Platform | Release Date
360, PS3, PC | February 19, 2013
Developed by Crytek Frankfurt
Published by Electronic Arts
The award-winning developer Crytek is back with Crysis 3, the first blockbuster shooter of 2013. Return to the fight as Prophet, the Nanosuit soldier on a quest to save humanity. Adapt on the fly with the stealth and armor abilities of your unique Nanosuit as you battle through the seven wonders of New York’s Liberty Dome. Unleash the firepower of your all-new, high-tech bow and alien weaponry to hunt both human and alien enemies. Uncover the truth behind the death of your squad while reestablishing the power of human will in a rich story full of exciting twists and turns. Crysis 3 is the ultimate sandbox shooter, realized in the stunning visuals only Crytek and the latest version of CryENGINE can deliver. Assess, Adapt, and Attack!.
Before I say anything else, I have to compliment Crytek on making Crysis 3 a very pretty game. The facial animations and level art are incredible, but the meat of the game is terrible. The single-player campaign is incredibly dull, and I hate every single character with a passion. It is quite possibly the worst-case scenario for fans of the series. A decent multiplayer suite can only carry it so far.
Crysis 2 alienated a lot of people with its switch from a very open (though still largely linear) map to a series of smaller sandbox-style levels. Personally, I liked both games despite serious flaws in each, and found the level design in Crysis 2 still offered multiple paths and supported different play styles. Crysis 3 is a linear-shoot-em-fest with Nanosuit powers. Several levels during the middle of the campaign offer flashes of brilliance but even the best levels failed to engage me as much as the prior entries. Everything boils down to “cloak as much as possible while moving from point A to point B”.
Within the first forty-five minutes, Crytek hands you a bow that silently and instantly kills all but the heaviest enemies with a single hit. In theory, you can even recover your ammo. Join this with largely linear levels and truly atrocious AI, and you can sneak and shoot your way harmlessly through much of the campaign. The only reason the game gets hard later on is that, eventually, you will lose all of your arrows and the designers inexplicably fail to seed more than a handful of arrow ammo boxes (unless they are really hidden) throughout the game.
When forced to use conventional firearms, nothing felt right. Guns feel terrible, with no pop to them. Nailing headshots felt terrific in the prior games. It just feels stale here. ‘Oh, enemy down? Okay, I guess I can recloak and move on.’ Wait, what? I fell asleep at my keyboard?
If the action put me to sleep at the keyboard, the numerous inane cutscenes made want to bash my forehead on it. The player is stuck with an AI companion they have to wait for, follow, or listen to through much of the campaign. Gould from Crysis 2 was bad but I found his “pot-smoking scientist” voice mildly amusing. Psycho is awful. I wanted to shoot the guy at every opportunity, because he’s a massive dick and does nothing to support gameplay. For that matter, I disliked all of the supporting cast, and found even Prophet (the player character) to be annoying. More than anything, it’s clear you’re not playing a person – you’re playing a walking deus ex machina. The solution to every plot crisis in the game is “insert magic, previously unknown suit ability here”.
The original core of the series was about flexible approaches, hit-and-run guerrilla tactics, but Crysis 3 shoves the player through a Call of Duty linear meatgrinder of “ooh” and “ah” spectacle moments that fall flat at every occasion. The player is supposed to be aiding a rebellion who, presumably, can’t possibly stand up against the CELL Corporation in a pitched battle. Something akin to Far Cry 3 or Just Cause 2’s “chaos meter” with the Nanosuit toolbox could have been interesting, particularly given the gorgeous ‘urban jungle’ art direction. No, instead we get gems like a terrible driving level and AI which can’t detect me when cloaked even when I stand right in front of them.
It isn’t an unmitigated disaster. Unexpectedly, I’ve been quite enjoying the multiplayer, though it could be titled “Call of Duty Iteration XXVII: Now With a Nanosuit!”. Action, whether in objective or deathmatch modes, is frantic and fast-paced. The maps are beautiful but none of the levels are particularly memorable from a design perspective. Moving between armor, stealth, and speed (standard) modes adds a nice tactical layer but even fully armored soldiers are quite fragile.
Matchmaking via Origin is smooth. Unlike Battlefield 3 the server browser is built into the game, and search parameters are nicely customizable. The Quick Match function would almost always stick me into servers with fewer than 6 players logged in, instead of finding servers near capacity. It’s a shame matches are capped at 16 players, because certain maps and modes could easily support 24 or 32 players without getting too crazy.
Weapon balance is downright terrible at present, particularly since starting weapons for each of the classes are garbage compared to mid-level unlocks. I can live with the bow, since it requires a fair amount of skill, but shotguns and grenades should not be one-hit kills for fully armored opponents. I have also seen occasional evidence of hacking, even within a few days after launch. I hope Crytek gets the game locked down, because that’s a quick way for a PC multiplayer game to die – especially when the “kick from match” system doesn’t work (I have yet to see a successful ban vote actually disconnect the hacking player).
I may periodically check back on the multiplayer, because all of the positive scoring play sessions came from that part of the game, but I’m not super into competitive FPS’s these days. What I’d really hoped for was a solid, replayable campaign and I’ve been utterly disappointed on that front. Unlike the previous entries, Crysis 3 has maybe two good levels in it, and that’s a damn shame.