Review: Crysis 3

Crysis 3 wraps up a trilogy that began in 2007 with the original Crysis: a game famous for its breathtaking visuals, and infamous for its stratospheric system requirements.

NameFirst-person shooter: Crysis 3
Summary:Crysis 3 refines rather than expands, providing the best ending to a trilogy I’ve played yet – the greatest disappointment is that it had to come to an end.
Rating:5/5
Games Info:Developer: Crytek Frankfurt, Crytek UK; Publisher: Electronic Arts
Classification:R16
Platform:PC,PS3,Xbox 360
Test Platform:PC

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Crysis 3 wraps up a trilogy that began in 2007 with the original Crysis: a game famous for its breathtaking visuals and infamous for its stratospheric system requirements. Crysis 3 was co-developed for PC alongside the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version, so the latest installment’s minimum requirements on PC aren’t quite so frightening. The visuals are still amazing, though – PC gamers can play with jaw-dropping levels of graphical realism.

Disclosure time: though I’ve read novel-length plot synopses and seen a few gameplay videos, I’ve never actually played Crysis or Crysis 2. The latest game was my introduction to the series – though I came to Crysis 3 with high expectations, I also brought an open mind.

The game opens some time after the end of Crysis 2, with a recap video for new initiates such as myself. If you just want to dive into the game and shoot everything in sight, that’ll be fine. If you care about the story, it helps to have played the previous games. The protagonist’s backstory in particular is rather complex, and central to the plot.

Here’s a thirty-second version: you play as a skintight combat suit made of alien nanotechnology, wrapped around a dead guy. You have the the ability to turn invisible, absorb ludicrous amounts of damage, and kick entire cars into the shins of your enemies. You are the action hero that other action heroes dream of being – until they remember that you’re a wetsuit full of expired mince. Still, that’s much more charismatic than Duke Nukem.

Crysis 3 is set inside the ‘Liberty Dome’ – the  ruins of a destroyed New York City, now controlled by the fashionably evil C.E.L.L. corporation. Ol’ New York is home to some kind of alien device that’s pumping out unlimited free energy, and may or may not be capable of destroying the world.

It’s not a complex or even terribly original story, but it holds together much better than your average action-game narrative.

A lot of the dialogue is cheesy, but serviceable and it's believeable thanks to the quality of the facial animation, particularly on a PC at high graphical settings. Compared to the hollow delivery of Dead Space 3, it’s positively award-winning. I found myself genuinely caring about the other characters, and sympathising with their personal struggles.

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SAY CHEESE: Some of the dialogue may be cringe-worthy, but superb facial modelling and animation combine with competent voice acting to keep it believeable.

Crysis was a game that prized huge open environments, making use of the titular CryEngine in a similar fashion to sister-game Far Cry. Crysis 2 was both criticised and praised for its more linear approach to level design, necessitated by the big-city setting and by the focus on PS2 and Xbox 360 versions.

Crysis 3 has a few wide-open spaces, but they’re home to a very linear series of objectives. This is not an open-world or sandbox game by any means, but most of the time you can approach an objective based on your own play style. Stealth? Circle around the edges of the map, sniping enemies from afar before moving in cloaked. Action? Run from cover to cover, gunning down enemies as you go. The game feels more open and the environment more organic than I’ve come to expect from a linear first-person shooter.

Combat is based around the abilities of your nanosuit, which can dynamically switch from providing enhanced armor capabilities to optical camouflage (near-invisibility, or ‘cloaking’). It also provides a number of strategic capabilities, such as the ability to mark and assess enemy units without line-of-sight, and to remotely hack turrets and fields of smart-mines.

Upgrade kits let you unlock nanosuit enhancements – up to four can be loaded at a time, to provide advantages such as weapon stabilisation, stronger armor or a longer cloaking time. Enhancements can be switched out on the fly, letting you adapt to changing conditions with just a few clicks or keystrokes.

In addition to your two completely customisable weapon slots, Crysis 3 equips you with an ever-present compound bow. The bow fires silently, doesn’t reveal your position, and doesn’t break your cloak if you happen to be using it as you fire. It’s the perfect stealth weapon.

The result of all this is an exceptionally fluid combat experience, where you can switch from stealth to action gameplay and back in the space of a few minutes. Most games that allow both action and stealth force you to choose one path or the other, switch it up between levels, or just make a mess of one - or both - play styles. Crysis 3 is designed such that you can be stealthily taking down enemies with your knife and bow in a darkened field, make a mistake that blows your cover, and smoothly transition into a guns-blazing action sequence as if that’s what you intended to do all along. Once all those alerted witnesses have been dispatched, back up goes the cloak, and your exercise in stealth can be resumed.

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PREDATION: An auto-loading compound bow, with swappable special-purpose arrowheads and dynamically adjustable draw-weight, lets you play the ultimate stealth hunter.

I could complain about the dumb-as-rocks AI, which tones down the challenge and makes hunting enemies with your bow one level more difficult shooting fish in a barrel.

I could point out that in open areas, the lack of a user-initiated ‘save’ function and infrequent checkpoints means that you may have to replay a twenty or thirty minute section of gameplay, just because you took a fall you thought you’d survive.

I could lament the game’s overly brief nine-hour campaign, which feels like it could have been twice the length without feeling stretched.

I could complain about those things, but the combat is so smooth, the visuals so pretty, and the experience so solid overall that to complain would be pointless. I’ll replay Crysis 3 on a higher difficulty, and get my extra nine hours of gameplay that way.

I’ve seen several gaming trilogies end over the last couple of years, and the endings have been invariably disappointing. I didn’t play the first two games, but Crysis 3 did not feel like a disappointment to me. Between boss fights that tested the skills I’d developed whilst playing the game, and a conclusion to the story that felt fitting and well-written, I enjoyed it so much that I stood up and watched the entire credits roll as the last of my adrenaline drained away.

If you enjoy first-person shooters, you need to play Crysis 3. Whether or not you have any investment in the series, it’s a must-play game. Though it doesn’t make any great additions to the genre, or tread any ground that hasn’t been explored before, it refines the FPS experience to a stunningly pure level that takes many of the best elements from today’s triple-A titles while avoiding most of the bad.

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Harley Ogier

Harley Ogier

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