When it comes to first person shooters, few can boast that they broke the same ground as the Crysis series, especially when it came to aesthetics. Commonly regarded as one of the most beautiful shooters ever created, this ‘PC killer’ made many-an-owner upgrade their rig back in 2007 just to see how it would look. Inevitably, with success the word spread and when Crysis 2 was announced at E3 in 2009 a console version came as no surprise. But much like the Nanosuit itself, Crysis had to evolve into something new in order to do what it wanted on consoles. Crysis 2 was a different beast.
What had made Crysis special for many (besides the ground-breaking visuals) were the open environments in which it had taken place. The Lingshan Islands, on which the majority of Crysis occurs had been a huge, open expanse filled with jungles, beaches, fields and mountains. This had allowed players to approach each situation in any way they saw fit and gave a sense of freedom that, at the time at least, was often only found in PC gaming.
Crysis 2 scaled this back considerably. The thick jungles and open expanses were replaced with a much more linear (recently alien-occupied) New York City. This in turn also saw the introduction of many more set pieces placing Crysis 2 in line with a more traditional, contemporary console shooter. Dividing the fan base somewhat, many maintained that the open structure of the original was the superior experience, while others did not mind (or even preferred) this new change of pace. So how does Crytek’s latest entry into the franchise fair against its predecessors? It seems a middle ground may have been reached, with mostly positive results.
It’s been twenty four years since the events of Crysis 2 and the world has once again changed. The alien race (known as the Ceph) that were unearthed early in the series and served as the attempting enslaver to the human race in Crysis 2 seem to have all but been defeated (baring a few stragglers). The evil CELL Corporation that was a prominent if not focal foe in the events of Crysis 2 seems to now be the main concern for the reawakened Prophet and the returning Psycho, who makes a welcome return to the series. CELL have encased New York in a huge Bio-Dome and let nature retake the carcass of the once prospering city, supposedly to contain the threat. However, all is not as it appears and Prophet soon discovers there is much more to this story.
Although a little brief, Crysis 3’s tale does succeed in many areas that were lacking in previous instalments. Despite having some fantastic ideas, the series up until now has on occasion lacked a solid narrative structure due to some instances of style over substance and set piece over story. What Crysis 3 does right is it tells a much more personal tale with much more believable characters. Long-term fans should not be worried however, the set pieces are still here and the action is as high octane as ever but it carries much more weight here and this heavier emphasis on a lower level of suspension of disbelief should be commended.
If there is any problem with Crysis 3’s story, it’s with some of its pacing. It occasionally seems to lose the thread of its own narrative making for a few sections that feel somewhat detached from the rest of the story. The ending also feels a little rushed and unfortunately doesn’t fully live up to expectations making the game a lot shorter than I am sure many were expecting. I played the game on normal first time through and it took me around six hours to complete, making it the shortest Crysis so far. This is not to say there is no replay value. With stacks of collectables and higher difficulties as well as some tough Trophies and a decent multiplayer, there is plenty to do here. However, if you are a player who just wants to experience the campaign for the story, £40+ may feel a little steep.
Despite these flaws however, Crysis 3 is still the strongest story in the franchise so far. Keeping it spoiler free, I will simply say that any fan of the series or newcomer should enjoy the story on offer here. There are enough twists to keep it interesting and there is never a point where the game feels dragged out. If anything Crysis 3 could have gone on for a few more hours.
So now we have covered the story, let’s move on to one of the most defining factors of this series, the visuals. It goes without saying that the PC version of Crysis 3 will boast the best visuals and performance (depending on the rig) but despite both home consoles reaching the end of their respective life cycles they are still managing to give the PC a run for its money. This is partly due to the games incredibly original setting and concept that sees the joining of a post-apocalyptic cityscape with a heavily overgrown jungle. From the half street half rivers that run down toward a collapsed skyscraper to the large fields and overgrown train yards there is a lot to look at here, and it all looks great. This in turn makes the style of Crysis 3 an exact cross of the two previous titles in the franchise and the visuals once again live up to the high expectations that are expected by the IP’s lineage.
But the idea of Crysis 3 being a cross of its predecessors does not end with the games breathtaking aesthetics. It can also be seen in the games design and game play. Some areas are linear making them feel like Crysis 2 whereas others are open with multiple methods of approach bearing a striking similarity to the original. The idea of an overgrown city/jungle makes for a figurative and literal merging of the ideas set forth by both the games predecessors in an attempt to strike a middle ground for fans of both Crysis and Crysis 2. Although some results are mixed, Crysis 3 does succeed in most of what it sets out to do and is sure to have flashes of brilliance (if not a sustained level) for hardcore fans of either earlier games in the series.
There is one thing that Crysis 3 has over both its predecessors however and it stands as possibly Crysis 3’s most innovative and impressive new addition to the series. I speak of course of the Compound Bow. I have absolutely no hesitation in saying that this is one of the greatest weapons in recent memory when it comes to the world of video games and Crytek should be applauded for its design and balance within the game. It is powerful but requires skill to wield successfully (especially on higher difficulties) and is fun without getting dull. If the Compound Bow has a flaw, it’s that I simply found it hard to use any other weapon for almost the game’s entire duration as I was having too much fun. Trust me; firing an explosive arrow into an unsuspecting enemy is never going to get old.
As well as its campaign, Crysis 3 also boasts a pretty large multiplayer component. Much like Crysis 2, the multiplayer is a solid addition here but is nothing world changing. Borrowing from other FPS titles on the market, Crysis 3 has just enough different about it to make it feel like a welcome change from the norm. However it unfortunately lacks the levels of innovation that would allow it to topple some of its competitors in this field.
There are several new game types as well as the staple deathmatch, team deathmatch capture the flag etc. The new map selection keeps things interesting enough but it’s the franchises Nano Suit that continues to keep things fresh. The stand out new game mode here is ‘Hunter’ in which 2 players start as Nano Suit wearing super-soldier hunters equipped only with the compound bow and cloaking ability while all other players play as CELL soldiers. Every time a hunter kills a CELL soldier, they join their ranks as another hunter. This makes for some intense gameplay and great matches. However, much like the other game types, it unfortunately won’t keep you coming back forever.
All-in-all Crysis 3 is a great package, despite burning bright half as long. It may have not been exactly what all the fans wanted, but it does a great job of trying to appease as many as it can without sacrificing too much. Add to this a decent, if not groundbreaking multiplayer suite and you have a solid FPS that is more than worth a look.
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