Genre: First Person Shooter Developer: Crytek Publisher: EA Classification: MA15+ Release Date: 22nd Feb 2013 Platforms:
Average of 4 Ratings
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As an alien tech wearing supersuited soldier fighting for humanity you represent the final round in the chamber fired at the unrelenting forces determined to tear our world apart. You are the final hope to save mankind from both an alien invasion by the Ceph and C.E.L.L. a corporation hellbent on taking over the world utilising stolen alien hardware. But there’s a little more to it than that. Crysis 3 also focuses on another struggle for humanity, an internal one which questions the nature of a man’s existence and judge his worth.
As Major Laurence "Prophet" Barnes, former leader of Raptor Team, you have at your disposal a exoskeleton comprised of nano-technology from Ceph alien hardware. This tech has bonded with you and has an almost Venom-like symbiotic relationship. It makes you faster, stronger, resilient to bullets, you can leap tall buildings in a single bound (almost) and Predator cloak yourself and be all stealth like.
Your partner, Sergeant Michael "Psycho" Sykes, much like yourself, had the same type of nanosuit fused to him, but after being taken by C.E.L.L. operatives had it forcibly removed. Ripping it off his skin has left him a shell of the soldier he used to be. As Prophet tries to understand the changes taking hold as he becomes more in tune with his suit, Psycho laments the abilities he’s lost and struggles to come to terms with his all too ‘human’ frailties. He doubts who he is without it and his inherent value to the fight. It’s as much an internal struggle as it is external, and the two of you represent the last chance for mankind.
The near victory in the war with the Ceph has come at a terrible cost. With the aliens all but wiped from the face of the planet New York has been pretty much destroyed. What remains has been harnessed by C.E.L.L. under a nanodome for its own nefarious uses as it experiments using Ceph technology and it’s up to you and Psycho to pull its plug.
Nature has reclaimed the city and when you first set foot in New York it’s hard not to take a moment to gasp and drink it in. Crytek has done a spectacular job in the graphics department and not merely on PC. I reviewed this on the PS3 and it still looked magnificent. The subtle lighting effects at night dodging searchlights, the believable sway of grass in the wind under the morning sun and those ‘bang for your buck’ blockbuster movie styled moments all took my breath away.
The visuals were enhanced by a truly beautiful orchestral score perfectly reinforcing the emotionality of each scene. Even crumbling and dilapidated it was a gorgeous world to behold and be a part of, but it was infested and overrun. It was time to use every tool in Prophet’s arsenal to take it to C.E.L.L. and put every one of those sons of ******* in the hurt locker.
Rather than using traditional health bars, thanks to your nanosuit, you’ve got an energy meter. Thanks to your augmented abilities you can redirect it into armour so you’re hard as nails or a cloak to slip by all sneaky sneaky. These abilities are central to your gameplay as you decide whether or not to slip by and silently kill when necessary to avoid conflict or jump right in and bring the pain. Traditionally I’m not a huge fan of stealth but found myself relying heavily on it for two reasons.
There’s a threat meter next to your HUD displaying how alerted the enemy is to your presence. The louder you tread and more obvious you are the more reinforcements they call in. Call me crazy but I wasn’t planning on stacking bodies table high. I wanted to get in, get the job done, spill some raspberry jam and move on.
To aid in this effort you’ve got a new toy to play with. Yep, it’s the flavour of the month, the compound bow. Not only is it a perfect silent killer but you can also reclaim arrows from fallen foes, add explosive, incendiary and shocking tips for added lethality but you can also adjust the draw strength. I was a huge fan of setting it to maximum and pinning anything to everything. I barely stifled a giggle when I popped the “Stick Around” trophy for doing so.
Within a few hours I went from my usual shotgun every fool in the face mentality into complete stalker mode and found it incredibly rewarding to do so. You tend to make it through most levels considerably quicker and arguably tenser. The real payoff, however, was overhearing C.E.L.L. soldiers talking **** when they realised I was in the area initially mouthing off about how my fancy cloak wouldn’t save me.
