The Crysis series has always been an interesting journey. A first person shooter known more for showing off the technology that powers it's PC melting graphics, than for the gameplay behind it. That's not to say that the gameplay in Crysis has ever been bad, not even by a long shot. In fact, Crysis has some of the most fun first person shooter mechanics the genre has ever experienced. The combination of your nano-suits four main powers, strength, speed, stealth and armor combine to make you feel like a formidable killing machine as you lay waste to your enemies on the battlefield, human and alien alike. While the mechanics involved with using these skills together effectively has been tweaked with each entry in the series, Crysis 3 is the entry where they've finally gotten the formula right.
In Crysis, each of your suits four abilities had to be activated manually. If you want to kick an object out of the way, jump high, or punch someone across the room you would activate Maximum Strength. To run you would activate Maximum Speed, and armor and stealth respectively worked in the same way. In Crysis 2 this was simplified to only having to active armor or stealth, with speed and strength activating automatically when you run, jump, or hit something. Using any of these abilities reduces the level of your suits energy until, if it runs out, you can no longer use these skills to your advantage. In Crysis 3 this has been further simplified by unlinking sprint and jump from your suit's energy, which makes way more sense. Sprint and jump are now unlimited, and you don't have to worry about moving around quickly and not having enough energy to armor up and attack some enemies head on. This gives the game a much faster paced feeling and in turn, makes it much more fun to play.
Speaking of fast paced, the campaign in Crysis 3 is easily the shortest out of all three main games in the series. I managed to complete the game in just two sittings, although I bypassed most of the side missions that pop up throughout the various missions. This usually wasn't by choice however, and this for me, was one of the flaws of the single player campaign. There was many occasions where it just was not clear at all that a side mission had become available, or that I had to go to a certain location before proceeding if I wanted to complete it. Most often than not, I would get a notification that I had missed my chance to do a particular side mission because I'd advanced too far without ever realizing that the side quest had been available. I can't say for sure if it's just me that had this problem for whatever reason, but it just wasn't made clear enough which objectives were main and which were optional.
The story in Crysis 3 is a marked improvement from Crysis 2, which left nearly everyone wondering just what the hell had happened. Crysis 2 was such a departure from the story of the first game that it just seemed like something was off. Things are a bit more focused this time, following the story of Prophet after he's awakened from a lengthy cryo sleep by old buddy Psycho from back in the first game. Psycho's story in Crysis 3 is more interesting than main character Prophet, who just seems to be along for the ride for the majority of it. There's some generally emotional scenes involving Psycho, who's seemingly been through hell and back while Prophet was asleep for a couple of decades. While it has it's high points, the story is mostly action movie type fare, and wont leave you with much to talk (or think) about after it's over and done with. This is pretty much how I feel about the campaign as a whole as well. When it's over you've seen some awesome stuff, been along for the ride of an interesting story, but for some reason it doesn't leave you feeling any satisfaction. I was reminded of the movie Battle Los Angeles from a couple of years ago. It was action packed and full spectacle, but when it was over you could really care less.
While finishing the campaign will likely leave you feeling not a whole lot, the multiplayer this time around is a fine tuned machine. I got into the multiplayer in Crysis 2 for a week or so, and I really felt like it was on the cusp of greatness but just wasn't quite good enough. This largely goes back to what I was talking about at the beginning of this review with all the nano-suit's abilities being linked to the same energy bar. Combined with a lack of mode variety and some iffy map designs, it just didn't cut it for me. Crysis 3 fixes all that. With infinite sprint, jump, and separate energy bars for stealth and armor, the multiplayer is exciting and fast paced. Most of the modes from Crysis 2 are back including the always fun Crash Site, but it's the new modes that I'm enjoying the most. The most well known of these is the new hunter mode, where one team is always cloaked and armed with only the bow trying to take out other team of marines one by one. My favorites though are Capture The Relay (Crysis' take on Capture The Flag) and Extraction. In extraction one team has to pick up several power cells and return them to a waiting helicopter. The other team has to defend and prevent the cells from being taken. If they are dropped somewhere, the defenders will have to protect the dropped cell for a couple of minutes until a timer runs down and it is sent back to it's original position. It's a simple concept, but when combined with the nano-suit powers it's a huge rush to play.
Here's some short footage of me playing "Crash Site" last night.
So how does Crysis 3 look graphically? Well, it looks even better than what you expect going into it. Having seen tons of screenshots and trailers for the game before I actually got my hands on it, my jaw hit the floor on several occasions from just how beautiful things look. Be it the character models, which are the closest to photo realistic people and animations I've seen in a game, or some of the stunning post apocalyptic locations all rendered in real time, there's a lot here to enjoy on the visuals side of things. The first mission kicks off outdoors on a freight ship at night in a rain storm. It brings up memories of the first time seeing a similar level in Metal Gear Solid 2, except this looks near photo real. All that said this is running on a pretty high end PC, and the graphics in the console versions take a significant hit. If you're going to play Crysis 3, obviously I recommend you go for the PC version if possible.
"Can your PC run Crysis?"
The big question then, does Crysis 3 live up to the hype? I guess that depends on how much you bought into the extensive marketing campaign EA did for this title. Crytek have crafted one of the most beautiful looking games ever made, and the gameplay is tight and fine tuned while fast and exciting. The campaign is fun for a run through, but ultimately leaves you feeling empty when it's over. The multiplayer on the other hand feels excellent and is some of the most fun I've had gaming so far this year. If you're looking for just a single player game, wait till this one goes on sale. If you're in for a decent campaign and some awesome multiplayer or you're just a graphics whore (or both) then Crysis 3 is right up your alley.