I remember when the original Crysis was released and a horde of PC gamers went rushing to the hardware store to spend money on a new graphics card. That game must have been responsible for millions of graphics card sales. The comment ‘But can it run Crysis?’ turned into a catchphrase to verify the ultimate power of a system. When Crysis 2 was released many people cried foul due to the console port graphics. The developers did follow up with a high quality texture pack for the PC game, but a lot of people already had it beaten. Can Crysis 3 recapture the magical experience of the first game?
The backstory of Crysis is rather convoluted. The CELL corporation has been aggressively taking over Earth in the passing time after Crysis 2. New York City is a desolate landscape, a wide covering of foliage almost hides the destroyed buildings. CELL’s mythical ‘dome’ holds the rebels at bay as they control the global energy supply. As the story progresses we learn that the nanodome may in fact be holding something inside. Cue creepy music.
Before I continue, I will say that this review won’t contain any spoilers. The game has only just been released a couple of days ago, so I am aware many people will not have played it yet. You can read on safe in the knowledge that I won’t be ruining any of the key in game moments for you.
You take control of Prophet, the nanosuited powerhouse killing machine that will let nothing stand in his way. By the end of the game you will have lost track of how many alien creatures you have annihilated. Just the way a first person shooter should be.
His companion throughout the game – Psycho is one of the games strongest points. He has lost his nanosuit and compensates throughout Crysis 3 with a comprehensive dictionary of swearwords, aimed mostly at Prophet. His dialogue is always amusing and the apparent friction with Prophet has the viewer pondering if they will ever come to blows.
While Psycho delivers some fantastically entertaining statements, the plot behind the game is sadly more reminiscent of a B grade science fiction movie. Through the earlier stages of the game I doubt anyone will find the direction of the writers to be anything but predicable.
Unlike FarCry 3, Crysis 3 is very linear, even though the path between scenes is wide and offers multiple routes. The illusion may be better, but make no mistake, this is a very linear first person shooter, where you have to get from A to B to trigger the next sequence.
I didn’t find this a problem to be honest as the action elements of the game are fantastic. You are presented with the same nanosuit technology as before such as body armor and stealth cloaking however Prophet has a new weapon in this game – a high tech futuristic bow. While this may sound boring, the bow is actually very useful especially as it doesn’t make a noise to alert nearby enemies. Armed with the bow and in full stealth mode, it is almost impossible for the alien’s to see where you are, unless you wander too close to their line of sight. I found this most enjoyable.
The Nano suit is integral to the success of the player. The Armor setting is immensely useful and can help Prophet withstand an inordinate amount of damage before falling over. I have to admit I ended up using the cloak mode most of the time. There are many of the stages when you can sneak up behind an alien and gut him silently like a pig before he even knows you are there.
While the combat element of the game is first class, the environmental design is a little lacking. There just isn’t enough variety from stage to stage with many of the levels looking very similar to others. I feel Crysis 3 would have benefited more from a shift in the gameplay to break up the combat stages. Many hard core first person shooter gamers may not agree, but by the time the game was over I was actually relieved.
This brings me to a major issue with the title, the length of the single player campaign. I had beaten the game within 6 hours and 30 minutes and only died a handful of times with difficulty set to normal. Far Cry 3 is much better value in this regard as I was still playing that game after the 30 hour mark.
Crysis 3 being an Electronic Arts game is actually more expensive that Far Cry 3 in the UK, by £10. This does not translate to a great feeling of having spent your money well. Much of the game looks and feels the same, so after 3 hours I was beginning to get rather bored with the whole experience.
Crysis 3 is not without merit, the production levels are as high as you are likely to see. This is the movie equivalent of a new Arnold Schwarzenegger release when the man was in his peak period around the time of the Terminator and Predator series. Voice acting is flawless and the ambient sound effects are stellar. The moody orchestral score is worthy of a triple A movie and it is difficult to find any flaws with the graphics or audio.
I found the title demanding on partnering hardware. I played the whole game through this weekend on a Core i7 3570K system with 8GB of DDR3. I used a HD7970 and set everything to maximum at 1920×1080. Anti Aliasing took an impact on the frame rate, so I played without it. Just before writing this review I borrowed another HD7970 and ran in Crossfire and the experience seemed much smoother, and Anti Aliasing was no longer a pipe dream. It would be fair to say that if you want to run this game at the ultimate image quality settings then a very powerful video card will be needed.
Thankfully the engine does scale very well and even with some of the settings lowered, it still looks fantastic. This means gamers with more modest hardware won’t feel alienated or hard done by. I actually replayed some of the game with a HD7870 as I was writing this review. While some of the settings needed reduced it was genuinely difficult to see the differences visually.
The detail in the character models and particularly the face of Psycho are really remarkable. This is clearly the new benchmark for a state of the art 3D engine, it is just a pity that there was not more variety throughout the environments to really feel as if you were traveling through more distinct locations.
I love the Ceph weaponry, it looks and feels completely different to anything the humans have created and was my reason for easily taking out the final boss. I don’t want to give any spoilers but I felt nothing but complete disappointment after wiping out the leader of the alien forces without even breaking a sweat.
I haven’t had a lot of time to play the multiplayer aspect of Crysis 3 however it does seem like a lot of fun, in my limited testing before writing this review. There is a system built around experience points, load out customisations and unlocking. Thankfully the developers haven’t started out new gamers armed with a knife and only wearing a tunic. The first load out means you will be able to cope against more experienced users, even if you have a serious disadvantage. Armor, tactics and stealth are just as important as a tasty weapon load out so there seems to be plenty of depth on offer.
The developers have included 8 unique gameplay modes, a ton of dynamic maps and the striking graphics that make Crysis 3 worth playing.
Crysis 3 is more satisfying than ground breaking and while the engine is without doubt remarkable, there are some problems with the game itself which bring down the overall feeling of buying an epic first person shooter. The linear single player is much too short and while the combat is fantastic, there just isn’t enough variety to keep seasoned gamers completely satisfied from start to end.