While some developers advertise their games’ length, mechanics or in-depth plot lines, others choose to make waves through technical prowess. Frankfurt-based Crytek is a great example of this, having chosen to utilize the latter tactic in order to get gamers psyched for Crysis, its created IP, several years ago. Luckily for them, that tactic resulted in panic, part sales and wishful thinkers, as the PC-using community attempted to upgrade before the much talked-about and gorgeous-looking first-person shooter made its way to retailers. Thus began the age of the, “Can it run Crysis?” question.
Although it doesn’t exactly feel like it, approximately six years have passed since the series’ thoroughly discussed debut. Since then, the inaugural title has made its way to consoles via downloadable means and two numbered sequels have been released, along with a PC exclusive side-story. The franchise’s most recent offering happens to be Crysis 3, a game that shot its way onto the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC platforms less than a week ago, and is currently the talk of the graphics-loving crowd.
Like its predecessors, Crysis 3 is more than just a visual triumph. Yes, the game looks great, but it also plays quite well, offering an above-average single player campaign and an assortment of thoroughly entertaining multiplayer modes. You may end up buying it for its looks, but you’ll end up sticking with it for its action-packed and addicting content.
While it feels as if the developers made multiplayer their top priority this time around, their latest campaign certainly isn’t a slouch. There’s quite a bit to like about it, despite its brief five to six-hour-long runtime, meaning that those who only find themselves interested in solo shootouts should still pay attention to this canon sequel.
Taking place a cool twenty-four years after the conclusion of its most recent predecessor, Crysis 3‘s opening segment features a search and rescue operation aboard a tightly guarded vessel. C.E.L.L. has captured Prophet, its Nanosuit-wearing nemesis, choosing to keep him in a sleeping chamber instead of killing him. That decision was (unsurprisingly) a bad one, as the playable protagonist is sprung in the middle of a heavy rainstorm, thanks to a familiar ally named Psycho.
The aforementioned rescue kick starts an interesting plot, which, once again, centres upon New York City. However, this version of the American metropolis isn’t the bustling concrete jungle that you’re used to. Instead, the gigantic city has been transformed into something else, thanks to C.E.L.L. technology. Having been encased in a large bubble dubbed the Liberty Dome, the widespread area has been overtaken by green foliage, and is under heavy armour protection from both turret towers and grunts.
From the start, the plan is clear: Prophet must get inside of the Dome, in order to take down the mysterious power generator that is providing its necessary wattage, all the while helping Psycho find those responsible for ripping he and a large assortment of his comrades out of their Nanosuits. It sounds simple enough, but ends up being more than expected once the series’ alien enemies, the Ceph, make their presence known. Their introduction ends up expanding the plot into interesting territory, providing fans with a thought-provoking storyline and a pulse-pounding conclusion.
Juxtaposing lush, scenic environments with darkened tunnels and interior locations, the brief campaign offers quite a bit of visual variety. Then again, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the series’ latest quest excels in the looks department, although it must be said that its overuse of darkened interiors become a bit ho-hum and repetitive as things progress. What’s actually more notable here is the gameplay, which is predominantly polished and immersive. Sure, the included mechanics aren’t the best on the market, but they’ve been improved since the days of Crysis 2. In fact, this is definitely a tighter and more polished experience, with the trade-off being that it’s also more linear. Don’t worry, though – there are some large areas that you can explore.
For the most part, Crysis 3 plays as you’d expect, employing the same core gameplay design as its predecessor. That means success is dependent on how well you use Prophet’s suit to your advantage, employing its additional armor mode and its cloaking device whenever need be. Of course, both require energy, meaning that they’re only available for finite amounts of time, with varying lengths that are dependent on how much movement energy is being exerted. For that reason, you’ll want to budget according to each situation, and plan attacks before going through with them.
