Crytek’s latest shooter, Crysis 3, serves as a fun first-person-shooter that ultimately fails to deliver on its potential. The story, a major focus for the series’ tries its hardest to make you care and make every shootout matter. Unfortunately, they never feel like they do. Instead you’re left with characters you care about but a plot that you don’t. These issues combined with technical issues and graphical inconsistencies take the experience from maximum enjoyment to minimal enjoyable elements.
In Crytek’s latest shooter, players fill the boots of Lawrence “Prophet” Barnes, a soldier with artificially enhanced capabilities. Barnes, the protagonist from the past Crysis games, is constantly faced with the struggle of choosing between keeping what little humanity he has left or becoming more machine in order to save earth from an alien force. The Ceph, short for Cephalopods (or squid’s, essentially), are an advanced alien machine race that has been on earth since the time of the T-Rex but have lied dormant since then. Now, they’ve woken up and they mean to finish what they came to earth to start from their home galaxy of M33; annihilate all hostile life and take over our planet. Prophet’s can’t get off that easy though. There’s also a super-organization, Cell, that has seized control over the world. They want prophet dead too.
The story in Crysis 3 is reasonably engaging without ever being utterly engrossing. Although Prophet’s humanity is constantly being questioned, he never seems to be concerned with sacrificing it all in order to save the world. Although the world is on the brink of being wiped out at any moment, I never really got the sense that the Ceph were really exterminating humanity with any sort of haste. The game has loads of optional collectables in the form of audio and text files. After consuming most of them, I came away with two things: One, I’m now and expert of the Cephalopods’’ history, capabilities, and combat plans. Two, Cell is a heartless corporation and can’t fight Ceph to save its life, literally. Unfortunately, neither of these things helped advance or absorb me into the story. At the end of the day, it’s the game’s superb voice acting that really keeps the story afloat. Rarely have I heard lines in either games or movies delivered with such emotion and conviction.
For whatever the story lacks, the gameplay is where Crysis 3 shines. The Nanosuit, which was made with Ceph technology, allows its user to become either nearly invisible with its cloak mode or becoming nearly indestructible via its armor mode. Additionally, it gives its user superhuman strength and agility. For this third installment, Crytek has given the Nanosuit the ability to hack into certain machines, though this is limited to sentry guns and datapads mostly. The level design in Crysis 3’s vegetation and war ravaged New York City focuses on giving players large sandboxes to toy with their enemies in. Finally, Prophet is given a bow almost immediately in Crysis 3 that allows players to essentially steam roll through the game.
It’s the interplay between the Nanosuit’s ever-expanding abilities, the environmental openness and wealth of weaponry in Crysis 3 that let the combat scenarios feel like playgrounds of death rather than matters of life and death. In this way, the game works against itself, stealing away its sense of urgency. You can play the game either gun’s blazing or stealthily, or use a mix of both. Whichever you decide, you always feel like a demi-god. In the bulk of military shooters when your lone-wolf soldier takes out hundreds of enemy soldiers, it can seem highly unbelievable. In Crysis 3, it makes total sense. You feel unstoppable in Crysis 3 to the point where it’s almost a complaint.
Finally, Crysis 3 packs a full multiplayer suite that has 50 ranks, 20 extremely moddable weapons, 12 diverse maps, and 12 game modes. It doesn’t feel like an afterthought either. On the contrary, the same things that make the combat feel great in the campaign translate perfectly to multiplayer. Strategic use of both cloak and armor mode are the only ways to win encounters. The interplay is awesome and the sense of power translates well to create one of the most unique shooter multiplayers on the market. The campaign only lasted me 9 and a half hours on the hard difficulty, but it certainly warrants a replay on the hardest difficulty.
In all, Crysis 3 is held back by a number of technical issues, from odd ammo glitches that rendered weapons unusable throughout the entire game and occasional slow AI to inexplicably low-res textures in an otherwise gorgeous game. The Crysis series has always been known for its cutting edge graphics, but Crysis 3 just doesn’t hold up to the series’ usual benchmark standards. While it’s undoubtedly a fantastic looking game, there are console exclusives that look and play better on both (*PS3 and Xbox 360). Furthermore, it just doesn’t carry the same wow-factor that its predecessor did when it launched on consoles. Between these graphical drawbacks and glitches coupled with the missed narrative opportunities, Crysis 3 stills comes out as a great game that any FPS or sci-fi fan can enjoy. It’s never generic, but hardly original; never bad, but only occasionally exceptional.
[*This review of Crysis 3 is solely based on the PS3 and Xbox 360 version of the game]