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            Crysis 2 is one of very few games that intrigued me so much prior to its launch that I felt compelled to pick it up very near its release. The unique abilities, incredible visuals, semi-open world style, and lengthy single player campaign made the game stand out in genre that is becoming increasingly stale. I was also able to play the multiplayer demo extensively and came away impressed. Did the final product end up meeting my high expectations?

            Whenever I am considering a game for purchase, story tops the list. That being said, Crysis 2’s story was not particularly engaging, however, it was interesting and enjoyable enough to keep me playing until the end. The game begins as you wake up in an abandoned warehouse next to the corpse of Prophet, the previous occupant of the nano-suit (and protagonist of the original Crysis). Shortly thereafter you begin radio contact with a number of agents who may or may not be seeking their own interests and who all believe you to be Prophet. You will be involved in a chess match between scientists, army generals, and the like, but you are never quite sure who is friend and who is foe.

The story is fairly standard alien invasion fare and I found it fairly boring for the most part. Most of the NPCs are bland and I often had to try hard to remember exactly who they were whenever I encountered them. I finished it several months ago but I still cannot recall a single name. The aliens that you encounter along the way are, at times, terrifying, but I didn’t feel a great animosity towards them. I love it when a game makes me absolutely loathe the antagonist, but Crysis 2 failed to deliver on that front.

Take a nice stroll over to Wall St.

While the overall story falls short, the set-pieces are plentiful and really reinvigorate the narrative at key moments. The tank chapter and the night-time, mid-city siege are particularly memorable and they certainly renewed my waning interest in the narrative. The game’s finale was also well done and it left me with a great feeling of anticipation for the inevitable third installation.

            Gameplay-wise, Crysis is, first and foremost, a first-person shooter, but it takes many queues from the RPG and adventure genres. Let’s start with the most important aspect, the shooting mechanics. I found the feel of the weapons similar to that of the Killzone series. You can sense the weight of each weapon and the recoil effects and sound make you feel like a tank on legs. The variety of weapons is also exceptional, and every weapon can be customized with scopes, sights, suppressors, as well as secondary fire options.

            Another aspect that separates Crysis 2 from the standard shooter norm is the semi-open world environments and the choices the player is given to proceed. When you approach one of the many sprawling environments you are often given several options that will appear as yellow arrows that you can set as waypoints. If the situation looks daunting, you may want to flank your enemies or avoid them entirely. If you want to get right into the fray, activate armor mode and go for it. The game does an admiral job of presenting the player with choices that makes use of the abilities you have at your disposal.

           Robot Voice says, "Tactical Options Available."

           This leads to the most unique feature of the game, the fully customizable nano-suit. This synthetic “skin” will allow you to cloak, sprint, jump, slide, and soak up bullets, leaving you feeling like a well-tuned war machine. As you take down aliens from afar or with brutal melee kills (which will provide a greater reward), you will be awarded with alien cells that you can use to upgrade your skills and abilities. These upgrades are actually very similar to augmentations in Deus Ex, and range from increased strength to increased cloaking time. All of these abilities will also deplete your energy reserves, which adds an extra layer of strategy. For example, you can sneak on the outskirts of an enemy encampment Metal Gear style, but when the bullets start to fly you will want to have some reserves saved up for your armor. The nanosuit is a great feature and gives Crysis 2 an identity all its own.

            Multiplayer is also a significant part of Crysis 2’s allure and I had an absolute blast upgrading my character’s skills while battling for supremacy. The online community post-launch was bustling though I imagine that now, post-Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3, joining a game might take a while. Nonetheless, from someone who rarely dabbles in multiplayer, the online component is great for beginners and veterans of first-person shooters alike.

            As far as visuals, Crysis 2 certainly delivers. The Crysis name is known for having the most powerful game engines, especially for the PC, but the console versions certainly hold their own among the best gaming has to offer. The ravaged New York City skyline is expertly crafted and the lighting and particle effects are stunning. The weapons are flashy and the enemies, which from standard foot soldiers to alien mechs, move fluidly and really showcase the animation quality. There are occasional glitches and shadows especially can be wonky at times, but no issue is serious enough to detract from the overall graphical integrity of the game.

I kind of just want to stand here and admire the scenery, but apparently they need my help.

            Crysis 2 is a gorgeous game but with some of the powerhouse first-person shooters of this generation flexing their muscles the Crysis name needed to evolve past aesthetics. Thankfully, Crysis 2 makes its mark with a lengthy campaign, some awesome abilities, and customization options that rival the other heavy hitters on the market. I enjoyed my time with Crysis 2 and if not for a sub-par story and some minor design issues (poor, glitchy enemy AI and some frustrating stealth segments) the game would have stood as one of this generation’s best, regardless of genre. As it stands, it is a must-have for fans of first person shooters and absolutely worth a play-through for everyone else.