Back in 2007, a little title known as Crysis set a new benchmark for video game graphics, and the question “Can your PC run Crysis?” became both a legitimate query and a running joke in the industry. Since then, the series has made its way to consoles with surprising success, bringing it to a whole new audience. After two successful games, Crytek is back with the final chapter in its so-called trilogy. While Crysis 3 may not boast the mind-blowing visuals of the original, it still manages to hold its own mechanically and look nice doing it.
The story picks up many years after the events of Crysis 2 and follows Prophet, the only remaining nanosuit soldier. He joins a ragtag group of rebels to fight against the CELL Corporation and also the returning alien menace known as the Ceph. The story has never been the series’ strong suit, and this is no exception in Crysis 3, but it’s decent enough and never interferes with the action. It’s merely there to point you to your next objective and provide some interesting, if not silly, cutscenes that ultimately conclude the Crysis story in a grand fashion.
Whether you’re playing Crysis 3 on a PC or on consoles, you are getting one of the best-looking games to come around since, well, the last Crysis. While it isn’t a gigantic improvement over the previous game, it still showcases Crytek’s ability to both evolve a franchise’s visuals just enough while also making it compatible on aging console hardware. Taking place in a version of New York City lush with plant life, the combination of Crysis 2’s cityscapes and the original’s jungle environments is the best of both worlds and always manages to impress. The console versions suffer from some technical issues, but they aren’t enough to detract from the experience if your PC isn’t up to the task.
After you adjust to the superb visuals, you are thrown into a conflict that is very similar to Crysis 2’s. Once you complete the first mission, which is completely linear, you are brought out into a much larger environment and given free rein over how you approach each combat encounter. While the game may just seem like another run-of-the-mill shooter, Crysis 3, like the first two, is less about the gunplay and more about the ways in which you can approach combat. Like in the previous game, it isn’t as open as the original was, but it’s clear that the design of the different enemy encounters is smarter, leading to plenty of creative opportunities to strike.
What also separates this from other shooters is the nanosuit. Using the suit, you are given two very important powers, both of which come in handy during specific situations. The first is armor mode, which creates a shield around your character, allowing you to charge into battle without worrying about the consequences. The second, and my personal favorite, is the stealth mode. This gives you a cloak, and allows you to sneak around the battlefield to pick off enemies one by one. While you have limited energy, it recharges fast, and you are almost never without a chance to deploy whichever mode suits your fancy.
The ability to use these different modes does a surprising amount to separate this game from your average shooter. On top of that, your running speed is a lot faster, and the ability to jump higher (as well as slide when running) makes movement in Crysis 3 unlike most shooters. Once you get the hang of being able to maneuver your way through the different environments with ease and sliding into cover, you’ll feel almost untouchable. Those who have played the first two are fully used to these mechanics, but they still manage to keep things interesting by throwing some enemies your way that may force you to rethink your strategy, such as aliens that can disrupt your energy at any time, leaving you exposed.
You can also find nanosuit packs throughout the different areas that give you points in order to purchase specific upgrades for your suit. You can have up to four upgrades equipped at a time, and can store specific combinations of upgrades to swap to on the fly. Although the upgrades don’t change things substantially, they allow you to experiment with different additions to the two suit modes, as well as give you bonuses such as strength or health boosts.
The actual shooting mechanics are excellent. The weapons feel just right, and the game throws just enough new weapons at you to keep things from feeling stale. When you actually pick up alien weaponry for the first time, you are made well aware of just how powerful it can be as you are given a large target to take down, which you do so without a problem. You won’t come across a lot of those weapons early on in the game, but they become almost essential during the later sections, and the satisfaction of using them is remarkable.
As great as the standard guns are, the biggest standout in the entire game is the bow. Yes, you read that right: the bow is the best weapon in the game, and you are given it almost immediately. If you’re like me and you find yourself always taking the stealth approach to situations, the bow is an invaluable tool. If cloaked and you fire a weapon, your cloak is disabled briefly, allowing other enemies to get the drop on you if you’re not careful. This doesn’t happen with the bow, and most shots allow you to take out enemies with a single arrow. And with different ammo types, such as explosive and electric arrows, you are prepared for almost any situation.
It may seem overpowered, but your ammo is limited. You can pick up regular arrows back up off the ground or even dead bodies after you shoot them, but it might not always be feasible with the number of enemies you’re facing at a given time. Despite that, being able to sneak around an area and pick off enemies with the bow is satisfying and makes Crysis 3 feel even more like a stealth-action game than its predecessors.
What diminishes that satisfaction is the dumb enemy AI. While they aren’t completely useless, the enemies will sometimes be slow to react to their comrades getting killed right in front of them or not employ their always useful EMP grenades (which disrupt your cloak and shield) when they know that you are in a specific area. Even if you are left exposed in the middle of an environment full of enemies, you can usually count on them not being able to take advantage of the situation. They aren’t always completely idiotic, especially the alien enemies with their more unpredictable patterns, but they are just stupid enough to make sure you can get away from many dangerous situations.
As is standard in shooters nowadays, Crysis 3 contains competitive multiplayer that manages to keep things relatively interesting while also sticking with the basic modes most people find familiar. The most exciting game type is Hunter, which gives two players full nanosuit powers while the other players attempt to survive for a limited amount of time. Once you die, are given one of the nanosuits and tasked with hunting down the remaining players. It’s a tense mode that requires some careful strategy and plenty of teamwork.
If you play some of the more standard modes, such as Deathmatch or Capture the Relay (which is capture the flag), you won’t find anything groundbreaking, but playing these modes with faster movement speed and the suit powers at hand is enjoyable enough. The multiplayer is a fun diversion, but in the age of shooters with competitive modes it most likely won’t stick.
It may not live up to the high standards set by its predecessors, but Crysis 3 is a rewarding shooter with brilliant mechanics that still feel fresh even six years after the original. If you’re bored of typical first-person shooters and haven’t played a Crysis game before, this might just be the best place to start, thanks to its seamless blend of action and stealth. Most importantly of all, that bow is pretty nice.
Pros: Stunning visuals, top notch combat and stealth mechanics, the bow is a great addition to the series, fun multiplayer
Cons: Lackluster AI, console versions have technical issues