Although often overshadowed by other blockbusters like Halo and Call of Duty, Crytek’s Crysis series has its own loyal following within the FPS genre. The original game, released in 2007, was perhaps best known for being one of the most visually impressive games on the PC, and Crysis 2 brought the experience to console players for the first time. However, that installment also adopted a more linear style of gameplay and moved the setting to an urban environment. With Crysis 3, Crytek attempts to create the perfect Crysis game—one that condenses the best aspects of all previous installments into one package.
(Warning: some spoilers from previous games ahead)
Crysis 3 begins decades after the end of Crysis 2. After being rescued from a strange facility, protagonist Prophet discovers that the corrupt corporation C.E.L.L. has taken full control of a sprawling jungle that used to be New York City. Along with Crysis Warhead protagonist Psycho—who is now stripped of his Nanosuit—Prophet sets out to liberate the city and deal with the still-ongoing threat of the Ceph, an ancient alien species that poses a far-greater threat to humanity than anything C.E.L.L. is capable of.
The story’s tone and direction is similar to that of Crysis 2, moving forward at a blistering pace while also spending time developing relationships between the main characters that feel surprisingly genuine. Even with a cockney accent, Psycho’s struggling speeches about the deaths of former characters are excellent, and the ongoing theme of defining “human” fits perfectly within the series. However, just like in Crysis 2, Crysis 3 is a slow starter. There are seven missions in the campaign, and the first two are easily the worst of the bunch. The exposition is poorly paced, and early level design can make the experience needlessly frustrating. In addition, the plot feels disconnected from the events of the last game due to the long period of time between the two. The personal relationships are developed well this way, but the ongoing narrative seems slightly less engaging since the pace of the game is so quick.
Crysis 3 plays almost identically to the previous game in the series. Weapons still handle with a little less recoil than titles like Killzone or Resistance, and movement using the Nanosuit still feels perfect. The stealth and armor modes on the suit also allow for a gameplay loop not traditionally found in first-person shooters; instead of going in guns blazing, almost every enemy encounter in Crysis 3 can be set up as an ambush, allowing for plenty of frantic and exciting moments. The environments made this a little more accommodating in the previous game, but it becomes immensely entertaining after learning the feel of the controls and AI. (Controller sensitivity is slightly low by default, but knocking it up a few points will alleviate any issues this may cause.)
In addition to the satisfying combat, Crysis 3 also features a novel hacking minigame, which the player can use to turn enemy turrets on each other, deactivate mines, and even stun huge Ceph creatures. Like the stealth abilities of the Nanosuit, these also give Crysis 3 a distinct feel from other shooters, and feel like fun enhancements rather than tacked-on afterthoughts—they can be just as much fun as shooting aliens in the face.
While Crysis 3’s five or six-hour single player campaign delivers all the thrills one may expect from the series, the multiplayer mode is where much of the enjoyment lies. Game modes like “spears” and “extraction” give a sense of urgency and teamwork that isn’t found in many other shooters, and the much-anticipated “hunter” mode lives up to the hype: hiding from a wave of bow-wielding super-soldiers before getting killed and becoming one is a blast, although some maps are better suited for it than others.
Crysis 3 is at its best when it plays off of its strengths and doesn’t try to emulate other games. The deathmatch and team deathmatch modes hammer that point home—they just aren’t that fun. Different customization options and challenges are nice, but they don’t add anything to the experience, and they certainly aren’t on par with what is offered in games like Call of Duty. Modes that allow everyone to burst out of their stealth mode and make a mad dash for a target are where this game’s multiplayer really shines.
Even on the aging Xbox 360, Crysis 3 is a beautiful game. Faces are incredibly detailed, environments look wonderful, and draw distance is some of the best this generation. Moreover, the slightly annoying framerate drops of Crysis 2 are gone, and although the title isn’t stutter-free, it is much less noticeable than before. That being said, anyone with the ability to play this game on the PC should do so, as the Crysis series has always looked better on that platform. Voice acting and music are also top-notch, with performances just as memorable as those in the previous game, especially since Prophet is actually vocal this time around.
Crysis 3 takes a while to get invested in, and the multiplayer may try to imitate other shooters a little too much, but there’s no denying that Crytek has created another great entry in the franchise. The set pieces and visuals are hard to match, and the story wraps up in a way that is sure to please old and new players alike. It isn’t the best game in the series, but it’s definitely worthy of the Crysis name.