Posted by Brad Webster on Feb 28, 2013

Crysis 3 Review

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Crysis 3
Developer: Crytek
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (Reviewed)
Released: February 21, 2013
Price: $59.99

Overview:
Crysis 3 is the final instalment in the popular Crysis series, which originally began on PC but later moved its way on to consoles. Well recognised for being a graphical juggernaut, the series has also come to be known for its fun, intuitive gameplay and unique Nanosuit powers, alongside a somewhat decent story to tie the package together. Does Crytek manage to continue this trend with Crysis 3 or is now finally the time for Crysis to power down? Read on to find out.

Story:
Crysis 3 follows the story of Prophet as he is cast into a world of war, sabotage and subterfuge. Awakened by fan favourite returning character “Psycho” in a CELL research lab, players will find that the world is not as it once was. Set 24 years after the events of Crysis 2, Prophet discovers a now overgrown New York  City encased in the “Liberty Dome”, a quarantine measure employed by the very company that were meant to protect the city’s inhabitants. In their time of free reign CELL forces have expanded vastly, nearly completely enveloping the planet in an iron fist of global domination. At the heart of this whole fiasco is the mysterious source of CELL’s power and strength, System X.

Prophet believes that CELL aren’t the main threat mankind should be worried about however, fearing the advance of the most powerful alien, the Alpha Ceph (original name right), and that it’s coming will trigger the true end of the world. With the Nanosuit now syncing more and more with the alien Ceph’s DNA, he begins to lose his own human identity in pursuit of defeating this one enemy. As expected things inevitably get much worse before they get better, and it is not long before you’re deep in not only human CELL but also alien Ceph forces.

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Unfortunately for the first half of the game little reason is given to the character to care or really get involved in the plot, often just standing off to the side as others argue or given simple orders and then left to their own devices. Crysis 3 really has a struggle with its own identity within the first half, trying too much to be a combination of the previous two games rolled into one before finally and reluctantly finding its footing on a more solid and much more enjoyable second half.

Characters in the game are solidly performed and realistic, with Psycho himself (despite being in a side-kick role) taking the cake for best acting alongside headstrong rebel leader Claire, who is at first unlikable but eventually comes into her own. Psycho has had his suit ripped from him in a CELL “skinning” procedure and is a little bitter about the experience to say the least, needless to say this provides for some truly touching moments from him as he grows as a character throughout the course of the plot.

In contrast, Prophet is disappointingly monotone and uninteresting for the majority of the game with some poor voice acting and of course, over acting. He is pretty unlikable for most of the game, with not a whole lot pulling him through the story other than the fact that he’s the main character. Luckily enough, like most of the game this is improved immensely by the time the final quarter rolls around, whereupon he actually has a personality and become much more three dimensional.

Visuals:
When developers Crytek stated publically that Crysis 3 would only be about 10% higher quality graphics than its predecessor on consoles, they weren’t joking. One thing they didn’t mention though were the numerous texture pop-ins, items loading into existence metres before you would run into them and lacklustre overall shine to the world you inhabit. While in some areas it does look a little better than Crysis 2 with clever use of lighting and more-on-screen objects now available, Crysis 2 didn’t suffer as much from un-optimized in-game loading, even after an install of the game beforehand.

Where Crysis 3 really dominates the graphical side of things is in its ability to render many, many more objects on-screen at any given time than most console games before it. Areas are vastly more detailed in this instalment and wide open areas are excellent to look at, with many areas being both rife in natural foliage and in artificial impact on the landscape; tying the ruined, overgrown New York City concept nicely together.

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Audio:
The sound design of the game is one thing that really is top notch for a shooter. Fans of it’s predecessor Crysis 2, will be happy to know the musical score itself is just as good here as it had been at anytime during the series and blends in well with the altering levels of action and quiet experienced throughout the story. Such musical design gets the player pumped during high-octane action sequences while on the complete opposite side of things makes them feel vulnerable during low violin dominated moments meant for emotional effect.

Weapons themselves sound like they have the appropriate level of kick and deadly force that one should expect from the vast range of human and alien tools of destruction available in Crysis 3. Whether it be the crack of a sniper rifle or the low thwack of an arrow hitting flesh, little falls behind in such awesome and comprehensive levels of sound. Special mention goes to the always cool voice inside the Nanosuit with such memorable lines like “Cloak Engaged” and “Maximum Armour” which you’ll be hearing a lot of in the game in a Soundwave-esque voice (so it’s lucky they sound so good).

Unfortunately friendly marine chatter is a bit of a drag, with one particular section coming to mind where you can hear them admitting a situation is hopeless over the radio. What plays is an incredibly monotonous, clearly bored dialogue of them obviously reading lines which seem to have meant to be screamed and shouted in desperation but come across as a bored TV infomercials actor’s attempts at a soap opera. Not exactly gripping reason to come to the rescue and a definite way to pull the player out of the experience.

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Luckily however most main and side characters themselves are well acted and each play their parts well. The most commendable being Psycho, who delivers his lines of action with the same level of enthusiasm as his lines of emotional struggle.

