Crysis 3 is enjoyable, but it’s a bundle of missed opportunities
It takes a game with a strong vision and sense of self to break through the wall of sequels and get people excited about a new world. What’s troubling is that the things that made that first game so remarkable tend to get sandblasted away in the sequels. With larger budgets and marketing campaigns on the line, by the time we get to the third game in a series it tends to look like other big-name games in the market.
Compare the smaller scale and horror of the first Dead Space with the near-war mentality of Dead Space 3. Compare the features and feel of the first Mass Effect title with the third. Both of these series are made of three good, and sometimes great, titles, but it’s hard to ignore how much of the series’ DNA can get lost in multiple sequels.
Crysis 3 is an enjoyable game, but it’s lost much of what made the first two games special. It’s not bad by any means, but you can see hints of a much better game peeking out through the cracks. I don’t mind the time I spent playing through the game’s single-player campaign, and I had great fun during a few sequences, but it feels like the features of the first two games have been eroded, not improved.
You’re the hunter
I won’t try to recap the story thus far, as once we get to the point where a character gets a suit and then kills himself and gives the suit away and then the suit is a character who becomes the character with a suit I begin to lose my mind a little bit. The game’s opening scenes are effective at bringing the character back into the world.
You play as Prophet, a soldier who wears a nanosuit that is partially made of alien technology. A group of soldiers, led by an old friend, break you out of what seems to be deep freeze to once again help lead the resistance against an evil corporation called Cell.
New York has been reclaimed by nature, and now sits under a great glass dome; a few of the aliens from previous games roam the great forest, acting like animals without the power of their hive mind. Cell uses… something to create what seems to be unlimited power, and they’ll put you to work if you can’t pay your bills. It’s time to go to war.
This is all a surreal, if intriguing, way to begin the game. You’re given a bow along with a series of arrows with different properties; you can fire the weapon without taking up energy while cloaked. The marketing played up the idea of a lone hunter in the jungle, taking down human and alien foes alike.
During your adventures you can find upgrade points that allow you to power up your suit, and the power-ups you have equipped at any time create a sort of loadout that buff your already preternatural abilities. You can set different ability sets to quick-keys, so it’s simple to move from a build that focuses on speed and stealth and into one that’s more geared to offensive capabilities.
The weapon modification system is likewise streamlined and smart. You hold a button to pull up the modification screen, and then hit a button that corresponds with the scope, barrel, or other options to cycle through your choices. With a little practice you can take your rifle and add a laser sight, silencer, and extended magazine, or take them away for something else. It doesn’t take long to learn these systems, and you’ll feel like a nasty killing machine very quickly.
Then you begin to actually hunt, and things begin to fall apart.
From one place to the next, and then back again
The game often gives you a large area to explore, complete with secondary objectives, and you’re free to go about your business any way you choose. There are even a few vehicles here and there to drive, and the requisite scene where you grab the gun in a flying section that’s largely out of control.
The beats of modern action games are set entrenched in our minds that one can almost set their watch by the appearance of certain set pieces or “dramatic” moments.
The issue is that there is very little reason to use most of that arsenal, and that’s bad news for a game that’s made up of a series of small sandboxes. It’s fun to try a silencer, but it’s not really needed. Weapons and ammunition are plentiful, making the switch between semi and fully automatic more of a toy than something that’s tactically useful.
You can build your abilities out in a way that makes it trivial to simply walk through most of the game’s major conflicts. Sure, you can choose to not use these abilities and fight through every environment, but I shouldn’t have to ignore certain abilities and builds to have an appropriate level of challenge.
Combine these things with a storyline that attempts pathos and relationships that never really land emotionally, and you have an experience that feels hollow. There is often a sense that the game could have been deeper, with meaningful choices in terms of abilities and weaponry, but they simplified the action to such a degree that any tinkering you do in these areas is merely for your own enjoyment, without it being necessary to succeed in the game itself.
The enemies themselves don’t put up much resistance, and the only trick you need to learn is finding a place to hunker down while your energy recharges during large battles. The rest is a matter of cloaking, using your bow, retrieving the arrows, and then doing the same thing to the next group.
The game ends on an interesting note, but the campaign drips with expected plot twists and awkwardly-inserted emotions that just don’t hit in a meaningful way. There is a subplot about a character who wants back into the suit, although you want out, that isn’t explored fully.
Crysis 3 is filled what what could have been interesting subplots and ideas, but Crytek seemed hesitant to commit fully to any of them. The result is a competent, fun, but ultimately forgettable experience. It’s also a beautiful game on the 360, but performance is uneven. I’ve begun testing the game on my PC, and I’ll report back to see how things look on a fully jacked system. I’m also looking forward to jumping online once the servers are up and running and filled with gamers to try the multiplayer.
Until then, Crysis 3 is a stock shooter that’s often fun, but doesn’t offer enough that’s new or exciting to make it a must-buy.