The Crysis series has never been one to impart a tremendous amount of emotional gravitas into its mindlessly savage, albeit intensely beautiful, futuristic first-person-shooter experiences. With the revolutionary Far Cry 3, a capable, sensitive writing team was able to translate the bullet-spewing mannerisms of their barbaric characters into a wholly sympathetic, soulfully motivational ordeal. Crysis 3’s developers, Crytek, admiringly take a page from Ubisoft Montreal’s winning playbook, consequently making a measurable improvement over the game’s predecessors via a gripping tale of authentically human individuals damaged by unavoidable conflict. While still working toward perfecting its ever-ripening, vicious FPS architecture, Crysis 3 finally allows for an exceptionally engaging narrative to slither its way into the towering production and dynamic gunplay.
At its heart, Crysis 3 is an unusually tender buddy-soldier story veiled in the chaos of helter-skelter alien warfare. Players take on the role of the Nanosuit-donning trooper Prophet, embarking on a tumultuous revenge mission to bring down the ignoble CELL Corporation and defeat the viperous extraterrestrial godfather known as Alpha Ceph. At Prophet’s side (at least, when he’s not throwing a hissy tantrum) is the cockney-accented bruiser Psycho, a fellow infantryman attempting to regain his mental stability after losing his Nanosuit and being tormenting at the hands of CELL. While Prophet’s quest is a markedly less self-absorbed endeavor, Crysis 3 strikes a delicately patterned balance by pairing the plights of the militant Prophet and the cagey, easily rattled Psycho. Aiding in the significant leap in characterization is a potent blend of consistently effective, humanistic motion capture, voice acting, and true-to-life dialogue. Make no mistake, though, Crysis 3 is by no means the series going soft or anywhere near it. Every aggressive action is draped in the stimulation of executing an expertly choreographed kill. This is a destructive, calculated shooter that uses the theme of being swallowed up by unrelenting strife (Prophet’s metaphorical absorption by his Nanosuit) as a way to propel the player’s snowballing desperation in overwhelmingly turbid times.
Crysis 3’s basic gameplay model doesn’t vary greatly from that of Crysis 2, but the slight tweaks to the functioning of the patented Nanosuit do well to notably differentiate this third installment. The modified visor capabilities provide for a habit-forming time-focused hacking minigame that can accomplish anything from unlocking electronically reinforced chamber doors to commandeering fleets of enemy mines, turning them against their former owners. Combat-wise, Crysis 3’s controls are graciously fluid, rapid augmentation of weaponry on the fly and unleashing secondary methods of attack are as simple as a dual-tap of a single pad button. Additionally, the cool-as-hell Predator Bow is definitely more than just technologically statuesque munition eye candy; its method of operation, though nothing much about it resembles a monumental innovation to the genre, is enough to supplement the lack of widespread variation in Prophet’s trigger-based armaments. With cloaking enabled, and a quiver full of electrocuting or exploding arrows at your disposal, there are instances of veritably invigorating badass-ery truly native to Crysis 3. Unfortunately, the Predator Bow, unmistakably the game’s most satisfying dealer of death, is more useful against entry-level foes than the heavily shielded adversaries who’ll probably cause you trouble later on.
Crysis is a series best known for its awe-inspiring visuals, and Crysis 3 is assuredly no slouch in that department. The game’s gargantuan environments are populated by once-thriving cityscapes overtaken by nature in the aftermath of exhaustive devastation. Liberty Dome is New York City in the year 2047, gone completely primal and swiftly decaying. Crytek has placed immense detail into every inch of the gigantic metropolitan chaparral; each overgrown sweep of shrubbery, every partially crumbling structure is paid an equal expanse of attention. The stellar lighting effects, in particular, are a benchmark for the series.
Multiplayer, though not necessarily a throwaway, isn’t Crysis 3’s strongest aspect. Despite the noteworthy stealth-centered Hunter scenario, there’s simply not enough dissimilarity from the handful of other more substantial online or local FPS titles to be bankable long-term via DLC or other expansions.
Crysis 3 gets many aspects right; its storytelling, graphics, and core mechanics are nearly unsullied from start to finish. What halts the game from being confirmedly great is that it never really makes a sworn attempt at genre-defying vicissitude. Truthfully, it’s very much like its candidly chic Predator Bow: a shiny new toy that’s fun to play around with for a hot minute, but an item that will soon be forgotten as technical know-how magnifies, cast aside in the reverberating aftershocks of the forthcoming next-gen PS4/Xbox 720 evolution.