Not too long ago I grabbed a copy of Halo 4 off of a friend of mine. Some weeks or, months before that I picked up a copy of Crysis 2 for roughly less than the cost of a really good pizza. Both are first person shooters, Crysis 2 being multiplatform but since I played them both on the Xbox 360 that's the version of Crysis 2 I'm going to look at. Halo 4 is exclusive to the Xbox 360 although the box art doesn't seem to indicate that exclusivity. Halo is a franchise that I'm fairly familiar with whereas Crysis 2 was the first and only entry of that series which I've played to date and could very well be the only one I do play.
Halo 4 takes place a few years after Halo 3 with Master Chief being awakened by Cortana. The half of Forward Unto Dawn in which the Chief was stored in appears to not only be under attack by a fleet of Covenant which...for some reason...appear to have disregarded the cease fire or, peace treaty that was forged between themselves and humanity. What's more, the Forward Unto Dawn is being drawn uncontrollably onto a machine planet. Crysis 2 takes place...at some point before or during Crysis and at some point before Crysis 3. You play as a marine who should be dead but who was found mostly-dead and put into a suit that functions as a sort of cross between life-support system, armor, invisibility cloak and, mobility enhancer.
Halo 4 spans roughly 8 levels not counting the prologue or conclusion. Each level is lengthy and there is a bit of a shaking up of how they play out too (ie: the climactic "race against the clock in a vehicle" level isn't the final one in this installment). Crysis 2 spans roughly 19 some-what shorter levels with a play-style that is somewhat more limited. While there are a handful of vehicle sections throughout Crysis 2, they are quite few and far between. A majority of Crysis 2 is on-foot shootouts with humans or, armored tentacle aliens. Halo 4 has you going up against machines more so than Covenant forces, these being a variation on the more familiar Sentinels from previous games. As for vehicle sections, none are mandatory (except for the obligatory 'chase level' I mentioned before) but there did seem to be far more opportunities for vehicular fun.
Halo 4 and Crysis 2 share in their underwhelming soundtracks. Not bad by any means but completely underwhelming. It's more to do with the time we're living in: the days of the iconic 'game theme' is long gone after all. In terms of general sound design though, both games are only mostly underwhelming. Halo 4 is the first since Combat Evolved that has a human assault rifle which sounds like it has power behind it. As for the Covenant and, Forerunner weapons, none of them sound or feel all that powerful (save for the Forerunner Shotgun). As for Crysis 2, the human weapons sound satisfying enough when fired. Voice acting for both was fine in my opinion though a bit quiet in some places. For example, in Halo 4 I couldn't tell if the Covenant were speaking English this time around. As for The Ceph in Crysis, I couldn't tell if they were speaking at all or just grunting/gibbering unintelligibly.
"Begging your pardon good sir but I daresay you seem to have deposited several metal slugs into my chest plate."
Atmospherically, Halo 4 and, Crysis 2 share some commonalities. While you start out Crysis 2 in a world full of jerk soldiers, you get to the point where you feel like you're alone against this horrible alien invasion force. Halo 4 is somewhat opposite, you start off feeling alone then you meet up with human buddies then, you end up alone again for the "climactic" ending. Crysis 2 had a wonderful atmosphere overall though in that, when you begin the game New York City feels like a real living city. As time passes relative to the plot NYC gets torn apart, ripped apart until it gets to a point where you can look over to the city from an island level and see just completely open warfare tearing the city apart. Halo 4 on the other hand feels like a few large set-pieces randomly stapled together...I didn't have a good sense of why things were happening the way they were happening. Then again, I've always had some trouble keeping up with Halo plot-lines without going through extra sources of information. If I have to read Ghosts of Onyx to understand why events happened in-game then perhaps I should just save money on the games and invest in the other Halo media available (or that which will be available once the TV show is out).
The answer to that of course is simple: No matter how difficult it may be to follow the plot (other than the broad-strokes), playing Halo 4 was more fun for me. After a while, playing Crysis 2 felt like a chore to me: I much preferred cloaking and running from check-point to check-point. The combat was fine against humans but once The Ceph enter into the game it seems like the weapons you have on hand just don't matter anymore. What makes matters worse is how the weapons used by The Ceph seem to be grafted onto their armor, making it impossible to use the seemingly more powerful alien tech. Sure, in Halo 4 it all looks, feels and, sounds useless but Ceph weaponry really seemed to pack some punch! What's really disheartening about Crysis 2 is how ineffective the weaponry you have seems when you realize it's all you're going to get. The closest thing you get to an alien weapon is a lightning gun that stuns enemies and a microwave rifle that seems to make enemies' heads explode. Ammunition for those weapons are scarce though and there's something really disheartening about enemies who can take multiple shotgun blasts to their alien faces. Sure there are upgrades to be found in Crysis 2 but none really improve your firepower.
