A stylish, enjoyable shooter nearly unparalleled in visual quality.
What Crysis 3 Got Right
- + Graphical prowess is almost peerless
- + Combat encounters engaging and satisfying
- + Weapon and suit customisation is great
- + Enemy A.I. dynamic and tactical
What Crysis 3 Got Wrong
- - Narrative slightly disjointed
- - Framerate drops are terrible
- - 5-7 hour single-player campaign
- - No new ideas
A large portion of Crysis 3 favours style over substance. The Crysis series has always been defined by high-end visuals and pushing technical boundaries, and the third entry does just that; it's easily one of the best looking games available on consoles and PC, and is the pinnacle of Crytek's stunning work with CryEngine.
If you look past the pretty stuff, Crysis 3 is a great shooter that chooses to plays everything else safe. That's not necessarily a bad thing; it refines the stock-standard conventions of the FPS genre in such a slick, action-heavy way that is just too cool and enjoyable to miss. Just don't expect anything too different or revolutionary beyond its impressive looks.
The narrative of Crysis was severely disjointed after the events of Crysis 2, and it is clearly evident that the writers of the third entry have attempted, with difficulty, to restructure it into a cohesive story with some personality and a meaningful conclusion. Set in 2047, twenty-so years after the last game, players will take control of Prophet from the first Crysis as he sets out to put a stop to the corrupt C.E.L.L. corporation once and for all, who have taken over the world since the disastrous Ceph attack on New York, while destroying the true alien threat that still remains.
The storyline of the third title is better than the second, but it still plays out all too familiar; the tale of a burdened super-soldier who has sacrificed nearly everything to be the last hope for a city and a world he never interacts with. It's a scenario we’ve all seen before, but admittedly, never accomplished so stylishly.
Where the game does excel story-wise is its characters and their relationships. The focus on the two surviving members of Raptor Team -- two central characters from the first game -- was a good choice, and the game's "human" angle works for the most part, with story cutscenes being surprisingly emotional and gripping for a game about a supersoldier in a suit. The banter and conversations between Prophet and his appropriately named crazy teammate make the firefights all the more enjoyable, enhanced by excellent voice-acting and facial animations that same eerily life-like when zoomed in.
Anyone who approaches Crysis 3 as a standalone game will probably find themselves confused in the tale of world-dominating corporations, dormant aliens and tortured soldiers; it's a five-seven hour story best experienced in sequence and on hard mode, as the interactions between Prophet and Psycho will strike cords with those who remember Raptor Squad from the first, and the firefights will be all the more enjoyable with that extra layer of challenge and playtime.
[Crysis 3] refines the stock-standard conventions of the FPS genre in such a slick, action-heavy way that is just too cool and enjoyable to miss. Just don't expect anything too different or revolutionary beyond its impressive looks."
Retaining your dominion as the predator rather than prey is a never-ending struggle in Crysis 3’s “sandbox” combat sections. Crysis' gameplay is structured around several open environments with numerically superior squads of C.E.L.L. soldiers and relentless alien Ceph alert and ready to snatch your element of surprise or any advantage you hold at any moment. Thankfully, Prophet's nanosuit is equipped with an advanced scanning tool, allowing you to pin point and mark enemies, assets, turrets, objectives on your HUD and hack into systems to wreak havoc, with a threat gauge letting you know of enemy awareness. You are given ample control of how you approach the battle in a way many other shooters don't provide, making you truly feel like a bad-ass in the nanosuit.
Rarely are firefights isolated; if you choose to explore or set out to accomplish secondary objectives, be prepared to face any number of high-powered, dangerous foes who react dynamically to your tactics, from calling out to teammates to flushing you out of your cloak with a barrage of EMP grenades. However, two big let downs are the A.I.'s magical ability to somehow possess a sixth sense to your location without actually looking your way, and the tendency for the Ceph to spam wide-range explosives at a ridiculous rate; little inconsistencies like these slightly ruin the immersion of the otherwise engaging combat gameplay.
Of course, so long as you use the superior tech you possess properly, you'll always have the upper-hand. Prophet's Nanosuit 2.0 makes stealth even more enjoyable and effective this time around; stalking and knifing enemies without even alerting them and pinning soldiers to walls with your Compound Bow, a retractable weapon with various deadly modifications, never gets old, and suits the jungle, crumbling urban environment you fight within. Using the armour's shielding systems is almost always necessary if you instead choose to jump into firefights head on with heavier equipment such as the Typhoon, the game's equivalent of a BFG (Big F'ing Gun), except this one can expend 500 bullets in a few seconds.
A great aspect of Crysis 3 is the customisation interface. Several nanosuit upgrades and weapon modifications are available throughout the game to let you customise your playstyle and give Prophet distinct advantages: if you favour a stealth approach, you can upgrade your suit's energy recharge to cloak faster, but if you want to tank it, there are more straight-forward options to solidify your armour systems. All of this is seamlessly accomplished without menu screens with the press of a button, making changing your scope or upgrading your cloaking easy and on-the-fly.
Taking the fight online is worth a look. The multiplayer component isn't overly different to the standard loadout/perks/team deathmatch pattern, but modes such as "Hunters", which emphasises nanosuit soldiers versus those without such advantages, shake up the formula and are a blast to play. I didn't have the full multiplayer experience due to a lack of people online when I played, but a solid ranking and combat system combined with 12 visually distinct multiplayer maps will surely pull a substantial online community.
The presentation and world realised by CryEngine 3 is stunning and extremely polished. The devastated city of New York battered by continued mass conflict is a great setting, and the 20 year gap between Crysis 2 and 3 has seen nature engulf the once mighty concrete jungle, creating a gorgeous juxtaposition and crafting a prime hunting ground for Prophet. Blending in the swaying grass and hunting wild deer with your bow is awesome, and fighting in the ruins of what was once Chinatown adds to the realisation that this is a desperate last stand when there is already so much lost.
Playing the consoles versions of Crysis 3 will heavily influence your experience. Playing the PS3 version, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well it ran on a console with architecture over six years old, but the shocky framerate was an added compromise that nearly cripples the visual superiority of Crysis 3; during firefights or cutscenes, framerates dipped between 15 and 30fps significantly, which made me fairly dizzy and annoyed when playing through some of the more demanding firefights. I have no doubt the PC version would be the best platform to choose if you have the option and want to see the best the game can do from a technical perspective.
The Final Verdict
Crysis 3 is a pretty and polished FPS package that does a commendable job of providing over-the-top action and engaging firefights that players can choose to tackle in multiple ways thanks to the suit and weapon customisation systems. While the story and gameplay don't attempt anything new, Crytek added some great character personalities, refined the franchise's great stealth gameplay and sandbox combat approach while making sure their third title remains an undisputed champion in visual prowess.
By Nathan Misa