Review: Crysis 3, a tour de force of visual splendour

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It’s been about twenty years since the events of the previous game, the Ceph have been defeated, and the insidious mega-corporation CELL has grown into a global super-power. But some believe that the defeat of the Ceph is too good to be true. Crysis 3 sees you stepping back into the Nanosuit clad shoes of Prophet, who essentially took over the body of Crysis 2’s protagonist Alcatraz. Together with Psycho, the two have spent the last 20 years in search of a creature knows as the Alpha Ceph – something that Prophet believes still poses a massive threat to the planet. However, his search is hindered by CELL, who are hounding pieces of alien technology left over from past battles with the Ceph – including the Nanosuits. Prophet is ultimately captured by CELL and placed in stasis about some sort of ocean tanker. The game kicks off with Psycho and a team of rebels launching a rescue mission to save him.

First impressions 

After a quick foray through the tanker the two eventually escape into city of New York. Gone is the battle scarred environment of the previous game and in its place are the skeletons of once glorious skyscrapers now overrun by a luscious tropical jungle. Think of it as a mash-up of the first two games. Suffice to say, my jaw dropped at the first look of the city. Crysis 3 is gorgeous, in all respects. Be it the character models and textures, the effects, the level of detail on almost every object that you will encounter, or just the general environment. In fact the graphics are of such a high standard that I never felt myself getting used to them – this game is a tour de force of visual splendour.

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Whilst being a visual marvel, the graphics were not the first thing that really struck me. Rather, it was the way the game felt, if that makes any sense.  Crysis 3 is extremely smooth. I’m not talking about frames per second. It’s more about responsiveness to mouse movements, and to a lesser degree, key strokes as well. It makes you feel more connected – the way your gun bobs and your slight angled vision when you make a quick turn. The entire experience is utterly fluent. In all honesty, I haven’t played a game that comes close to Crysis 3 in this regard. If you’re worried that your PC will wither before this game, then rest assured that that isn’t the case. Yes, it does need a relatively powerful rig, but my frames per second (FPS) hovered around the magical 60 mark on my i5 – 3570k and GTX 570. The resolution was set to 1080p with all the setting expect shadows on high. 

One thing that did irk me a bit was the slight distortion that followed after particular loud sounds or explosions. One could probably argue that it’s my headphones, but I switched over to my speakers which yielded no improvement. The problem persisted with a driver update so I’m pinning this on the game. 

There’s more to it than pretty pictures

Yes that’s right. Lurking under all those faptastic visuals is indeed a real-life game. Crysis 3 is a lot more than a mere advert for what modern day GPUs can do. It does most things right, in my books at least. Let’s begin with the story. If you expect a great story from a game like Crysis then your expectations are sorely misplaced. It’s fairly generic; it’s your standard save-the-world-from-aliens-whilst-stopping-some-greedy-corporates-who-try-to-get-in-your-way type of story. In fact, parts of the story are all too similar to the original Crysis: you spend the first half of the game battling human opponents while they meddle in things they shouldn’t be, and the next thing you know you spend the second half battling away at the Ceph. This isn’t a deal-breaker by any means, just rather unoriginal. 

Where Crysis really shines is the narrative, or the way in which the story unfolds. It’s fast paced and ties together the various mini-sandpits (more on that in a bit) and action sequences brilliantly. I never felt bored when playing Crysis 3. Everything moves along at a brisk speed, and before you know it, it’s over – which is a good thing as it means I’ve enjoyed my experience enough to not notice the passing of time. I’d also like to point out that the campaign is not short. It took me about 8 to 9 hours to complete it, so I’m a bit apprehensive when I hear people reporting that it took them around 4 to 5 hours to clock the game. Perhaps they were playing on easy. 

The inclusion of Psycho as a sort of side kick was a clever addition. He serves as comic relief but at the same time is the center piece of a few rather emotional scenes as he struggles with some personal scars that the CELL Corporation have left him with. In general all the facial animations and character motions along with the accompanying acting were top-notch. I felt a sense of emotion with the characters at times, which is something that I personally always value in a game. I attribute this purely to the quality of acting and facial expressions as, apart from Psycho, all the characters you will encounter are rather unremarkable and as generic as the story. 


