Two down, one to go.
With the Crysis Remastered Trilogy landing on the Nintendo Switch last month, FPS aficionados gaming on Nintendo’s portable hybrid were treated to two brand new, over-the-top, gunslinging sagas to assuage their bellicose impulses. I’m talking ‘new’ only in a narrow sense, of course.
These shooters are, after all, remasters of decade-old games. Crysis 2 and 3 originally appeared on PC in 2011 and 2013, respectively. The first in the series, Crysis, debuted on PC in 2007 before being remastered for all platforms last year.
As a stand-alone digital purchase on the Nintendo eShop or as part of the Trilogy compilation, Crysis 2 will likely be a novel experience for many a Switch owner, as was true in my case.
Regardless, whether or not it’s your inaugural encounter with the Crysis franchise, this entry in particular, or you’re planning a triumphant return back into the action, we’ve probably asked ourselves the same question: Is Crysis 2 on the Switch any good?
To examine that query to the fullest, I cannot help but juxtapose my thoughts about Crysis 2 Remastered with those mixed impressions that Crysis Remastered elicited in my former review. While I’ll aim to be as thorough as possible, assuming no prior familiarity with any other Crysis games, I recommend reading my review of Crysis Remastered for a better context of the present discussion, especially as I’ll refer to the many ways in which 2 is a clear improvement over its predecessor.
Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City
Crysis 2 Remastered takes place in the year 2023, or three years after the events of its precursor. While that game had you exploring massive sandbox environments situated on a tropical island in the Philippines Sea, the backdrop for Crysis 2 is a ravished, post-apocalyptic, concrete jungle: Manhattan, New York City.
Not only is the metropolis overrun by an alien infestation, but the civilian population is also suffering from the devastating effects of a deadly virus.
They’ve been put under martial law, policed by a private military contractor known as C.E.L.L. (‘Crynet Enforcement and Local Logistics’), which operates as the strong arm of Crynet Systems. Crynet Systems is a tech company in cahoots with the Department of Defense, having created the various ‘Nanosuits’ that you commandeer throughout the Crysis series.
What is a Nanosuit? In short, it’s a highly advanced protective body armor that equips its wearer with superhuman powers, allowing them to wield incredible strength, speed, and more. It gives one a fighting chance against an army of human and not-so-human combatants who may be gunning for their neck.
On this occasion, your neck. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Crysis 2 Remastered begins with a team of U.S. Marines dispatched to Manhattan to locate and retrieve Nathan Gould, a scientist who formerly worked for Crynet and is believed to be in possession of intelligence paramount for gaining an upper hand on the ‘Ceph.’
The Ceph are, to put it simply, a technologically sophisticated race of extraterrestrials who just so happen to be threatening the existence of humankind. You know, those guys.
You step into the role of ‘Alcatraz,’ an unlucky Marine who brushes up against death almost as soon as he is introduced but is spared at the last second by having his body assimilated with the latest and best version of Nanosuit.
Now, as a RoboCop-Esque warrior with prodigious powers and abilities, Alcatraz must continue the hunt for Nathan Gould, pursued by both the relentless Ceph who are overrunning the city and scores of C.E.L.L. mercenaries with an eye on recovering Alcatraz’s Nanosuit for their corporate overlord’s own ambiguous ends.
A Time For Everything
Like I said in my review of Crysis Remastered (it applies here too), the story in Crysis 2 is adequate for what it aims to achieve. It’s all typical fare for what you’d expect from a facile plot about an alien invasion where narrative serves as little more than an excuse to watch things get blown up.
I’m not criticizing that, to be sure, as I’m not above finding such mindless action as enjoyable to consume as the next person, granted it’s done with some artistic finesse. I certainly don’t go into games like Crysis 2 Remastered expecting to be intellectually or emotionally affected to any great extent.
Most folk, so I would imagine (and I include myself), mostly pick up a controller—and this is particularly true, I think, of first-person shooters—not primarily for the depth of their narratives but for the entertainment they offer.
The only thing that really stood out about Crysis 2’s storyline was how minimal the events of the first game directly bore on it.
You’ll want to play Crysis Remastered before Crysis 2 Remastered if you want more context for the events in 2, but it’s by no means required.
