combat became my favourite means of dispatching the enemies. All of the combat was fun, but what struck me most were the environments; we’ve all seen aliens and men with guns before, but what we rarely see is New York City utterly devastated and crawling with plant-life, pounded into rubble, and Times Square being flooded by a tidal wave.

Yes, Crysis 2 was very fun, and definitely a great change from the typical first person shooters that have dominated the market for the last few years.

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