After I’d dispatched more than a few their bravado quickly turned to fear. They started to channel Hudson from Aliens completely freaking out and losing the plot as I surgically relieved them of the burden of life. I spent the majority of the game primarily using the bow. With the exception of a few tougher Ceph enemy classes towards the end of the campaign, everything was pretty much a one hit kill so I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so as well.
Other new features included the hacking ability to take over turrets, override door locks, minefields and even hack individual enemy defences. Using this alongside your enhanced vision to tag and track troop movements brought with it an added level of strategy for those who like to mess around with enemy AI like I do.
You can also upgrade your nanosuit with a myriad of options to suit any playstyle and equip four abilities at any time. Each has a higher tier available by completing specific tasks and you’ll find upgrade packages by exploring or completing secondary missions. These missions have a more tangible effect in the final assault offering back-up to make your transition through the waves of C.E.L.L. troops and Ceph stragglers that much easier in the closing sections.
Gameplay itself is a gloriously smooth affair and Crytek should be applauded for how unbelievably natural and intuitive it feels. You’ll take to it as easily as breathing as you unconsciously switch between armour and cloak on the fly barely even thinking about it. Every motion is sensually animated (yes, it was a sexual experience) from the powerful melee blows or kicks, to the drawback of your compound bow, to hefting yourself up onto a ledge after power jumping. You’ll almost feel like you’re actually there accomplishing these superhuman feats.
Speaking of superhuman feats, a second tip of the cap to Crytek for the weapons interface and customisation menu. By simply holding down ‘select’ you can micromanage your arsenal, switch in and out ammunition types, attachments, barrels, everything, all with a few quick button presses. Every first-person shooter developer should take note and adopt its simplicity. It keeps you in the thick of it and allows you to adapt virtually instantaneously.
Level design is a hybrid of the two previous iterations of Crysis alternating between corridor shooter sections and larger more expansive sandboxy type affairs. Here’s where Crysis 3 shows the first cracks in its nanosuit armour. The linear sections are often completely unimaginative and the open sections, while offering several pathways, don’t quite feel open enough. For all of Crytek’s talk of verticality I never felt like I could access the places I really wanted to.
Several inexplicable moments occurred in the final sections of the game. Up until this point objective markers had been clearly laid out for the majority of the campaign. This allowed for a smooth ride and carried the pacing and momentum along stellarly. Suddenly these disappeared with unclear, at times, cryptic markers leading to moments of frustration that really dragged the gameplay down.
These coupled with some positively terrible vehicle sections with poor handling and again unclear objectives really pumped the brakes on the momentum. I felt like I was rushing towards a final climactic showdown and then stopped for a coffee and a bagel, went to check my Facebook and then had a wander through a garden maze. It really didn’t do the pacing any favours and took away some of the punch of the final act.
While it’s tremendously fun punching train carriages, embedding a knife into a chest cavity from behind or pinning some schmuck to the wall with an arrow I found the investigation of the more human elements the most alluring. The explosive ‘wow’ moments delivered everything I hoped for but the friendship between Prophet and Psycho kept me even more enthralled.
As Prophet you’re losing and sacrificing your humanity for the greater good, while Psycho is painfully retaining his, lamenting the loss of his nanosuit and trying to see what he has to offer in his limited capacity. This resonated with me far more than the blowing up of facilities or epic scale battles for the future of the planet. It’s the more human moments that will stay with you.
Crysis 3 almost knocks it out of the ballpark on so many levels. The controls and visuals are certainly spot on, but the level design and pacing both have sporadic moments that let it, and you, down. The vehicle sections felt extremely tacked on and almost thrown in for the hell of it. Humanising the conflict definitely helps ground this otherworldly supersoldier experience. I just wish they’d delved into it a little deeper on all fronts. You will too.