PS3 (Review Copy), Xbox 360, PC
With technology being how it is, we, as modern gamers could possibly be spoiled when it comes to the graphics department, since in this day and age, EVERY game looks, at the very least, good. Yup, we're spoiled because nowadays, rarely are game visuals spoken about unless they're laughably bad or ridiculously good. Since the original Crysis is pretty much the benchmark for deciding if your gaming PC's graphic card was incredibly powerful or not, it really shouldn't be a surprise which end of the spectrum Crysis 3 falls. What would be a surprise is that despite the series having a ridiculously obtuse and confusing storyline (thanks Crysis 2), this entry actually has a taught and engaging storyline to go with all the pretty graphics.
Taking place some 24 years after the events of Crysis 2, you are Nanosuited super soldier extraordinaire Lawrence Barnes, a.k.a Prophet. Woken from suspended animation, Prophet finds a different world than the one he remembers. The previous Crysis games involved a war with an alien race called the Ceph, of which their technology is the basis of Prophet's Nanosuit. Twenty-four years later, the war is largely over, and the humans have won. The only Ceph left on earth are sparse and have gone feral, more akin to wild animals than an invading alien race. In the wake of the war, corrupt corporation CELL has taken control of the previously devastated New York (you played Crysis 2, right?) erecting a giant nanodome, essentially turning The Big Apple into a greenhouse. While assisting an anti CELL resistance group, Prophet teams up with old squad mate, Psycho (from Crysis 1) a former Nanosuit user himself, which was forcibly removed by CELL. All the while, Prophet keeps having visions of the Alpha Ceph, a giant alien that he alone can destroy. Focusing primarily on Prophet, Psycho and Psycho's current commanding officer, Claire, Crysis 3's storyline is a taught and well thought out affair. Considering previous protagonists, Nomad and Alcatraz were largely (and in Alcatraz's case completely) silent, Prophet's portrayal and characterization in Crysis 3 is a high point.
As previously mentioned Crysis 3 is a beautiful looking game. Melding the jungle setting of the first game, with the urban setting of the second, the literal urban jungle setting is a visual tour de force... accomplished with Cryengine 3 (the same engine used in franchise cousin Farcry 3.) As pretty as a game is though, it's not worth a damn if the gameplay isn't up to par. To that point, Crysis 3 is... okay.
The Crysis franchise has always been known as a more open-ended shooter than many of its contemporaries (yes Call of Duty, I'm lookin' right at you.) Allowing you to tailor gameplay to your preference, most objectives could be accomplished either though stealth, or by a full on frontal assault, with both options proving viable. Through the use of cloaking – or by using a personal shield called "maximum armor"– your ability to blend in with surroundings, or soak up insane amounts of damage as well as the ability to go back and forth on a whim allowed you to tackle challenges according to however you're feeling that day. Operating in a sandbox environment (though more limited than the full open world of the aforementioned Farcry 3), multiple routes could be taken to accomplish your goals. While that type of freedom is great, the gameplay still feels lacking, primarily due to the fact that a very important aspect of the first person shooter feels neglected... the shooting part. Most guns are difficult to tell apart, and none feel particularly satisfying, save one, and it's not even a gun. The new and aptly named Predator Bow is an absolute blast to use. Teamed with cloak, and the nano vision ability, you can live out all your dreams of being the *ahem* Predator. Unfortunately as fun as stalking the tall grass picking off your enemies Predator style is, it also takes out most of the challenge of the game. All things considered, Crysis 3 is too easy. And while overall improved from the previous games in the series, also lacks a standout battle found in those same games.
Crysis 3 is a pretty darn good game, which in this case is actually unfortunate. Because two thirds of the formula that is Crysis 3 is fantastic. The visuals look great and the storyline is much more intriguing and engaging than expected (making up for the clusterfuck that was Crysis 2's story). It's a shame that the gameplay is merely only good. Because this is a case of good dragging down the great. | RDW