March 05, 2013
Ever since 2007, Crytek has been wowing gamers with its technical prowess in the Crysis franchise. Generally held aloft as this generation’s delectable slice of eye candy, it’s a franchise that’s effectively carried itself on visuals alone. The convoluted stories and soulless gameplay have sometimes been overshadowed by the fantastic visual experience that Crytek can deliver, but with this generation’s consoles seemingly pushed to the max already, Crysis 3 needed to up its game.
While the first Crysis won gamers over with its open-world gameplay and Crysis 2 was a bang-a-minute in terms of iconic set-pieces, Crysis 3 looks set to marry those two elements together to wrap up the trilogy. It hasn't quite worked out that way though.
Crysis 3 is about… you know what, I have no idea what it’s about. It’s about a Nanosuit. It’s about aliens. It’s about man vs. machine, but outside of that, the complicated nature of the proceedings comes across as incoherent babble and it’s hard to be captivated by it or its characters because of it.
Set in New York, actually, you know what… other than the odd location popping up at the bottom left corner of the screen every mission, you wouldn’t know where it’s set. The now effectively destroyed city is housed under a “Nanodome” – a self contained shell over New York – which has turned the once majestic city into an overgrown shadow of its former self. The dilapidated city, fresh with swamplands, waterfalls, rock formations, purpose-built dams, rainforests and the like, is a hybrid between Crysis 1 and Crysis 2, but honestly, that’s part and parcel of why Crysis 3 fails to meets the dizzy heights that the previous games set.
Crysis 3’s lack of truly wonderful set-pieces in truly iconic locations means it doesn’t have the same spectacle or va-va-voom that Crysis 2 had, which had them in abundance. There’s no racing down a crumbling FDR, no firefights in Central Park, no battle against a Pinger in Grand Central Station or even tumbling iconic buildings like the MetLife building, instead you’re fighting against the Ceph in the tall grass, blowing up a dam, which are all great, but not up to the high standard set by Crytek in Crysis 2.
The slightly more open-world environments do open up more possibilities in the gameplay, which Crytek has improved with a whole host of gadgets. The main one, the Predator Bow, opens the game up to more stealth-based antics, as players can shoot the bow without breaking from the cloak, allowing players to hunt from the shadows. Of course, you can equip some explosive or electric tips to your bolts and just go mental. Again, the choice is yours. It’s all part of turning you from the prey into the predator, and it does that rather nicely.
The usual armour and stealth modes also exist, as does the weapon and Nanosuit customisation. It’s actually easier to throw grenades this time around too, after the kerfuffle. The new weapons, aside from the Predator Bow, like the Typhoon and the Ceph weaponry, are all worthy and powerful additions, again cementing the whole predator vs. prey theme that runs throughout the third in the series.
It wouldn’t be a new Crysis game without some new Nanosuit upgrades, and Crysis 3 is no different. The notable new mechanic is the whole hacking ability, where you can now hack turrets to turn them into friendlies as well as open supply drops and such. It’s hardly reinventing the wheel, but it makes a nice tactical touch. And the new hacking mini-game that comes with it… yeah, that can get slightly annoying after a while.
The actual minute-to-minute gameplay in Crysis 3 is fairly solid. It has its ups and its downs, but after all that, it just doesn’t create the same engaging spectacle that Crysis 2 did. Sure, it had some annoying waypoint issues and the days of the annoying bosses still aren’t behind us, but the minute-to-minute gameplay is as solid as ever, but without those shock and awe set-pieces, it feels like much of a lesser game.
Part of Crysis 3’s problem though has to be that it’s having to make do with ageing console architecture and at times, it struggles as a result. It looks great - don’t get me wrong - stunning in fact, and up there with the best of the best, but I suspect that at times it’s running more at 20-25 frames a second rather than 30 frames a second. When you factor in the visuals that can be a little muddy and difficult to ascertain different objects in the environment at times, it’s clear that you’re getting a much lesser experience than that on PC if you get it on consoles.
In terms of multiplayer, Crysis 3 offers one of the most robust packages out there. There’s modes galore. Eleven in fact, although most are variations of the standard gameplay types. There are a few in there that take advantage of the Nanosuit, some without the Nanosuits at all and there’s even a developer’s choice mode, where the dev team choose the modes and the options. It’s a solid package, and the likes of Hunter mode – think infection with Nanosuit hunters – add something slightly different to the package.
With twelve maps, a hell of a lot of customisation and depth, challenges, medals... You name it, it has it. Crysis 3’s multiplayer is one of the best on the market. It’s not as addictive as the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield, but it’s fast-paced, deep, rewarding and seems to be fairly balanced, although, seeing cloaked-Nanosuited foes seems to get harder as the franchise grows, which is rather annoying.
From an achievement perspective, the list is fairly solid. There’s a few too many multiplayer achievements for our liking, but the mid-level mission achievements are always something we can get behind, both in terms of creativity and giving players something else to go for on their way through the campaign. There are however numerous reports of glitches for the Supersoldier difficulty achievements – again! – which unfortunately might not comes as a surprise – fingers crossed for a patch! Otherwise, it’s a decent enough list on the whole.
In trying to merge the more open-world gameplay of Crysis 1 with the more set-piece orientated gameplay of Crysis 2, Crytek has done a lot right for the most part in Crysis 3. In terms of gameplay, it’s probably the best Crysis title that Crytek has crafted to date, especially for stealth fiends, but it truly lacks the shock and awe set-pieces that made Crysis 2 such an impressive and immersive experience. It’s a great game, yes, but it does leave you feeling a little disappointed once it’s all over that it can't match the dizzy heights that Crysis 2 hit.
The music in Crysis 3 is very atmospheric and fitting, although hardly memorable. The voice acting leaves a lot to be desired too.
Stunning at times, let down by the frame rate and muddiness at other times. Still, up there with the best of what the current-gen can offer.
Stealth fans are going to love Crysis 3, which when combined with an array of gadgets and the sandbox levels, actually introduces a new realm of gameplay to the proceedings. You can go in all guns blazing too. It’s your call. Nothing too innovative, but great all round.
A robust multiplayer arena with plenty of options for fans to delve into and while the campaign is enjoyable, it’s not in the same league as Crysis 2.
Too many multiplayer achievements, but otherwise solid. There’s a wee bit of creativity in there too… you know, like exploding a deer! We love blowing up animals, after all… in games, of course!
Crytek has crafted a great game with Crysis 3, one that has a satisfying end for the trilogy, but its lack of breathtaking set-pieces means that it’s an even more soulless version of Crysis 2.