Budgeting one’s energy supply is especially important when it comes to the game’s higher difficulty levels, where enemy bullets pack a decent punch. On those, going in guns-a-blazing will usually lead to a quick death, but using your brain and taking guys out silently should lead to a relatively easy playthrough. Even on supersoldier, its toughest listed challenge, Crysis 3 isn’t overly difficult and doesn’t become too challenging until its conclusion. However, at this point in time, those who complete the game on that difficulty using an Xbox 360 console may not receive credit for doing so. There’s an achievement glitch that seems to only affect the supersoldier completion rewards, and it’s hard to overlook such a glitch now that the system has been out since 2005.
This time around, the digitized difference maker is the hunter bow, which is prominently displayed on the game’s box art. Given to Prophet early on in his quest, its readily available and distinctly unique ammunition changes things up quite a bit. Close to ten regular arrows can be held at one time, and sticking a grunt with a fully strung shot will take him out quickly and quietly. However, some developments require more than just a basic arrow tip, and that’s where the special ammo comes into play. With those three unique options – explosive, electric and bomb-like – players can cause all sorts of damage to any enemy type.
Although the bow became my best friend after a while, it took a bit of time for me to get used to shooting it. A lot of that was due to my choice of supersoldier difficulty, because it doesn’t allow for crosshair use. Without the aiming assistance, I found myself shooting just to the side of foes, but eventually got it down and became a professional bow hunter. Once that occurred, it became my weapon of choice, even though the option to customize my bullet-firing weapons with different attachments was always readily available.
While most of what’s been mentioned has been of a positive nature, there are downsides to Crysis 3‘s single player offering. Its brief length, which will be more of an issue to those who play on easier difficulties, and its repetitive enclosed environments have already been mentioned. On top of those, the game is occasionally affected by some texture pop in, and also suffers from minor technical glitches. The latter list item was predominantly noticeable during mission 2, wherein one cutscene became out of sync, though there were a couple of other audio hiccups along the way.
None of the above-mentioned glitches were ever close to being game breaking, and it (thankfully) seemed as if the audio problems were native to the campaign. In fact, only the pop-in problem reared its head during my time with the game’s multiplayer component, though it was much more noticeable during those occurrences. Still, as with the single player experience, the technical anomalies didn’t affect the entertainment value that the action-packed and thoroughly competitive online arenas provided.
Unlike the majority of today’s gamers, it seems, I’m not a multiplayer aficionado. Sure, I do enjoy playing for a couple of hours here and there, but story-driven content is more appealing to me than Internet-enabled deathmatches – at least, most of the time. I say that because Crysis 3‘s multiplayer hooked me, and I had a hard time prying myself away from it. Even now, I feel like going back to it and putting a few hours into it before doing anything else. That’s saying a lot, considering that I’ve been somewhat bored of player-versus-player modes as of late.
Those who jump online will be able to choose from upwards of ten different, and impressively varied modes, in addition to twelve great-looking and well-designed maps, most of which were taken from the campaign. There are the staples, like Team Deathmatch and the more engaging free-for-all Deathmatch mode, but the real standout is something called Hunter, which is similar to something you’d find in an Alien Versus Predator game. That’s because, instead of being a regular team battle, the scenario pits a couple of cloaked hunters (complete with bows) against a group of humans, in five two-minute-long rounds per match. Therein, one team’s success is dependent on survival, while the other’s is dependent on its members’ ability to stick and turn the opposition.
Through and through, the game’s multiplayer component is a heck of a lot of fun. It’s full of replay value and offers tons of customization options for those who love to mix and match character classes. Additionally, it looks very good in comparison to its narrative focused peer.
Now that its pros and cons have been weighed, I’m happy to report that Crysis 3 is an impressive and very entertaining shooter, which offers lots of content for its sixty-dollar price tag, despite including what is a rather short single player campaign. There are areas where things can certainly improve as the series continues to enhance its mechanics, though what we’re provided with here deserves a lot of commendation.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game, which we were provided with.