Have You Played… Crysis 2?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

Everything that Crysis 1 did right, Crysis 2 threw away. Combat scenarios set in open areas you could approach your own way? Gone. Destructible buildings and AI smart enough to navigate it? Gone. Unique, jungle setting? Gone. The resulting game is poorer in every conceivable way.

Crysis 2 is set in New York, albeit a New York that’s being overrun with palm trees and by aliens. Those aliens – who were strange, flying squid-like creatures in the original, now wear robo-suits that make them into bipedal grunts. It’s much more of a corridor shooter than its predecessor, even in moments where you’re on a city street and pitted against enemies that don’t initially know you’re there.

I could guess at the reasons for all the changes, and it’s probably worth doing so to offer some context. The first Crysis took years to develop and apparently burnt out developers Crytek, and so abandoning jungles and collapsible shacks in favour for solid architecture must have felt like a relief. The first game also didn’t sell well, in part due to its high system requirements, but also supposedly because of its perceived complexity at a time when Call of Duty was eating up the charts. Plus no one liked fighting those squids anyway.

Yet it’s a real shame. Crysis 1 is a game worth revisiting even today, ten years after its release. Crysis 2 wasn’t worth visiting in the first place.

46 Comments

  1. SMGreer says:

    And the game’s main theme is one of the single worst pieces of music I’ve ever had to listen to in a game. A truly ugly, ear scraping drone that repeats itself at every conceivable opportunity.

    • Pliqu3011 says:

      “A truly ugly, ear scraping drone that repeats itself at every conceivable opportunity.”
      So just a Hans Zimmer piece then? Ha! (I’ll grab my coat, it’s fine to like Zimmer’s music)

    • KenTWOu says:

      Fortunately, Zimmer wrote only a couple of tracks, meanwhile Borislav Slavov and Tilman Sillescu did all the work and did it brilliantly. That’s why when I think about Crysis 2 soundtrack tracks like ‘Close Encounter’ or ‘SOS New York’ immediately come to mind, not that awful main theme.

  2. Sakkura says:

    Yes I played it, and it was a step down in just about every way. Whether you compare it to Crysis 1 or Crysis Warhead.

    • DopeyJoe says:

      Not a step down in graphics, really. I guess I don’t get all the hate? I loved Crysis, and have re-played it at least 8 times. I got Crysis 2 on a Steam sale for like six bucks. Played through three times. Super-terrific-happy-hour game? No. But fun enough.

  3. Troubletcat says:

    This is a nice bit of writing, and it hits on something that I think about every time Crysis is brought up.

    Everyone talks about the technology, but very few people talk about the fact that it was a very good single-player shooter with gameplay and design that still holds up today. I think that’s sad, especially since it came out at a time when not that many good single-player shooters were getting made – it was all corridors and brown, and then you had Crysis.

    Far Cry the first and Crysis are very different games in a lot of ways, but they share a common strength – an open world backdrop. Neither is an ‘open world game’ in the sense of GTA or AssCreed – they’re linear stories with no sidequests or map markers to clean up. But both games benefit enormously from taking place in very large, open environments. Environments that feel credible to a degree that even yer immersive sims often don’t – going by back trails instead of the main road in both games feels more like you’re traversing a real place and less like you’re going down one of the paths the game designers put in for you to find than it often does in e.g. Deus Ex. Of course, in both cases, the truth of the matter is the same, but the much higher degree of openness to the environments in Crysis means that it doesn’t FEEL the same.

    • tnzk says:

      A lot of good shooters were getting made at the time: Half Life 2 Episode 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (when it first became a hit), Halo 3, and Stalker SoC.

      So there’s a bit of revisionist history in your comment there fella

      • Troubletcat says:

        I don’t consider any of those to be good single-player shooters except Episode 2, which I think of as… Half-life 2: Again, so it sort of doesn’t count.

        CoD4 wasn’t a bad game but the single-player was never anything special – a couple of landmark moments held together by a whole lot of bland corridor shooting, Halo 3 was a relatively weak entry in a major franchise that did nothing new or interesting, and SoC, despite being a really interesting game that remains relevant for the unique things it did, was also so deeply flawed that I’d hesitate to call it ‘good’. Plus, the things that made it interesting had very little to do with it being a shooter.

    • punkass says:

      Whilst I haven’t played Crysis, I just want to second your recommendation of Far Cry 1. Yes, the story and characters were hideously crappy, but I still really dig the maps. You HAVE to get to the objective, but you’re free to find your own way to it. There may be a chokepoint or two, but some clever use of sneaking and sniping can draw enemies to the wrong position and slowly weed them out.

