The Crysis series made its debut back in 2007 and quickly became a technical benchmark for PC shooters. The undeniably gorgeous sci-fi shooter was held back from the masses by stiff system requirements and the plot didn’t impress many critics. However, even with those handicaps, the original PC version of Crysis holds a Metacritic score over 90. Now, five years later and with the release of Crysis 3, developer Crytek has mostly conquered those initial franchise shortcomings. The PC version still requires an elite rig, but the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 releases look pretty good and both consoles support an impressive stereoscopic 3D presentation.
In Crysis 3, Prophet returns as the nanosuit clad soldier, on a quest to rediscover his humanity and expose the source of his disturbing visions. The game returns to New York City, which has been encased in a dome by the Cell Corporation. The corporation has channeled the inner drug dealer in their business dealing by initially providing a new energy source for free until monopoly status could be achieved. Their benevolence was short lived and labor camps were installed to indenture the customers who couldn’t pay. It is in order to upset this balance of power and destroy Cell that leads Psycho to enlist Prophet in the rebellion.
A good part of what makes the story in Crysis 3 work is the relationship between the two soldiers and the other main characters. The original games fell into the standard super-soldier first-person shooter tropes and while Prophet is still super-human, the interactions go a long way to making the experience better. There is still plenty of room for improvement in storytelling though. The length of the campaign has also been trimmed nearly in half from its predecessor. While gamers often complain about the brevity of action games, the ones that have tried to buck the trend are rarely successful and end up with rambling plots.
Crysis 3 isn’t open world, but its medley of environments is much more open than the mainly urban environments of the last game. Still set in and around New York, the game spends the early parts alternating open and tight maps. Prophet encounters both the human Cell forces and the ancient aliens known as the Ceph, which requires him to employ a variety of tactics. Crysis 3 finishes with some dauntingly large battlefields that can be navigated by vehicle, although the role of the silent hunter offers great satisfaction. Crysis 3 doesn’t include as many RPG elements as Far Cry 3, but there is plenty of opportunity to choose your play style.
The controls will be second nature to first-person shooter veterans, with only the stealth and armor modes assigned to the triggers, as variances. The gameplay has been improved in a number of ways since last time, including the addition of the Predator Bow. The bow is usable while cloaked and makes stealth an appealing option. Though limited by your energy store, crouching through entire levels invisibly is possible if you have a good eye for cover. The bow utilizes different arrow types and both the suit and weapons are upgradeable and customizable in an interface that borrows from Mass Effect. As a hybrid, Prophet can use both human and alien weapons.
The developers over at Crytek have also reworked the multiplayer modes in Crysis 3. The game offers 12 maps and eight gameplay modes including the new Hunter mode. Hunter mode is a timed match that pits two cloaked hunters against ten Cell troopers. Killed troopers respawn as hunters are tasked with killing their former comrades before time runs out. The rest of the match types are the typical multiplayer fare of death match and domination modes. It is worth noting that the online graphics are a step below the campaign’s. Players can build up their characters through 50 levels and the maps are well designed. The whole affair isn’t quite as polished as some of their competitors though.
While PC is definitely the platform of choice for the Crysis series, Crysis 3 is well represented in 1080p on the PlayStation 3. Despite being technically amazing, graphical presentation is only a portion of what makes a great game. Crysis 3 makes great strides, but there is still some catching up to do. That is not to say there isn’t fun to be had and the game isn’t worth playing. If you’ve never tried a Crysis game, this is the one to play, particularly since the narrative is sufficiently self-contained. It is probably the closest thing to next gen experience that we’ll get until the end of the year.
Crysis 3 is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood, Strong Language, Violence. This game can also be found on: PC, and Xbox 360.