Manhattan is under new management. They’re not from around here.”
Welcome to the Big Apple, son. Welcome to the city that never sleeps: invaded by monstrous fusions of meat and machinery, defended by a private army that makes Blackwater look like the Red Cross, ravaged by a disfiguring plague that gifts its victims with religious rapture while it eats them alive. You’ve been thrown into this meat grinder without warning, without preparation, without a clue.??Your whole squad was mowed down the moment they stepped onto the battlefield. And the chorus of voices whispering in your head keeps saying that all of this is on you: that you and you alone might be able to turn the whole thing around if you only knew what the hell was going on.
You’d like to help. Really you would. But it’s not just the aliens that are gunning for you. Your own kind hunts you as a traitor, and your job might be a bit easier if you didn’t have the sneaking suspicion they could be right…”
I picked this book up not having played the current or previous Crysis games and was a little worried that I wouldn’t ‘get it’. Thankfully for us newbies, Hugo Award-winning author Peter Watts has managed to capture the essence of the game rather well.
Crysis 2 has a story based around ‘Alcatraz’ a United States Force Recon Marine, who after having his ship and squad destroyed by an alien race finds himself bonded with some very powerful and technologically advanced armor – the Nanosuit 2.0. This sets the scene for a fight between you and an alien race known as the Ceph, a species hell-bent on wiping out humanity and terraforming the planet for their own nefarious needs.
Set in 2033 in New York City, you discover much more than just an alien invasion. As you wander the destroyed streets of New York City you soon discover that it has turned into a warzone. People wander the streets infected by the Alien Contagen and more bodies that you care to count lie scattered in the streets. As the story continues it’s not just the Ceph you need to avoid, unfortunately a corporate army want the powerful Nanosuit 2.0 back.
The novel is written in the first person. Alcatraz talks his way through the adventure strapped to one of the most powerful weapons known to man. Alcatraz converses with the suit and its various gadgets frequently, making the suit itself feel like a character. Although interesting, this causes a problem in that you never really get the chance to feel attached to any of the other characters. Alcatraz might as well have been sitting in a bed re-telling his war stories.
The book is very similar to a game in the way it tells its story. Alcatraz is given missions, which once completed usually leads on to another mission, pretty much just like in any first person shooter you’ve played.
Peter Watts has managed to effectively describe a war-torn New York and a terrifying alien race. Despite the book not provoking empathy with other characters, the voice, personality and back-story of Alcatraz himself are padded out very well indeed. The fear of being stranded in a warzone and the confusion and sense of discovery from being forced into the Nanosuit 2.0 comes through loud and clear.
If you have played Crysis 2, reading this book will give you the same feeling you would get if were to read a novel based on your favourite film. It plays out like a step-by-step reenactment of the game. If you haven’t played Crysis 2 all is not lost, Peter Watts has managed to tell a story that’s easy to follow. Thanks to some handy subtle hints at Alcatraz’s back-story throughout the book readers are quickly brought up to speed, making this book a decent stand-alone title.
Anyone expecting a different angle on Crysis’ story will be disappointed, this is a straight retelling of the game. If you’re not expecting to find out any more about the Crysis universe but are craving more Crysis, this will keep you happy.