The third iteration in Crytek's open-ended shooter series is here. Prophet once again takes the lead as earth's defender against an invasion of the alien Seph. Crysis 3 keeps the tactical action from its predecessors intact while giving players more abilities to make you feel more powerful than ever before. While Crytek's first-person shooter is visually striking, adds entertaining combat elements, and includes an addictive multiplayer offering, Crysis 3 isn't without its flaws.
Crysis 2's conclusion left New York City in ruins. The once bustling sidewalks were filled with rubble, and the roads were stacked high with the bodies of innocents. Crysis 3 picks up 25 years later, pitting players agains the CELL Corporation--an organization that has since taken over the country. Now, New York is covered by a massive Nanodome, creating a overgrown urban jungle and beautiful environments to shoot bad guys in.
Crysis 3's story isn't nearly as convoluted as its predecessor's, which included so many twists and turns you were lucky to survive without whiplash, but the lack of character development or interesting dialog makes the narrative feel generic and uninspired. A resistance has arisen to fight the corrupt CELL, which includes one of Prophet's old squadmates from the original Crysis. You'll meet other characters, get missions from the resistance leaders, and experience Prophet's struggle with Seph visions of the future given to him by the squid-like aliens' leader, but none of these interactions are particularly compelling or are that well fleshed out. It's tough to feel attached to any of the characters in the five to six hour campaign, and you never really care about anyone you meet. Luckily, the gameplay overshadows its weak storytelling.
Where Crysis 3 succeeds is in allowing you to approach situations in any way you want. You have an advantage over your enemies by using the suit's enhanced strength, stealth capabilities and Nanovision visor to scout areas. Using all of these abilities in conjunction allows you to tag enemy locations, traverse the environment, and strategically take down enemies one-by-one like a hunter; or you can activate your Nano armor, go full Rambo, and engage in a full-frontal assault. Taking the stealth route is generally more enjoyable, since combining the suits powers to hunt your enemies makes you feel incredibly powerful. Exploring levels can also reap beneficial rewards. You can enhance your abilities to reduce the suit's energy handicaps by finding special upgrades, so you won't feel like the suit is holding you back as much as it did in previous games.
Prophet takes on the persona of a Hunter in Crysis 3, and thanks to his fancy new bow the super soldier is more lethal than ever. The bow's ability to fire without disrupting the stealth ability and the variety of arrow types opens extremely entertaining gameplay strategies. Electro-shock arrows, and explosive tipped arrows allow you to take out groups of enemies with one shot, and using the standard impact arrows to pin enemies to walls is delightfully satisfying.
"...you won't feel like the suit is holding you back as much as it did in previous games."
In addition to using a bow, Prophet can also use his hack ability to unlock doors, shutdown minefields, or disable Ceph drones. Also, in combat, he can hack mechanical threats like CELL automated turrets and turn them against his enemies. While adding hacking to the list of useful (and fun) ways to strategically take down enemy groups, you'll be hacking doors and control panels much more than you'd like. Objects that can be hacked cover the landscape, and trying to interact with them all can make the process tedious at times. Once you've hacked half a dozen objects within a few short minutes, the minigame quickly loses its charm.
The AI isn't perfect, either. Crysis 3's enemies are challenging and move around the the world intelligently as they try to flank your location, but in certain instances they're too smart. If you aren't using your stealth camouflage, enemies are able to spot you at incredibly long distances. While you're hiding in complete darkness, or even if you pop out of cover when their back is turned--they instantaneously proceed to spray you with hot lead. For a player using stealth tactics, getting spotted by a CELL guard with eagle eyes in the back of his head can be incredibly irritating.
"The AI isn't perfect."
Once you've completed the five to six hour campaign Crysis 3 still has plenty to offer in its competitive multiplayer modes. The matches play the same as the previous title in the series, but the player's accessibility to the Nanosuit powers still make the online competition feel unlike any other online shooter. The standard player progression system is in place with weapon, attachment, and ability unlocks, but never brings anything new to the table. However, the fact that every player has the ability to turn invisible, punch cars across the map, or pummel each other with steel posts gives the standard team deathmatch and capture the flag-like modes a unique feel that is a blast to play for hours on end.
Outside the standard multiplayer modes, Crysis 3's infection-style Hunter mode is particularly entertaining. Two playable but invisible hunters armed with Predator bows and Nanosuits must kill the entire opposing team--switching the fallen players to hunters. The other side consists of standard CELL soldiers, armed with assault rifles and shotguns. Playing as the CELL team against the invisible hunters is a blast and incredibly hectic, as everyone desperately tries to call out the enemy positions while firing in every direction.
"Playing as the CELL team against the invisible hunters is a blast and incredibly hectic..."
Crysis 3 has impressive visuals in both single player and multiplayer modes, and are easily some of the best we've seen this console generation. In the single player campaign, the environments are incredibly atmospheric. Leaky sewers splash water over your visor, and looking over the impressive, wide-open, Seph infested fields covered in tall grass, make you feel like you're about to step into a death trap. But the game isn't without its visual flaws. There's significant amount of texture pop-in while loading into multiplayer matches and respawning. Occasionally, entire objects pop-in a few seconds after spawning, which can throw you off during the chaos of an online match.
Overall, Crysis 3 is a gratifying shooter experience. Even though the campaign is on the shorter side, there are a few visual hiccups, and some of the enemy AI is unbalanced, those small gripes get overshadowed by Crysis 3's tactical gameplay, beautiful environments, and superb online multiplayer. While not treading new ground for the FPS genre, Crysis 3 is a solid shooter that will keep you entertained through the campaign and long after with its addictive online modes.