The Crysis franchise has been an interesting ride for me. I never played the original game when it came out, since my PC would have burst into flames trying to run it. My experience began with the second game, on a console no less, and I rather enjoyed it. Then when the original was released on Xbox Live, I gave it a go and again discovered why the franchise has been so revered. Coming into the third game, I had expectations. Combining the open-world ideas from the original with the structure of the second game could finally be the perfect recipe for the series. Sadly, Crysis 3 easily feels like the weakest in the trilogy and never manages mesh the two styles effectively.
The story of Crysis 3 is a mess. Granted, I could barely follow the plot lines of the first two games with much enthusiasm, the third game takes it to a new level of ridiculousness. Characters are constantly shouting at each other with a sense of impending doom that doesn’t mirror what’s happening on-screen. You play as Prophet this time around, and once again you are discovering things about your nanosuit that you somehow didn’t already know. There is a character that hates the fact that you have a suit, while your partner Psycho returns, envious of your suit, seeing as he lost his, and is now a regular human. There is no central villain, and the nameless opposing forces feel like obstacles more than plot devices. There are some genuinely interesting moments, but the bulk of the narrative simply falls flat under its own weight.
As I mentioned at the start of this review, Crysis 3 feels like the amalgam of the first two games. There are hints of an open-world at times, while the mission structure definitely follows a more linear path than the original. I have never understood what Crytek was trying to accomplish with this series outside of displaying outstanding technology. The campaign for Crysis 3 is criminally short. I say “criminally,” because even before reaching the conclusion of the paltry five to six hour run time, I was ready for it to end.
Prophet has a visor that he can bring up to tag enemies, ammo locations and collectibles. This is extremely useful when surveying an area. It gives you the ability to plan your actions and plot a course. The problem is that this makes all encounters entirely too simple. You can cloak, hide behind enemies and take them out one-by-one with your compound bow (the highlight of this outing). If you manage to run out of energy and your cloak disengages, the enemy AI is so brain-dead, that escaping immediate danger is never an issue. This takes away all the strategy. Simply go in, tag enemies, sneak around and take them out, rinse and repeat.
Upgrades to your nanosuit also return with a loadout sytem. You can discover upgrades in the game, which can then be used to purchase unlocks in one of four sections. You can mix and match to suit your play style and different situations. For example, you can purchase the ability to have your cloak engage faster and longer and combine it with the ability to move faster and regenerate health more quickly. You can save up to three configurations and swap out on-the-fly. I really enjoy the upgrade system as it gives the game some depth and flexibility.
Gun enhancements also return, allowing you to swap sights, barrels and even ammo types for your bow at will. I love the new bow, and wish that it more ammo were available during the campaign. They could have removed every single gun and only given players the bow, and the experience would not have lost a step in the fun department. Having explosive and electric arrows is both fun and engaging. The year of the bow has started off extremely well.
In addition to the campaign, Crysis 3 also brings back the competitive multiplayer. I was a huge fan of Crysis 2’s online portion, so much in fact it is probably my most played online game this generation. Crysis 3 continues the trend of providing a competent experience, while finally coming into its own. The combination of Call of Duty mentality mixed with super powers makes for an unusually entertaining online game. Plus, the folks at Crytek have great map design skills. Combine that with the new Hunter mode, and you have a buffet of options for online play. Crysis is once again front and center as my online game of choice.
While deathmatch and capture modes are still standard, the Hunter type is where this game distinguishes itself. This mode pits two players in nanosuits against an entire squad of CELL agents with their standard gear. The idea is that the nanosuit players must eliminate all of the heavily armed forces, while the soldiers need only survive for the allotted amount of time. Matches become intense and kept me coming back for more. This is THE mode to play if you want to experience the highlight of Crysis’ online offerings.
Crysis 3 is absolutely gorgeous. If there is one bullet point about the game that cannot be denied, it is how good it looks. I played on Xbox 360, while my Drew played on PC. The 360 certainly cannot hold a candle to PC on max settings, but it is far from disappointing. I am shocked at how good it looks on this eight-year-old console. The lighting is simply amazing, and the water effects are stunning. The open world is full of lush details, and very little can convince you otherwise. Crytek did an amazing job porting this to consoles, but there clearly were setbacks. There are glitches here and there, such as textures loading upon entering the game, and some weird clipping, but nothing that diminishes Crysis 3’s standing as one of the best looking console games to date.
Audio is equally impressive, with an epic score that simply brings the world to life. Voice acting is top-tier for the majority of the main characters, and the dynamic audio in game is amazing. Hearing this game through a proper set of headphones or surround system heightens the experience.
Crysis 3 is one of the most technically impressive games I have experienced to date. If you have a PC that can run it, I highly recommend picking it up, if only for showing off your rig. As for the game itself, it lives and dies with the multiplayer for me. I loved the new Hunter mode, and I still enjoy the core online game more than most other shooters. The campaign on the other hand just felt like a mess. The enemy AI is atrocious, and the sheer execution is just boring at times. Despite its brevity, I found myself wanting it to end long before it actually did. This is a shame, as every other aspect is executed so well. I just wish it was easier to recommend for gamers that don’t have an interest in competitive online play.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.