Best FPS shooter for the Xbox
Crysis 2 is as close to an interactive disaster movie as we've ever come. Ever found yourself hankering after Cloverfield: The Game? Look no further. This is a relentlessly explosive title that doesn't know the meaning of respite; one which laughs in the face of 'downtime'.
Phew! You've just sprinted through soon-to-be-levelled New York City streets, escaping the skyscraper and lethal, goliath chunks of rubble crashing down around you by a wisp. Ready for a break? Course you are. Here's a 30ft mech smashing through the debris - time to up your game.
But then, who needs a breather when you've got a Nanosuit? Crytek's back-of-the-box addition cloaks you in a wealth of alien-slaying features at the click of a button - from Predator-like invisibility to management of armour load-outs; slapping attachments on your gun to marking enemies on your radar and prepping your preferred choice of three different explosives.
All of this is expected to be used on the go. You'll engage platinum-thick armour mode whilst checking your depleting power bar - as you sprint and jump 15ft in the air. As you land, you'll kick off a frantic ten minute game of cat and mouse against a humungous alien target; trying to catch its weakened behind, as you simultaneously search your surroundings for dropped Nano catalyst upgrades.
If all that sounds slightly overwhelming, that's because it is. Every facet of Crysis 2 is intense, in-your-face and slightly exhausting. We imagine Crytek were no pushovers on school sports day, let's put it that way.
The $1bn superhero Nanosuit makes a return from the first Crysis, helping you throw cars at aliens and kick angry marines into the ocean. Don't worry if you didn't play the first title: both veterans and rookies alike will struggle to get their heads around the twist-filled, faction-heavy plot - partly because you'll be staring at the truly stunning in-game visuals instead.
Sporting an updated engine that's finally able to squeeze the Zen-like requirements of the PC-only original on to consoles, Crysis 2 is a simply beautiful game. On Xbox 360 and PS3, in 2D and 3D (although the former mode runs even better than the latter, with a slicker framerate) Crytek's FPS is a spectacular action ride with a rumbling, rousing soundtrack and enough impressive set pieces to fill a dozen television commercials.
Your first action in the single-player campaign is to switch to visor mode and mark the private military contractors on the horizon patrolling a huge NYC park, as instructed by an on-screen prompt.
In the hours that follow you'll have to hone your brain to get to grips with the abundance of suit functions and various combat strategies pretty much on your own - and there's an intimidating list of abilities and super powers for you to get your head around.
The left shoulder button initiates armour mode, transforming your skin to steel strength and adding an intimidating stomp to every footstep. The right shoulder button turns on stealth mode, allowing you to prance around and silently assassinate baddies, all the while draining your suit's power meter with movement.
The entire game world is built around your suit and the various possibilities that being able to jump over a double-decker bus brings to firefights. If you choose to ignore these abilities and take the fight head-on - as our inner CoD-comforted fool inside longed for us to do - you'll quickly end up in a sparking heap on the floor. Crysis' baddies are tough, clever and unforgiving - even in the opening levels. Cevat Yerli's wild claims about the game's AI turned out to be... not so wild after all.
Crysis 2: Tactics
This ability to take stock and analyse the battlefield from afar, brings a much-missed tactical element back to the FPS genre, and is a welcome addition. Should you strategically flank your opponents? Grab a tricky ledge to snipe from afar? How about gunning towards a tactically-placed turret? Or, bar all that messy stuff, perhaps just sneak towards an exposed sewer pipe and avoid the fight entirely.
The level of choice Crysis offers you in combat is both refreshing and satisfying, as is the customisation options for both your guns (sniper scope? grenade launcher? silencer?) - not to mention tweaks to your suit, which has various stealth, armour and agility perks that can be unlocked and individually activated.
Crysis 2: Verdict
Very much a thinking man's shooter, then, even if the explosions are abundant and incredibly pretty. But there is one major let-down: the narrative.
Despite a continuous procession of story 'moments', which bamboozle you at every turn, the core plotline falls rather flat - and can't fully sustain the ten-hour campaign time. More to the point, you're often made to feel more like a walking, talking suit than a living, breathing hero called Alcatraz - a bit of a demotivating bummer in an FPS where you're saving the day.
By compensating with head-turning distraction every two minutes, the game lacks the variety and clever pacing found in genre peers such as Half-Life, and the game's plot and characters - or lack of memorable ones - are something we'd like to see improved in the next instalment.
Another downside is that it's entirely possible - although probably very difficult - to stealth your way through the game's biggest action sequences. This is more of a shame for the player than a crime on Crytek's part, however - and we should probably let it off as a necessary evil of an otherwise fantastic free-form combat offering.
Both of those gripes can't do much to dent Crysis 2's biggest plus points, though. Crytek has gone out of its way to offer something brilliant that other shooters don't, and succeeded in abundance - with fantastic shootouts, tonnes of freedom and a technical magic bag that's the envy of all of its competitors.
Crysis 2 launch date: Out now
Crysis 2 price: £39-£49 online