Crysis 2 tells a somewhat cohesive narrative that is largely self-contained and easily as digestible, or forgettable, whether or not you’ve taken a prior trip out to the Lingshan Islands, the spot where the Trilogy all began. Before, all too predictably, the alien swarms found their way to the heart of all great monster epics, New York City.
The Return of the Nanosuit
What sets each Crysis apart from other first-person shooters is the Nanosuit, presenting Alcatraz with a variety of unique advantages over his enemies. He can temporarily turn himself invisible, enabling him to sneak past hostiles unnoticed or lunge at an opponent from behind for a stealth kill.
That’s one of the numerous points in which Crysis 2 is vastly superior to its forerunner.
Giving them a good hurl was enough to kill them but it always felt (and looked) a bit awkward, and never rewarding.
The default movement speed is also much better in Crysis 2.
Thankfully, when not sapping the Nanosuit’s energy meter by dint of ‘Speed Mode,’ Crysis 2’s protagonist doesn’t scurry about as if he were cursed with the swiftness of a sloth.
That’s not the only means by which movement in Crysis 2 Remastered is a more fluid and dynamic experience. When scaling walls or rooftops in Manhattan’s decrepit city landscape, Alcatraz is able to grab hold of ledges, pulling himself upward to whatever elevated surface is within reach.
Some other notable Nanosuit functions and accessories that have returned or been modified: You can once again activate ‘Armor Mode’ to reduce damage taken, or switch on the suit’s tactical visor, with a flashy new pair of binoculars that lets Alcatraz highlight targets in his line of sight and glean additional information.
The night-vision goggles from Crysis 1 have been replaced with infrared vision, which works more or less for the same purpose but also drains the Nanosuit of its energy this time around.
As with most of the suit’s operations, you always have to be mindful of energy consumption, lest the nifty gadget runs out of juice and leaves you exposed to the malevolent forces at hand.
Once you obtain these different add-ons, you can select up to four at one time, providing stat boosts and perks to the Nanosuit’s overall functionality.
Although I’d like to have seen this mechanic utilized further, with more customization options (including for weapons), it was nonetheless a pleasant surprise. It added if ever so slightly depth to a gameplay experience that is, for better or worse, otherwise fairly basic.
Welcome to the Concrete Jungle
As rudimentary as Crysis 2 Remastered is for an FPS, its gunplay doing little to really set it apart as anything but a generic shooter, I couldn’t stop myself from repeatedly thinking that as a generic shooter it might be damn near perfect.
It’s not the gunfights that are themselves exceptional or noteworthy—sure, there are some pretty awesome battles—it’s the cinematic beauty and immaculate level design that encompasses them.
Call me a simple man. I’ve seen New York City laid to waste and left in shambles at least a dozen times before in film (or so it seems), and the idea of an FPS centered around urban warfare is likewise nothing new.
Something about running through the streets of a deserted, destroyed Manhattan, going in and out of dilapidated high-rise buildings, journeying through dark, creepy subway and sewage tunnels; watching the chaos unfold around you as alien spacecraft buzz by overheard, toppling distant skyscrapers, a plume of smoke ascending into the horizon.
For whatever the reason may be, I loved nearly every second of it.
Crysis 2 Remastered’s 19 missions are far more linear in their layout. Despite that, from alternative passageways and multileveled structures, areas are yet sufficiently expansive and compact with interesting details, and I always found myself taking the time to thoroughly explore them. In short, Crytek (the game’s German developer, not to be confused with the in-game organization, Crynet) did a fantastic job in their vivid recreation of a major American city in ruins.
To the degree that you can obliterate objects standing in your path, it never affects anything in a significant way such that blasting away walls and entire buildings did in the previous entry.
There is also, sadly, no multiplayer to speak about in these Remastered versions, which is especially unfortunate as many of the maps appear tailor-made for PvP contests.
My Biggest Issue
The one major criticism that I had of Crysis 2 Remastered was its lack of variation in going from one chapter to the next.
As stated, the game contains 19 missions! If this seems like a lot, it feels like it too, and took me somewhere between 12-15 hours to complete, which is at least a few hours longer than Crysis Remastered.
