The former had set a new bar for spectacular graphics, the other featured a tight story. They attracted a significant number of lovers and haters. While Crysis introduced the nanosuit and the tools that came along with it, Crysis 2 defined its relevance with the world. Both are great games, but the prequel brought something new and fresh on the table. The direction taken by the sequel to expand the story instead of the gameplay left me completely disappointed.
In a many ways, Crysis (released in 2007) was a much needed game for the PC platform. It was much less of a software seller, and much more of a hardware seller. I know many people who upgraded their PC’s just to play this game. When the first gameplay videos and screens for the game were released, people were blown away. It displayed a level of quality that was far ahead of its time. Even 4 years later, it can still compete with the best looking games out there. And it was not just a looker, but a player at the same time. Crysis was packed with some exhilarating gameplay which kept changing with the way the user approached a situation. You could either go rambo on the koreans, or be a ghost of the jungle and clear them out one by one. You could even be a “humanitarian” and let most of them be. This added a lot of replayability to the game which demanded multiple playthroughs. This also resulted in vastly different experiences for many people, which led to the game getting polarized reviews, ranging from great to abysmal. But, the choice was always there. Those who tried different things were thoroughly rewarded with some exciting gameplay. This is what made the game unique and great in my opinion. The sales reflected this, and the game went on to sell more than 3 million copies.
Crysis 2 was released in march of 2011 to generally favorable reviews. The events in the game took place sometime after the events of the first game. This time, the focus was shifted from the jungle to New York city. The aliens were starting their invasion, and the state of the city reflected that. The humans were on the defensive side, with you being their only hope for survival. As a game, Crysis 2 was a great addition to the FPS genre. You could actually feel the city in ruins. Buildings being destroyed, bridges collapsing, rubble everywhere; all of this added to the sense of scale. Even the aliens were more ruthless this time around, with very aggressive AI which could kill you in an instant if you were not careful. It laid a vision of a city under siege, and executed it to great effect.
However, in comparison with the first game, it still felt lacking. There were some very subtle differences, and some very obvious ones, which made the first game so great. They did not deter from the experience; the game by its own is a true gem. But, as a sequel, it left me a bit disappointed.
Here is my analysis to why Crysis is better than Crysis 2:
Even the new shiny suit doesn’t help it to topple its ancestor
Crysis had a lot of variety in the environments and gameplay. The first half of the game had you playing in a jungle fighting the Korens. The second half had you fighting on the same island, but covered entirely in snow. Now you were fighting the aliens, which gave a game a very different feel. In between, you had these unique levels like the alien ship and the plane level, which added another level of variety to the game. Crysis 2, on the other hand, had the ‘city in ruins’ feel going throughout the game. None of the levels were that different from each other, and even the gameplay style remained mostly the same. Maybe this was intentional due to the heavy focus on the story, but it did not add to the sense of uniqueness like the first game did, and certainly wasn’t as memorable.
Crysis tried to give gamers a chance to play the game in their own unique way. You had the map with the enemies laid in front of you; how you would go about exploring through the world was your own choice. There were many ways of fighting enemies, some pretty straight forward, while others very interesting. I once threw a barrel at a helicopter using super strength, and then shot the barrel which damaged the heli, leading to a wonderful crash. Another time, i went invisible using the cloak mode, entered a hut which had a buggy parked inside, and started shooting at the soldiers outside. Then i went invisible again, went outside, waited for the soldiers to go inside to look for me, and then shot the fuel tank of the buggy. The explosion that followed is one of my most satisfying moments in gaming. The fact that you could play around with all the tools at your disposal really sold me on the game the minute i started playing. Crysis 2 on the other hand was focused mainly on the tight story. The environments and enemies were great, but these choices were absent. It gave the feeling that i was just playing another one of those shooters which you could breeze through in a fortnight without caring for it. And this totally ruined the game for me.
To this day, Crysis is still considered one of the best looking games ever made. And its not just the technology behind the game that wowed the masses; the brilliant environment designs coupled with the beautiful jungle vistas made the game a sight to behold. Plus the varied environments and the subtle nuances in each of them only added to the sense of wonder. Crysis 2 was just more of the same. The difference between the engines was not reflected very well in the implementation, and for two games released almost four years apart, they looked mostly similar. The city environments fade in comparison to the jungle which only makes it worse. Also, the lack of variety of environments in the sequel marks the final blow to this argument. Although the DX 11 patch has helped curb some of the skepticism, still technology was never my only complaint, and i would still side with the predecessor when it comes to graphics.
Replayability and Multiplayer
Crytek has always branded Crysis as a game which should be played multiple times. Depending of the style of fighting you choose, you’re almost guaranteed to have a unique experience. Going into a fight all guns blazing or in stealth mode weren’t the only choices you had. You could also use the environment and your suit powers to great effect. Running up to the koreans with super speed only to find them scared of being run over, shooting a tree only to watch it fall on an enemy’s head, shooting some logs on top of a cliff to see them run over a group of soldiers, confusing the aliens by not letting them track your position; these were some of the few things that gave a great level of replayability to the game. Sadly, most of these were absent in the sequel. Sure you could blow up a barrel in front of an enemy, but you can do that in almost any fps game these days; there is nothing unique about that. Plus, with the map sizes being smaller, it leaves very little room for multiple strategies.
The multiplayer in Crysis had a very battlefield-like feel to it. Although not fleshed out as well, it still provided for a decent experience. There were mainly two modes in multiplayer. One was the standard deathmatch mode, which was fun because of the ability to use your suit powers, and the other was power struggle. This was an objective based mode which was mapped across multiple areas. Basically, it was capture the flag with a twist. And the ability to use the nanosuit abilities gave it a unique touch. It wasn’t the best multiplayer out there, but it was enjoyable. The multiplayer is Crysis 2 spanned many modes. There is access to Death-match, Team death-match, extraction, assault and capture the flag. It was well varied and highly accessible for any gamer, but lost its unique selling point. It wasn’t bad at all, but it wasn’t anything that wasn’t done before. And with the dominance that COD has on the multiplayer market, its no wonder that its not as popular as Crytek expected.
Overall, Crysis 2 is a fantastic game. The effort and polish that has gone into it clearly warrants an AAA rating, one which it has got from many websites. But many of those who played and loved the first game will be slightly disappointed with the direction Crytek has taken with the sequel. In my opinion, Crysis is the best game Crytek have made, and unless they get things right, that might end up being the case for a long long time.