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Just beat Crysis 2! Mini-review.

Just wanted to share my thoughts on... CRRYYYYSIS 2! Crysis 2.

SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers exist in this post. But c'mon - this ain't no BioShock so who really cares? Anyway...

When the finally cut-scene rolled and I realized that I had beat the game, three thoughts popped into my head: 1) Wait, it's over? Oh, well 2) I'm glad it's over, cuz things were getting a little dull, but 3) I'm really looking forward to see what Crytek is gonna do with Crysis 3! So let's break down these three emotions of mine.

In terms of plot and pacing, C2 is pretty clumsy. The story is delivered in a confusing way that doesn't really get the point across, leaving you constantly feeling like you missed something. There are some really powerful moments, but overall there is little cohesion to be found here. It's like a Parkinson's patient trying to hammer down a nail - it hits it every once in a while, but it's frustratingly inconsistent. Some of the writing is also pretty cliche, and some of the voice acting is guaranteed to leave you face palming and groaning. I still don't really understand Hargreave's role in the plot...but whatever. And as for the ending? Well, the game does stop having levels...so I guess there was an ending.

But there are some moments of greatness here and there. For example, the levels where you fight with the marines (as opposed to against) were exceptionally memorable. The atmosphere was thick with desperation, and everything from the music to the graphics (the rain effects were awesome!) to the radio chatter to - most importantly - the game play was working together in a beautiful interactive symphony. The point was well made: NYC is being invaded by aliens, and you seem to be the only guy that has any chance against them. The incidental dialogue from the other Marines really made you feel like a humble badass and the city's last hope. Bravo, Crytek, for orchestrating a brilliant experience in those few levels.

Another reason why those levels really worked is the successful integration of plot and game play. The plot tells you that you are a bad ass, because with the nanosuit you are able to take down the aliens much more effectively than the normal army. The game play tells you exactly the same thing - you are indeed a bad ass with the ability to jump, cloak, and tank your way through. I don't recall a single moment where your badass-ness was proven via a cut scene or quasi-cut scene (quick timer events, so-called "interactive cut scenes", etc.). This marriage of narrative and core mechanics feels great, and C2 did a great job. Kudos, again!

As you will have guessed, I enjoyed the nanosuit's powers quite a bit. After I learned to embrace it, I got into a pretty good rhythm of cloaking, then armoring, and then cloaking again. As a result, the combat feels fairly different from most modern shooters that mostly rely on cover. The ability to jump high was also very liberating. Most FPS's don't let jump over anything higher than a dinner table, but in Crysis 2, you can leap on to most ledges, jump on top of small buildings, and engage in some parkour-like behavior. It all feels very fluid and powerful, and I hope other games learn from it.

But solid game play that's even a little innovative can still get dull if it's dragged out for too long. I wouldn't say I was ever bored, but during the last level, that dreaded feeling of "this again?" started creeping up. The game rarely changes up the formula of the battles: there's a large space with bad guys, and you need to get through to the other side. This is not a bad formula, and it results in some pretty fun fire fights, but you can only rely on it for so long, especially when the enemy variety is low. The cloaking also gets a little over-powered, as you can literally just sneak by most levels without firing a single shot. And I don't mean that in a good "multiple solutions! AWESOME!" kinda way. I mean that in a "this feels like cheating" kind of way. I found myself doing that when I just couldn't be bothered with another cookie-cutter fight. Perhaps this was intended?

So I'm glad that it ended when it did, but I'm really looking forward to what Crytek has in store for the next game. They've built a strong foundation with fantastic technology and great core mechanics. With Crysis 3, I hope they will push the design even more and really put the player in some creative combat situations to fully exploit the suit's capabilities. Better voice acting wouldn't hurt either.

Bottom line: It ain't perfect, but if you like shooters, this one rides with the best of them.
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About stevesanone of us since 11:25 PM on 02.22.2008