Over two decades after the events of Crysis 2, you assume the role of Prophet as he returns to New York, which is now encapsulated in a giant nanodome created by the corrupt CELL corporation. Think Springfield in The Simpsons Movie but with fewer Spider-Pigs.
Cut off from the outside world, New York has been turned into a jungle, reshaped by mother nature reclaiming what she’d lost before man built over it all. This has led to seven distinct environments within the zone, known as the Seven Wonders. But who built these nanodomes and why? The population of New York was told it was for their protection from the remaining Ceph left behind from the events of the last game but the real reason CELL built them was to aid them in their quest for global domination. And who’s going to stop them? Why, us of course!
Like so many sci-fi games before, it’s nothing too special or original. You’re caught up in the middle of an evil, corrupt corporation and aliens, plus it’s set in New York so that’s some of the most common gaming elements around. But I found the Crysis 3 story to be a little more engaging than most in the genre and thanks to the well realised world (mostly due to the graphics rather than any unique style), it is elevated above most of its peers. If you’re new to the series don’t worry, there’s a catch up video plus the story is self-contained enough to make it an enjoyable ride. If you’re returning to the series, I’d say it’s a satisfying conclusion to the story that we started way back in 2007.
Across the course of the campaign’s seven missions you’re going to experience a varied mix of gameplay styles and environments, such as flying around the flooded bay area or sneaking your way through CELL facilities or swampy apartments.
Your most powerful tool is your suit. With a quick press of LB or RB, you turn on your suit’s armour or invisibility cloak respectively. You can also power it up at times to make you one hell of a supersoldier, able to brush off even the strongest enemies with ease.
Although the suit is the most powerful tool, its most important tactical aspect is your visor. Pressing up on the d-pad allows you to scan your surroundings, highlighting enemies, hackable objects such as turrets, armour upgrades and ammo dumps. Don’t worry about it clouding the enjoyment of the graphics (I’m looking at you Batman: Arkham Asylum) it’s well implement and is the key to your success. It’s best used when perched in a corner, tag everything and then you can move around with the visor off ready to make your move. Effective use of this tool is essential when your looking to take a stroll down stealth avenue.
The visor also allows you to hack various objects around the world. Everything from turrets, mines, special crates, wall panels, and even Ceph technology. It’s very easy to do and thankfully it’s not annoying like it was in BioShock but it’s so easy you wonder why they even added the little “challenge”. Basically you have to press X when a wiggling dot moves into a certain section, then do this several more times. I wished they just let you hold down X for 5-10 seconds to hack objects. Having said that, it’s a highly effective tool and rewards you by turning enemy turrets against their masters, as well as the ability to access special crates which contain powerful weapon and suit upgrades.
Talking of which, the upgrades you get are exactly what you’d imagine such as stronger armour, improved weapon handling and extended cloaking. I found these upgrades a little lackluster as they’re all improvements rather than brand spanking new abilities. That’s what I liked about games such as Deux Ex, the ability to really focus on a particular skill and acquire some new ones. It also allows multiple playthroughs with different techniques, something which isn’t possible in Crysis 3. And that’s what annoyed me the most about this game. I always went into an area with stealth in mind and came out unloading many magazines worth of ammo.
I didn’t actually mind the hive mind setup of the enemy, you’d imaginethat the combination of advanced technology and training means soldiers communicate well. But what did annoy me is the telescopic vision they seemed to possess. I’d carefully stake out a area, creep up to one solider to find myself alerting the whole squad because of some guy in the far opposite corner of the map. I found it frustrating that the time I took to do it stealthily often went out the window after only a few kills, meaning the rest if the time was spent guns blazing. I simply found it impossible to do as much stealth as the game indicates you can. My frustration was exacerbated when a cut scene had Prophet stalking a group of CELL who were densely packed and could sneak around and even take one out without being noticed, something that you can’t do yourself.
Regardless of this issue, when you are managing to be stealthy, it’s very enjoyable. Taking out a few soldiers high up in the buildings with the awesome bow and then hacking a turret to take out the ground troops was enjoyable. And the opposite end of the spectrum, taking on dozens of baddies in a big open area with rockets, machine guns and grenades was also a satisfying experience. I just wish the two types of play could be isolaed more, like Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Maybe I’m being too awkward or harsh, I don’t know. Either way you’re in for an enjoyable, if brief, five hour long shooting experience in Crysis 3.
You can’t deny how gorgeous this game looks. Even the lower quality output of the Xbox 360 gives console gamers a treat for the eyes. There’s no need to bang on to me how it looks “last gen” compared to current PCs, but this game is running on 2005 hardware. Just enjoy what you’ve got. I’m playing this on the Xbox 360 and I’m chuffed. Anyway, thanks to the passage of time, New York now looks like the inside of a Center Parcs resort, with lots of forestry spilling over the architecture. It’s a striking combination of an urban jungle being taken over by an actual jungle and it provided some lovely eye candy. There were moments, such as the first time you see yourself overlooking New York and I thought it just looked incredible. However graphics don’t make for a better game. On paper this is a better looking than many others, say Far Cry 3, but the crucial difference is that Ubsioft’s shooter gave us a brilliant, enveloping experience too. That world was simply more “alive” than this one.
Crysis 3 includes 12 different maps each with their own unique design and environments, ranging from swampy, industrial areas to an airport that’s succumbed to nature. In terms of modes, you’ve got a healthy mix of gametypes, including FPS staples like Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill and Capture the Flag. They’re all good and fun to play but it’s a shame that a sci-fi game with as much graphical grunt as this still has levels based in a rainy night at the docks. Crytek obviously seem keen to focus on grabbing some of the Call of Duty crowd by making Crysis 3’s multiplayer pretty much identical.
You get XP for everything you do, challenges to complete, Crysis’s equivalent of perks and scorestreaks. But being based in the future and playing exactly like Call of Duty, you may as well just play Black Ops 2. There simply doesn’t seem to be any point playing this game’s multiplayer offerings. This point is proven further as I’m writing this section on a rather dreary Sunday afternoon (two days after release) and some modes have only around 50 people playing. It just shows that multiplayer should either be unique from what’s already on the market or you may as well not bother. The only fresh aspect of multiplayer is the pretty cool Hunter mode.
A hunter, armed with bows and infinite stealth energy have to eliminate a dozen or so CELL Operatives that have crash landed in the level. When a solider is killed they turn into a hunter which means by the end of the match, the last man standing is racking up huge points and running (or cowering) for their life from loads of hunters. Obviously this is a direct rip of Halo’s Infection (renamed Flood in Halo 4) game mode but regardless of its originality, this mode is the only one that really takes the unique properties of the campaign to transpose into multiplayer. However it’s not going to be enough to keeping you coming back in the weeks, let alone months, to come. Don’t get me wrong, I had quite a bit of fun playing this and so would most people, but beyond finishing this review I won’t go back to it.
To sum up
If it wasn’t for its great graphics and developed by Crytek, I imagine this would be one of those games that’s perfectly fine but missed off people’s radar. However, as graphics isn’t the most important thing in games, with its short campaign, doesn’t nail down any aspect of its gameplay and a pretty standard multiplayer affair, Crysis 3 to me sets the basic standards of the next generation only, rather than send this generation of FPSs out on a swansong.
Crysis 3 is out now on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.
Version reviewed: Xbox 360