Review: Crysis 3 serves up savage action in high definition

For a series that spends so much time trying to establish just how unstoppable the series’ protagonist, Prophet, is, Crysis 3 sure does a great job of making him seem like a normal human.

Well, a normal human that can turn invisible, leap like a grasshopper, and harden his suit made of nanomachines to increase his resistance to bullets and...well, you get the idea. 

It does this multiple ways, the first being Prophet’s discovery of his human tendencies and heart, the second being difficult gameplay. Prophet’s story is the most important part of Crysis 3 and quite possibly the series. It isn’t about being some unstoppable superhuman with an untold level of power, but rather getting away from that and focusing on the few slivers of humanity found within him.

It doesn’t feel worn out or trite, coming across as genuine during the five hour single-player campaign. The length might come as a disappointment to those who enjoyed Crysis 2’s longer 12-hour runtime, but being brief exemplifies the game's focus on narrative, and it's a better experience because of it.

If you want to spend more time playing the game for the sheer joy of combat, the campaign can be significantly extended by playing on a higher difficulty level. Make no mistake, Crysis 3 is difficult, but it’s also extremely manageable if you take time to slow down and work your way through the game at a reasonable pace. The flora and fauna of the New York City Liberty Dome isn't afraid to kill you without mercy or warning, and you shouldn’t be afraid to dish it right back.

That doesn’t mean that you should just run around shooting everything that you can as soon as you can, though you certainly could. Crysis 3 allows you to play through the game however you like, presenting different paths to the same point that appeal to different styles of play. If you want to run through the entire game without alerting any enemies to your presence, you can totally do that—for the most part—using your nanosuit’s stealth feature and silent bow to cloak your presence from enemies until you’re already on top of them.

At least, that's the theory Crysis 3 seems to be designed around. In reality, there were too many times throughout my playthrough that an enemy spotted me despite the fact that I was cloaked, alerting all other enemies to my presence. When that happens, it takes some real patience to hide again and wait for the right chance to regain stealth; I found it easier to just pull out my gun and start shooting.

It’s also somewhat problematic that—despite having the bow with you at all times no matter what weapons you have equipped—there aren't nearly as many arrow boxes laying around as there are ammo boxes. Thankfully, some weapons can be equipped with silencers through the weapon customization menu; time doesn’t stop when you’re doing this, so it can be challenging to find time to do it when switching between weapons as often as you need to.

Another plus of Prophet’s nanosuit is his ability to hack almost anything with a screen. This is mostly used for doors and all the typical devices, but it can also be used to disarm minefields or turn enemy turrets against themselves. While useful, you become extremely vulnerable when hacking and can’t back out once you’ve initiated the hack—unless you fail, which isn’t good either. This is one of the few recurrant annoyances in Crysis 3’s campaign storyline, but despite their frequency they don’t detract much from the overall quality of the campaign. I think the narrative in Crysis 3 is the best in the series, by the way.

Crysis 3 is absolutely gorgeous, no matter what you play it on. I played on both Xbox 360 and a custom PC rig, and while the Xbox 360 version is a standout as a great example of lighting and diffused surfaces, the PC version is one of the most beautiful games released to date. This is par for the course of the Crysis franchise, but it’s a notable example because it looks amazing on even a mid-range gaming machine.

I don't think multiplayer has worked well in past Crysis games, but Crysis 3 turns that around by introducing new modes that take advantage of the unique combat opportunities afforded by the Crysis nanosuit. There’s still the standard deathmatch mode, but Hunter Mode is where the multiplayer really shines.

One player starts as an always-invisible hunter equipped with a bow, while the remaining players are standard characters without suit abilities. Once a ‘survivor’ is killed, they become a hunter until there’s no one left standing or the survivors outlast the time limit. Most matches become a frantic chase as you hide from the better-equipped and highly-favored hunters. You’ll hear a friend murdered in the adjacent room, and have to make a choice about whether you want to run or not. It’s frightening, and one of the most frantically exciting multiplayer modes in a long while.

Crysis 3 stands on the shoulders of its predecessors, but it doesn't rest on their laurels. It's an excellent evolution of the series that, despite a few minor problems, is just plain exciting to play. The game looks gorgeous and sports a decent single-player narrative alongside interesting new multiplayer modes, making it something worth playing for anyone who enjoys a good romp in the first-person shooter jungle.

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