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Crysis 3

Score: 80%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: Crytek
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1; 2 - 12 (Online)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Action/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Crysis 3 is neither the revelation that Crysis was nor the thrill ride Crysis 2 was. Indeed, certain things are done much better in Crysis 3 than in any of its predecessors. Unfortunately, Crysis 3's main improvements lie in areas that, frankly, are not very important to the game itself.

Crysis 3 is a great looking game, though that should come as no surprise to anyone who's seen any of Crytek's work. In terms of technical power, this game is very near the top of the Xbox 360 library. Stylistically, it's no different from either Crysis or Crysis 2; the Nanosuit's HUD (and all the fonts used to display data and text) are the same as they've ever been. When it comes to level design and environment, Crysis 3 attempts to straddle the line between the lush natural wonders of Crysis's Lingshan Islands and the urban chaos of Crysis 2's New York City. The New York City Liberty Dome is reminiscent of the New York City in 2010's Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Mother Nature is well into the process of reclaiming the largest city in the world for herself, though the man-made elements are still intact in some way, shape, or form.

The Crysis series is famous for always looking good, but it's not often enough said that it always sounds good, too. Since it's a near-futuristic science fiction shooter, the developers obviously aim for the middle ground between the harsh and gritty violence of Battlefield and the more stereotypical laser gun sounds of Halo. It succeeds; you'll want to pick up every gun you find just to see how it sounds. Voice acting is also quite good; Prophet sounds like he's truly fatigued, and Psycho... well, let's just say it's fun to listen to four-letter words spoken with a heavy cockney accent. The soundtrack isn't quite as memorable as that of Crysis 2's , but it features more subtle movements to fit the more emphasized hunter/hunted motif.


Gameplay:

Crysis 3 picks up twenty-four years after Crysis 2. Alcatraz and series mainstay Prophet are now, for all intents and purposes, the same person. But CELL, believing the alien Ceph are no longer a threat, is capturing Nanosuit soldiers and "skinning" them out of their suits in an effort to salvage what alien technology they can. They are well on their way to essentially taking over the world. Prophet is captured in Siberia and placed into stasis for the trip to New York City, which has been encased in a giant dome that effectively keeps people out. A resistance force comprised of Michael "Psycho" Sykes (who has been skinned and wants revenge) and other former Nanosuit soldiers break the man out of captivity in the hopes that he will bring the fight back to CELL. Like its predecessors, Crysis 3 has a decent story that is mostly content to stay out of the way between the beginning and the ending of the game.

Crysis 3 has a lot in common with Crysis and Crysis 2, but where the previous games gave you a ton of freedom, this one feels like a much more guided experience. The shooting action is still more than competent, but the potential for creativity is far less than before. I miss the days when the Nanosuit would announce the availability of tactical options, highlighting special routes that emphasized certain pillars of the kind of gameplay only Crysis could deliver. Crysis 3's level design doesn't showcase any of the franchise's best qualities, and is unfortunately content to simply deliver a great-looking but relatively standard shooter experience.

Crysis 3's multiplayer component is easily the best in the franchise. It's full of great ideas that lend themselves well to the style of gameplay we've come to expect from this series. It offers the standard modes, but two new ones particularly stand out.

Spears Mode is an objective-based Deathmatch Mode that charges each team with the capture and holding of special nodes that are littered across the map. Tactical thinking isn't a must, but it's certainly encouraged. Sure, you'll earn points for simply being a killing machine, but those who play as parts of a team will be rewarded much more handsomely.

Hunter Mode is by far my favorite, partly because it most effectively plays to the core strengths of Crysis. That, and I'm a total sucker for asymmetrical gameplay. Two players spawn as cloaked Hunters equipped with nothing but a Predator Bow and the knowledge of exactly where each enemy soldier is at all times. The rest spawn as CELL soldiers with the powerful Typhoon submachine gun. The Hunter's job is to take all the soldiers down. The soldier's job is merely to survive. If you die as a soldier, you respawn as a Hunter. Eventually, the pack is thinned out until only one is left standing. Hunter Mode is alternately empowering and terrifying. When you're a Hunter, there's a sadistic delight in knowing exactly where every CELL soldier is. When you're a soldier, the tension is almost unbearable. The only signs of an approaching Hunter are the harsh pings of your motion tracker. That, and the slight shimmer that denotes the presence of a cloaking device.


Difficulty:

Crysis 3 is the easiest game in the franchise by a long shot. While Nanosuit powers have always given you an edge, the threat posed to you by CELL and the Ceph has been inconsistent. Crysis was a reasonably challenging game. Crysis 2 was easier, largely due to poor enemy A.I. Crysis 3 continues this dubious trend, and compounds it with overpowered stealth options.

If you want to get anything resembling a challenge out of Crysis 3, start with Veteran difficulty. Provided you have the least bit of experience with first-person shooters, you won't see too many reload screens until the last chapter or two -- and even then, you'll only kick the bucket if you try to take down all the larger enemies. Supersoldier difficulty wasn't particularly difficult in Crysis 2, and neither is it here. Enemies hit harder, but they still aren't the sharpest tools in the shed.


Game Mechanics:

The Nanosuit is such an integral part of Crysis that its absence would render the game nearly unrecognizable. Nanosuit abilities are as fun to wield in Crysis 3 as ever, even if they make the game too easy. The Nanosuit's hacking mechanic can end battles before they even begin; all you have to do is get within reasonable range of a turret or enemy robot, complete a simple mini-game, and the herd is culled, if not decimated.

Nanosuit upgrades and collectible data packs are strewn about the field, and they are easily identified by special symbols when you use your visor to scan the environment. Upgrades are handled a bit differently this time around: all of them are unlockable from the start, but you must collect a number of upgrade points before you can buy them. But what really makes it different is the slotting system. Certain functions of the Nanosuit are mapped into columns. You can mix and match upgrades into special rows and map them to hotkeys that help you change your skill loadout on the go.

Crysis 3 introduces a new weapon: the Predator Bow. It is extremely effective and fun to use. You can fire four different types of arrows and select one of three draw strengths. It's always fun to pin enemies to walls, blow them up with explosive arrows, or fry them with EMP arrows. But it's overpowered, and for one key reason: you can remain cloaked while firing it.

Crysis 3 is very much worth playing whether you're a fan of the series or a fan of shooters in general. Its audio and visual presentation are almost completely unmatched on the Xbox 360, and it plays well. But after everything is taken into account, it's probably be the weakest game in the series. So what, though? I'll take a decent Crysis game over most shooters any day.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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