Crysis 2 should be one of the most popular games on Xbox Live. It has looks, and it has substance. It weaves together three distinct mechanical strands - strength, stealth and speed - so elegantly that a change of approach is never further than a button's touch away.
It teaches you not just to react quickly but to think quickly, tasking players with the second-to-second management of a replenishing energy bar. The maps are large, complex and beautiful, the weapons few but well-balanced and the unlocks impactful, satisfying. Some lingering but hardly insurmountable match-making bugs aside, there's nary a scratch on the game's coiled-steel fašade.
Why, then, has Crytek's glowering robo-shooter dropped off the bottom of Xbox Live usage figures? And is the release of a new map pack enough to save its bacon? Probably not. Pleasant as it is to run amock through four new studies in ruined concrete, scuffed glass and gouged bedrock, we doubt the content injection will rouse this stumbling titan. After all, Crysis 2 has plenty of great maps already.
Like their disc-side brethren, the Retaliation maps are chipped and fissured labyrinths of overlooks, tunnels, blind nooks, threadbare bridges and dangerously exposed platforms, designed to reward (or punish) pretty much any combination of Nanosuit abilities you might devise. The favourite is probably Park Avenue, a big city battleground built round a raised highway - focused enough to accommodate drop-ins, but nurturing many a mildly unhinged free-for-all round the periphery.
Shipyard also turns on an eye-catching tactical feature - a parked cargo liner - but to relatively gimmicky and not always worthwhile effect. When playing Extraction or Capture the Relay, you'll often see objective-carriers diving into the murk beside the hull, lurking stubbornly at the bottom till team-mates chase off pursuit. Cluttered nocturnal map Compound poses perhaps the toughest initial challenge, thanks to heaps of low brush, jumpable security fencing and numerous sewage pipe short cuts. Transit, finally, is a sniper's map, offering scenic views the length and breadth of a tortured central rail line, with an objective drop smack-dab at either end.
At 800 MSP Retaliation won't take as big a bite out of your funds as certain Black Ops bolt-ons, and assuming you can live without the company of Sarah Michelle Gellar, the package is equally meaty. Fans of the game should take the plunge, then. Whether they'll find anyone to play against a month or two from now is another question entirely.
Cybernetically enhanced fun
- Deep, detailed maps
- Reasonably priced
- Shipyard feels gimmicky
- Too little, too late?