Crysis 3 review



The extent to which Prophet can customise his weaponry borders on absurdity – altering even the draw speed and tension on his bow – given the lack of a reason to do so. Crysis 3 gives players a jangling bunch of keys, but provides a dearth of locks to open with them. “It’s up to you”, Prophet’s cockney companion frequently reminds you when it’s time to decide how you’ll approach any given encounter. But such freedom feels hollow when any old approach will do.

What’s worse, the game’s level design mirrors this problem of bloat without function. The first Crysis had maps that were genuine sandboxes, and the second offered tighter bubbles of open-ended gunplay. Crysis 3 has negotiated an awkward truce between the two, expanding its action bubbles, but refusing to allow you to escape them. What this means is a great deal of redundant space padding out the same style of arena as seen in Crysis 2. The first game’s scale worked because players could get lost in it. You can’t escape Crysis 3’s encounters, you simply skulk and scrabble at their edges like a spider in a bathtub before giving in and following that checkpoint indicator down the drain.

Levels boast more visual depth, at least, with Crysis 3’s lush rainforest roughing up the second game’s city-planned straight lines. But as striking as Crytek’s vibrant post-disaster New York is, the setting is wasted. Prophet’s movements through it lack direction, with loading screens teleporting him around the Nanodome in service of a derivative, portentous story in a way that undermines any sense of a journey through a coherent space.

There’s a series of imaginative, evocative settings here – a financial district transformed into a towering hydroelectric dam, say, or Chinatown-cum-swampland – but playing through them is like flicking through concept art. They simply don’t exist as part of a thought-out, directed whole. This is all the more surprising considering Crysis 3’s modest length in comparison with its immediate predecessor. There’s about five hours of game here, a length that, even without Call Of Duty’s linear rails, should really be able to sustain a stronger sense of pacing than this.

It looks beautiful, of course. Everybody knows Crytek can work magic on a gaming PC, but it’s the Faustian pact that the studio has presumably entered into in order to conjure such imagery from consoles (while avoiding Far Cry 3 levels of performance) that has us concerned. What was lost along the way? The first game’s soul was traded away by Crysis 2, but at least that game was aware of its limits, using its new walls to guide players through a series of emergent, reactive encounters. Crysis 3 has neither direction nor freedom, though it does have human weapons, alien weapons, a cloaking device, an Armour mode, and a bow. And with this many options at your disposal, Crysis 3 insists, surely you must be having fun.


  • 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.