From Doom’s demon decimating BFG 9000 to Call of Duty: Black Ops II’s demoralizing PDW-57 submachine gun, first-person shooters have a long history of conveying empowerment through dominating devices. That said, few franchises can compare to the hardware found in the Crysis’ series. Beyond an archetypical array of high-tech firearms, Crytek’s titles have also given access to the nanosuit- an exoskeleton that permits players to hurdle elevated heights, skulk clandestinely, effortlessly fling oversized objects and repel ballistic barrages. Coupled with wide-open battlegrounds (albeit shrunk for last year’s Crysis 2), the franchise has provided both PC and console owners with the components for some of the genre’s most engrossing firefights.
Naturally, the recent PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 release of Crysis 3 extends the series’ already impressive arsenal, adding both enhanced abilities as well as the game’s flagship weapon- the Predator Bow. By bolstering the pathos of the single-player campaign and crafting one the better competitive multiplayer experiences around, the game is fated to please both franchise fans and newcomers alike.
Juxtaposing the trajectories of revisiting character Michael “Psycho” Sykes and protagonist Lawrence “Prophet” Barnes proves to be a captivating narrative decision. With Psycho deals with the both the physical and psychological loss of his nanosuit at the hands of Cell, Prophet wrestles his own emotional issues, as his augmentations have him feeling more machine that man. While peripheral characters and villains aren’t rendered with the same depth, Crysis 3’s existential angst is welcome addition to the series. Additionally, the title does a competent job of weaving franchise fiction into unified plotline that offers Crysis supporters a satisfying conclusion.
Complementing the game’s increase of intrigue are a number of gratifying mechanics that nicely mesh with Crysis’ sandbox-leaning design. The game’s center star- the Predator Bow is a permanent addition to your loadout, signifying the weapon’s sheer potential and capacity for player enjoyment. Being able to utilize the bow with the nanosuit’s stealth mod is the armament’s sheer strength, allowing Prophet to furtively dispatch foes without revealing his position. Beyond standard arrows, allowing electrified or explosive projectiles, capable of eliminating foes standing in water or military helicopters. Undeniably, the bow’s power means Crysis 3’s easier difficultly levels can be a pushover. Fortunately, some of the ease is tempered by a nine arrow carrying capacity- goading gamers to scavenge projectiles from fallen foes.
Both salvaging arrows and tracking enemies in Crysis 3 is made easier by the alterations made to your nanosuit tactical visor. While the last game provided rudimentary information when your HUD was equipped, now enemy targets and weapons boxes are more easily tagged and tracked, using color-coded information. What’s more your visor now allows you to hack turrets and switches from afar, through an innocuous, timing-based micro-game. As always, Crysis’ upgrade system offers a multitude of selectable perks to both your suit as well as your weapons, supporting a selection of play styles. Whether players prefer to carefully stalk their prey, shirk them entirely, engage them head-on, or even mix approaches, Crysis 3 accommodates each method, although the game’s framerate tends to deteriorate during intense firefights. Pleasingly, the title also offers a variety of secondary objective assignments during missions, contributing to the title’s replayability. Habitually enjoyable, the one blemish on the game’s seven stages in the inclusion of vehicular sections; sullied by slipshod control. Unfortunately, even after tackling most discretionary duties, the single-player game lasts only about six hours.
Mercifully, Crysis 3’s multiplayer component helps mitigate the conciseness of the main campaign. While purists have the fundamental game varieties such as deathmatch and team deathmatch to enjoy, even these ubiquitous modes are elevated by the extensive powers of the nanosuit. For those seeking new experiences, the game’s asymmetrical Hunter mode is especially compelling. Here, two players outfitted with cloaked nanosuit and bows pursuit a team of Cell operatives prepped with three dissimilar, yet complementary loadouts. Once a Cell team member is killed, they will respawn as a Hunter, ratcheting up the tension of each match.
Elevated by visuals that blend the foliage of Crysis and the urban settings of its second successor, Crysis 3 represents the zenith of this console generation’s graphical abilities. But more than just eye candy, the title demonstrates the growth of the series, giving FPS fans an oft-intense experience uplifted by a poignant storyline. While the brevity of the single-player game is likely to concern some, those with a passion for multiplayer competitions will find enough substance to warrant to full-price purchase.