      In an open world game, if a mission was too hard for me at the time, I would probably just pooter off somewhere else. FC1 would make me take stock of the surroundings, see if there was another approach, work out different tactics. It also feels more immersive to me to be forced to follow the mission rather than being able to just drive off, goof around for a few days, then come back to something that was apparently life or death.

  4. Bahumat says:

    The best thing that came out of that entire debacle was Peter Watts’ (author of Starfish, Blindsight, Echopraxia) novelization of the game, which read as most of his works do as a combination of bleeding-edge nihilistic science fiction and fever dream.

    • malkav11 says:

      Yeeees. One of the best video game licensed works out there. Not that it’s a wide field of competition exactly, but hey.

    • Werthead says:

      It’s interesting that Watts did it and not Richard Morgan, since Morgan worked on the game itself. But you couldn’t tell in the slightest, there was nothing in the game’s story, dialogue or characters which hinted at why they’d brought on board a high-profile SF author to work on the game. Weird.

  5. malkav11 says:

    I honestly prefer the second game, insofar as I have really enjoyed either very much. Sure, Crysis is more open-ended, but the appeal of the game for me was the supersuit. And having every function of it be entirely mutually exclusive and on a super short battery really sucks most of the joy out of it for me. And if you’re not on the Armor function (which is boring), you’re incredibly fragile and cannot possibly engage in any sort of direct conflict. It just completely failed to sustain the fantasy I wanted out of it.

    Crysis 2 may be much more linear, but it does a much better job of sustaining the fantasy for me, between better battery life on the suit, the combination of some of the functions into a single mode, and I seem to recall the AI also being less competent and easier to supersoldier out of this world. Which may sound like a bad thing but the challenge level of the first game was way too high for me, so I appreciated it.

    • haradaya says:

      Every disappointment I had with Crysis came from the opening trailer. I was not able to replicate any of those moments.

      Most of what they show you can’t survive even with armor mode on.
      You cannot switch to underbarrel grenades instantly. You have to go through two fire mode toggle animations.
      You cannot, sprint and fire at a squad of enemies with speed mode on and kill them all in one swoop.

      So much more could’ve been done with the suit if they hadn’t gimped it so badly. Speed could’ve slowed down time a bit while you reloaded and punched at the same speeds. Strength could’ve granted you near perfect hipfire and recoil control at little energy cost, and actually protected you from the impact after a strength jump.
      Armor mode should just be a passive ability of the suit. And then have the “walking tank” armor mode of Crysis 2.

      • Kraz3 says:

        Go in the crysis files and edit the difficulty .ini XD You can do some crazy ass shit with that. Sprinting so fast its basically a teleport, armor enough to absorb anything shot at you, insane jump height with improved strength, cloak like a goddamn predator.

  6. Hitman Dead Man says:

    Actually, I preffer the second game. It’s more focused and streamlined. The open world aspect of the first game was pointless anyway. There was nothing to do in it. Some of the second game’s levels were still pretty large and open (like the one where you started above 2 rooftops, a sky bridge connecting them and the streets below them) and they generally felt like pretty wide corridors at least.
    Constantly having to switch powers that all used the same energy bar got annoying, so second game limited what you could do with them, but made them less of a hassle.
    And it fixed the annoying flying squid enemies by grounding them.

    • Hitman Dead Man says:

      It’s storyline was also more memorable. The one thing I hated was the obligatory “skill tree” – but we are on PC, so that’s fixable ;)

  7. PanFaceSpoonFeet says:

    Errrm… I absolutely love it. It’s no less open world than 1 really. Both games could be summarised as “broad corridor shooters with multiple routes” it plays out like a big budget movie.. the scale of destruction is awesome and it has a more involving story line. I thoroughly recommend it!!!

  8. Spuzzell says:

    I did play Crysis 2, and I remember exactly nothing about it.

    Wait, was there a bow? I think I might remember a bow.

    Crysis, however, was fabulous. (please note how you knew exactly which game I was talking about without a ‘1’ attached on the end, like a warty lie)

  9. Kefren says:

    I’ve never played the second. I mostly enjoyed the first (and played it again recently). I didn’t mind the aliens and snow bit, it was variety. But I hated the story/commander. He was a dick. I remember trying to shoot him or hit him and the game wouldn’t let me, which made me even more frustrated when I had to listen to him. Then the game ended with just a big “TBC” which was as frustrating as Half Life 2’s non-ending. Both games made me feel like I’d been working towards nothing, and the devs were just taking the piss.

  10. Laini says:

    The main thing I remember from Crysis 2 is your character “dying” and having to be revived with the on suit defibrillator. They did that about 732 times during the campaign.

  11. melancholicthug says:

    Yes, it was garbage. They took the worst part of the first (the aliens), made it the focus, and took out the open world. 10/10 decision making there /s

  12. Chorltonwheelie says:

    I really liked it. Good solid shooter with some great eyecandy.
    Might play it through again, now you’ve reminded me, to see how it looks 1080’fied. Bite me.

