EA’s blockbuster franchise has a third outing.
The Crysis games are known for looking pretty and being filled with alien-blasting action. They are known for the super-power inducing Nano suit and the way the first two games in the series differed with the first being open-world and the second totally linear. What they are not known for is the story.
Which is a real shame because I actually found that the story was quite enjoyable in Crysis 3. Sure, it was stereotypical and lacking in emotional depth, and it is quite possible that I was mesmerised by the gorgeous visuals into thinking that the story was good. But I shall remember it fondly, even if others don’t.
Set some 20 years after Crysis 2, Prophet is convinced that the Alpha Ceph (the big, bad alien) is going to bring about the end of the world. Everyone else seems certain that the Ceph are all but gone and are more concerned with the fact that CELL (the big, bad, evil corporation) are taking over the world through their control of power, which happens to come from Ceph technology. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what’s coming, but Prophet joins up with the rebels (and his “good” friend Psycho) and heads down to the dome-encased, quarantined New York to give CELL a good talking to (where “talking” actually means shooting and blowing up).
And what a sight New York is. Whilst we have likely all seen videos showing the mostly destroyed New York being reclaimed by nature, the first moment in the game (quite early on) when the shutter opens to reveal New York is quite stunning. The complex use of lighting and particles in Crysis 3 really make the game stand out. It is true to say that good graphics do not necessarily make a good game, but the environments in Crysis 3 are so beautiful that on more than one occasion gameplay stopped just so I could show others just how good it looks. The visual mastery doesn’t stop with the environments either, everything else is crafted to an impressive level which, whilst not as incredible as the PC version would be, really pushes the boundaries of what the current home consoles are capable of. I would weep with joy, but Prophet would not approve.
So let’s talk about something that Prophet would approve of – the killing of CELL soldiers, and later Ceph. The wholesale destruction that the player has to bring about has not changed much since the last game. The player still has access to a wide range of different weapons, and the Nano suit still allows for some very cool “super powers”, with the near invisible stealth and highly protective armour modes being the most used in the game. But there are a couple of new additions that make life much more interesting…
The Predator Bow – what a weapon! You have seen the video in which the Nano suit wearing hero takes down the helicopter with a single arrow, without even looking. It is that cool. Using the bow is almost always a one hit kill and, even more important, the player can remain in stealth mode whilst using it, making for some very cool hidden assassin moments. There are different ammo types available too, including some really nice delayed explosive arrows that leave target CELL soldiers running around screaming, trying to remove the attached explosive before it blows up.
Yes, the bow is incredibly powerful. But that power is tempered by the limited amount of ammo that the player will find. It is possible to reclaim basic arrows from the bodies of your targets, but very often the player will find themselves running out (especially if they are not a very good shot) and having to switch to another weapon. Maybe the new Typhoon can bridge the gap between ammo dumps?
It may be largely overshadowed by the Predator Bow, but the Typhoon is still an impressive, and fun, weapon to use. With ten barrels, it is like the worlds most over-the-top shotgun and can happily take out enemies with a single shot. It’s not as cool as the bow, but it’ll do.
There are a few other things that have changed since the last Crysis game, such as the Nano Suit upgrade system which has players finding upgrade kits during the game and then choosing which upgrades they want to use. Crysis 3 is also less linear than the previous game, although not by much. There are some wide-open areas for the player to explore and find the previously mentioned upgrade kits and such, but progression through the game is still funneled to certain points. It certainly feels more open than the previous game, but is still not a patch on the first.
The single player campaign is of a reasonable length at around six hours or so, and shouldn’t present too much of a problem for the average gamer. Experienced Crysis gamers however would likely be better served by ramping up the difficulty from the offset, especially if they fancy themselves a Nano suit wearing Robin Hood. It may be over too quickly for some, but thankfully Crysis 3 comes with more multiplayer than you could shake a dead Ceph at.
Taking the game online for some frantic multiplayer fun will present the player with a wealth of choices. There is the now customary leveling whilst playing multiplayer, which will keep the hardcore gamers busy as they spend their time leveling, and playing against others is not necessarily for the faint-hearted as things happen very quickly and the less able players will find themselves respawning at an alarming rate. However, there are a huge selection of different modes available, so everyone should find something they can enjoy.
There are deathmatches, capture the flag type modes, Nano suit free games, games with maximum damage, all manner of different ways to show your superiority over friends and strangers. Saving the best for last, there is also the new Hunter mode.
It’s quite funny really, because Hunter mode probably contains the least amount of combat, yet it is the most appealing to me. This cat and mouse mode sees two players kitted out in stealthed Nano suits and armed with bows, whilst everyone else gets to be scared little CELL soldiers (which is actually the most fun). The Nano suited hunters then have a time limit to hunt down all of the CELL soldiers, with each of the defeated CELL soldiers respawning as hunters. The CELL soldiers are initially encouraged to work together to defeat the hunters, but it invariably ends up with everyone running away and hiding, hoping to survive until the time limit is reached. It is a brilliant amount of fun trying to stay hidden from an invisible threat.
There is not much to complain about with Crysis 3. The game looks gorgeous, the campaign is engaging and the multiplayer is varied. I would say that the campaign is over too quickly and hasn’t made an astounding leap forward from the previous game in terms of gameplay, and the multiplayer is certainly not for everyone, although the hunter mode should be played by all. Crysis 3 isn’t quite a great game, but that still leaves it very, very good.