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Crysis 3 Review

An expanse of grassland stretches out in front of you. Grass as high as your face, swaying gently in the breeze and causing shadows to bounce around as the clouds roll overhead. Half demolished buildings, covered in snaking vines litter the horizon and a honeycombed dome is barely visible on the skyline.

A squadron of Cell troopers can be seen patrolling ahead, their military jargon piercing through the sound of running streams and chirping birds.

There are many scenes like this in Crysis 3, and you can't help but be impressed by the aesthetic craftsmanship. If this were a beauty pageant, Crysis 3 would definitely be wearing a sash, but beyond the cosmetic slap, the game has a few distinct personality flaws.

Firstly, picture the scene in the opening paragraph. Now imagine using your visor to stare at the soldiers, who all have triangles above their heads. You stare at each one for a few seconds, and this causes a triangle to appear above their heads when you're not using the visor. On top of this, you can hack turrets via a hacking mini-game where you click a button at the right time... yay?

Now imagine doing this every few minutes.

You don't have to do this of course, but the tactical edge it gives you is difficult to snub. It allows you to plan your attempts at stealth, or assault, accordingly. And whichever tactic you eventually decide to plump for will impact the enjoyment you have with the game immeasurably.

The main problem is that the stealth doesn't work properly. Firstly, you can bypass whole battlefields by activating cloak and either crouch-walking (which depletes your energy reserves more slowly) or sprinting (depleting your reserves in seconds) to the nearest building, waiting for it to recharge and repeating.

Secondly, you could just use the bow to pick your targets off, one at a time. When one of their allies gets an arrow through the throat, the nearest sentry makes their way to the body to investigate. Put an arrow through his throat too and you'll soon have a pile of Cell-ery... sorry.

This tactic also works against the alien Ceph.

There was one section where I garnered a bit more attention than I had intended, and a tactical retreat was in order. I cloaked and sprinted for the nearby building. Because I had previously alerted the enemy, as soon as I uncloaked they knew exactly where I was, regardless of the walls obscuring their vision. I quickly blended with the environment once more and skulked to the top of the dilapidated structure.

At the top I waited, and the Ceph came. I sat there, invisible and with my trusty bow in hand, shooting them in the face, in turn, with a variety of ammo. They walked up and down the stairs, happily taking arrows to the face until none were left.

Then there are the Stalker enemies, who play hide-and-seek with you in the aforementioned long grass. The game cleverly nerfs your ability to mark with your visor or activate thermal vision for some of these encounters. They actually feel quite tense. That is until one of the enemies' path finding skills glitch and they just run back and forth to the same place until you kill them to death.

I had my epiphany some way into the game. It's more rewarding to confront the enemy in a more direct fashion.

Whether you're activating armour mode or killing a squadron with a bin, the back and forth skirmishes feel great to play. The AI seems to cope much better too, and it almost feels fair - until you pick someone up by the throat and kill their best friend with their limp corpse that is.

The guns all feel and sound like they would kill a man/alien/thing, and the suit's strength makes you feel like a sociopathic nanite ninja, who kicks sofas at people.

Yes, the aggressive approach feels good. And later on, the game forces you to play more directly, by introducing vehicles into the mix. There are a couple of variations and they all feel as you would expect them to: buggies fast, tanks slow. The vehicle sections are a mixed bag, though. When you're in a tank you die easier than you would on foot, but the buggies fly past the enemies with a palpable sense of speed.

The only criticism I could level at driving the buggies, is that the rich visuals sometimes make it hard to see where you're supposed to be heading.

Crytek have done a sterling job of squeezing every bit of power out of the current batch of consoles. The amount of detail on display is outstanding. You're constantly surrounded by rich, green vegetation, barring the dreary first mission.

Deers, frogs and other varieties of wildlife all hop about (until you shoot them) near newly formed brooks, as you skulk about admiring the view. The lighting, as always in the series, is fantastic. Beads of light filter through the smallest gaps and fires cause swelling shadows to creep up the walls.

The 3D works extremely well, too. The alien sniper rifle in particular popping out of the screen with its various contours and accessories. The HUD pops to the front as every far off object sinks to the back of your television screen, causing a convincing illusion of depth of field.

I would have played the whole game like this, but it sometimes makes the far-off enemies that bit harder to see. The way your AI partner, Psycho's, bald head pops out of the screen is a technical achievement for the ages. It's a good job then, that his shiny head looks so nice, because you'll be seeing a lot of it.

For most of the calm moments the game plays like a 'follow the follically challenged sweary man' simulator. Of course, the game tries to pack the odd emotional punch, but it's hard to empathise when the main character is saying, "it's alright, Psycho".

I feel for you, Psycho, I really do... please don't kill me.

The story is about something. Cell made a dome to tinker with alien technology within what's left of New York. Cell are bad. Ceph are bad. The story lost its way in the last iteration and there's no resuscitating such a bland and overly vague narrative. You won't really care about the story though, when you're shooting people in the face.

When you're bored of shooting stupid AI in the face you can test your wits against real people and shoot them in the face, in a variety of standard and not-so standard online game modes.

Out of all the game modes, Hunter mode resonated the most with me. Two players start as beefed up nanosuit wearing assassins with a perma-cloak and bow in hand. The rest of the players fill out the ranks of the opposing team, but the scales are balanced by the fact that they are mere Cell troopers. The objective for the Cell is to survive and the hunters must kill. Each kill that the hunters get converts an enemy into an ally, with things becoming extremely tense in the closing moments of a game.

The rest of the game modes are superpowered takes on your standard fare, married to a smart class system. All of the modes move along at a blistering pace, and they play off the action strengths of the main campaign - just without the dumb AI.

It's a good game in general, with a few flaws holding it back from a podium finish. The strong online offering should hopefully garner a niche following, because that part of the game is deserving of your attention and is a welcome change from stark realism.

Crytek said that they were hoping to achieve a synergy from the best bits of the two previous titles in the series, joining the open-ended feel of the first game with the focused set-pieces of its sequel. So welcome back to the Big Apple. Familiar, yet strange. Like someone has taken a sizable bite out of it and placed it back into the fruit bowl after giving it an immaculate sheen.

7.00/10 7

Crysis 3 (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

An expanse of grassland stretches out in front of you. Grass as high as your face, swaying gently in the breeze and causing shadows to bounce around as the clouds roll overhead. Half demolished buildings, covered in snaking vines litter the horizon and a honeycombed dome is barely visible on the skyline.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
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