The third installment in developer Crytek's venerable open-world FPS series hit store shelves three weeks ago, but I haven't published my review for PSU yet. There is a single, frustrating reason for this, and I'd like to update readers on the situation with an emphatic recommendation. The question is, should you buy Crysis 3?
No. At least, not yet.
You see, Crysis 3 is fundamentally broken in a way that prevents me from finishing the game. Here's how it goes, as spoiler-free as possible: There's a final boss fight (obviously). Immediately upon dealing the finishing blow to this boss, the game transitions to a first-person cutscene (Crysis 3 is rather fond of these setpiece moments). As the cutscene (which is not the ending) wraps, the screen fades white (also typical for Crysis 3). Then, black--and a hard freeze. Right before the game's climactic finale, the heart-pumping, plot-twisting culmination of everything that came before, the game freezes. Every. single. time.
I can't view the ending of Crysis 3.
I'm not the only PS3 gamer experiencing this issue. Indeed, it's a systemic problem plaguing what seems like the entire PS3 community. Here's what some members of the MyCrysis forum community had to say:
DeNNN3OOO (3/11/13): "When I kill [REDACTED] my PS3 stop working and I have a black screen on TV! What should I do to solve this problem?"
kw2681 (3/8/13): "After killing [REDACTED] my ps3 is still freezing.nothing changed in 2 weeks,where is the fix crytek???i payed 60 euro for a game i cant finish."
r0sePHich (3/8/13): "Yup.. My little brothers 360 version is the same, except yr can't beat the alpha.ceph before it freezes.. Patch 1.1 was supposed to address this, but only made it worse. And no follow up from them either.."
Grim13 (3/9/13): "I was just abou to post the exact same thing. Crytech, when will I be able to finish the game? How long is this going to take?"
Crytek's official response, posted two weeks ago, reminds me of the way Bethesda treated PS3 gamers with its piss-poor release and support of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Here's what Crytek had to say on the matter:
We are aware of and investigating the following issues, with an aim to include fixes for them in any future patches:
-Crashes during the final boss fight in SP
[OTHER ISSUE NOTES OMITTED]
Due to nature of development, fixes for these issues cannot be guaranteed"
Wait, what? I can't finish your game, and you can't guarantee I'll one day be able to? Even the PR agency representing the game, whom PSU contacted directly, hasn't provided comment from the development team.
To make matters stranger, a bevy of Crysis 3 reviews have already been published by other websites. Many of these outlets received pre-release code, and relatively few were PS3-based. The cause of the hard freeze remains ambiguous, but these early reviews (which don't mention the problem) would seem to indicate that it cropped up in later patching. Some users have reported success in bypassing the freeze by reloading the entire final mission from the game menu, manually. I haven't tried this for myself, but it does not (and would not) change my stance on the matter. This shooter--Crytek's "masterpiece"--is broken, and for a game with a heavy narrative focus, that's a death sentence.
It's a shame, because the rest of the game impresses. Gameplay is solid, presenting a beautiful world with more vertical freedom than the series has ever seen. The story manages to take nonsensical loose ends from past installments and tie them together into something resembling 'meaningful.'
Despite these strong points, you should not buy Crysis 3 (yet), and PSU won't be publishing a review of the game until Crytek addresses the issue.
If you own Crysis 3 on PS3, and have experienced this issue for yourself, let us know in the comments below. And, by all means, stay glued to PSU.com in the days and weeks to come for updates, including (we hope) our eventual review.