Although you’re always surveying different sections of Manhattan, and these can appear quite dissimilar insofar as predetermined changes in the time of day and alternate lighting effects are concerned; or whether you’re outside in open spaces or walking through dingy, slender corridors.
That’s arguably the one thing keeping me from giving Crysis 2 Remastered a perfect score.
I kept waiting for the game to make use of the many drivable armored vehicles and tanks strewn about town. You can operate them but with Crysis 2’s cityscape being more enclosed and littered with debris, they’re rarely practical outside of two specific driving segments. These were intensely fun but far too brief.
In one instance, for example, the game had me mount the turret of a moving truck, and I thought, ‘Finally! I get to shoot some baddies while my companion takes the wheel!’ Immediately, the mission ended and in the next scene, I was back on my feet, ordered to proceed in exactly the same manner as I had in practically every episode until then. I was, not unexpectedly, extremely let down.
The Bright Side
On the bright side, Crysis 2 Remastered provides a greater range of weaponry with which to tinker, and far more interesting villains, even if these too, could have benefited from more diversity.
There are moments when you’ll snipe a target, only to witness his cohorts, positioned but a few feet away, continue to blissfully gaze off into space, wholly unaware that you’ve just reduced their comrade to a bloodied corpse.
All the same, they’re much smarter, sprinting away to duck behind crates or concrete barriers when they sense your presence nearby. They even have the ability—which you happily now also possess—to lean around corners as they fire recklessly at your invisible silhouette.
There may still be improvements to be had but with A.I., along with most aspects of Crysis 2 Remastered, Crytek seems to have done a complete revamp to results that are leagues beyond the first outing.
Presentation and Performance
There’s not much to say about Crysis 2 Remastered’s presentation and performance other than giving it endless heaps of praise. As in the case of Crysis Remastered, there is some noticeable pop-in and the Nintendo Switch version is likely the worse way to experience the game if your chief concern is graphics.
I was often picking my jaw off the floor, blown away at how stunningly gorgeous everything appears, how smoothly animations perform. Even a matter as small and mundane as Alcatraz’s gun swaying as he moves about really exemplifies the tremendous care and effort that went into developing the game’s aesthetics.
The musical score is no less spectacular and memorable. Legendary film composer Hans Zimmer (The Lion King, Gladiator, most Christopher Nolan flicks, to mention just a handful) contributes a few tunes but the bulk of the soundtrack stems from the mind of Borislav Slavov.
I was captivated by the game’s BGM early on. Thus, it only made sense when I discovered Slavov’s name in the credits afterward. He had previously won me over for his outstanding work on Divinity: Original Sin II.
The only minor hiccup that I encountered was an indispensable item not dropping after I had killed my first Ceph. The bug resolved itself when I restarted my console. Other than that, Crysis 2 Remastered looks, runs, and sounds like the handsome, riveting, apocalyptic extravaganza that it is.
I concluded my review of Crysis Remastered by suggesting that, while it’s a decent shooter, there are better options available on the Nintendo Switch. Look no further than Crysis 2 Remastered.
There were times when I wished it had deviated a bit more from its tried-and-true formula, but as a one-trick pony, it executes its one trick very well. It is also relentlessly pleasing on the eyes and ears, and I can without any stipulations recommend it for those seeking a first-rate FPS experience on their portable console.
Whether you decide to bypass Crysis Remastered and jump straight away into the sequel or grab the Trilogy collection, Crysis 2 is certainly a game you won’t want to miss.
And speaking of the Trilogy, with one decent game and one really good game out of the way, there remains a third addition to the bundle. Having not played Crysis 3 yet, the asking price for all three shooters already feels like incredible value. Can Crysis 3 Remastered take the series to the next step, finally delivering the masterstroke that 2 nearly achieves? I’m hopeful. At any rate, the bar is set high.
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A Nintendo fanboy/Switch enthusiast from Detroit, Michigan currently living in Sapporo, Hokkaido. His favorite games are Witcher III, Breath of the Wild, Dragon Quest XI, and Final Fantasy IX, and he is the creator of ‘Kingdom of Neandria’ on Switch, available via the RPG Maker MV Player app. Follow Nestor on Twitter @KNeandria!