Release Date: 3/22/2011
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The Good: Gorgeous visuals, great cinematic moments, lots of weapons to shoot, streamlined suit powers, fun multiplayer
The Bad: Low enemy variety, upgrading suit powers is a little underwhelming, story isn’t very good and is confusing, you need a monster/top of line rig to get the best visual experience
Being a regular human in a shooter has been done hundreds of times, but being a true one man army with technology built into your nano-suit is something that hasn’t really been done before. Meet Alcatraz. The poor dying soldier/nobody who Prophet chose to stick his suit on and kill himself. Now you are thrown into the war that you wanted nothing to do with and are the key to helping stop the invasion on Manhattan.
A lot that you remember from the first game is different now thanks to the game being streamlined for consoles. You no longer have a power wheel and two of them have been taken away and put into the other two. You get to switch between armor mode and stealth mode. You can use your super power moves in armor modes such as powerful kicks and punches as well as absorbing long falls. Stealth mode allows you to cloak and sneak up on enemies or just go right on the past without being detected. Both of these are key to staying alive and you will be switching constantly.
Another thing that has changed was that lush jungle you got to roam around in freely. You are now stuck in a concrete world and the game is more linear this time around. That’s not all bad because you still get to choose your approach to firefights and some areas are massive. Using your tactical visor the game will give you options to approach the battle such as certain weapons, high perches for sniping, or complete paths to totally avoid all enemies. This still gives you the sense of battle control like in the first game without making it feel like a Halo/Call of Duty hallway clone.
You have two enemies in the game: Ceph aliens and the CELL army trying to capture and use your technology for their own good. The story isn’t exactly the most cohesive thing we’ve seen as wasn’t the first game either. The story is kind of confusing and you never really know what’s going on between all the characters, and it doesn’t get really good until the last couple of missions. The middle of the game is a lot of back and forth between Hargreave and Gould who are two scientists with completely different views. The CELL enemies are just like regular humans, but later on, the game throws countless Ceph at you and they have different types of Ceph that come after you from grunts to huge walking tanks. Of course, this makes the game feel very repetitious due to the low enemy type and the game doesn’t really look different from area to area except for different levels of destruction.
There is a little more to it than just shooting everything in sight. You can upgrade your powers this time around by collecting nano catalysts from dead Ceph, and the stronger the Ceph the more you will get. Press the upgrade button and Alcatraz’s hand will be displayed with five different areas of upgrades on his fingers. A few examples are bullet tracers, longer stealth mode, and the ability to see cloaked enemies. While it does change the game play a bit it doesn’t do a lot to truly enhance the experience. Not to mention the fact that you have to watch your energy meter when using power because it runs out in a matter of seconds. Using your night vision plus stealth while running will run it down in less than 10 seconds so you never truly feel powerful or get the ability to upgrade your energy meter.
Of course, you can still customize your weapons with different sights, silencers, and other attachments, but I wish we could use every attachment for every gun instead of each gun getting its special options. There are some new guns however and there are plenty, but they are fun to shoot so don’t think that the weapon selection is weak at all. There are some other things thrown in like a few turret sections, and some quick time events are thrown into the cinematic parts of the game which are thrilling and very fun, but they are too short and too far apart from each other. The linearity of the game allows this type of cinematic control and it’s welcomed, but I would have liked to see more of it.
You’re probably wondering about the graphics. Since this is streamlined for consoles do we get DirectX 11? Do we get higher resolution textures and extra graphic options? When the game launched it was no. We got exactly what the consoles got, but a few months later the DirectX 11 patch was released as well as a high-resolution texture pack. With this, the game looks phenomenal and probably the best-looking shooter to date. Of course, you need a monster rig to the run the game with these settings enabled. Even my rig dropped in the single digits during certain scenes, but man is it gorgeous to look at. The game also supports 3D so if you have the GPU then enable it because it does enhance the experience a lot.
Overall there are a few bugs that can some times hinder the game, and it also is very long for an FPS running about 10-12 hours. The multiplayer is also very addictive and fun for a while with perks upgrades and there is a good variety of maps available. I had a lot of fun since using the suit powers kind of makes playing an FPS different online. However, it still doesn’t have that addictive quality of Call of Duty or Halo to keep you playing for months or years after release. So, with an underwhelming story, and low enemy variety just stomach the repetition for a while and you’ll be treated to one gorgeous and fun shooter.