The wait for Crytek’s third iteration of the Crysis franchise has finally over, as Crysis 3 landed a few days ago (weeks in some countries). With Crysis 2, many of its fans were left wanting, with many criticisms and disapproval. Crytek, then, has to do something better in this latest title to win back those died-hard fans. In Crysis 3, Prophet finds ‘himself’ at the helm of a tactical battle against the CELL corporation, as well as the alien known as the Alpha Ceph. You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking it’s much the same as its predecessors, so what improvements has Crytek brought to Crysis 3?
The CELL corporation is in control of everything on the planet, leaving many to serve in order to survive day-to-day life. It’s your mission, playing as Prophet, with help from sidekick, Michael ‘Psycho’ Sykes to save the city of New York 25 years after it fell, not only from the likes of the CELL, but also the supposed attack from Ceph, which is played repeatedly in the mind of Prophet. The overall story is a simplistic one, but is made more plausible by factoring in character relationships and little side plots. Although the game revolves quite heavily around Prophet, his previous battles and visions of the future, there’s still an aspect of the game that deals with Psycho’s struggle with life after being stripped of his Nanosuit, and tortured by CELL. There’s plenty of good dialogue, as well as facial animation and voice acting, which provides additional aspects as to how the story is told.
It’s not the biggest leap you’ll find between two titles in a franchise, but something that would have done a lot of good if this was Crysis 2. What’s different about this storyline is the fact that even if you haven’t played any of previous games, you, as the gamer, wouldn’t feel lost. Even better is the fact that a recap of the previous stories has been included as an extra, even before you start running around and shooting things in Crysis 3.
The Crysis titles have always been known for their graphics capabilities and stunning visuals. Crysis 3 is no different, pushing the envelope just that bit further. There are many scenes overlooking the, now, wastelands of New York at sunset, which is riddled with overgrown grass, trees and pools of water. At many points during the game, you find yourself repeating certain sections, which isn’t such a pain when considering the surrounding environment and visuals.
The level of detail is quite something, making something as mundane as grass seem interesting, as you watch it blow in the wind and flattened as you crawl through the tall blades. The mix of jungle and urban buildings are highlighted by the intense lighting, which makes for quite a huge contrast to the first 20 minutes of the game, fighting in dark, metal-based buildings. Although Crysis 3 cannot simply rely on good looks and scenery to make the cut, but the impressive artistic design of the environments can’t be ignored.
Although the fundamental aspects of gameplay still exist between each of the titles in the franchise, Crysis is pleasing in that it at least allows you to approach the battle field how you would want, while keeping to its roots as a tactical action shooter. In each of the challenges presented in the game, the gamer has to choose how they approach the situation. Running head first into battle, taking out all opposition in site seemed to be the only way forward before. Crysis 3 isn’t just a shooter, however, providing scenarios where the gamer is able to use stealth to great effect, sometimes completing a check point without so much as inflicting a single casualty. Although your Nanosuit won’t grant you infinite cloaking capabilities, switching between suit modes for a given task, allows you to sneak through portions of the map before finding a suitable place to hide and recharge, plotting out your next move. This type of style may seem mundane and pointless, but provides a different challenge while yielding different rewards to different types of gamers. If you find yourself between these two frames of mind, there’s still the ability to quietly assassinate your opponent, one at a time, especially by means of Prophet’s bow and arrow. In most cases, starting off as a silent killer would be the more suited option, as backup will inevitably arrive on the scene in their numbers, making it quite difficult to switch back to stealth mode once spotted. This would ultimately trigger the shoot-everything-in-sight mode.
The bow and arrow is a silent, yet powerful weapon, which only lacks in that you can only carry 9 arrows with you at any point in time. Prophet also has a tagging system, which gives him the ability to highlight enemies and items of interest at great distances the environment. This means you can tag fallen enemies and the arrows you’ve used and simply recollect them all. This isn’t the only use for tagging, as you can also find weapons, suit upgrades, or track the movements of enemies as they patrol their respective sections. You can collect suit upgrades throughout the game, while switching modes to a set of four that will be most useful to your current environment. Although there are many different combinations to choose from, most gamers will settle upon a single combination that matches their overall style of play, making the need to collect other upgrades a useless side venture.
Crysis 3 also sees a return of vehicles, which is only negated by its late introduction to the game. At a certain point in the game, Prophet finds himself behind the wheel of rather well armoured buggy, as he races against time to sabotage the anti-aircraft batteries. As is often the case with games dedicated to everything but vehicular transportation, the controls are quite erratic, something similar to GTA III, as you continuously spin out of control. Prophet then finds himself manning the guns of a plane, tasked with shooting down enemy planes as you fly between the buildings of New York. This, too, isn’t the greatest use the gaming engine, as there’s nothing more to it than aim-and-shoot.
What has sparked some heated debates since its release is the games short lifespan, lasting between 5 and 7 hours, depending on how you approached each situation. The lack of an extended campaign is only redeemed by its multiplayer options, which includes two new additions: Spears and Hunter. Spears sees two teams battle against one another to control nodes, which gains points. This multiplayer mode is a mix of deathmatch and team tactics. The Hunter mode sees two players spawn with cloaked Nanosuits with bows and arrows, pitted against a team of CELL troopers. Each CELL trooper chooses between three kits, sniper, assault or close range. When a CELL trooper is killed, they respawn as Hunters, until there’s only a single trooper remaining, almost waiting to be hunted down.
Crysis 3 has its ups and downs, but still delivers more than where Crysis 2 did. There’s a lot more for everyone, especially for those new to the franchise. The ability to choose how the gamer takes on each challenge makes it more appealing to general audience, while the kill-everything-in-site gamer can still do just that. There’s a lack of sustenance to the game, which last less than five hours for experienced gamers, which could be completed in one short afternoon. For those avid gamers, however, there is the multiplayer option, which offers quite a number of intense situations, something that isn’t always translated in the campaign mode.
Although the game is labelled as ‘open world’, maps aren’t quite large enough to suit this bill. Getting lost isn’t something to be concerned about, as finding the next point of interest is straight forward, it’s the how you get there that’s makes it fun. One can only hope that future Crysis titles offer more open world situations, with a less linear path to follow, while moving away from the similarly bases story and move on to something new. In the end, Crysis 3 doesn’t tread new ground, but offers a solid gameplay experience coupled with great visuals along the way.