    Oooh, I see above I’m not the only one. Stick by your guns kids. They’ll probably try and tell us STALKER wasn’t a dull as ditchwater, janky borefest next.

    • Megatron says:

      “Oooh, I see above I’m not the only one. Stick by your guns kids. They’ll probably try and tell us STALKER wasn’t a dull as ditchwater, janky borefest next.”

      I’d heard of people like you but I had assumed those were just tales to scare children into bed. STALKER is sublime. So there.

      • malkav11 says:

        I may have (sort of) liked Crysis 2 but I looooved Stalker.

        • Megatron says:

          Oh man, I hear you. SoC was one of those once-in-a-decade gems that just comes along and completely transforms the way you think about a certain genre. A sense of place like no other before or since.

          Excuse me while I go and have a little cry at the lovely memories.

  13. Stingy McDuck says:

    I loved Crysis 2. Yes, one half of Crysis 1 may be a better game and I like that game, but still Crysis 2 was a fun game with good combat. Crysis 1 is a little disappointing when you realize that most scenes look the same (green, green and more green). And, as a guy who prefers stealth when given the option, I found jumping from bush to bush waiting for my energy bar to fill a little boring.

    • Megatron says:

      Yeah, Crysis did suffer from some odd choices regarding the stealth suit, forcing some rather pedantic behaviours during play. It could be fun, but the suit energy system did limit that fun rather cruelly.

  14. Konservenknilch says:

    I did. Crysis was a weirdly overambitious gem, so 2 could only be better, right? Wrong! My last major gaming misstep.

    That theme was epic though.

  15. haldolium says:

    I liked it a lot as a shooter.

    I had to turn off the HUD entirely sadly due to it being the single most annoying piece of crap there could be, but at least you could turn it off. Stupid QTEs then were a bit painful, but otherwise it was a great experience, not last thanks to extremely satisfying sound design.

    I never got the praise of the original tbh. I found Crysis a lot less interesting as C2 or FarCry. Warhead was better too as the original.

    Hm that reminds me that I never played 3 due to my GPU not being good enough.

  16. vorador says:

    It took everything great from the first game…and flushed it down the toilet.

    As such, an enormous disappointment.

  17. dangermouse76 says:

    I cant it to run on windows 10. I enjoyed at the time remember Johns piss take article about visuals and FPS !

  18. Eldritch says:

    I’ve replayed both Crysis and the sequel this year and they’re both great, with lots to enjoy in each. As a shooter though, C2 is better. The guns are phenomenal, punchy things; the movement and physicality of the avatar is spot-on and the AI of the aliens is excellent, some of the best ever, with the classes behaving differently.

    This both still look good, with C2 being one of the best-looking games around 6+ years later.

  19. mainpatr says:

    The real successor to Crysis 1’s open pre-alien parts is the first campaign in Battlefield 1. I am currently playing it and the protect the tank section along with the collect the sparkplugs section is very Crysis 1\Far Cry 3-4. The sparkplug section especially is similar with an open area,multiple approaches, and stealth with alarms.

    • Highlandcoo says:

      Oh god no. You did not just compare BF1’s cardboard characters, flat progression and pop-up-badguys to Crysis 2? Which whilst hardly perfect, at least tried to give its story an arc, a skill tree to unlock and varied its enemy encounters right to the very end.

      You DID didn’t you!?

      *head explodes*

  20. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    Troops in Crysis 2 were some of my favourite baddies to shoot, best since F.E.A.R.’s clone troopers. Who, in turn, were the best reincarnation of Half-Life marines. And the graphical effects were some next level stuff at the moment. And the main musical theme was hype as hell! If you only fought humans in it, I’d say Crysis 2 was actually great.

  21. Megatron says:

    Lots of people loving Crysis 2 here. Cool: guess it’s time to dig it out from the ‘Bought but never played’ pile I’ve been collecting since digital game-downloading became a thing. Sounds very much like an under-appreciated gem, unjustly crucified because it isn’t Crysis.

  22. BobbyDylan says:

    Crysis 2’s biggest fault was being a mediocre successor to a fantastic game. It wasn’t bad per-se, just not very good.

  23. KenTWOu says:

    it’s worth mentioning that stealth focused asymmetric Assault mode from Crysis 2 multiplayer was really, really great, it was similar to Spies vs Mercs from Splinter Cell games.

  24. Kraz3 says:

    PSA: If you go in Crysis’s game files, you can edit the difficulty “.ini” and adjust a bunch of variables controlling suit powers. Have fun sprinting\teleporting into a group of enemies XD

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