The name John Rambo, do you know it? 

Why did I mention Rambo? It’s because running rampant in the Nanosuit sure as hell makes you feel like him! Virtually all of the action sequences in Crysis 3 are set across various non-linear mini-sandbox environments. Each area requires you to achieve a specific set of objectives (obviously) in order to advance in the game. How you approach these objectives is totally up to you. As with the previous games in the series you can choose between a stealth approach, a guns-blazing style, or something in between. The objectives themselves are not particularly exciting, and generally require you to make your way from one point to the next. 

On the flip side, the action is adrenaline-charged, relentless, and requires constant concentration. I played Crysis 3 on the hardest difficulty setting, and it certainly was no walk in Central Park. You really need to pay attention to what your enemies are doing, their line of sight, as well as their patrol patterns. Using your binoculars to tag enemy positions is essential. Once you have a good idea of where all your targets are you need to plan your approach and subsequent attack. I often found myself uncloaking in the wrong spot or at the wrong time, then being hit by a hail of enemy bullets, and subsequently having to restart the area. Conversely, trying to steam-roll your way through the game just won’t work, at least not on post-human difficulty. Certain situations require the use stealth while others favour a run-and-gun approach as the enemy AI is certainly not as hapless as some sources have reported. The key is to find a balance that works for you as there is certainly not a single best way to play. Once you get the hang of the game and how to best use the Nanosuit things can really get exciting. At one point I felt almost godlike, although this feeling was quickly obliterated after some bad tactical choices. 


This brings me to the guns. If you played Crysis 2, then you will be fairly familiar with the weapons you are likely to pick up on your way to finding the Alpha Ceph. The gun design and concepts are nothing special, but they have a great feel to them – they are just plain fun to fire. As with Crysis 2, you can customize your guns with various attachments that have a significant impact on how the weapon performs.  The weapons customization adds more choice and ultimately enhances the feeling of non-linearity. 

There is another reason why I mentioned Rambo. It’s the inclusion of a bow to Prophet’s arsenal of weapons. The bow adds a fantastic element to the game. It can be used as both a stealth option, but is just as viable in a heated fire fight. At one point I found myself stalking a troop of CELL soldiers at night with nothing but the bow. I felt like a predator. They never saw it coming. In another sequence I took down a helicopter with a well places explosive tip. The addition of the bow was another great idea by the developers. It’s not just a gimmick – it’s a viable weapon to use, but more importantly it’s extremely fun to use. Unusually though, the bow appears to be more powerful than virtually all of the weapons that you find, which makes little sense.

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Location, location, location 

Each of the areas you will make your way through are wonderfully varied, extremely unique, and really allow the player to approach each scenario in a multitude of ways. Crysis 3 will take you from the catwalks of a rain and wind swept ocean tanker, to the overgrown jungle-like ruins of New York, into a barren battle-scarred tundra, and finally into the heart of a Ceph stronghold. 

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Each environment is a masterpiece in its own right. I found myself frequently just standing there, looking around, and taking in the magnificence of the scenery. I felt that this specific element really added a lot of depth to the action. At one point in the game Prophet blows up a damn wall to cover his escape from CELL forces. To see an area that you spent that better part of an hour running around in being covered in a torrent of water was goose bump inducing. The sheer magnitude of this event is something I’ve rarely found in other games. This game has seriously epic scale. 

Talking about scale, I made mention earlier that New York is a mash up of the first two games. This is also true for the scale of the environments. The zones in Crysis 3 are not as large as the first game’s, but still much more open and non-linear than the second one. I felt that the scope and size of each area was just right. It allowed for various approaches, but also served to reduce a lot of the monotony that was present in Crysis 1. 


Judgement passed 

If this is the only part of the review that you read then let me give you the bottom line: Crysis 3 is an eye-watering thrill ride of a game from the moment you jump back into your Nanosuit right till the final credits roll. Whilst not ground breaking, it ticks most of the boxes by going way beyond a mere visual fapfest, and actually delivers a super all-round experience.  You should buy it. Right now.

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