Crysis 3 Review - Human After All
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A devolution from open-world brilliance and a far cry from compelling, Crysis 3 is a serviceable sci-fi shooter with noteworthy multiplayer and a story that just barely warrants attention.
- Gorgeous visuals and art direction
- Engaging multiplayer
- Five-hour campaign won't waste your time
- Hollow story and characters
- Thinly veiled linearity
- Game-breaking glitch prevents progress for some players
In this console generation's twilight months, it's easy to associate brand fatigue with the most sterling examples: annualized franchises that change very little in their thirst for early-November retail domination. To suggest that one might simply tire of a triple-A series whose main releases, by contrast, were staged four and two years apart seems silly--there must be something else at work.
Well, there is. Like a bottle of soda left open for days, Crysis has run its course. In fact, a better analogy might be that of a tarnished apple rapidly rotting on your kitchen counter after the first bite. What began as a wildly ambitious foray into open-world, super-powered shooting with 2007's Crysis has devolved rather rapidly into thrills for thrills' sake--a bombastic light show with little in the way of substance and a serious case of Michael Bay Syndrome. The shooting is serviceable, the environments are pretty, and the illusion of choice is compelling at first scent, but the core of this once-great apple reeks of hollow storytelling and lack of care.
Editor's note: The saga of Crysis 3 here at PSU is one of turmoil. We received a retail copy of Crysis 3 from EA for review alongside other press outlets, but my playthrough of the game was plagued by a serious technical issue that prevented me from finishing the single-player campaign. The issue in question has not been resolved as of this writing, but after more than a month of waiting for Crytek to respond with a patch, I opted to use a workaround to finish the game and move ahead with scoring. Look for details below, and read up on this problem--which affected my score--here.
Maybe Crysis 3 is a victim of its time: games are redefining what the medium can achieve as a narrative art form almost monthly. In its defense, the journey starts off promising, and Crytek does an admirable job tying together loose plot threads from previous games into a coherent package that makes a certain kind of wacky sci-fi sense. The narrative anchors of Crysis are the Nanosuit, the elite soldiers who don them, and the alien Ceph who threaten our world. By the events of Crysis 3, the only hero left wearing a Nanosuit is Prophet, a persistent figurehead in prior installments who makes his first playable appearance here. 24 years post-Crysis 2, New York City is encased in a massive dome that the malevolent CELL Corporation uses to protect assets that could ultimately enslave the world. Meanwhile, the threat of another Ceph invasion lingers.
Thankfully, Prophet has the tools to handle it. All of the Nanosuit's familiar functions return in Crysis 3, from invisibility to amplified armor and a healthy dose of speed in a pinch. The Nanosuit, as always, elevates Crysis on a gameplay pedestal that's marginally compelling at worst and downright fun at best. Sliding under beams and behind cover links movement in a smooth manner and sneaking behind enemy lines while cloaked remains tense--for a couple hours. Crysis 3's super-powered first-person shooting commits no cardinal sin in the game's stunningly short five-hour runtime. Its biggest folly is not innovating upon itself, and that makes all the difference in the world.
Failure to change would be less egregious if the rest of the industry hadn't already beaten Crytek at its own game. But where Far Cry 3, Borderlands, Fallout, and others continue to plumb the depths of open-world gameplay and what's possible in the genre, Crysis has wheeled back from its trendsetting origins to something disappointingly familiar. Scripted sequences and space marine machismo do not make a great story, and "sandboxes" littered with glaringly obvious pathways do little to inspire exploration or creative solutions. If you see a vent or access tunnel, chances are you'll bypass an entire area of enemies by moving through it. Ammo crates often rest behind wide pieces of cover; what better place to hunker down for a fight? If neither pacifism nor Hulk Hoganism suits you, activate the Nanosuit's way-too-lengthy invisibility and walk through the area, putting a few arrows into alien backs for good measure.
The verticality of Crytek's gorgeous environments, and the novelty of wielding such a powerful bow, ensures these illusory spaces are at least engaging to tread through. Crysis 3 may not be ... (continued on next page) ----
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