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Crysis 2: Limited Edition

Score: 96%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: Crytek
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1; 2 - 12 (Online)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Action/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

"There's no way that computer is real." So I said after attending a Crysis 2 presentation at E3 last year. Even though I said it, I didn't completely buy that statement; after all, the original Crysis is one of my favorite first-person shooters, and I'm well aware of how talented the developers at Crytek are. Still, the visuals were mind-blowing enough to make me skeptical; after all, it's a multiplatform title. I'm just going to chalk that up to the PC elitist's stigmatization of the console gaming experience, because the Xbox 360 version of Crysis 2 is a top-of-the-line experience almost the whole way through. If you own an Xbox 360 and are looking for something different in a shooter, this is a game you should own.

No hyperbole here. Crysis 2 is one of the best-looking games in recent memory. There's nothing subjective about that; it is simply a fact. Few games come close to the technical brilliance of this game, and few (if any) surpass it. As a direct result, the scenario presented is made much more terrifying. Crysis 2 takes Manhattan -- one of the world's most populated and thriving metropolitan areas -- and transforms it into no man's land before your very eyes. Because of the superlative visuals, these outlandish situations are made completely plausible. Crysis 2 strives for authenticity almost the whole way through, but even the less realistic elements look fantastic. The Ceph aren't like any aliens you've ever seen; they are essentially cybernetic bipedal jellyfish with pretty radical technology at their disposal, and they move across the urban wasteland with frightening grace and fluidity. It's a nice change of pace from Halo's borderline-goofy Covenant forces and Gears of War's brutish Locust Horde. Nanosuit 2 comes with a few visual delights, as well; engaging the cloaking device never gets old, and activating armor mode borders the screen with a neat-looking network of fibers. The framerate can take a few hits when the action gets heavy, but most of the time it's silky smooth. The load times are also minimal, a very pleasant surprise for a game that looks this good.

There are more audio problems than graphical ones, but they are still extremely few in number. The voice acting is pretty good, but lots of it is recycled too much. Being a huge fan of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, I recognized the voice of Bruce Johnson (Sergeant Redford) several times after I killed the first NPC voiced by him. The voice acting also tends to overlap every now and then, but it doesn't happen often enough to be a real problem. The action sounds great; the Nanosuit 2's many abilities trigger with a series of special audible signatures, and each gun can be identified by sound alone. Topping all this off is a simply sublime soundtrack performed by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra; the collaborative efforts of Borislav Slavov, Tilman Sillescu, and Hans Zimmer. Yes, that Hans Zimmer.


EA has kindly asked us not to disclose too much of Crysis 2's story, so I'll stick to the basics. It's 2023, three years after the events that transpired on the Lingshan Islands. New York City is not the place to be; the mysterious "Manhattan" virus and the invading Cephaloids have claimed the lives of thousands of civilians. Your role is a fresh face in the Crysis universe, a Force Recon Marine operating under the callsign Alcatraz. His unit's mission is to extract a scientist who may know how to fight the aliens. After a complicated series of events unfolds, Alcatraz finds himself being hunted by a private military corporation known as CELL. Why? He's now the wearer of Nanosuit 2, and by extension, the best (and only) hope for the city's survival. The story, written by English sci-fi author Richard K. Morgan, takes its time at first. However, it eventually becomes genuinely interesting and culminates in an ending that gives me a lot of hope for the future of this series.

Crysis 2 is a first-person shooter for gamers who are sick of first-person shooters. More specifically, it's a shooter for gamers who are jaded with the form that the modern FPS has settled into. This isn't a game that takes you by the hand and leads you exactly where it wants you to go. It presents you with a series of gorgeous and diverse urban battlefields and encourages you to rewrite the rules of warfare -- within the game's own limits, of course. The first few hours of Crysis 2 are underwhelming, and frankly, dull. This is unfortunate, because once everything takes off, it becomes one of the most intense and exciting shooting experiences out there. Explosive set-piece battles and satisfying watercooler moments carry the narrative along at a steadily-improving pace, and you'll struggle to find a stopping point until you simply end up finishing the campaign -- which is lengthy, compared to most other shooters.

