Crysis 3 is easily one of the most anticipated games of 2013. It runs on the CryEngine 3.5 and like other games in the franchise, it has managed to earn a reputation for its high system demands and graphics beyond what any other game at the time could possibly put out. Crysis 2 suffered criticism compared with its revolutionary predecessor, due to its much more linear gameplay and the suspicions that the PC version was reigned in a little to stay within the capabilities of the consoles.
The plot follows the story of Prophet, who wakes up just over 20 years from the events of Crysis 2. Players find themselves in the 2047 setting of New York, which has not been rebuilt after the Ceph invasion but has been encased in the Liberty Dome by the CELL energy Company, who now commands a large army due to a combination of high rates and “work off your debt” scheme. The wreckage is now overrun by tall grass, flowing rivers and tall trees but they all grip to the decaying warehouses and buildings as framework, giving a gentle mix between the two. Does the next installment live up to expectations? Or like New York is it just a crumbling framework of what it used to be?
Unparalleled Graphics - At the time of writing I have not seen a game with graphics that could rival Crysis 3. It is true that to max out the game you would have to have stolen hardware from NASA, but even on its lowest settings the game just looks absolutely incredible. The grass sways in the wind gently, your teammate’s (Psycho) face is perfectly animated to a level where you have to wonder to yourself how close we are to producing a release where the fine line between reality and simulation is indistinguishable. The motion blur effect could be considered rather irritating and distracting but there is an option to remove this. Twinned with the Seven Wonders which takes you through seven different types of terrain, the final result is the benchmark to which high end graphics should be set and possibly even a glimpse towards what we could be seeing in the next generation.
Versatile Gameplay - Your nanosuit comes with several different modes, the two most prominent ones being a stealth cloak which will render you invisible to all those who are looking and hardened armour which will see all but the most deadly fire fights deflected. In close combination with the ability to choose four active perks to boost certain abilities whilst you play and the unique option to customise your weapon as you fight, the potential to play whatever way you like is grand. This allows for a range between the gunners to suit up with all the armour perks they can lay their grubby hands on and run screaming through the battlefield and the patient hunters to take the time to stalk their prey. The new hacking mechanism although extremely boring when there is not anyone left alive and you are literally trying for the fourth time to get through a door is very satisfying to utilise to turn a turret on its owners or send a hapless group of cautious scouts into a minefield. Playing Crysis is exceedingly fun and now that the handholding tactical options have been removed from the game, you feel more like a tactical genius when a good plan finally comes together.
My Mighty Bow - The bow deserves its very own marking point purely because of how well it is pulled off. This high tech piece of equipment makes you feel like the true hunter of the Liberty Dome and opens up a whole new world of entertainment and tactics. In the weapon customisation screen you can choose between the different draw strengths when you pull so if you are taking things slow but want maximum damage you can pull all the way back but if things become overwhelming, the short draw allows for a faster rate of fire at the sacrifice of damage. The different arrowheads also mean you can be taking out large groups of enemies in one shot with an incredible explosive tip alongside with the traditional arrow. In the areas with poor drainage, a quick dip of the electrical arrowhead will drop your foes like flies. The bow is almost perfect, you can even use it whilst cloaked which is something no other weapon can do. However, at the time of writing the electrified arrowhead does not seem to be spreading across water as often as one would like it to, but there does not seem to be any other reports of this problem so it could be just an issue with one’s understanding of the mechanics.
The Atmosphere - Crysis 3 also excels at generating just the right atmosphere for the moment when it needs to. Sometimes the best techniques are the most minimal ones. Once you are spotted, the music will adopt a faster rate and kick in, but the most noticeable and appreciated ones are during some of the more tense moments. The one that springs to mind immediately is not that far in the game during the second meeting with the Stalker type enemy. In the long grass and during a suit blackout, the music stops and all you can hear in the gentle chirping of the birds and rushing of water. You are not sure how much ammo you have, or how much energy is left in your suit, or if that red spot through the bushes is a delicate flower or the keen eye of a deadly predator just waiting to launch a brutal assault. There are many other points through the game where the game just has the perfect feel and these would be too numerous to list and there is a certain excitement with encountering it for yourself. You are not the only hunter in the Dome, and Crysis 3 likes to make sure that you are aware of that.
The Hunt is Over Before You Know It - Disappointingly, the title can be finished in a rather short amount of time. On a difficulty that would be equivalent to normal the game was completed in around 6 hours which feels to be a little on the short side for such a highly anticipated game. There has been word that games in general are getting shorter to market to an audience which just does not want long games especially shooters which tend not to have a whole lot of diversity but I personally do not feel as if this is a valid excuse. If we compare it to the first and second games, Crysis 2 had a life of around nine and a half hours and the very first release had a playtime that could exceed both games put together. Sure the multiplayer will extend how long you play, but again that is not a valid excuse for a brief story.
Oddball AI - At first the Artificial Intelligence comes across as quite realistic which is quite refreshing in the shooting genre. If the group notices that Barry is missing they will bump up their alertness a little and if you are playing stealthily this can really prove to be a challenge as they will now be constantly aware and not stop looking since they know you are around. This is as close to real life as you could get and is a nice break from experiences in other games where the witnessing of the brutal murder of their long term best friend and godfather to their first born child gets put down to “nothing more than the imagination.” However, every so often in the title you will run into the strangest decisions by your opponents such as Stalker units waiting patiently in the grass for seemingly nothing as you stand over them and line up a shot into their eyes. Or another one that has popped up a few times is where you are spotted just as your energy runs out and the squad goes to max alert. In their desperate attempts to form a defensive line, they actually lose you despite the fact you did not move from where you were spotted, nor were you cloaked. As amusing as this, it certainly could have been spruced up before the final release and does make some of the battle scenes a tad unrealistic.Slow Moving - Strangely, in such a short game it does actually drag on a little. The storyline is lacklustre and is pretty generic leading to very little which will surprise you or grab your attention for very long. The simple fact of the matter is, from the first half an hour you can guess what will happen in the next six hours of play time. You will be facing an evil energy corporation which has been stripping soldiers of their nanosuits, forcing civilians to fight for them and messing with dangerous alien technology. Unfortunately, you still have your nanosuit so it is pretty difficult to sympathise with those who have lost theirs, it is hard to feel sorry for the civilians who seem extremely intent on gunning you down at a moment’s notice and the alien technology just really coincides with the alien force that you are trying to take down which is your primary goal. There are just no strong feelings against your enemies and the fire fights also tend to get pretty samey after a while and due to the plentiful cover and cloaking system, if you are not particularly in the mood to fight you will find yourself just walking through certain points to avoid a repetitive experience.
Crysis 3 is generations ahead of anything else out there at the moment in terms of graphics and it will be difficult for another game to even begin to start knocking it off this prestigious position. The brilliantly generated atmosphere and the different ways you can play leads to a very flexible game that lets you approach any situation however you like. Unfortunately, you can only award so many marks for looking incredible.
The comparatively short time you will spend playing this game will somehow seem like a bit of a task at times. The atmosphere and the gameplay are great for an appreciable portion of the game but these become moot when one of the play styles open to you allows you to avoid playing the game and just edge your way past the confused wall of opponents as they radio in for reinforcements to avoid a fifteen minute shootout that you have experienced many times before with the same outcome. A little bit more development on the story and a little more work on the AI and Crysis 3 could have been a truly memorable experience, but it does not capitalise on the potential that it has.
*This review was based on the PC version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.*