Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Reviewed by: Bracken Lee-Rudolph
The Crysis series has always been a notorious leader in terms of high technical performance, with the first iteration notably requiring specifications which were too high for most PC gamers to be able to run it on its highest settings on release. The second title was widely criticised for being limited due to inferior console hardware, but still pulled off some impressive environments and characters. With the third title’s release, a lot will be expected of it in terms of graphical and gameplay performance, in addition to the other expectations placed upon modern videogames, particularly the campaign, which has somewhat lacked in the prequels. So will Crysis 3 build on the impressive foundations laid by it’s predecessors, or crumble like the ailing remnants of its version of New York City? Let’s find out:
Crysis 3 starts in the year 2047, 24 years after the events of Crysis 2, as Michael Sykes, AKA Psycho, the protagonist of Crysis: Warhead and a former member of Prophet’s (the title’s protagonist) Raptor Squad, frees Prophet from an EMP-generating prison in order to help fight the CELL Corporation in the Liberty Dome, a massive dome covering the remnants of New York City and giving it a unique tropical ecosystem. Prophet, however, is obsessed with the now very rare Xenoceph race, a species of alien which attacked Earth after having been dormant in several locations for many years. He particularly wishes to find the Alpha Ceph, who he believes if left alive will bring about the end of mankind and the world.
In comparison to the previous titles, the storyline is a definite step up, as it follows Prophet and Psycho more personally, as Prophet, who was assimilated with Crysis 2 protagonist, Alcatraz, and is now part-man, part-machine and part-Ceph DNA struggles with his fading humanity and morality, while Psycho, whose nanosuit was surgically and painfully removed by CELL, struggles to regain his sense of purpose and come to terms with his frailer form, whilst seeking revenge. This leads to a far stronger emotional connection to the characters and adds far more relevance to particular plot points. This, for me, is what Crysis 2 lacked, and what Crysis 3 has fixed in its 12-15 hour campaign.
The title plays similarly to its predecessor; you have your suit, with its strength, stealth, nanovision (heat vision) and visor powers which can be used to the limits of the nanosuit’s energy capacity, and you can carry 2 guns and an explosive weapon. Your weapons can be customised on the go, and you can switch out sights, barrel attachments, underbarrel attachments and ammo types with the press of a button. Crysis 3 also introduces a compound bow, which never leaves your inventory and can be used in Stealth mode with nearly no Energy penalties. It also comes with 4 different types of arrows, namely Impact, Thermite, Electric and Smart Grenade arrows and the draw of the bow can be altered to either draw faster but do less damage or draw further and do far more damage but take longer to get arrows off.
The suit upgrading system has been somewhat overhauled, allowing you to pick up upgrade kits and choose 4 upgrades at a time, assigning them to a slot. There are 3 savable slots, which can be also be customised at the press of a button. The control scheme plays a big part in making Crysis 3 a very streamlined experience, as most actions can be achieved in the touch of one or two buttons, allowing most of Prophet’s actions to be performed in real time and making the player, quite literally, the ultimate super-soldier. The only exception to the otherwise fantastic control scheme is the brief vehicular sections, which, while adding some serious firepower, feel obtrusively clunky and unmanageable.
The AI swings on both sides of the intelligence scale, as sometimes enemies see you from impossible distances and stalk you excellently, but on other times they won’t see you standing directly in front of them or will walk into walls and other obvious obstacles such as cars and rocks. However, the AI serves perfectly in creating prey for the hunter who is Prophet, as the great level design will allow you several ways to approach unsuspecting CELL or Ceph soldiers by making full use of the suit’s abilities to traverse the environment, sneak past or stalk enemies, create distractions and set traps, or, alternatively, armour yourself against damage and go into the fight all guns blazing. The title also allows the player to pick up and temporarily use Ceph weaponry, since Prophet’s DNA alterations mean that he can interface with Ceph technology, for a boost of increased firepower. Another new addition is the ability to supercharge your suit for a brief period of time off of a Ceph power source, meaning that suit abilities will not drain energy, Ceph weaponry will not deplete ammunition and the attacks from them will do far more damage. This allows the player to further vary their tactics and approach to levels.
Crytek’s CEO, Cevat Yerli claimed that Crysis 3’s graphics would “melt down PCs”. Although I did not have the privilege of testing the validity of that statement, even on console, Crysis 3 looks amazing. From the dilapidated remnants of New York City, to the tropical pseudo-jungles that fill the streets, the environments are breathtaking and I often found myself stopping, just to have a look around at the wonderful playground that Crytek have created. The character models, are wonderfully built and I was enthralled by the intricately detailed facial animations, particularly Michael “Psycho” Sykes’s, who you have many face to face conversations with throughout the course of the campaign. Added effects such as motion blur, realistically flowing water and environment-affecting wind effects add the polish on one of the finest visual experiences available in gaming to this day.
The sound is an oft-ignored blessing of the Crysis series, but is most certainly one of the finer points of this title. The voice acting is superb, and Prophet, Psycho and the other supporting characters sound incredible, as their conversations sound organic and the voice actors portrayed the emotions of their characters excellently; the only downfall is the repetitive taunts that the CELL Soldiers insist on shouting when Prophet has disappeared from view. The sound effects are also very well done, guns make booming gunshots and resounding echoes and footsteps pound on different surfaces convincingly. The soundtrack is often purely in the background, but always seems to reinforce the atmosphere.
Crysis 3’s multiplayer places the player against a number of different players in nanosuits, complete with the full array of powers. This adds a twist to traditional game modes like Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch as players can cloak themselves, activate armour to increase their damage resistance, power jump to reach otherwise inaccessible ledges and use nanovision to identify their targets. While there are a number of game modes, most have very few players playing them and for the most part Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch (Free-For-All) and Hunter (Infected mod-style game mode) are the game modes in which a player is likely to find a match. However, the matchmaking is rather poor and players get disconnected often, causing a good deal of host migrations and server disconnections. This is disappointing, as the title’s multiplayer has a lot of potential, especially given the random appearance of Ceph technology, such as operable Ceph vehicles and weapons, and is definitely something I would love to see patched.
At the moment, the title has very little lasting appeal as the campaign, while allowing you to approach situations in a variety of different ways for 12-15 hours, is very linear and offers very little in the way of replayability, other than collectable intel pieces and harder difficulty settings. Unfortunately, the multiplayer matchmaking and stability at this point is too poor to offer any long term distraction from the first-person shooter genre’s multiplayer heavyweights.
I had no expectations for Crysis 3, because the the second title both frustrated and bored me, as it seemed to go nowhere. However, Crysis 3 retained my interest with a fantastically voiced and animated singleplayer campaign which is both very well written and surprisingly emotionally charged. The gameplay retains a large amount of the second title’s trait, including the seamless control scheme, but adds an overhauled upgrade system and some truly wonderful level design which allows you to make full use of the nanosuit’s abilities. Some inconsistent AI and repetitive enemy insults can take away from the title, but otherwise the gameplay is varied and entertaining. If anything, the multiplayer is my biggest gripe with Crysis 3, as some poor matchmaking prevents it from being one of the most innovative and interesting multiplayer experiences in gaming by causing constant host migrations and server disconnections. However, Crytek can certainly be proud of the world and story they have created inside the Liberty Dome, as it creates a fitting end to Prophet’s chapter in the Crysis series and will almost certainly be one of this year’s best and best looking titles.
Lasting Appeal: 7/10
Reviewed predominately on the Xbox 360.