A suit, a bow, and not much else.
Visually, Crysis 3 is impressive. In a post-apocalyptic New York City Liberty Dome, crumbling skyscrapers open up to lush fields of vegetation and wildlife. Simply put, the game is beautiful. But to be great, games need to be more than beautiful. That’s where Crysis suffers. Questionable balance, forgettable characters, and generic multiplayer keep a solid game from being much more than a set of gorgeous screenshots.
Stalking enemies with the help of the nanosuit feels impressive and powerful. The faster Prophet moves while cloaked, the faster the energy supply depletes. I appreciated the tension that came from finding myself out in the open as I desperately tried to reach cover before my energy depleted. Unfortunately the unremarkable AI means being caught is more annoying than it is dangerous. Watching CELL soldiers call in reinforcements as they advance on your location looks impressive, but soldier’s actions are predictable and easy to counter.
Enemies will employ explosive and EMP grenades to attack the area where you were last sighted, but that also means they’ll have their backs turned to wherever you’ve since scampered off to. Ceph enemies aren’t much better as they swarm your location, becoming cannon fodder in the process.
The Predator Bow is a one-hit kill weapon with very limited ammo, though you can retrieve the arrows you’ve fired. Using the Preditor Bow does not break stealth, and while the ability to silently and invisibly take down enemies with a bow and arrow is empowering, it also makes much higher-risk melee kills completely unnecessary.
Nanosuit abilities can be upgraded by finding and spending upgrade units, and each weapon has a set of customization options. Weapon parts can be changed out on the fly thanks to the game’s brilliant fast-swap system, though the customization of abilities and weapons becomes an afterthought thanks to the already overpowered suit and bow.
Crysis 3‘s story picks up after the events of the second game. With CELL exploiting Ceph technology to create a monopoly on the world’s power supply, humanity has been forced into a brutal form of endentured servitude. The rebellion looks to topple CELL by destroying their power supply, and they’ll need to rescue Prophet in order to do so.
Prophet — whose memories were transfered to the body of Alcatraz when he donned the suit in the second game — worries of a bigger threat. Mysterious visions have shown him that the Alpha Ceph remains, and that the Ceph threat is far from over. As he aids in the rebellion against the CELL, a Ceph invasion is triggered and Prophet’s visions begin to come true.
A weak cast and lack of a single strong antagonist make the average-length campaign drag. As a hero, Prophet lacks personality and relatability. Supporting characters are forgettable, particularly for those who aren’t already invested in the series’ history. Psycho stands out as a character who was both well written and expertly acted — but he’s the exception to the rule. And the enemies that stand between the game’s opening scenes and the final credits are little more than faceless waves of CELL soldiers and Ceph.
If it’s not getting better, and it’s not staying the same…
Missions feature linear progression with large, open areas between check-points. While the feeling of “checkpoint-chasing” never went away, I appreciated being able to find my own approach to each battle. Reaching a checkpoint triggers a scripted event that opens up the next area to explore, usually. Throughout the campaign, I was forced to re-load prior saves at least four separate times due to an event failing to trigger. These moments are beyond frustrating, particularly when you can’t tell if something is glitched or if you’re just failing to find the proper objective.
To make matters worse, the game waits until the latest stages before introducing vehicles that are anything but fun to drive. There’s always a danger in introducing new gameplay mechanics late in a game’s story. Crysis 3 could be the poster-child for the argument against the practice. End-game content becomes a frustrating grind that all but throws out anything that set the game apart in the first place. When the credits finally roll, the campaign’s ending satisfies for all the wrong reasons.
It is hard to recommend Crysis based solely on the multiplayer since the game does very little to differentiate itself from similar titles on the market. Still, the online play is solid and includes the standard unlocks-through-experience leveling system that we’ve come to be expect from our competitive shooters. Varied game modes offer up Crysis’s take on capture the flag, domination, deathmatch, and more, while maps feel individual and well balanced. Community, lobby, and developer challenges also offer an interesting, if ultimately trivial, set of goals to complete.
The Crysis franchise has often been criticized for showcasing Crytek’s groundbreaking game engines while delivering barely memorable games. Crysis 3 will do little to dissuade those arguments. In a crowded genre full of marquee titles, failing to be bad isn’t doing enough to stand out. In short, Crysis 3 becomes the very definition of the word ‘mediocre.’ It’s not bad, but it’s also not good.
Crysis 3 is available for Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. Our review was completed on the Xbox 360 platform.