The Crysis series has never really been my thing. When the first one launched I didn’t have a PC even remotely capable of playing it on, and while I played and beat the second one, it was just sort of there, one more FPS in the vast sea of FPS games. Yes it had the armor tweaks and the different abilities but the protagonist took being a blank slate to a whole new level, and the story was a little strange. I didn’t hate the game, but when I chose to review this one I had to go back and see if I had actually beaten the last one. That’s how forgettable the experience was. There were a few things I did remember. The game looked sweet. And New York got pummeled.
Crysis 3 starts off a few months after Crysis 2 ends. The Ceph have been stopped, and the world believes them to be either dead or no longer a threat. The mega corporation Cell has jumped into the power vacuum caused by the Ceph attack to take over the world through it’s monopoly on power generation. And your character, Prophet, have been betrayed and are being held prisoner by Cell. But when it seems all hope is lost, the last remaining member of your squad from Crysis 1, Psycho, busts you out and hopes to use your abilities to free mankind from the yoke of its oppressors. While you’ve been a prisoner you’ve had visions. The Ceph aren’t finished. In fact they are more dangerous than ever. Yet nobody will believe you. Oh well, might as well blindly kill as many Cell operatives as possible until it all sorts itself out. And that’s what you proceed to do. You succeed in breaking out of the prison and breaking into the Liberty Dome, which is a giant tomb for New York. The Liberty Dome is where Cell’s power generator is, the thing that enables Cell to hold everybody in indentured servitude.
Anyway, I think that’s all the setup you really need for the story. The narrative really only surprised me once. Everything else I could see coming for miles. There is no attempt to clear up the confusing aspects of the story other than briefly describing past events. There is barely a mention of Alcatraz. Who is Alcatraz you wonder? Just the protagonist from Crysis 2. Why is he important? Well towards the end of the second game you find out his personality has been wiped and DNA re-written by the suit to bring Prophet back to life. Or something. I spent the entire third game wondering if Prophet was just a suit with a corpse in it, or something else. This failure to explain what happened clearly makes it difficult to like the story at all, and is possibly the weirdest Retcon in history. Honestly it hurts to think about it. So I’ll move on. Just do yourself a favor and ignore the story. Instead, look at how pretty the game is.
Yes, it’s true. Just like Crysis 2, Crysis 3 looks amazing on the console. Yes fine, it looks even MORE amazing on a PC equipped to run it, but never mind that. I don’t need my PC going all China Syndrome on me. Levels are sprawling and detailed. You might get the impression early on that the game is open world, but it isn’t. Instead it is open level. In many of the levels you can make your own way across the ruins of New York, even stumbling onto the head of the Statue of Liberty at one point. Rain falls and puddles splash when you step in them. The city itself looks run down, with moss and vegetation overgrowing things, but it looks great. You can just sit there and look around the various levels if you like. I think The Last of Us looks like it’s doing this urban decay thing better, but Crysis 3 has no reason at all to hang its head.
The gameplay is another matter. In the single player campaign there is a lack of something. Drama if you like. Playing the game felt very much like going through the motions. Complete one objective move to the next. Watch as Ceph charge at you then mysteriously slow down in time for you to kill them with a sick bow shot. Perhaps the higher difficulties make things more difficult. If so they should have renamed the difficulty levels. Instead of Normal perhaps they should have used the label Casual. There are a few levels towards the end where you have to get into a buggy and drive somewhere. Completely tacked on. Then you have the suit and how you use it. You can upgrade your suits abilities, but your suit can only equip 4 upgrades at a time. This in theory makes each upgrade very important. What it really does is make the upgrade system a waste of my time. I played through much of the game thinking I had an upgrade equipped only to discover I didn’t. I would prefer in the future to have all my abilities available to me, thank you, not just some of them. The quick switch option isn’t very handy either, as the button is mapped to multiple functions based on how long you hold it.
As I got to the end of the game I was not feeling very charitable. The single player campaign left much to be desired, and I did not expect the multiplayer to have much to offer either. Turns out I was wrong about that. The combination of cloaking tech and competitive multiplayer should equal rage quitting on a level never before seen. What actually happens though is a different story altogether. Because the cloak drains your energy at a quick rate, you cannot stay invisible the entire game. Instead you have to use your brains and cloak when you think it appropriate. The trick is figuring out when its time to switch to heavy armor and just charge at a guy. I won’t lie, it’s still irritating to have a guy appear out of nowhere and kill you with a single shotgun blast. But that irritation is dulled when you then turn around and do the same thing to them. The absolute best though, is when you line up an enemy with your sniper rifle and fire a round, only to have it kill some other guy who was cloaked and oblivious to the action.
The multiplayer is organized in a very Call of Duty like fashion. There are various gameplay types, all of which you would see in Black Ops 2. Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill, Hardcore TDM, etc. Except there’s no armor function in BLOPS2. There are even a few game types where there is no armor at all, and that’s even MORE like BLOPS2. Only without the quick-scoping. In fact the multiplayer is so much a clone of COD that it’s kind of surprising when something is missing. For example you can get Kill Streak rewards but there are no Care Packages. Weapons can be upgraded by completing tasks. These tasks of course usually involve getting a certain amount of kills with that weapon.
Of course its not all sunshine and rainbows in Multiplayer. Some people are just ridiculous with that Bow. There is no way to go prone. That in itself isn’t bad, but the Light Machine Guns feel somewhat useless because of it. Many times you’ll be killed and not even know what’s going on until you watch the kill cam to find out you were shot 30 times in the back of the head. The airborne drop maneuver feels a bit too overpowered, since it can seemingly kill a person who is standing 10 feet away from the point of impact. These faults are balanced out by the things I really like about the Multiplayer. Your suit may cloak you but it still casts a shadow, and your footsteps still make splashes in the water, so the observant gamer can make the oblivious one pay. As you can jump quite high the levels take on a three dimensional quality and are built accordingly. You don’t just have to clear rooms anymore. Now you have to be aware of what’s around you. See that walkway away up there near the roof in Penn Station? There is probably some sniper up there right now, getting a bead on you. You can swim in this game. One of the levels is a shipyard. You can get across it by crossing the boat, exposing yourself to sniper fire, or you can dive into the water swim under the ship and get behind them like a true Commando. I also have to point out the genius idea of giving new players 10 levels to play only against other new players if they so desire. You can play against the more experienced players if you like, but I found that option to be a fantastic way of giving new players a chance to catch their breath and figure out what’s what. The online game is really well balanced, and thus many of the things that might be frustrating are instead mere annoyances to be forgotten about soon after.
One last thing before I leave you. The audio can get a little weird when lag rears its ugly head. I’m not even sure I can describe what it sounds like. It’s as though every other beat disappears, and often it will stay that way even after the lag has cleared up. Just something for the next patch perhaps. The rest of the audio is quite serviceable, and the musical score is so good they let you access it in the extras menu, so no worries there.
So there you have it. As I said before Crysis has never really been my thing, and there was nothing in the single player to make me change my mind. But thankfully there is a beefy multiplayer experience here that will make it very difficult for me to eject the game anytime soon.
Short Attention Span Summary:
Come for the graphics, stay for the multiplayer.