Prophet himself is competently handled by his voice actor throughout the game, although occasionally marred by some over-acting during dialogue, he presents a solid foundation and certainly has the voice for some great monologues at the beginning and end of the game.

Gameplay:
But really, you’re probably not going to be playing Crysis 3 for it’s story, nor even for it’s visuals or excellent audio. You play Crysis for the gameplay.

Any fans of first-person shooters will instantly feel right at home when they dive into the world of Crysis 3. Guns control well, controls are intuitive and tightly designed and enemies put up good fights with flanking, grenades and the genuine wish to not be killed.

You’ll experience many moments of total love and total frustration when playing through Crysis 3, often all in the one firefight. The game is of course designed to be the most fun when you combine all the abilities at your disposal, meaning if you try to go just with assault or just with stealth you are probably going to have a bad time. Even when combing the two, technical issues will get in the way in almost every battle. Try and lob a grenade at an enemy and it might bounce off the hit box of an object that is way wider than the object itself (seriously hugely wider), hide behind indestructible cover and still get spotted or shot, accidentally start hacking something in the middle of a fight and watch in horror as you get mowed down, an exit button being something that just seemed unnecessary for some reason.

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Crysis 3 tries to be a fun game but it also tries its hardest to ruin the experience for you.

While I have your attention let me just talk about the stealth. Oh man the horrendous stealth. Frequently advertised as being the game that lets you play how you want, it is really surprising that attempting to actually sneak in the game is hampered by so many issues. Enemies have eyes like hawks and so even if you have stealth mode off literally hundreds of metres from their position they will still see you… somehow. Bushes, cover and general terrain provide little assistance when they should be relied upon the most, instead making a quickly expiring energy metres for Cloak Mode your sole help. How about how a soldier can instantly look up and start shooting you despite previously looking at a wall four storeys down if you expose even a toe of yourself over the edge? And its completely inconsistent. Most times you’ll be seen no matter what unless you have stealth mode on or are hiding behind multiple thick walls, but in other cases, for example when you first enter a level, its clearly scripted that enemies can’t see the two metres above eye level it requires to catch you.

If you kill someone with out others noticing somehow, then the moment they find the corpse they turn around, look exactly at your current location (even if you moved since you killed him) and then start lobbing grenades at you. How is that even realistically possible?

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Upgrades are fairly pointless for the most part throughout the game. Now instead of killing Ceph soldiers to collect their Nano technology, you find little boxes scattered throughout levels that give you one upgrade point each. The problem is though that none of the upgrades are worth you scavenging environments to find; with my own play through using a total of two powers the entire game from an available four slots and 16 unique overall improvements. On the hardest difficulty I could see some of the slight stat increases and ability alterations helpful, but for all the difficulty levels up to Hard they seem useless.

Luckily though, after putting aside all that negativity and really getting into the game itself we can find a fun, albeit short ride to be had. My time at finishing the campaign itself clocked in at just under four and a half hours, on the Normal difficulty (including various stops to admire the view and toy with the gameplay). So yes, it is a little on the short side, but luckily features high replay value.

Each level has it’s own theme, from clean laboratory to run-down train yard and each level fits together well in the overall narrative. More open-ended levels allow for some truly enjoyable moments of planning and execution, where you tag enemies and ammo caches with your visor and then come up with the best way to deal with the situation.

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Weapons and enemies are all uniquely designed and fun to encounter through the game. Ceph weaponry is now available for Prophet to use and this compliments the already impressive and enjoyable roster of human weaponry. Guns can be altered on the fly to add different attachments, tools and scopes to easily suit the situation around you and Prophet’s Nanosuit (which is a weapon in itself) constantly entertains with the ability to kick harder, jump higher and use powerful abilities (linked to the story) that have never been available before. Human and Ceph soldiers are each fun to fight in their own way and act distinctly from one another, with each side gaining new and improved units for you to fight in the field.

Hacking is a new ability for the player to use that is incredibly useful to have throughout the game. Turrets and mines can be turned against their owners and this can result in some hilarious moments where your enemy won’t realise what’s happened until it is far too late. One issue with this unfortunately was that if you hack a turret that hasn’t yet fired upon anybody, then somehow everybody in the areas knows that it’s now hostile and shut it down within seconds. Which is really a bit confusing.

Other than that, players have a lot to look forward to from the now signature bow to the newly implemented, enjoyable driving sequences; adding up to an overall gaming product that while flawed can still grab a gamers’ attention.

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Overall:
Crysis 3 is an interesting game. Although it suffers from a number of story and general gameplay issues (some of which will presumably be patched out) the campaign can still be a fun romp for those that allow themselves to get swept up in the experience. Fans of the series may be a little disappointed in the new direction this instalment takes but those that have never played a Crysis title will definitely enjoy their time with this game. Crysis 3 isn’t a rough diamond nor is it the best we’ve seen in shooters this generation; but it certainly is a fun enough title in it’s own right.

7-0-capsules-out-of-10

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

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