Crysis 3 was reviewed on the PC. A retail version was used. It was released on PC, Xbox360 and PS3 on February 22nd.
A thing of beauty is a joy forever, or so John Keats said. In some cases, I would heartily agree, but Crysis 3 proves one thing for sure; this is not an absolute.
It has been a couple of years since the last offering. Crysis 2 was a game that seemed to remove rather than add to the franchise. Gone was the glorious open jungle, gone were the four options for suit powers. They were replaced with a cramped feeling New York and a dumbed down version of the suit mechanics. I will avoid blaming consoles here, mostly because I imagine a few of you will already be thinking that without me saying it. Therefore, I will just infer that I expected more form a sequel.
Let us get one thing out of the way right now; Crysis 3 is without a doubt the best looking game ever. It’s not even a contest. The PC version is utterly beautiful – I managed to run everything maxed out and get a crisp frame rate (take that Crytek) – but it certainly seems to have some optimisation issues right now, which have actually (as CVG reported) been solved by a modder of some regard. With that in mind, let us hope Crytek will iron out what has now been laid bare for them.
If everything within were as good as the game looked, I would be writing a review for the best game ever made, but I’m not, because the rest of the experience leaves a huge amount to be desired.
The story in the Crysis franchise has never been anything to do a Harlem Shake over. All three games follow the same routine: throw some humanoids at you while jabbering on about some alien gubbins, at which point some alien gubbins will attack you. You fight them whilst Prophet/Nomad whines on about something or other, with Psycho grunting at you in an incredibly exaggerated English accent.
The third game offers nothing new in that regard. You are awoken by Psycho who has been “skinned” by CELL. He then proceeds to fill you in on the sitrep (my impressive military lingo knows no bounds). It goes something like: shut down a power source, blah blah big monster. I won’t spoil anything; instead, I will just show you this video, which much better describes the narrative experience.
It does enough to push the game along, but nothing more than that. Don’t expect to care about anyone involved, it basically makes about as much sense as Bill O’Reilly.
Crytek did enlist Albert Hughes (director of Book of Eli and From Hell) to create the short web series called “The 7 Wonders of Crysis 3”. Unfortunately, the game story is nowhere near as coherent and well done as they are. It is a shame they couldn’t come up with something better, but the jovial dialogue isn’t why people play Crysis.
The original Crysis offered something that not many shooters do these days – choice. I don’t mean you can choose from a Lady Gaga style wardrobe and then strut around looking like you have spread glue on yourself and rolled around in a junk pile. What you can do, though, is approach situations on your terms, engaging when and how you want. That has always been the main staple of the series for me. The second game added upgrades for the suit, allowing you to fully integrate your play style. In Crysis 3, the upgrades are back, relatively the same as before, but each one can now be upgraded even further by fulfilling certain criteria. It’s quite a nice approach, rather than having to pour more upgrade points in to the same unlock.
The suit works much the same as it ever has since it was “simplified” in Crysis 2, but this is actually my biggest gripe with the game, and in fairness with the series. The franchise is centred on the most perfect tactical armour ever made, something that can evolve and eventually become whatever it needs to be. However, the gameplay hasn’t followed this ethos. Nothing is different here, the suit is the same, and still (in my eyes) hampered by the same problem every single game in the series suffered from. The energy bar.
This game prides itself on choice, if you watch any of the preview trailers; it harps on about it more than Taylor Swift does about break ups. The problem is, you are always hamstrung by the small energy bar that drains when you do anything more strenuous than watering the plants (make of that what you will). I have long since hoped that they would use separate bars for stealth and armour, as it would open up the gameplay a huge amount, allowing you to really switch between play styles with much more fluidity.
The way it stands, you need to pretty much stick to either stealth or run and gun. Getting caught out in stealth means you generally have too little energy to make switching to armour effective. Vice versa, if your energy is about to give out from taking so much damage from using the armour, you cannot really stealth and run, as you have no energy to do so.
It’s not game breaking by any means but it just seems like a very simple change that would allow for much greater depth in the gameplay. Although it seems after the way the suit mechanic was changed in between the first and second game that less is more to Crytek.
This is the crux of the problem though, less is not more and less is boring. Less means a game that requires a smaller amount of skill to play. Don’t be fooled by the trailers for this game; there isn’t a huge open Poison Ivy version of New York to run around in. It certainly makes it look that way, and if you are buying this expecting a return of the lovely island from the original, you will be disappointed.
Take this video for example, it shows a sprawling jungle that you cannot wait to start jumping around in, right?
Yeah no such luck. You follow Psycho through this part. Yes, that’s right, they put a damned follow icon on his back and you have to move along like a Nano-Poodle on a leash. It does this a number of times and it is absolutely not welcome.
There are some slightly more open parts of the game, but they are just open space with the same pockets of interactive environment stuck in the middle. It’s obvious what they are trying to achieve, scope wise I mean, but they haven’t done a good job. At best, it’s a pretty illusion, but to those who see through it, and believe me, most of you will, it’s just a shadow of its former self.
In fairness to Crytek, there are still some good times to be had here, it certainly isn’t the worst single player campaign I’ve encountered. I caught myself imitating the Obama internet meme on a few occasions. The use of the Seth weaponry is a good example. Once picked up, your HUD changes to an alien like display scheme as it meshes with your Nanosuit. The soundtrack deserves a mention as well. It’s not composed by Hans Zimmer this time, but it’s a very strong score all the way through.
There is also a multiplayer in Crysis 3; unfortunately, it’s no better than the previous attempt in Crysis 2. There is however a new game type where two players start with Nanosuits and are permanently stealthed unless revealed by EMP grenades. They are armed with bows and have to take down all the remaining players who are CELL operatives with a decent armoury at their disposal. I was hopeful for this as it sounded like a chuckle, but the nature of online gamers means it ends with many people camping in corners waiting for the timer to run out.
The other more standard modes, CTF, TDM, capture and hold etc, are all present, as is the now obligatory carrot on a stick unlock system. It’s nothing new and there is no reason other than the suit mechanic to be playing this over CoD/BF3. Worst of all, Crytek’s “anti cheat” is utterly useless. I can’t speak for consoles, but Crysis 2 was rendered unplayable after about a week due to all the perma-stealth and invincibility hacks. I spotted several in the short time I spent with Crysis 3. What with that and most of the servers being completely empty, it will most likely be discarded very quickly.
Despite my frosty demeanour toward this game, the core mechanics still make for a passable experience. If you spot this on sale, it’s worth picking up for the 6-7 hours it will take you to finish the campaign. You may even have a better time with it than I did.
For me, this is the last time I pre-order a Crysis game. Crytek tells us this won’t be the last game, even though it’s the end of Prophet’s story. Next time around, the gameplay and story need to take their cue from the Nanosuit and evolve past what has now become a very stale franchise. The mechanics that were once fun and engaging are now not enough to pull your attention away from a poorly made campaign, which just throws waves of enemies at you in increasing numbers through a bottlenecked and illusionary “open world” shooter.
Next time, maximum effort please.