I recently finished Crysis 2. Since I had finished the first Crysis less than two months ago, I had very high expectations for it's sequel, especially after having heard so much about how it was great. I started Crysis in doubt, with my nitpicking and cynical eye. I left feeling awesome, and wanting more. This caused the decision to start Crysis 2 with high expectations, thus making sure I wasn't letting it by just because is was better than I thought it would be. That didn't work though, because it was STILL better than I thought it would be.
Crysis 2 touts good gameplay, spiffy visuals, and clever story. I'm going to start with the story since the point of a game is (supposed to be) to tell a story via player experience.
You start the game on board a submarine full of dudes sent to New York to back up Prophet, the nanosuit team commander from the first game. Things go wrong and the sub ends up sinking due to alien invasion(which is apparently why you were sent to New York). You wash up on shore where Prophet drags your semi-living body into some park and sticks the suit on you. He tells you to finish what he started, that you're the "last hope," and to find some dude named Nathan Guold. Apparently there is some kind of alien epidemic spreading through the city as well, so the city is in ruins for more than one reason. You don't find out that the entire military is after you until you run into it, at which point the game starts.
The story in Crysis 2 is actually a lot better than what we've come to expect from video games these days. I kept mis-predicting the plot based on the usual method of assuming poor pacing and cliche' characters/plot twists. Almost everything was clever and original, as well as being well told and presented. I'm having to really try in order avoid spoilers, but that's a price worth paying.
The game even managed to pull a fast one on me and use an un-original plot twist, but in such a way that I didn't see it coming. I've seen that plot twist at least twice in other stories, and both times I saw it coming. This time, I didn't. The writers of Crysis 2 were a good deal better than the writers that somehow get hired for most games.
Let's talk about the characters a bit. I'm going to name one of them. Tara Strickland. This character, and her contribution to the plot are where the weak spots of the story show through. She was cliche', predictable, boring, and just plain stupid. It was hard for me to observe this character with a straight face. Seeing such a hollow and flat character floating in a sea of deep and interesting characters makes me think the writers did it on purpose for laughs.
The main reason this character borked me was because I knew they could have done better. I saw Tara as an opportunity for an awesome character when she was introduced. It came as a let down when I learned that these writers just threw her in there to meet the minimum requirement for one sassy chick who knows better per game. I have nothing against sassy female characters, even ones who know better than everybody else. It's when that's ALL they are that I roll my eyes.
Whew. Got that rant out of my system. I'd normally go on to gameplay and visuals now, but this post is starting to stretch out. Better make it a two-parter. Stay tuned...