Crysis 3 review



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.

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  • Kirk Apolo

    These games are literally the most beautiful pieces of boredom ever. The game feels like an engine for something else, all the enemies are cardboard, and even the cool suit seemed stale in its features. Never been a big fan, just another case of style over substance being mediocre. Games Online

    • Saul Till

      Couldn’t agree more. I remember looking at the E3 footage of the P.C.-only Crysis and being awe-struck, wanting to play it very much. Then Crysis 2 came out and I was so excited, bought it for P.S.3(admittedly I wasn’t going to get the full visual experience on P.S.3 but considering how well-reviewed the franchise has been in terms of its gameplay that shouldn’t have mattered) and played it, at least as much of it as I could bear. They are so utterly soulless, so devoid of atmosphere or pull and yet I persevered, hoping that at some point they’d get going. They didn’t.

      It’s odd(and there are plenty of games that fail in the following same way, particularly Ubisoft games, -cough-Assassin’s Creed-cough-) because in every mechanical sense I can think of Crysis games are successful: they get movement right, it looks good(nowhere near as good as other console games but, admittedly, I haven’t played the P.C. games), the H.U.D.’s uncluttered, etc., all the little details that get mentioned in critical game reviews, all those little things are fine(which gives the lie to that daft ‘it’s the little things that make this great’ cliche that frequently appears in reviews).

      It’s just utterly devoid of any compulsive quality that would make you want to keep playing – things like narrative pull, addictive twitch gameplay, the simple joy of exploring a gameworld that comes when you control an avatar that moves in an enjoyably smooth, weighty and responsive fashion, even the desire to see what the designers have come up with next in terms of environments; any of these(and more besides) can be reasons why I want to keep playing.

      The best games have many of these qualities. Crysis has absolutely none of them. It is a dismal, depressing game. As you say, it’s a glorified tech demo. It’s deeply, deeply boring, even when you’re leaping from a building top into a battle with alien enemies. And yet everything, mechanically speaking, is in place. It’s missing something that’s very difficult to define, and I haven’t done very well at defining that missing element, except to say that it’s sonething like ‘pull’, or ‘compulsiveness’, which if you’re trying to define what keeps you playing is just tautological.

      On a side note, perhaps a defining feature of art is that when it’s bad it’s a lot more difficult to define why exactly it’s bad. A mechanic could probably define quite quickly why a car’s engine doesn’t work. By comparison it’s practically impossible to do the same with Crysis 2 and 3, or any number of other games that have left me so cold.