Thanks to uniformly excellent dialogue, voice acting and facial animation, Crysis 3's characters are able to emote at a level well beyond the reach of the loud-mouthed marines
typically found in the genre. It's not quite Half-Life 2, but it's still a substantial jump in storytelling for the series. For a game about a hero that’s become more machine than man, Crysis 3 has a surprising amount of heart.
That’s not to say that the Crysis series is suddenly a sensitive new aged feelgoodery. You won’t be cloaking yourself and sneaking up on someone in order to give them a surprise snuggle and a kiss on the cheek. Like its predecessors, the gameplay of Crysis 3 is almost exclusively about killing, be it via an all-out assault or more surreptitious forms of slaughter. The new game is every bit as fluid and flexible (and fun) as fans have come to expect from Crytek's more sandbox style of shooting, and there are a handful of new additions to your arsenal that make each enemy encounter all the more entertaining.
You can now use the Nanosuit’s upgraded visor capabilities to hack electronic devices found in the environment, which is executed via a short timing-based mini-game. Opening locked doors is a fairly mundane means to an end, but the fun really starts when you hack automated turrets to turn on their owners, or electronic minefields which you can subsequently lure your enemies into. Hacking is certainly a handy addition that lends itself well to Crysis's freeform approach to firefights.
The more significant enhancement to Crysis 3’s combat is the Predator bow. It’s a one-shot kill weapon that can be used silently and with the cloak engaged, and although the capacity of your quiver is limited, regular arrows can be retrieved from corpses and re-purposed. The bow also has a handful of secondary fire modes, including electrified darts and thermite-tipped rounds. In fact, so powerful and enjoyable to use is the bow that it very nearly negates the need for the rest of the game’s high-powered arsenal, save for when you come up against some of the more well-armoured foes in the campaign’s latter half.
But new combat features aside, the biggest reason that Crysis 3 is such a consistent joy to play is because its control system is near flawless. The fact that you can quickly augment your weapons with different sights and grips without retreating into menu screens, or the ability to quickly pull out a grenade by double-tapping the weapon-switching button; it all works wonderfully and means there’s never any kind of artificial interface standing in the way of your natural instincts. Even on the PC version of the game playing with a controller almost topples the traditional mouse and keyboard: what you lose in mouse fidelity you gain in ergonomics. The exception to the rule on all platforms, however, are the handful of vehicular sections, which feature disappointingly clunky control by comparison.
While Prophet’s quest to topple the CELL Corporation and eradicate the alien Ceph feels slightly shorter than Crysis 2's campaign, its pacing is better and its levels offer up far more freedom and replayability. The seven campaign levels on offer mostly present a happy medium between the open sandboxes of the original Crysis and the more linear paths of Crysis 2, and some of the later areas in the game feel imposingly enormous, with multiple paths to take in approach of each skirmish and various secondary objectives to tackle at your leisure. As a result of the additional breathing room, Crysis 3 features a checkpoint system considerably more generous than that of the previous game, so it’s only on the harder difficulty settings that you’ll find yourself having to repeat large sections of the game.
As has become par for the franchise, Crysis 3 is an experience best enjoyed in the single-player campaign, but that’s not to say that the multiplayer component is in anyway poor. Once again outsourced to Crytek UK (the studio formerly known as Free Radical Design), the online side of things does a commendable job of appropriating the Call of Duty class/load-out/perk systems, but works best in the modes that leverage the Nanosuit powers. This is particularly exemplified by the new Hunter mode, which pits two cloaked hunters against a team of CELL troopers. Each trooper killed switches sides and becomes a hunter, until there’s one trooper left to nervously twitch and shoot at shadows. It’s genuinely intense stuff, and well worth investigating once you’ve polished off the campaign.
It’s not quite a next generation experience come early, but it’s a superbly controlled, tightly paced and tactically flexible shooter with a satisfyingly focussed story, and an excellent way to tie up the Crysis series... for now.
- +Standard setting visuals
- +Focussed narrative and believable characters
- +Sublime controls
- –Occasionally vague objective markers
- –Clunky vehicle sections
- –Multiplayer is solid but not world-beating