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Review – Crysis 3

Beautiful, yet bland.

The Crysis franchise has made a name for itself by delivering breathtaking visuals on both PC and consoles. Though the consoles are somewhat limited on what they deliver, hardcore PC players who have invested in their system have been rewarded with what is arguably the most realistic, pleasing graphics to date. So good are the visuals that they spawned a phrase that will forever be a metaphor to determine the power of a PC, “Can it run Crysis?” But good visuals are only a fraction of what gamers look to when deciding what to play and, as technology continues to propel forward at unclockable speeds, beautiful flowing water, windswept landscapes, and spark-flying battle sequences are becoming the norm. Players are looking for unique features and, above all, a deep, fascinating story. With Crysis 3 though, players may be left wanting.

Crysis 2 saw the original protagonist, “Prophet”, ends his own life and the story continue with a new character. This time however, Prophet is back due to what essentially is his essence being stored within the nanosuit he wore. With a throwaway explanation as to why Prophet suddenly returns quite literally from the dead, the story begins with a group of soldiers attempting to break you out of stasis, where you’ve been placed for protection. Theirs, not yours. An old friend has a different plan though, and before long you’re face-to-face with another former super-soldier, “Psycho”. Having been removed from the suit though, Psycho is trying to prevent the same from happening to Prophet. Prophet is special, after all, and not just because of his heroics in the inaugural game; as Psycho has been removed from his nanosuit, or skinned as it’s called, so have all of the others, Prophet the exception. That makes Prophet an invaluable asset to the rebels, a group of soldiers who have been fighting CELL since the disappearance of Prophet some 20 years ago.

Prophet is expected to put his suit’s capabilities, mostly stealth and advanced armor, to use in order to infiltrate CELL, who has begun using Ceph technology to essentially create an unlimited source of power. With that type of technology, CELL has advanced into a position of near-dictatorship, with the rebel forces offering little resistance along the way. It’s a solid storyline, despite it being overshadowed by a clear feeling of emptiness that the player is expected to ignore because Crytek, the developers, offered a few lines of dialogue to help players forget the fact that the main protagonist clearly should be dead. The attempt is to try and overshadow the obvious weakness with heart-pumping action and beautiful environments. The latter is certainly delivered, but not in scale that would help players forget the former.

The gameplay itself is delivered in two ways: first being a stealth option that players can use to slowly and quietly use to pick their way through each level; the other being to forget stealth altogether and simply blast your way from checkpoint to checkpoint. Giving players an option for play style is brilliant, unfortunately for players opting to sneak their way through each level, every encounter you attempt quickly devolves into a hectic spray of bullets. It seems that enemies have a near-360 degree vision and at the first sign of trouble, typically Prophet dispatching someone using his bow, the entire area becomes abuzz with activity as they frantically search for you. This nuisance makes stealth combat nearly impossible, limiting players to sneaking through an area or engaging enemies directly. Players can certainly learn intricate design of AI to try and pick them off quietly, but it requires a deep knowledge of particular paths and level layouts, something most won’t be willing to learn simply because the payoff isn’t worth the time investment.

An interesting implementation comes with the character customization that players can access as they acquire suit upgrades, which come scattered throughout each level. These upgrades allow for unique suit abilities that cater directly to a player’s style, embracing stealth or armor abilities to enhance the already lethal options of the nanosuit. With three particular slots to choose abilities, players can enhance stealth options to make it easier to traverse levels quietly, or beef up their armor ability for the inevitable firefight.

Once players move on from single player, a robust multiplayer option is available and delivers a high level of competition that players in the multiplayer community seek. Unfortunately, some short-sighted decisions turn the game into a disappointing overall experience. Building on a perk system, players will create unique classes that follow the single player system closely. Because all players are wearing nanosuits, the stealth and armor abilities return for players to embrace while in combat. Unfortunately this is where the multiplayer falls apart. Any veteran of multiplayer first-person shooters will tell you that dealing with campers, that is players who don’t move from one area, is a touchy situation. The intent of a game is to keep players mobile and the brilliant verticality of each multiplayer level seems to lend an inherent truth to that fact. With a nanosuit that can cloak players though, you’ll find people sitting in one corner for the extent of a match, which ruins the experience for those players who opt not to use that effective, but cheap, tactic.

Remove the cloak feature from multiplayer though and you’ve got a robust, fun experience that players will enjoy. Often players may argue that particular weapons are overpowered, but that’s part of the online community as a whole. With sprawling levels that allow vertical movement as much as horizontal, a weapon system that implements new attachments and skins as you level them up, and rankings that increase as you play, the system is strikingly similar to some of the more popular FPS multiplayer experiences that are available today. The nanosuit is integrated to offer something new and unique to the gameplay and on the whole it does. Unfortunately for those one the business end of a shotgun-wielding camper, it also adds unintended grief.

Technically sound and as beautiful as can be, Crysis 3 delivers some great action and unique elements to players looking for something beyond the typical run-and-gun of the FPS genre. The lackluster story gives players little to pay attention to and does little to urge players to even pay attention to what’s happening overall. The new weapon, the bow, is shockingly satisfying to use, even while your enemies are sending bullets your way. The multiplayer is fun, but for the active camo that players use to turn it into a camp-fest. If you’re looking for something new, Crysis 3 is certainly it. If you’re looking for something new and amazing though, it’s not.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

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