Set in a 2024 that seems more like the day after tomorrow, Crysis 2 depicts New York City, under assault from all directions. A bizarre virus is devouring entire boroughs; the city is under uneasy martial law, brought about by a strained partnership between the military and private security conglomerate Crynet. Then the alien invasion begins, and things fall apart. As a marine named Alcatraz (Callsign? Codename? Rude parents? Crysis 2 never says), you arrive amidst devastation and chaos, using Crysis' trademark Nanosuit. A semi-living suit of combat armor with advanced AI.
The Nanosuit is the lens through which you view Crysis 2, and it adds a great sense of cohesiveness to the game. Once you hit the Start button, everything you see and do -- save for load screens -- occurs in first-person view. Instead of wading through weapon- and power-selection menus, you're presented with in medias res overlays and subtle visual effects, which indicate the Nanosuit's status. The Nanosuit has three modes: Stealth imparts near-invisibility; strength grants more powerful melee attacks, greatly increased movement speed, and jump height; and armor makes you something of a walking tank. Each power drains your suit's energy to varying degrees -- and Crysis 2's foundation lies in juggling these powers, finding new ways to combine them, and using them in unexpected ways.
It's great, then, that Crytek presents such a varied playground in its torn and broken New York City. Crysis 2 shines most when you push the Nanosuit to the limits of what you think it can do, and the best moments come from points where you stop and ask "did I really just pull that off?" Crysis 2 is a collection of sandboxes, some enormous in size, all laid out to provide multiple options for tackling your objectives. Your suit's AI identifies strategic points of interest if you choose, allowing you to mark tactical points or elements, like weapon caches and enemy locations. After that, it's up to you: Will you crank up your armor, tear a mounted machine gun off its hinges, and walk through the front door? Or will you sneak in to flank an enemy position, silently murdering foe after foe?
Crysis 2's enemy AI is smart, yet believable. Sure, you can set enemies up for ambushes, but carelessness often provokes massive coordinated responses that require quick thinking to deal with. Combat usually spirals out from the initial encounter randomly, and most fights unfold differently each time you play them. Thank Crysis 2's environments, which aren't just wide, but also tall -- you can always find a way up and over, a way to come crashing down. When you fight Crynet's paramilitary forces, the ability to strike from on high and disorient your opponents is empowering and predatory. During encounters with the alien Ceph, the balance shifts; your attention isn't just on where you can go, it's where your more mobile foes can cut you off and ambush you. While you're the cliched one-man army, the tools at your disposal are primed to enable clever play more than brute force. The free-wheeling weapon customization from the original Crysis has returned, which allowed you to modify weapons with scopes, silencers, undercarriage attachments and such, and it's been joined by Nanosuit upgrades. The suit upgrade menu is actually your hand - twitching each finger selects a different subset of upgrades, and only one of each subset can be active at once.
This adds to Crysis 2's replayability, since the abilities you earn and the weapon modifications you find are available in all previously completed chapters, on any difficulty level. It's a sort of new game plus situation, without explicitly naming it as such. This makes up for Crysis 2's smaller playground.
I love this game with a burning passion.