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Crysis 2 / Dragon Age II / Yakuza 4



Crysis 2
EA Games (PlayStation 3, PC, Xbox 360)

The “Crysis” franchise is renowned for its visuals, and that certainly rings true with “Crysis 2,” which covers an invasion of New York by squid-like aliens. The vistas of the smoldering city are quite a sight. Although the game looks good on all platforms, the PC version features less visual issues and the best frame rate.

You play as a Marine, and your power suit — carried over from the first game — is what really makes “Crysis 2” fun to play. It can render you invisible,

give you extra armor, let you jump twice as high, and more. Later in the game, you can upgrade it and add attachments to your weapons.

The crazy suit mechanics set this sequel apart from other shooters — a good thing because the overall story is subpar. Often, you’ll wonder who’s who and why you should care.

Multiplayer is supported and features all of the standard game modes you’d expect. This “Crysis” feels similar to other shooters, such as “Call of Duty,” but the power suit gives multiplayer a unique flair. All in all, it’s an excellent package, especially for PC gamers itching for a new shooter. —Andrew Jerman

Dragon Age II
Electronic Arts (PlayStation 3, PC, Xbox 360)

“Dragon Age II” is the next installment of BioWare’s franchise featuring a fantasy world filled with race politics and evil, Darkspawn creatures. You play as Hawke, who is destined to become “the Champion,” with your story told in flashbacks by a comrade.

The game features some very cool watercolor-esque cutscenes — arguably the most interesting part. Everything else suggests “DA2” should have come out several years ago: The character animations are awkward; the dialogue (although well-voiced) is often cringeworthy; and the game feels unpolished.

Nearly the entire story takes place in or around the city of Kirkwall, so you’re not going to see many varied locations. You’ll also be doing a lot of the same things over and over. Many of its quests feel repetitive and irrelevant to the story, while the combat is OK at best.

The fights are nearly button-mashers, but enemies take so long to die that you’ll be mashing those buttons longer than you want. The teammate AI excels at dying if you don’t constantly babysit it. The ending is, of course, drop-off sequel bait.

If you’re not already invested in this franchise, just look away. —AJ

Yakuza 4
Sega (PlayStation 3)

“Yakuza 4” follows the stories of four characters involved in Japan’s criminal underworld. By the end of the narrative, their storylines come together. It’s a clever structure that isn’t often used in games, but breaking up the plot between the foursome also makes it feel disjointed.

If you’ve played “Yakuza 3,” you won’t find much new here.

The series’ core mechanics have hardly changed since the first game. Fights are still handled by pushing one button repetitively until you can press a different one to do a finishing move. Result? It feels pretty much the same to play any of the four characters. Not only that, but the notvery-responsive, button-mashy combat makes this sequel feel like it belongs in a previous generation.

There are tons of side tasks to do in the Japanese setting, but none of them is new to the series: There are clubs and arcades to visit, and locker keys that unlock secret items, all standard to this franchise.

If you can stomach the repetitive combat, “Yakuza 4” provides an interesting and detailed look at modern Japanese culture. But if you want a more involved, concise story, “Yakuza 3” will suit you better. —AJ

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