Platforms: X360, PS3, PC
Crysis 2 Sci-fi shooter Crysis was a PC exclusive back in 2007, famed for stretching the platform to
its limits with its class-leading graphics. Indeed, running it with its visual fidelity
maxed out is a challenge for even today's top-of-the-line hardware.
Its sequel releases this week, but this time it's not just for those with pricey PC rigs: both Xbox 360 owners and PS3 fans can now enjoy what's been hailed as one of the most graphically-advanced
video games ever made. If you believe the hype, Crysis 2's optimized engine
will deliver all the bells and whistles of the original game, plus a few
extras, all somehow shoehorned onto a five-year-old, $200 game console rather
than a brand new, $1500 PC.
Big talk, but can the game actually live up to that promise? According to critics, quite
Says Games Radar's Matthew Keast, "We're calling it now: Crysis 2
is possibly the best-looking console game ever. It's not leaps and bounds ahead
of other graphical heavyweights, but it's probably just a bit more polished, a
bit more detailed… and yet running at a very respectable framerate...we didn't
believe it could be done, but now there's no question the tech is a success."
Calling it the "most beautiful" first-person shooter built around an alien invasion, Joystiq's Randy Nelson was just as impressed. Crysis 2 ditches the original game's rather anonymous jungle setting for something entirely more familiar -- the streets of New York City -- and the new environment is a hit.
"Its depiction of a disaster-ravaged New York City is the stuff of Hollywood
blockbusters," says Nelson, "with layer upon layer of impressive visual
effects, animations and large-scale destruction." Even if you've never been to NYC, you'll
recognize plenty of sights, though the game's one-two punch of a killer virus
and an alien invasion may not exactly have left them in prime condition.
Not just a pretty face, Crysis 2's gameplay is coming in for a creditable amount of praise, too -- although it's largely for the game's high-tech, gadget-packed
"nanosuit" the players get to control, and not so much its storyline.
Still, in single-player its smart enemy soldiers put up a good fight, and in
multiplayer, its broad range of Call of Duty-style unlockable content surprised
many reviewers with its depth.
And the verdict? Judging by Metacritic's averages, it's scoring in the high 80s;
that's enough to set it alongside EA's Dead Space 2 as the best-received action
game of the year so far. High praise for any game -- and doubly impressive for
this studio's console debut.
Also Out Now:
The Sims Medieval
If you're fed up with the twee middle-class existence of your Sims, this week's Sims Medieval should offer a foul, unwashed, peasant-breath of fresh air. This standalone game
offers fans the chance to run the lives of Dark Ages knights, wizards, and
monarchs, completing quests, buckling swashes, and generally living the 12th
century equivalent of the good life. Among its most surprising additions is a
Game Over screen -- unlike the regular Sims games, Medieval can actually be
Build-A-Lot: The Elizabethan Era
The economy might be dragging itself to its knees, but you wouldn't know it from the state of modern home prices. So here's your chance to chuck it all in and go back to an
era when a hundred grand was actually worth something: Elizabethan England.
Expect farms to run, workers to hire, towns to improve -- and all the 'thee'ing
and 'thou'ing you can handle.
Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars
Platforms: X360, PS3, Wii, DS, 3DS, PSP, PC
Who doesn't like the Lego Star Wars series? Since its 2005 debut, it's become one of gaming's premier family franchises, and according to the first set of critical reactions
this latest installment could be the best yet. Taking its inspiration from the
hit TV animated show, it's bigger, flashier, and really makes the most of its
critically-acclaimed source material.
Mystery Age: The Dark Priests
Fantasy-themed hidden-object hunter Mystery Age pits you, the daughter of two now-dead shamen, against -- you guessed it -- a sinister cabal of dark priests. Can you save your village? Will you defeat the evil religious gentlemen? With thousands of
items to find, Mystery Age promises to keep you hunting for, ahem, ages.
Playstation Move Heroes
If you invested in a Move setup for your Playstation 3, you might well be eyeing this
character-packed minigame compilation with curiosity. Reading one or two of its
middling-to-poor reviews ought to cure that, however. No matter how much you
might like the thought of a game featuring Sly Cooper, Jax, Daxter, Ratchet and
Clank, it's apparently just not very good.