The latest release from Crytech in their established Crysis series was unveiled with a big budget advertising campaign, and with an even larger expectation. Primarily this is due to the impact its predecessors have had on the First Person Shooter Genre with their advanced AI, groundbreaking graphics and solid gameplay, but also in part due to the press surrounding the words uttered on regular frequency from Crytek’s outspoken CEO, Cevat Yerli. Crytek’s belief that their own system predictions of going beyond their own specifications on their proprietary engine could be the death knell for that company.
Although that statement was made shortly after the official release of Crysis 3, it did set my level of expectation to a higher plateau than if I had reviewed this game on release. This feeling is only exaserbated by the fact that, like many people that I am sure are out there, I have never dipped my toes into any of the series before hand.
The fact that I have never stepped foot into the world created around primary protaganist Prophet and his alien tech
inspired Nano Suit that graces the cover of each iteration does not make me unaware of either the bearing or the following that has gathered around this series, but it does put me on a back foot when it comes to comparing this latest iteration to its predecessors. So, it is with the eyes of a new convert that I stepped into the world that Crytek created, to play the role of Major Laurence Barnes, or what is left of him within the iconic nanosuit.
From the outset, Crysis 3 has been geared to cater to players such as myself, with a rather spectacular and highly polished FMV that gives a brief outline of the events in Crysis and Crysis 2. Although it explains that Barnes killed himself to prevent the Ceph corruption spreading throughout his body, little is said about how he achieved such a feat to remain
“Prophet”. He is left with a vision fo what the future holds, and suspects that the Alpha Ceph is still alive and at large,
waiting for the moment to strike to complete the work the Ceph have endured to achieve since their unveiling in the first
Rescued from his captors by his old comrade in arms, “Psycho”, Prophet is brought up to speed on the propagation and
manipulation of events following his actions by the military power known as Cell. With this information, Prophet agrees to aid Psycho and his group infiltrating their facility to disable the group and hopefully restore balance back to the world.
Graphically, it will come as no surprise, Crysis 3 is outstanding. Whether standing inside a Cell facility or admiring the
defused sunset and flora in the current day domed New York, everything looks vibrant, realistic, almost alive. Lighting
effects have been put to tremendous use, and shadows dance and play as you traverse from one light source to the next. If you are a fan of gaming graphics then this is truly a prime example of what exactly can be achieved with the soon to be end of cycle console systems, and I can only imagine what beauty you would behold if you had the pleasure of viewing these environments on a top of the range PC system.
Gameplay is solid and engaging with only a few niggles. Although it is obvious that a great length of time and effort has
been afforded to allow you to play the game as a full on, in your face shooter, a cover based stealth heavy sneak em up, or a mixture between the two, NPC AI tends to remove the more cautious option from your repertoire very easily.
This is not a slight on the AI, which functions extremely well, and is noticeably aware of its surroundings but on several occasions it did feel that the AI would notice your interactions no matter how subtly and begin to methodically hunt you
down. Ambushing or confronting these alerted NPC’s also had a cascade effect, which effectively limited your stealth
options until you made it past the existing kill room. Thankfully, on those occasions, there are a wealth of weapons with
which to dispatch your pursuers and allow weapon spawns are relatively sparse, each NPC would tend to drop a weapon
variation or type that would allow you to negotiate that section either head on with your nanosuit armour sucking up any bullet damage as you close to short range to cut your enemies in half with a recently acquired shotgun, or picking your cover and using your stealth to gain a drop on those unobservant enough to be caught searching for you in the wrong direction.
The suits tactical visor helps greatly to achieve either of these aims. when active, and focusing the reticule on a particular enemy, it will highlight and permanently mark their location. Utilising this skill turns the tables allowing you to effectively move from cover to cover, and enemy to enemy, dispatching them as you see fit.
Most of the sections of the game are perceivable “kill-rooms”, interspersed with wide open sections that successfully dupe you into believing your path through the game is your own choice, but at the end of the day, it is apparent when taking a step back from the game that your route through Prophets latest outing is your standard shooter fare, with you being funneled obediently from one section to the next. Linearity is not a major drawback in a first person shooter, in fact it is typically a given, but giving Crytek their due, they have attempted to make you feel more free in your choice. Some tough sections do see you trapped in corners, but Crytek have balanced Prophets skills sufficiently to allow you to feel you have a choice in how you break out of these traps, and how you move forward in the game.
Weapon mods have a nice solid feel to them, with on the fly, interchangeable scopes, silencers and magazines available at a button press allowing you to re-customise any weapon you have equipped at a moments notice in order to complement your skills and deal with the environment in front of you in the best way suitable. These mods are unlocked by either picking up the aforementioned weapon variants that NPC’s drop, or finding them in caches secreted about the levels.
Audio is rather downplayed, and although all the sound effects add to the atmosphere, be it the punctuated thwack of an
arrow piercing an enemies head from across a room, the muffled retort of a silenced rifle round hitting its mark, to the
raucous explosion of sound when you take on enemies with no care for their situational awareness, the effects are
competent and expected, but nothing more. There is no rousing score of note and the action and effects were obviously at the forefront of the sound teams minds.
The story, unfortunately, failed to truly grab me. From the outset, I always felt a disconnect from the protaganist, with little experience of his prior ventures and little true background on his ongoing war with the Ceph unless you search out and find the hidden files throughout the game, it all felt a little lacking.
Overall, this is a highly polished, well rounded and ultimately competent shooter that continues the ongoing struggles of
Prophet as he attempts once again to defeat the overarching antagonists of the series. It is a fine game, but to anyone
coming into this fresh it does feel a little overwhelming and personally I found it a little soul-less. For those that have
played and enjoyed the previous releases in the series, I am sure this game will hold greater sway with them, than it did
MLG Rating: 8/10 Platform: PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 / PC Release Date: 19/02/13
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Crysis 3 for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of two weeks on a PS3. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.