By Bryce Wilson
Gamers who have experienced the last two entries as one of Crysis' overly enhanced soldiers should expect the ability to wreak havoc with their skills and toolset again in the latest installment of the series: Crysis 3.
After what could be only be described as a lacklustre installment in Crysis 2, you can immediately tell that Crytek has brought their a-game to the table in the writing and character development within the series' third entry. The same overarching fight against the tyrannical CELL Corporation is there, but we now see character development and a relationship grow between protagonist the characters Prophet and Crysis alumni Michael "Psycho" Sykes.
The story is noticeably shorter than that in Crysis 2, but the pacing feels better and more “contained”. Each of the seven story missions offer an abundance of replayability, and most importantly, Crysis 3 offers freedom. The linear shoehorning of Crysis 2 has been omitted in lieu of open areas akin to the series’ first entry, and Crytek has also introduced various secondary objectives into the mix. As a direct result of the new and open environments, the brutally punishing checkpoints from Crysis 2 that would make you backtrack large segments of the levels have been removed, and in its place a much more forgiving and enjoyable system now exists.
Despite the added freedom and non-linear pathways, the missions themselves often lack inspiration and often feel like the same “been there, done that” soiree. The obligatory on-rails helicopter experience has been included and feels unnecessary, deviating players from enjoying the smooth and fluid core gameplay, and dropping them straight into clunky and unintuitive shooting galleries.
Following the events of Crysis 2, the CELL Corp. has erected massive biodomes to speed up nature’s reclamation of the shattered New York City. When the hulking steel gates open into the Liberty Dome (your primary area), you’re likely to just stand there in awe and wonder as you admire the individually rendered grass and trees. The mix of the “concrete jungle” and the real life vegetation creates an interesting environment ripe with gameplay possibilities and opportunities.
One of those opportunities is the new Predator bow (is 2013 the “Year of the Bow” or is it just me?). A one-shot kill weapon, you can use your Predator bow with your cloak permanently engaged, picking enemies off from afar or up close. In accoutrement to the regular firing mode, your bow can be configured to stealthily dispatch foes with electrified and thermite-tipped darts, the latter of which really isn’t that stealthy. You’re also able to go hands-on with some of the Ceph’s vicious arsenal, including my personal favourite, the Typhoon.
You can now use the Nanosuit’s hi-tech visor to hack electronic devices scattered through the levels, through a short button pressing mini-game. You’ll start out opening pathways into locked areas, before moving on to turn defensive turrets and minefields against their owners. It adds another tactical and chaotic thread to an already well woven tapestry, and it never feels forced or in the way.
After the admittedly tacked on feeling multiplayer present in the last game, Crysis 3 features an improved and higher quality multiplayer aspect. Developed by the same outsourced team (Crytek UK), the multiplayer component feels thorough and fleshed out, and while it makes use of Call of Duty’s famous (or infamous) class based system, it also works in the fun and unique powers of the Nanosuit. The greatest inclusion to the multiplayer aspect is a new mode, Hunter.
Hunter mode pits two cloaked hunters eqiupped with bows against a team of stranded CELL soldiers. It’s very similar to a game of tag. Once you kill a CELL soldier they switch sides, and this continues until you’ve completely eliminated the enemy team. It’s intense, exhilerating, and gives off an incredibly eerie Predator-esque vibe (and there’s even “choppahs” for you to get to).
Crysis 3 is a well polished experience and iteration in a series that many felt had lost its direction following Crysis 2. The campaign features some of the most fun you can have in a modern shooter, and the added story depth and writing makes it feel like you have a purpose. The level of control and gunplay is superb, and the fast-paced and open environments breathe life into a exceptional sequel.