Bitch, I eat shotgun shells!
Halo 4 is a bit more generous with ammo so long as you're alright with using the weapons of your enemies. There are of course, weapons stores and supply sights with the weapons of other factions. It's really odd finding a gravity hammer at the end of the game after playing a full game which is completely devoid of Brutes. As for other anomalies this is another Halo title wherein the human pistol is the must-have weapon that can rip through just about anything. The battle-rifle is also quite effective and the Assault-Rifle, while it could easily be just as weak as previous games, feels more effective now than it's been in past titles. It was the plasma weapons that were gimped in this installment of the Halo franchise. Even the carbine felt less effective than it's ever been and it's always been at least on par with the Battle-Rifle.
What really gets my goat about Halo 4 is more or less what ground my gears about Halo Reach. In Halo 4 you not only get to finally pilot a Pelican but you also get to pilot a new vehicle known as the Mantis Mech. I've said this since I've played Halo Reach and I'll say it until it happens: 343 and/or Microsoft absolutely need to make a Halo game which is completely centered around vehicular combat. The most interesting segments of any Halo title to me (and definitely the most entertaining) has been those levels wherein you commandeer a vehicle and go nuts. Halo 4 was more generous than most when it came to vehicles but after piloting that Mantis, all I wanted to do was get into another one. Yet even here it seems like some vehicles have been nerfed! This is the first Halo game in which it felt like the Ghost wasn't worth using from the slow speed to the slow boosting to the embarrassingly weak firepower. I'm not the kind of person who bases how strong a weapon is when compared to The Unmaker or The BFG but when you're on playing on Easy and it takes multiple shots to take out a grunt there's something wrong with your Ghost...or Plasma Pistol...or Plasma Rifle...or Forerunner Rifle...Forerunner Assault Rifle type thing...Forerunner pistol...
Hello again my dearest friend
At the end of the day it all comes down to one major factor. I started playing Crysis 2 shortly after I got it however many months ago and didn't start playing it again until after I beat Halo 4. I started playing Halo 4 when I got it however many weeks ago but didn't beat it until very recently because I had other games to occupy me with. While playing Halo 4, I would go through level after level asking myself, "Do I get to pilot a Mantis again? Can I have another one now? Please? Oh alright, how about another Pelican? Please?". While I played through Crysis 2 however, I kept asking myself "Is it over yet? Is this game over yet? Please tell me it's over now". A lot of reviews I've seen for Crysis 2 compare it to the likes of Half-Life 2 and I can agree in the sense that I also asked myself "wow, is it really not over yet?" while playing Half-Life 2. The difference between Half-Life and, Crysis 2 however is the amount of variety and over-all fun to be had with Half-Life 2. None of the enemies seemed like mind-less ammo-sponges.
Halo 4 wasn't offensive in my opinion. The thing is, the only things it adds just makes me want to play a different variation of what's on display. What I want is not and likely won't ever become available. The only other thing that really makes Halo 4 stand out to me among the rest of the series is how there are no Flood in the game whatsoever; a distinction it shared with Reach! Honestly though I would recommend Reach before I recommend Halo 4. If you've already played and beaten Reach though you've also likely played and beaten 4. If you haven't played either Halo 4 can be found for roughly $30 online and Reach can be found for roughly $20 just about anywhere.
Crysis 2 is definitely the more substantial game in terms of over-all length. The problem with it however is that it's basically the same rigmarole repeated over and over. Yes, there are times when you can enjoy the odd vehicle chase and there is some satisfaction in successfully stealth-ing away from a skirmish while other humans murder alien forces. The problem lies in the firefights themselves. Like I said, fighting against humans is pretty fun and potentially challenging. Once The Ceph come into play though fighting just got downright tedious for me. It wasn't a terrible experience just a very drawn out one. Since Crysis 3 was released the value of Crysis 2 has gone down quite a bit: I got my copy for $10 on clearance but online it's still roughly $15 to $20 if you want it new and as a physical disc. Personally I would recommend Halo 4 over Crysis 2 but all this really achieved for me (other than a couple hundred of points) was a new desire to go back and play Half-Life 2 again...or Bioshock...or Mech Assault...Punisher...
I want you inside of me
As a final sidenote: both of these games have multiplayer. If you want to access it for Halo 4 you need to install a second disc onto your hard drive. If you want to access it for Crysis 2 you need to have access to Xbox Live. I didn't spend any time whatsoever on either I just wanted to point out that the option was there.