Crysis 3 is like that friend you had in high-school who topped every class, was on a bunch of sports teams, and yet still had time to hang out with you. It fills you with awe and envy all at once, and then you find out that he has a weird thing for poodles, or he won’t eat anything with the letter L in its name, and that super-human shimmer dulls a little.
Crytek are historically known for pushing the graphical boundaries with their games. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that a good portion of Crytek’s game sales come solely from people who want to use the latest title as a graphical benchmark for their machine. It helps that the games have been pretty good, and Crysis 3 is no exception.
Set a couple decades after the events of Crysis 2, Crysis 3 is the story of a suit. I know this because every second line of dialogue mentions the Nanosuit that your character, Prophet, is wearing. Prophet himself? Not so important. That suit, though… that’s where it’s at. The Ceph and CELL factions make a return, and Crysis 3 also brings back the character Psycho from Crysis: Warhead, and gives you ample time to get to know and love the back of his bald head.
And it is, yes, an astoundingly well-rendered bald head. Everything in Crysis 3 is a visual masterpiece, so long as you have the hardware to do it justice. Running on a GeForce GTX 680, Crysis 3 ran at an average of about 30 frames during the more hectic sequences, with every feature maxed out. And it looked absolutely superb (all the screenshots you see here were captured on my machine). I regularly halted my progress to look at a gorgeous stream, or mess around in the grass, or shoot a squirrel.
It’s so stupidly gorgeous, that there are moments that make Crysis 3 feel ill-suited to the FPS genre, with all the blood and user-interface effects crowding out your view of the wonderful scenery. It should have been a first-person-looker.
But like the rest of the series, the mechanics in Crysis 3 provide the groundwork for a huge amount of fun. All the mechanics from Crysis 2 have carried over with the exception of the ability to stick to cover and peek around corners. You can still sprint (this time without expending energy), kick cars, jump massive gaps, stealth, and boost your armor. The removal of the cover system, while a bit of a bummer, has made room for the introduction of a hacking mechanic.
Battlefields are scattered with mines and turrets that can be hugely threatening if you wander in unprepared. But with hacking, which involves a short timing-based mini-game, you can turn these threats to your side, perhaps taking out a few foes that were otherwise hidden from your view. Hacking provides a substantial amount of tactical depth in a game that is already crammed with options for the player.
Most of the game is comprised of surprisingly large set-pieces, some of which span kilometers entirely seamlessly. You’re typically given an objective or two, and a marker tells you where the objectives are. How you actually get there, though, is totally up to you. I found myself taking what I assumed was the best path there, only to later find there were half a dozen totally different ways I could have gone about it.
I could have also used a long-range weapon to deal with my enemies or tried to sneak up into melee range for a stealth kill. Or I could tweak my weapon with several different modifications to change how it aims or fires or how much ammunition it can hold. Or I could tweak my actual suit abilities with upgrade points that are scattered throughout.
But for all of the great things in Crysis 3, there are still a few missteps. Later in the campaign, the game eschews its open-world vibe and throws a rather awkward and very linear driving portion that plays clumsily, and undermines some of the values the player has come to expect.
The middle portions of the game are also a great deal stronger than the final chapter or two. During the better portions, the focus tends to be on the fun of playing hide-and-seek with deadly dudes in the massive playground of New York. It plays to Crysis‘s strengths; mobility, choice and breathtaking visuals. The latter portions, by contrast, are visually drab and often lock you into much more narrow areas, with fewer tactical choices and more frustrating – but not necessarily more difficult – foes.
It also introduces a frankly ridiculous invulnerability mechanic which removes all of the challenge from what is meant to be the most tense portion of the game. It’s silly, and once you understand how to make the most of it, even the toughest aliens become trivial. And by “the toughest aliens”, I mean the final boss. So that’s disappointing.
There are also a handful of bugs. Twitchy corpses, objects that fall through the world or fly through walls, and sound clips that skip or cut out completely are all fairly frequent occurrences. But they’re not really frequent enough to ruin the overall experience. And they certainly don’t affect how frickin’ awesome overgrown New York looks, so get over it you dumb baby.
The campaign is pretty short – about six hours, give or take – but there’s a comprehensive multiplayer suite with your typical ranking system and item unlocks, and all the suit-powers and weapons from the campaign. You may want to avoid using Quickmatch, as it threw me into a game in the UK, where I had a 700+ ping (I still totally came second. Yeaaaah) and instead rely on local servers – coincidentally, did you know games.on.net is running 25 Crysis 3 multiplayer servers right here in Australia? How about that.
There are also a whole bunch of story-related collectibles, if you really want to dig down into Crysis‘s pretty silly plot. Crysis 3 isn’t the greatest shooter ever made, but it’s hugely entertaining, lets you play creatively, and is currently the single best way to fry your video card. If that’s not a great reason to check it out then I don’t know what is.
- Look at those graphics.
- Seriously, look at those graphics.
- There’s also a game that goes with those graphics.
- And it’s pretty fun.
- At least until you get to the driving sections
- Or the last couple chapters.