Gearbox might have failed to reshape Aliens into an engaging videogame, but Crytek’s had better luck with Predator over the years. The Crysis series has always been enthralled by John McTiernan’s film, with the jungle-to-urban switch in Crysis 2 mimicking its inspiration’s own trajectory. Here the debt is paid. Your bow, a bit of hi-tech yet primitivistic weaponry, shares its name with McTiernan’s alien.
And the Predator bow plays a crucial role in Crysis 3′s standout multiplayer mode, which itself recalls Arnie’s struggle in the jungle. Hunters is an asymmetric gametype that sees cloaked, bow-wielding assassins whittling down a group of heavily armed mercs. The mercenaries have proximity trackers and conventional arms, but the assassins enjoy one-hit kills and near-invisibility, and any unfortunate they slay is compelled to join their ranks. It’s a paranoid game of invisible cat and gun-toting mice, where a tightly knit huddle of mercenaries can be scattered by the merest ripple of active camo in the burnt-out buildings above them.
It’s the highlight of a multiplayer mode that has clearly learned important lessons from Crysis 2. Players have an auto-armour perk equipped by default now, which ensures that the Nanosuit’s defensive capabilities automatically engage when under fire. It’s a neat way of slowly introducing those more used to Mjolnir armour to Crytek’s skintight, manually operated alternative. The same goes for the fizzling pop of a Nanosuit with depleted armour reserves. Toggling the suit’s crystalline defences on and off has always been key to combat, but there’s a clarity to its importance and functionality now that makes for more readable and prolonged encounters.
But the real reason that Hunters mode works is because it mostly does away with such concerns, taking Crysis’s bulging utility belt’s worth of weapons, tools, suit modes and tactical options, and rigidly dividing them up among participants. From that inflexible rationing emerges a clearly defined gametype, one in which both sides are aware of the other’s limits and capabilities. Hunters is also the antidote to Crysis 3′s singleplayer campaign, which is crippled by the freedom that it generously offers players.
Self-sabotaging feature-creep means that in addition to the Nanosuit’s cloak, Armour mode and various athletic tricks, Crysis 3 reintroduces alien weaponry, gives Prophet the ability to hack and subvert turrets, and hands him the Predator bow. There’s a game in that bow, with its satisfying thwack and various ammo types, but that game isn’t Crysis 3, which renders its signature tool irrelevant by not once contriving a scenario or enemy type in need of some Robin Hood-style perforation. This problem surfaces repeatedly across the breadth of Prophet’s skillset, stuffed as it is with options that aren’t exactly useless, but that lack purpose.