(Lyrical stylings engaged)
When I stepped from a dingy holding cell into the New York City Nanodome, my jaw just about hit the floor. The enormous structure, in all of its brooding glory, hid a vivid word of mystery and danger. The exquisite interplay of lush greenery and harsh steel set my predatory instincts ablaze.
As I hunted through the decrepit streets and stalked from the crumbling skyscrapers, I was filled with a sense of wonder.
A few hours later, deeper into my journey, I began to grow accustomed to my surroundings and thought: ‘No graphical trickery or forced majesty will get the better of me again. I’ve seen it all.’ I was wrong. That is the power of Crysis 3.
(Lyrical stylings off)
Though it isn’t without its problems, Crytek’s latest instalment in the PC-melting first-person franchise is a resounding success. While it doesn’t exactly break new ground for the genre, I’m pleased to say Crysis 3 is refined gaming experience every bit as good as the sum of its parts.
The set up is a little convoluted, but perfectly sequential for those who are familiar with the Crysis story. You play as Prophet, or more specifically, the assimilated Alcatraz with Prophet’s personality (Yes, what?). Prophet is a hulking super solider encased in a Nanosuit – the most highly prized piece of military tech on the planet.
After the events of Crysis 2, a shadowy conglomerate called CELL seized control of the world’s energy supply, effectively tipping the balance of global politics in their favour. The Ceph are all but defeated, save for an elusive being known as the Alpha Ceph, who Prophet believes still poses a colossal threat to humanity. In addition to power hoarding, the CELL Corporation capture every Nanosuit solder, including Prophet, to skin for alien technology.
Years pass and slowly a resistance group forms in opposition to CELL. Believing you to be the herald of CELL’s destruction, the resistance breaks you loose and tells you that the bio-enclosures hide a sinister secret, thus spring boarding your adventure in the New York City Nanodome. And you better believe that you sure cause trouble in that bubble (rest assured, if it rhymes, Prophet can cause trouble in it)!
Part of what makes Crysis 3 so appealing, beyond its graphics, is the shift in focus from mindless killing to narrative direction. Quite smartly, Crytek have shied away from tweaking the tried and true ‘Crysis’ formula. Most of the revisions to be found are minor improvements to the UI, control scheme, writing and voice acting.
After playing through the previous two games with no other directive than “ALIENS BAD! KILL EVERYTHING IN SIGHT THEN FIST ITS CORPSE!” it’s refreshing to see such a substantial jump in storytelling and it goes a long way towards improving player connectivity.
That’s not to say you’ll wade through hours of political intrigue or piece together civil war history from the backs of sugar packets. This is still a game very much focussed on killing. Only now, you have a clearly defined purpose for doing so and will likely WANT to see the game’s story to its end as a result.
Anyone who has ever dabbled with first-person shooting in the past will feel right at home behind Prophet’s Nanoviser. Running, jumping, shooting and climbing all feel as natural as ever. Nanosuit functions are accessed via selections from a radial dial and some of the more heavily used abilities (like stealth and armour) can be bound to face keys. A couple of new additions include the ability to hack electronics and turrets and the highly publicised Predator Bow.
Thanks to the fluid control system, combat is an absolute joy in Crysis 3, perhaps more so than any other first-person shooter to date. On more than one occasion I had to take a moment between kills to collect my thoughts and calm my raging erection.
As in the previous titles, each ‘level’ is presented to you in sandbox style. You’re basically plonked in a large pen, given a waypoint to progress the story and fed hints at possible side missions. From there, you’re free to roam and approach encounters as you see fit. Stealth, full frontal assault, long range sniping, driving a truck packed with explosives through the front gate while humming Highway to the Dangerzone are all viable options.
While the individual sandboxes themselves aren’t as big as those in the first Crysis, a happy medium is struck between freedom and linearity – you never feel constricted or hard done by.
But for all of the game’s story revision and combat development, as boner inducing as it is, the real star of the show is the city itself. Decrepit or even overgrown landscapes are nothing new to video games; countless titles have done them in the past. But none can hold a candle to the staggering detail on offer here.
As pompous as the opening preamble was, using big words, I meant it all. The setting and design in Crysis 3 is nothing short of staggering. Each of the game’s seven levels provide a specific architectural focus and do a spectacular job at showcasing lighting and vegetation. Provided you have a rig that can run it, this is easily one of the most graphically impressive games currently available.
That technical prowess does seem to come at a bit of a price, however. It’s sort of an unwritten rule that games of this size and scope tend to have bugs, so it should go without saying that I encountered more than a few. They’re really a classic case of ‘niggles’ rather than anything else but I would be remised in my duty if I didn’t give them a mention. So, on the PC version, expect to see a few random crashes, objects stuck in the terrain and NPCs clipping through things.
It should go without saying that the ticket price of Crysis 3 is really for the single player campaign. Multiplayer does exist and it’s fairly decent, but I can’t imagine anyone spending extended periods of time with it – at least, not in the same vein as Call of Duty, Halo or Team Fortress 2. Looked at as a single player package, which is the way I view it, Crysis 3 stands as a surprisingly robust package.
The campaign, while relatively short (8-10 hours at the most) has a fair amount of replay value. Similar to the way you can fire up GTA to cause mayhem or The Amazing Spider-Man just to swing about, you can load up Crysis 3 to stalk in the jungles of New York.
- Reviewed On