Crysis 3 Hands-On Preview – Swamp Fever
Written Friday, February 08, 2013 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
New York is well and truly screwed, immersed under about a foot of muddy water in our latest hands-on with Crysis 3's campaign. It's hard to believe that this was once the Big Apple's vibrant Chinatown, although there are still remnants of what once was, with old neon signs hanging off the edge of the gutted, destroyed buildings and the odd ornate dragon statue just about poking its head out of the swamp.
Diving right into the Nanosuit-shrouded cranium of Prophet, we're crouched among a patch of long grass, using the high-tech and sartorially elegant suit to cloak ourselves from sight. Eavesdropping on a conversation between some CELL troopers while they desperately search for you, we're held in a cutscene as we watch things unfold. Eventually, the CELL stooges give up and walk away, and we're finally handed control over Prophet.
A dauntingly large chunk of sandbox, the Chinatown area plonks us right on Delancey Street in the year 2047, trapped beneath the New York Nanodrome, with the objective of locating and subsequently infiltrating a CELL skinning lab. As a layout, this feels remarkably close to a big multiplayer map with a fair bit of verticality and more than a few hiding places to take advantage of. There's also a lot of places where you're completely exposed, vulnerable to the onslaught of CELL bullets and aggressive Ceph assaults. We quickly discover that you really need to keep your wits about you as we stalk through more long grass and lush green leaves growing out of the almost knee-deep waters, lest you be cut down in the dirt.
The CELL travel in pairs, watching one another's backs at all times, making careful tactics and stealth the most viable and indeed sensible option. But we simply don't have the time, nor in fact the inclination to bother tip-toeing around. Sure, at first we tried and bagged a few gratifying sneaky kills, but before long we were dashing through the swamp and picking off CELL with the frankly awesome composite bow.
Alerted to our presence, we're still able to cloak and slink away to pursue our current objective to interface with an inactive Ceph Pinger, which leads to the predatory alien race surfacing and stalking the environment for any signs of life to extinguish. They're as fearsome and intelligent as ever, and our aggressive approach, equipping the Nanosuit's maximum armour doesn't really wash. Even switching to a delightfully chunky scoped assault rifle doesn't really swing the fight in our favour, as we strive to ambush the Ceph and mow them down like a crazed 'roid rage Rambo.
Forced to retreat, we regroup as a huge Ceph ship arcs over the horizon and pounds into the watery earth right in front of us, digging through it. Like any Crysis title worth its salt, it's a moment that looks utterly stunning, although it is running on a monolithic PC rig flashing menacingly with neon green lights. No doubt it'll look good on consoles too, but we're left wondering what kind of compromises Crytek will have had to make to the visual fidelity of the game.
Pressing onward casting thoughts of console graphics aside, we zipline between buildings, tripping an automatic sentry gun and attracting patrolling CELL and Ceph like a clumsy buffoon. Cool and stealthy we ain't, and another quick run to safety is necessary to survive. Approaching our objective to locate the CELL skinning lab, we come upon a fortified double door that Prophet kicks in only to be presented with a nasty quad-legged Ceph with a huge jet of flames spewing forth from its big ugly face.
We feel a tap on our shoulder. “Just equip an electric tipped bow bolt and you can take that down with one shot to its eye,” an EA rep tells us. OK, then! A demonstration of the bow's versatility with its variety of lethal arrow tips, we're able to fell the fire-spitting Ceph fast, stealing his hefty flame cannon in the process. A consumable weapon, we keep hold of the flamethrower cannon and go on an insane rampage, torching anything that moves until the fuel runs out. What little tactics and strategy we had goes right out of the window, as pyromania becomes the far more desirable option.
Ploughing a furrow through the Ceph and CELL reinforcements isn't even remotely easy, even with all of Prophet's abilities, weapons and heavy firepower, but we soon make it to the skinning lab and our final hands-on demo before Crysis 3's impending release wraps up.
“With Crysis 3 we wanted to effectively redirect it back to what it was, but merge it with the things we learned from Crysis 2 and mitigate the problems that we had to truly make the best Crysis we possibly could having learnt from Crysis 1 and Crysis 2,” Crytek Founder and CEO, Cevat Yerli later tells us. “And I feel like it's more of a sequel to Crysis 1 from a gameplay perspective and from a pushing for impressiveness perspective.”
Based upon this latest hands-on with Crysis 3, Crytek certainly seems to be on track in bringing back what was so good about the first game, and sorely missing from Crysis 2. It looks the part, it plays well and favours thoughtful, carefully planned strategy over the stupid gung-ho tactics we employed during our demo. Although that is still an option if you prefer, as we found out. Just don't expect the game to go easy on you.
In its virtually completed state, Crysis 3 is looking immensely promising, which bodes incredibly well for its release in the coming few weeks.
Crysis 3 is out on February 19th in North America and February 21st in Europe.