Crysis 3 Review
Cart: Crysis 3
Cab: Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC
From time to time we’re all forced to brave beyond the familiarity of our cherished comfort zone. Raise your game and dress to impress: some relish the experience whereas others recoil in horror.
Change reveals all, it seems, and it’s something that the Crysis trilogy has seen more than its fair share of. The seismic shift from open-ended, sandbox experience on bleeding-edge PCs to tightly scripted, corridor shooter squeezed into ageing consoles left a good many scratching their nano-suited heads in utter disbelief. Not I.
Crysis landed during the early years of my hiatus from PC gaming, so I was more than happy to lap up its console-based sequel and the original remake that followed soon thereafter. Sampling both titles in relatively quick succession and in the wrong order painted their similarities and differences out in perhaps even starker contrast. Yet there was a distinctly tangible undercurrent flowing though the two in equal measure: a strong sense of both quality and refinement. From the sumptuous visuals to the memorable characters and open-ended, dynamic combat – it was clear that this was a series born of confidence, vision and of the desire to achieve something bold and unique in the fiercely unforgiving arena that is AAA Sci-Fi FPS.
Here was a franchise not merely trying; it was succeeding in rubbing shoulders with the messianic pillars of Half-Life and Halo. There was suddenly a third way.
And whilst Crytek must be lauded for having the brazened confidence and conviction to so heavily reformulate their recipe after such a successful opening act, it’s still to their immense credit that, for the final act, they have chosen to recalibrate things once more – albeit this time with only the very best that the series has to offer. As far as third acts of trilogies go, Crysis 3 is outrageously successful.
Set over twenty years after the end of its predecessor, we begin with Prophet caged in stasis by the C.E.L.L. Corporation. Since the defeat of the Ceph at the end of Crysis 2, C.E.L.L. have harvested what remained of their powerful technology to further fuel their nefarious ambition of global domination. It would appear that the last piece of the puzzle is to be found from harvesting Prophet’s suit from his body and it’s the transit of Prophet from cold-storage to C.E.L.L.’s fancy new bio-dome in New York that serves as the game’s opening act.
It’s in these opening sequences that the foil to Prophet’s angst is raucously fleshed-out in the form of the now de-suited, Psycho – the only other remaining Raptor Team member from the Lingshan incident in C1. Whilst this loud, brutish, cockney soundboard provides a solid platform on which to build tension and soul-searching, he’s somewhat of an unwelcome irritant at times given that the first two titles, whilst rich with supporting characters, never thrust anyone into your face quite so much as C3 does Psycho. It’s a strange juxtaposition in a series that has prided itself so much on lone-wolf freedoms – narratively and literally.
Quite simply: the guy well and truly gets into your bubble.
The trade-off is, however, ultimately worth it, with C3 delivering the most human and memorable plot in the franchise – one that manages to expertly tie-up all of those loose ends into a piercing arrow of delicious carnage and sci-fi goodness.
Speaking of bows: you must’ve had your head up a Ceph’s backside for this last year to have missed Prophet’s shiny new toy.
Given the mixed introduction of the bow into other franchises, I approached it here with some trepidation as opposed to the awe and wonder that I suspect the folks in marketing had hoped for. To my knowledge, the only game that has made good use of this seemingly misunderstood instrument is the N64 classic, Turok, with every other title since treating it like a somewhat hobbled and pathetic sniper-rifle. Given that Crysis’ attention has always been on guns, guts and glory: what hope was there of it being well-implemented here?
Plenty, it seems.
Introduced almost immediately, if somewhat ham-fistedly, the compound-bow is arguably the most deeply developed of all of C3’s many customisable and tactically versatile weapons. There are a variety of tips and even draw-strengths on offer to tailor the experience to any given scenario. Such is the way of Crysis. Bow ammunition is scarce and therefore the immense power of this weapon is balanced expertly with a sense of conservatism and restraint. Standard arrows can be retrieved from both fallen corpses and the environment – but will the path to them put you too much in harm’s way? Would it not be wiser to take the hit on ammunition and not risk a costly skirmish? Decisions, decisions…
Approaching any combat scenario is a pure joy: spotting and marking enemies; carefully considering the best tool for the job; further customising it to suit your particular play-style; plotting a path through the rich and varied terrain. It just never gets old – and all of this before you’ve considered whether or not to go in with cloak engaged or with maximum armour, or perhaps a bit of both?
The possibilities are, quite literally, endless.
Combined with what appears to be significantly improved AI and the prospect of swift re-enforcements should you create too much of a disturbance, what you’re left with is a game that doesn’t just challenge you to complete a section; it begs you to complete it with style. It’s one of those rare beasts that makes you feel compelled to restart a checkpoint just to see if you can make it through with your head held just that little bit higher.
I’d go for the bid dude first. Just saying.
As you start to settle into a particularly rhythmic and lethal routine, the Ceph appear just to mix things up, throwing you a lovely, alien-sized curveball. Feeling faster and more brutal than ever before and sporting some new combat classes that range from the irritatingly persistent to the terrifyingly resistant; C3 keeps you on your toes at all times like a truly great shooter should. It knows exactly when to vary the pace and mix its ingredients to keep things feeling fresh and progressive throughout. It’s rare that a game manages to consistently strike this balance for the duration; it’s an absolute joy to behold when it does.
And if the highs of the campaign weren’t enough to entice you back into fancy-pants spandex, multiplayer offers an equally robust, polished and refined experience.
Feeling like a perfectly balanced mixture of Halo, COD and at times Splinter Cell’s online components, the depth and breadth of variety on offer here is as impressive as the smooth net-code and masterful level design. Riffing off previous games in the series almost as much as basking in its own glory, its twelve maps are taut and well-balanced. The variety of modes on offer means that there’s plenty to become completely absorbed in and, as with the campaign, the whole experience is simply dripping with quality and professionalism. It’s almost impossible to fault and, quite simply, if you love Crysis, you’ll adore this.
And so in closing: a crescendo, not a whimper; an explosion, not a muted clap; a finely-tailored tuxedo, not an ill-fitting wedding suit. We asked and Crytek delivered. Perhaps even more so than any other AAA Sci-Fi FPS franchise given the awkward blip that was Halo 2’s incoherent plot and the painfully protracted exile of Half-Life. But word to the wise: you’re a super-soldier, so act like one.
Tackle C3 on anything but super-soldier difficulty and you’re completely missing the point of the exercise. Whereas some games ramp-up the difficulty with arbitrarily bad design decisions, Crysis has always achieved it by forcing you to think more deeply and more strategically about your actions and their consequences. In an age of run-and-gun carnage and the blind obsession with bigger = better, it’s the very definition of a cerebral shooter.
“They called me Prophet. Remember me”
Duly noted, my good man. Duly noted.
Check out all of our Crysis 3 coverage at out Crysis 3 Central
With our thanks to DMC for the original lead artwork on the review to help us celebrate this, our 100th article.
Happy Centenary, Voxelites!
The following two tabs change content below.
Husband. Parent. Gamer. Go figure.