By Ryan Foster and Vince Deshaies
The first person shooter genre is riddled with the good, the bad, and the awful. Franchises like Call of Duty and Halo dominate sales because overall, they excel at their own identity. Many have tried to copy them, but few have managed to get the formula just right. Therefore, it’s important for other titles in the genre to do their own thing rather than try to compete and intentionally copy games that are already fulfilling those same goals so successfully. The biggest and most important FPS of the year thus far arrives in the form of Crysis 3, the third installment in EA and Crytek’s alien invasion franchise. While Crysis 3 does attempt to develop its own identity, most of its new tricks end up being a disappointment. Does this make the experience a bad one? Not exactly…
Crysis 3 takes place in 2047, 24 years after the events of Crysis 2. You control Prophet, one of the main characters from the previous two games, who once again puts on the nanosuit to take out the evil Ceph aliens, and exact his revenge on the CELL corporation who have encased New York in a Nanodome as a means of enslavement and world domination. You are joined with Psycho, a disgruntled former nanosuit wearer, and Claire, a friend of Psycho who is skeptical of you from the beginning because of the armor you wear.
Maybe you couldn’t tell just from that short description, but Crysis 3’s story is an unrelenting incomprehensible mess. Not once do you care about what exactly you are doing from a narrative standpoint, simply because you aren’t exactly sure what it is. Details about Prophet’s past, the evil CELL corporation, and the Ceph aliens, are often revealed all at once with flat, uninteresting character development to top it off. Some of the most awful moments in Crysis 3’s narrative are when a character speaks. Psycho is constantly whining like a child about how you, Prophet, have a nanosuit and he doesn’t anymore. Claire is incredibly hostile to you at the beginning of the game, and with no progression at all, she says the two of you would have made a great team during one of the final two missions. Gamers looking for a strong story will be disappointed with every aspect of it.
Fortunately, Crysis 3’s gameplay is better than the game’s story. Prophet is armed with a bow this time around, with the aid of standard automatic weapons and two armor abilities. Your bow is probably the most fun weapon to use with its interchangeable explosive, electric, and standard tips. However, combat can be made a little too easy at times because of its tendency to kill enemies in just one hit. As for your other weapons, on-the-fly interchangeable ammo and tips would be a nice touch if they were actually useful. There is no need to go beyond your weapon’s default method of shooting in Crysis 3; all it does is waste time and leave you immobile and vulnerable to enemy fire. Despite that, those who are looking to vary the experience will find some enjoyment in the mechanics.
It may not be the best in the series or live up to its full potential, but it remains an enjoyable game nonetheless.
These flaws certainly don’t break the game. Your armor abilities, however, can. You are given two suit abilities mapped to the right and left bumpers: armor and cloak. Armor makes you completely invincible to all enemy fire, and cloak makes you completely invisible to enemies, so long as you don’t invade their personal space. These powers, while very fun to use, almost completely break the gameplay by making things far too easy, leaving missions that can be passed up entirely simply by navigating the environment without ever touching a single enemy. This wouldn’t be so bad if your power meter didn’t recharge so quickly, and if enemy AI wasn’t so awful. I literally don’t remember the last time I played a video game, stood in front of multiple enemies at point blank range, and had them not attack me within the first 20 minutes of gameplay. The sad thing is that the issue never lets up; a moment of the very last mission consisted of me standing in front of a Ceph alien without moving for about a full minute just to see if he would actually react to me.
Throughout the game, you’ll never need to cloak yourself or be stealthy with your silent arrow tip, or feel like you need to change out your special gun ammo. It’s not that these things aren’t fun, they are, but they’re not worth using at the cost of almost completely removing the game’s challenge. Fortunately, they never really feel necessary. Yes, cloaking keep the enemies from seeing you. Yes, you end up burning through a handful of missions that way, but it isn’t fun to do so. Gamers want to play a game feeling like they are accomplishing something, not feeling like they just won a trivia contest against a one year old child. The numbers of unnecessary things in Crysis 3 keep piling up with one of the most confusing skill systems I’ve ever seen; throwable and kickable objects, a useless thermal vision, and terrible, oddly placed vehicle sections. I got into a vehicle for the first time during one of the last missions, and was surprised to get out of it less than a minute after I was done driving. The sequence literally lasts seconds and is only used to get you to a destination faster; it adds absolutely nothing to the game. Speaking of getting to destinations faster, Crysis 3 has multiple sequences of walking for a few minutes without encountering any enemies whatsoever in an open environment. This is awful level design at its finest, and does nothing but make this three hour campaign just a little longer.
The good things in Crysis 3’s gameplay do happen to be very good, however. Gunfights are intense and engaging, and stealth can be very satisfying if you don’t allow yourself to use the cloaking system. There’s a moment in the game when you’re surrounded by tall grass with enemy aliens circling around you, and you have only half an idea of where they are or when they will pop up. It’s unfortunate that this sequence only lasts seconds and ends before it reaches its full potential, but it’s moments like these that hint at a much greater experience than what C3 ended up delivering. Additionally, hacking turrets from a distance with your visor is probably the most unique, fun, and actually useful way to take out your enemies in combat. After finishing the short mini game the hack gives you, it is quite enjoyable to see enemies scream in confusion as their seemingly friendly turret suddenly turns on them unexpectedly.
If there’s one thing we can all agree to give Crysis 3 credit for, it’s the visuals... at least for the most part. Seeing New York shrouded in tall grass with Ceph alien ship parts is actually a very visually interesting sight. The last mission in particular puts you in a Ceph environment surrounded by alien tech, which makes for a nice atmosphere and visual spectacle. More specifically and without spoiling anything, the last boss battle looks spectacular. Though suit abilities almost break the gameplay, the way your visor reacts to using them really make you feel like you’re in an advanced suit of future technology. Character models - especially the face mapping - are excellent, although the emotion is lost with poor dialogue. However, it’s a shame how these great looking graphics can be ruined by the game’s terribly inconsistent framerate on consoles. Slowdowns are frequent during gameplay and are unfortunately noticeable. The console version of the game is obviously not nearly as impressive as the PC version, but it’s still quite an accomplishment from Crytek to have been able to release the game with such a limited amount of power.
Because of the campaign’s flaws, Crysis 3’s multiplayer ends up being something you’ll probably want to try out. It’s not exactly something I expected to get excited for, but multiplayer actually offers the particularly enjoyable Hunter mode. In this mode, two cloaked players are up against CELL soldiers and try to off them one by one, making them switch sides to take out the rest of the "uninfected." There’s a plethora of enjoyable perks, unlockables, modes and more here. It’s nothing special at all and doesn’t justify the main game, but it’s something fun to do and happens to be a surprisingly nice addition to the overall package.
Crysis 3 tries to have its own identity, and while it doesn’t completely fail in that department, it certainly feels extremely familiar if you’ve played your share of shooters this generation. The sometimes stunning visuals, fun gameplay options, and solid multiplayer mode elevate the problematic campaign a little above average, but we’d be hard pressed to recommend it to anyone who is experiencing any kind of shooter fatigue. If you ARE a fan of the Crysis franchise, though, you may still find elements to enjoy about the game, but if you seek to find a totally new FPS experience or even just a breath of fresh air, you will be very disappointed with Crysis 3. It may not be the best in the series or live up to its full potential, but it remains an enjoyable game nonetheless.
Release date : 2013-02-19
Publisher : Electronic Arts
Developer : Crytek Studios
Gameplay : Shooter
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