Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: February 19, 2013
Blame the long generation or aversion to new IP, but trilogies have been one of the popular trends within these past few years. We’ve even seen trilogies within trilogies. The third time is rarely the charm in video games, since the mechanics have usually been refined and nearly perfected in the sequel and basically repeated for the final chapter. Although surprise isn’t par for the course for the trilogy-ending installment, these games are usually well-made, if maybe lateral steps considering the whole franchise. Crysis 3 does give a sense of surprise, but in the opposite of Crytek’s intention. Aside from the multiplayer, Crysis 3 fails to add any spice to the formula while simultaneously stepping back in a few key ways.
Crysis‘ approach to combat was refreshing. Corridors were frowned upon in favor of a wider landscape, full of opportunities to utilize the signature stealth cloak and armor from the Nanosuit to the best of your abilities. Stealth and loud action were intelligently balanced with no playstyle feeling “wrong.” Crysis 2‘s technique was toned down and felt more like a “normal shooter,” but had enough open areas that encouraged a more improved, if focused, experience.
Crysis 3 aims to emulate the playground in these prior games but loses its charm along the way. Early levels show promise, with some of the arenas and atmosphere reflecting a small tinge of old Crysis but quickly ditches any goodwill in a few distinct ways. The new bow, while entirely unbalanced, is a whole lot of fun to use. It won’t uncloak you like other weapons, making it a vital tool for sneaking.
Perhaps too vital, since the bow negates most of the stealth strategies simply by being overpowered. Since you’ll stay invisible while firing and arrows are easily recycled, it makes other weapons obsolete in these scenarios. Once a foe is quietly shot with an arrow, his dumb buddies will investigate the corpse, leading to a whole train of dead idiots as you pop them off one by one. I tried to switch to silenced weaponry and melee kills, but each had shortcomings. Stealth kills are still too finicky (which leads to an instant alarm) and silenced weaponry can alert the enemy far too quickly. Weaknesses are expected for certain weapons but since the bow doesn’t have any, it makes it almost stupid to switch to any other weapon. Would you rather sneakily dispatch of everyone or risk an immediate alert by reverting to the old fashioned way?
The old fashioned way isn’t even as pristine. Lacking the openness of Crysis, there aren’t as many options to give a satisfactory sense of discovery. A more linear approach is the star on Crysis 3‘s menu, but unlike Crysis 2, enemies usually don’t feel like they were placed with the utmost care. Between numbers and the sheer quality of their vision, sneaking around with a silenced weapon and knife is far from the ideal method in most scenarios. Far too often the soldiers and aliens notice you as soon as you uncloak and come straight at you with their limited AI capabilities. They might have 40/20 vision, but they have little planning in their rulebook and will usually casually wait around to die. Powering through in armor mode doesn’t even seem as strategic.
In the beginning, enemy set ups are questionable, but still passable. However, in classic Crysis tradition, the last few hours are a drastic step down in quality in nearly every conceivable way. Sloppy enemy configurations make every open area far more tedious than strategic. Instead of taking pride in the stealthy approach and carefully picking off each infantry unit, it becomes far less grating to just run past everything holding a gun. Be it number or arrangement, the combat arenas just feel off and unsatisfying because of it.
Part of this empty feeling can be attributed to the bugs that manifested many times in my time with Crysis 3. Other than the slightly humorous cosmetic glitches, one hampered my game enough to make me alter my style. Instead of having a full clip of ammo, it would often say I was fresh out, but telling me I had forty bullets out of negative eighty. Besides being logically fucked, it basically robbed me of a weapon slot and didn’t help me during alerts. Glitches and other anomalies usually only affect a portion of the userbase, but this one in particular wouldn’t solve itself and plagued my entire playthrough.
I only wish I could blame Crysis 3‘s story on a few bugs. Proving that suicide is an easy way out, Prophet, after capping himself in the mustache in Crysis 2, continues to serve and stop the Ceph and Cell threat. Beyond that is about six hours of laughable drama drama, moderately funny comments from your accented companion Psycho, and hammy, boring storytelling that goes on to become outright bad. Prophet has glimmering moments that show that he has potential to be an engaging protagonist, but he is utterly surrounded by some of the lamest narrative confines in recent memory.
Single player will leave most players wanting, but the online offering is the reason to try Crysis 3. Customizing your character and leveling up is standard and extensive, but the staying power lies more within the gameplay than the surrounding metagame. The suit powers from stealth, armor, and strength coat the stale first-person shooting with a more mobile and vertical element to give it a fresher take than the other copycats. Figuring out when to hide and when to go on the offensive is a level of strategy the suit allows and thus gives the online mode its own face. Other small touches like presentation, the plethora of modes, and rare power weapons all lend to the idea that Crytek put half of its budget in the online mode.
The other half of the budget must have been spent on the sheer graphical horsepower Crysis 3 emits. Crysis has always contained a signature astonishing quality in its visuals, something Crysis 3 keeps up even after all of these long years. Just from a raw technical perspective, few multiplatform titles can stand eye-level to Crysis 3. Confined levels look spectacular due to immense detail and pretty lighting, but the more open environments are simply stunning. Once you are allowed to escape the confines of linearity, the first opening shot of the busted New York City sets the visual tone well. Lush jungles pop with the beautiful greens they emit and the titanic scale of most objects makes their fidelity twice as impressive.
Pound for pound, Crysis 3 is an embarrassment to the family name. Even standing on its own two feet, Crysis 3‘s shortcomings are severe enough to knock it down to a lightweight status. On the surface, it contains all the Crysis attributes but completely fumbles what to actually do with it. Flubbed, unbalanced combat set ups and a hideous narrative completely overwrite what the impressive visuals and solid multiplayer achieve, leaving an overall sour residue on the whole experience. The third installment is usually similar, yet adds enough to formula to carve out its own niche within the series. Crysis 3 only stands out because of its the only one wearing a knock off Nanosuit from the flea market.
+Gorgeous visuals and great animation
+Online modes offer plenty of modes with a unique twist on first-person shooting
-Weapons are unbalanced
-Combat playgrounds are less thoughtful and sloppily executed