Crysis 2's multiplayer offering is strong, but I suspect it may only have a niche following in the years to come. There's a total of six twelve-player multiplayer modes, and while none of these modes does anything new, the Nanosuit abilities add some much-needed variety. Instant Action and Team Instant Action are the deathmatch modes; they're also the only modes that you can play out of the box. When you reach Rank 6, Crash Site becomes available; it's essentially Annex from Gears of War. The final three modes are round-based. Capture the Relay and Extraction are essentially Capture the Flag, but Extraction's "flags" boost your Nanosuit's abilities. Finally, Assault is a one-life-only attack and defend mode. These modes are fun, and the action yields a satisfying stream of unlockables. Whether it becomes the shooter crowd's go-to multiplayer experience still has yet to be seen, though.


Crysis 2 doesn't play like most other shooters out there, and as a result, gamers who didn't play Crysis may have to work through a slight learning curve. The superhuman abilities granted by Nanosuit 2 take a little time to master; the Ceph invasion can't be repelled by the kind of skills and tactics emphasized in every single Call of Duty single-player campaign. You must learn to think outside the box if you are to succeed. Once the first hour or two is passed, you'll probably find yourself effortlessly performing the insane stunts showcased in the game's electrifying opening credits scene.

If you go with the default difficulty setting, Crysis 2 might put you six feet under a few times. It shouldn't give you a serious run for your money unless your shooting skills are either rusty or completely green. A word of advice to Crysis newbies: when Nanosuit 2's onboard artificial intelligence offers you tactical advice, pay close attention; it really knows what it's talking about.

Game Mechanics:

Like its predecessor, Crysis 2 is much more than a pretty face. Its gameplay is far from what has come to be known as basic for the first-person shooter genre. This is a shooter that allows you to carve your own path through each warzone, not one that takes you by the hand and leads you in one specific direction. Several fans and critics dubbed the original Crysis a "sandbox shooter," and that's actually not a bad description. However, the experience is still a subtly guided one; it just features level design sharp enough to provide the illusion that you're discovering everything on your own.

There's no talking about Crysis 2 without mentioning Nanosuit 2. Nanosuit 2 doesn't really feature any meaningful gameplay-based upgrades, surprisingly. Maximum Speed and Maximum Strength are no longer usable powers. Alcatraz can't sprint half as fast as Nomad could, and a normal sprint rapidly drains the Nanosuit's energy; I suppose that constitutes a downgrade. However, Alcatraz is capable of superhuman feats; he can kick incredibly heavy objects around and leap well in excess of fifteen feet into the air. These actions deplete your Nanosuit energy, as well. The two main Nanosuit powers you'll be using are Maximum Armor and the Cloak. Every time you approach a new battlefield, you will probably be tempted to silently thin out the herd before they get wise to your tactics. That's what the Cloak is for; it essentially turns you into the Predator. Moving while cloaked drains your energy extremely quickly, and firing your weapon while cloaked drains it completely. Once you're spotted, you'll immediately want to shift to Armor mode, which acts as a damper for sustained damage and uses energy each time you take a hit.

The Nanosuit 2 features an onboard artificial intelligence that gives you objectives, and most importantly, offers tactical support. At most times during gameplay, you can switch to a scanning visor that highlights enemies, supply drops, and other points of interest. Oftentimes, it will highlight major battlefield pressure points in yellow and offer advice with regards to each of them. For example, one of them may read "Avoid," signaling to you that it's an extremely well-fortified position. Another may read "Stealth," hinting that your cloak may come in handy there. It also highlights every usable weapon on the battlefield.

Crysis 2 isn't perfect; enemy artificial intelligence is really spotty at times, and you'll be shaking your head with amazement at some of the tactics they employ. For example, you could be uncloaked and practically begging for a bullet to the head -- yet your enemy seems to look right past you. Other times, they stubbornly cling to their patrol routes, seemingly forgetting what they're being paid to do. I found these problems more numerous when dealing with CELL mercenaries and less of them when dealing with the Ceph, but they are still a bit disappointing.

Right now, you should still be able to get your hands on Crysis 2: Limited Edition. It doesn't cost any more than the normal retail release, and the extras are minimal. It features a bit of bonus multiplayer experience and Day 1 (which is long past) unlockables, as well as a weapon skin and attachment for your SCAR, and a platinum dog tag. Like I said, minimal.

Crysis 2 is one of those games you want to show off to your friends and family. It's got one of the best single-player campaigns in the genre, as well as an enjoyable multiplayer component. It's not perfect, but if you've got a thing for extremely high production values and moments that will have you picking your jaw up off the floor, this is the shooter you've been waiting for.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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