Crysis 3 Review

Crysis took place in a jungle, Crysis 2 was set in an urban environment, and now Crysis 3 takes you to an urban jungle. Quite literally. Manhattan lies encased within the "Liberty Dome" and within the dome it looks like an episode out of the series Life After People. Rivers run through the streets, vines hang down buildings and trees grow up through their floors, and the parks have become dense grasslands. The city is not deserted, though. It's under the control of the CELL corporation and its paramilitary force, and the site of CELL's attempts to exploit the alien Ceph's technology to further its goals of dominance. As the nanosuit wearing Prophet, you enter the dome to put an end to those plans with the aid of Psycho, a soldier stripped of his nanosuit by CELL, and Claire, the communications and intelligence officer for an armed resistance movement opposed to CELL.

Got all that? If so, or at least partly so, then you've probably played a couple of Crysis games already. If not, well, you're kind of on your own because Crysis 3 doesn't do anything to ease you into the story or fill in the background for you. That's too bad, because the story is richer than your standard shooter fare and it would be nice if those new to Crysis could enjoy it as much as series veterans.

For the benefit of those of you new to Crysis, the aforementioned nanosuit is the star of the show here and what makes the game different from your standard shooter. The suit gives you super strength, speed, and jumping ability, as well as armor protection and cloaking ability. The catch is that all of these capabilities drain the suit's power, and once that power's drained you have to let it recharge before you can use any of its capabilities again. You're a powerful super soldier, but only if you're smart about using your powers.

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While you may be encased in a super suit and can arm yourself with a number of powerful future tech weapons, the game's marquee weapon is a compound bow. Combine this silent killer with your suit's stealth mode and you can easily take down a large enemy force without them realizing that they're being systematically decimated. While your stealth powers play a big role in that, the enemy AI certainly doesn't hurt. Enemies don't seem to notice when an arrow narrowly misses them or sometimes even when a nearby ally is felled by one. Enemy soldiers also have a bad habit of filing one by one through your kill zone to investigate why there's a big pile of bodies there or of walking up to your "last known position" to see if you're still there. Of course you are, and now they're dead, too.

The bow's ammo capacity is pretty small, but the advantage of using arrows is that you can retrieve them from your victims and reuse them. Specialized arrows are also available, such as one with a small airburst charge that can take out multiple enemies and an electrified one that is deadly against CELL troopers wading through the flooded streets of Manhattan. Switching between arrow types is easy - just hold the Back button and use the A button to cycle through the arrow types. You can also use this bow view screen to adjust the bow's draw strength. Higher tension means more damage, but it also means that it will take you longer to ready the next arrow. The Back button weapon adjustment screen works with the guns in the game as well, allowing you to quickly adjust their fire modes and change sights and attachments. It's a great system that hopefully makes its way into other games in the future.

Taking the stealthy archer approach is certainly fun, and it's good that it is because it's by far the best way to take on groups of enemies. Going in hot can be a challenge because the sheer number of enemies, their propensity to use explosive and suit-disabling EMP grenades, and the automated turrets backing them up can quickly overwhelm you if you're not careful. It's more a matter of being overwhelmed than it is one of being outplayed, though, so you can certainly engage your armor boost and outgun smaller groups of soldiers. I like that the game gives you a certain degree of freedom in choosing how you will attack a base or facility, but that's tempered a bit by the fact you really have to take a stealth approach in most cases.

Your suit also comes equipped with a visor that when enabled provides you with an enhanced heads-up display. You can use it to tag enemies so that you'll be able to track their movements and positions even after you close the visor. The visor will also allow you to see the locations of nearby dropped weapons, ammo crates, and even where your arrows landed so that they're easier to retrieve. You'll also be able to find nearby enemy defense systems and mines that can be hacked. Hacking involves playing a simple, timing-based mini game but it's certainly worth taking the time to do it. Turning a turret on its former masters or making a field of smart mines switch sides can quickly turn the odds in your favor.

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The Crysis games have been known to push the graphics capabilities of PC to their limits and although an Xbox 360 can't match the graphics of a high-end gaming rig, Crysis 3 is one of the best looking games on the system. The level of detail is so impressive that you'll find yourself actually noticing the grass ... and that there is more than one type of grass in the game. The game's sweeping vistas are even more impressive and you'll find yourself pausing just to take them in.

The game's single player campaign is the game's centerpiece attraction and worth the price of admission alone, but Crysis 3 does manage to serve up a pretty decent multiplayer mode as well. To paraphrase The Incredibles, when everyone is super, no one is, and there is a certain amount of truth to that in Crysis 3's multiplayer in which everyone is running around with a nanosuit on. It's a lot harder to be the stealthy killer that you were in the single player game in multiplayer, but good players will still be able to rack up some kills with a bow. The suits make for a multiplayer game that feels faster than that in other games with players able to quickly run and vault their way across the maps.

Game modes include the ubiquitous deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag modes, but there are a couple of more unique modes on offer for those looking to play something a little different. Crash site has pods dropping onto the map which players must capture and defend. Hunter mode starts out with two players as nanosuit wearing hunters and all other players as CELL operatives. When a hunter eliminates a CELL operative, that player joins the hunters.

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The multiplayer game is built on a custom class/loadout/perk system driven by experience earned in matches that will be familiar to anyone who's played a recent Call of Duty game. Crysis 3 also suffers from some of the same issues as the Call of Duty games when it comes to the significant advantage that high level players have over those just starting out, which it attempts to alleviate somewhat by providing matches for new players that are capped at level 10.

Overall, Crysis 3 is easily recommendable. While the campaign is a bit on the short side and the enemy AI is suspect at times, it's an enjoyable and immersive experience. The multiplayer game is fun, both because it's well-constructed and because there aren't any other games out there that equip you in a nanosuit. While the game is probably not the best in the series, it is one of the better shooters available.

Final Rating: 86%. Not many games would send you into battle in a super suit powered by alien technology and armed with a bow and arrows and manage to pull it all off, but Crysis 3 does.


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