Crysis was and still is a phenomenal must have title for the pc, it definitively showed off just how great pc gaming can be with its incredible graphics, gameplay and setting, its only flaw in my mind being that it took an expensive rig to run it (to this day my quad core beast of a machine can't run it on maximum settings without a little lag)I was hooked and a fan from the start, so Crysis 2 was my most anticipated major release for this year by a long shot (with the possible exception of Duke Nukem Forever if it indeed finally comes out)
Now I've just had a 2 hour playthrough so it's possible my first impression isn't a fair one but that's what it is, a first impression. As the title suggests I find it to be underwhelming and even slightly dissapointing. Lets get the good out of the way, the graphics are indeed excellent, however this is where the problem of making the game for the Xbox 360 and PS3 comes in, it's barely customisable which is unheard of for most pc games. In the first you could alter effects, motion blur, texture detail, water detail, you name it. In Crysis 2 all you get is a standard detail setting that's either low, medium, high, very high or extreme. I would've preferred the game had a far more customisable nature so that I could feel like I could get even more detail and performance out of it, as far as I know it doesn't even support direct x11 which is just stupid. It stands it's a little anticlimatic to know that the details I have it set at are literally as high as it'll go. It runs beautifully and looks great, but I feel if Crytek had focused on the pc version instead of the console versions they could've got even more out of it, and make no mistake, they have focused big time on the console versions as made obvious by the opening screen which says adjust your brightness until the image is barely visible on your tv.
Now gameplay wise is where the game completely underwhelms me, in the original cryis I vividly remember standing on top of a huge hill overlooking an enemy settlement, I mapped the entire area out with my binoculars and could approach the base from near enough any direction, I could attack outright from the beach to the left, or try crossing up stream to the right and over the wall, or taking out the petrol station from afar to create a diversion, its Korean jungle setting was wonderful and it made the game vast in scope and a genuine joy to experience. Crysis 2 has none of this so far, in comparison its a corridor shooter that consists of shoot guys in smallish town section, move along, see impressive yet completely uninteractive sequence, shoot guys, move along through linear sewer tunnell, grab tank, drive along road. Its fun don't get me wrong, but again just massively underwhelming when you consider how much fun the original was in comparison, it didn't always need giant sequences, it was so vast in scope and scale that playing it was as much fun as any giant cinematic you saw.
Then we finally come to the story, which frankly I was always a little dissapointed with from the moment the game was announced. The Korean island setting of the original was great, it was like a cross between the suspenseful hidden monster nature of Predator and the badass soldier feel from Halo, it was a classic investigate weird activity on island that goes wrong scenario. Crysis 2 just instead spits on not only the characters and ending from the first by practically ignoring them but changes the setting to a typical alien invasion in an American city setting. I'm not saying it doesn't work, it's pulled off far more convincingly than most other shooters that try it but once again it's just not on par with the superb setting of the first game. Even the aliens are pretty lowsy now, in the first they had this sinister mechanical monster look to them that kinda reminded me of sentinels from The Matrix, in Crysis 2 however so far they look fairly boring and cliched in comparison instead going for the bipedal footsoldier approach. And so far from my initial playthrough I don't really get what's going on as such, yes the aliens have attacked New York but why? who is Gould? why was Prophet helping him? I thought he had gone back to the island in the first? why are Cell bad guys? I can be a little unattentive at times but the story just seems like it's been thrown on as an afterthought to fit these large massively polished sequences together.
On the whole, Crysis 2 isn't a bad game by a long shot. As far as games go it's actually very good and I intend to play through to the end, but the reason I give it 3 out 5 is just that it's not on par with the first at all in my opinion and I my initial dissapointment with this probably won't go away no matter how much I enjoy the game. If you're a pure console gamer with a taste for shoot em ups chances are you'll absolutely love Crysis 2. Pc fanatics like myself though will most likely feel a tad cheated, it's a good game but not great so far. My rating may change in time, but we'll have to see. So far, 3/5.