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Crysis 3: Urban Jungle Warfare

Company: EA Games

The de facto king of the sandbox shooter is back! Crysis 3 will be on store shelves in a couple of weeks. Soon, we'll be reunited with our old friend Prophet (Alcatraz?) and get the chance to blast some Ceph with style. I've been lucky enough to participate in the beta for the game's multiplayer component, and I don't think it should come to anyone's surprise that the fine folks at Crytek look set to impress yet again with this sci-fi shooter sequel.

Picking up twenty-four years after Crysis 2 left off, Prophet returns to New York City to find that it has been irrevocably changed by the series' mainstay villain faction, the PMC known as C.E.L.L. New York City is now the New York City Liberty Dome, an enclosed structure that houses the remnants of the city, which is now more of an actual jungle than the world's largest urban sprawl. C.E.L.L.'s motives here are (shocker) less than altruistic, and Prophet sets off to do what he does best: kick ass.

But enough about Crysis 3's story -- I'll save that for the full review next month. The Crysis 3 multiplayer beta gives participants two game modes and two maps to try out. All the maps and all the modes play off of the main strengths of the Crysis series. They emphasize sound team tactics, creative use of Nanosuit abilities, and good old fashioned twitch reflexes.

Crash Site, the King of the Hill with a Crysis twist, returns. Teams of supersoldiers must scramble to capture and then defend the crash sites of alien landing pods. A quick trigger finger is often no replacement for fast strategic thinking in this mode. For example, I once approached the crash site from above. I came upon four enemy players, all of whom were clustered around the pod. From there, it was a matter of jumping into the air and holding a button to perform a devastating Air Stomp. The resulting shockwave killed all four of them. It's this kind of thinking that sets Crysis apart from other shooters.

Hunter Mode is a new addition, and it reminds me of my favorite variant from Aliens vs. Predator 2, one of my favorite shooters of all time. In Hunter, two players spawn as Nanosuit-equipped Hunters with incredibly lethal Predator bows, while the rest spawn as C.E.L.L. troopers. The Hunter's job is to, you guessed it: hunt the soldiers down. Troopers who are killed by the Hunter respawn as Hunters. And so it goes until the last soldier is taken out, unless he/she manages to survive and escape. It's an intense experience no matter which side you're playing on. It's empowering for the Hunters and borderline frightening for the soldiers.

One feature I've always loved about Crysis's multiplayer returns for Crysis 3: post-game highlights. Sorry, Call of Duty, but I'm not interested to see the final kill of the game -- I want to see the awesome sh*t I did throughout the game. During one game of Crash Site, I ripped the door off of one of the pods and hurled it Frisbee-style at an enemy's head. It was hysterical, but if it was any other shooter, it would have been gone forever.

The powers of the Nanosuit 2 are seemingly identical in functionality to those in Crysis 2, but if the multiplayer beta is any indication, the efficiency has been greatly increased. Armor Mode does not drain your suit's energy until you start taking fire, whereas in Crysis and Crysis 2, it starts draining the moment you activate it. Everything else works as well as it ever has -- you can still jump super high, run super fast, and cloak yourself when the situation demands it.

Remember the giant Ceph walker robots from Crysis 2? Like the one that you had to fight in Grand Central Station, among a few other places in the overrun New York City? Well, in Crysis 3, you'll get the chance to operate them! These beastly creations are incredibly tough and powerful, but they aren't very fast. If you're not careful, you might get hijacked by another player.

Crysis 3 is looking good. Okay, understatement of the century, sure, but the point remains valid. The altered setting, interesting storyline, and engaging multiplayer action look like they will deliver a sci-fi shooting fix to anyone who wants something different from (and far more gorgeous than) Halo 4. If you pre-order the Hunter Edition, you'll get a free downloadable copy of the original Crysis -- a hell of a bonus if I may say so myself. Crysis 3 hits North America on February 19. Suit up and check your gear; we'll be back with a full review when it hits.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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